Monday, June 27, 2011

Sam Harris on Killing People for What they Believe

“Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them”


Sam Harris, The End of Faith, pp.52-53. 


Explain to me once again why RELIGION leads to violence. In the Christian community, these kinds of statements went out with the Wars of Religion. 



91 comments:

Jake Elwood XVI said...

O Liberté, que de crimes on commet en ton nom.

We must note that it has not happened yet. But the tendency is there. The inner totalitarian is the bane of us all.

Morrison said...

Sam Harris hates believers as much as Hitchens does.

There never was a war those guys couldn't get excited about.

But Harris is the dangerous one...what with his defense of torture, pre-emptive nuclear war, and the Mecca Option.

I seriously believe that if he had the poltical power that there is very little limit on what he would do to eliminate religion.

Oh, of course it will fail, as it has when it has been tried before, but the casualies will be immense.

Papalinton said...

Morrison *loves* armageddon stories. he can't wait for the End Times.

Karl Grant said...

Harris has always had something of a double standard when it comes to violence. Take the strappado, a medieval torture device that Harris describes in loving detail and uses as proof about the barbarity of religion. But on page 193 of End of Faith Harris talks about dusting it off and using it to extract information from terror suspects.

As far as I can tell Harris's thoughts about violence go something like this: 'Cause I support; violence is good! Cause I oppose; violence is bad!'

JS Allen said...

It's remarkable that anybody spouts this nonsense when the empirical evidence so obviously falsifies the thesis.

America is the most Christian nation on earth. If Sam's theseis were correct, we should expect America to be a nation of pacifist prudes who are sexually repressed. Yet, we've unleashed more military hellfire than any nation in history. We are more tolerant of gays and transexuals than any G9 nation, and *far* more tolerant than any officially atheist nation. Access to all forms of pornography and sexually explicit entertainment increases every year.

In spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we have people like Harris out banging the pots and pans saying, "Christian beliefs are dangerous! The fundies are coming to STEAL YOUR PORN! Christianity is a MENTAL DISEASE that causes people to KILL QUEERS!"

Papalinton said...

Karl Grant

I think you got that wrong. A reading of both the OT and the NT tells us that, "'Cause I support; violence is good! Cause I oppose; violence is bad!', that is almost the precise words that god told everyone about his role as the omni-everything dude.


"But on page 193 of End of Faith Harris talks about dusting it off and using it to extract information from terror suspects. "

You disingenuous christian. You stoop lower than a snake's asshole. Read the context about the strappado, starting at the top of P193:

" Imagine that a known terrorist has planted a large bomb in the heart of a nearby city. ...." and read to the end of that short paragraph.

Karl Grant, double-standard?

Gimli 4 the West said...

Just remember the posts of what John Loftus would do to you if only he had the power. Atheists are an interesting species, especially if you have the chance to observe them in their natural environment.

Papalinton said...

@ J S Allen

"Christianity is a MENTAL DISEASE that causes people to KILL QUEERS!."

It is and they did. And the bible supports it

Papalinton said...

Gimli 4 the West

"Atheists are an interesting species, especially if you have the chance to observe them in their natural environment.'

I have no doubt that you will have plenty and, ever increasingly so, many opportunities in the coming years to do lots of observing.
The trend is palpable, the critical mass has been reached. The US is now right-sizing itself to a post-religion future pretty much as Europe has already done so.

The next ARIS survey will be a beauty.

JS Allen said...

@papalinton - If that's true, why is persecution of homosexuals far more pervasive in officially atheist countries and non-Christian cultures?

Hint: What's the religion with the most gay clergy?

Papalinton said...

J S Allen

"Hint: What's the religion with the most gay clergy?"

What's the religion with the most pedophiles?

JS Allen said...

@papalinton - You're proving my point. If it were the stated religious belief that is dangerous, why is the world's most Christian nation full of pedophile priests and bloodthirsty warmongers?

Seriously, this is why there will never be an atheist president. Atheists are too naive.

Think about it. If it's the religious belief that is dangerous, how would you change the Christian belief system to reduce the number of bombs that Americans drop? Maybe you would try to convince Christians that Jesus said, "turn the other cheek". Oh, wait...

Karl Grant said...

Papalinton,

that is almost the precise words that god told everyone about his role as the omni-everything dude.

Thank you for conceding the point that Harris is a hypocrite, which is what you have done if the best you can manage is 'well, so do you!'

You disingenuous christian. You stoop lower than a snake's asshole. Read the context about the strappado, starting at the top of P193:

Oh, I read, did you not notice the words terror suspect? Besides Harris's example (the classic ticking time bomb scenario) is a joke:

The scenario assumes a highly improbable array of variables that runs something like this:

—First, FBI or CIA agents apprehend a terrorist at the precise moment between timer’s first tick and bomb’s burst.

—Second, the interrogators somehow have sufficiently detailed foreknowledge of the plot to know they must interrogate this very person and do it right now.

—Third, these same officers, for some unexplained reason, are missing just a few critical details that only this captive can divulge.

—Fourth, the biggest leap of all, these officers with just one shot to get the information that only this captive can divulge are best advised to try torture, as if beating him is the way to assure his wholehearted cooperation.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to believe that "religion" is a wholly useless term. It denotes too many variegated belief systems (and potential belief systems), both natural and supernatural, that on the whole have so little in common with one another so as to render the term bereft of practical worth.

Statements like "Religion is the opiate of the masses" are on the same level as "Games are the opiates of the masses."

This is why I can only shake my head when I hear wholesale condemnation of "religion."

Gimli 4 the West said...

One of the great things about observing atheists is their predictions of the future--filled with all kinds of apocryphal myths and imagined triumphs. As I said, they are an interesting species. God love them.

Boz said...

sam harris has responded:

(two months ago)

http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

B. Prokop said...

What is the "Mecca Option"? Not familiar with that term.

Morrison said...

Papalinton, you pollute this thread just like all the others, coming on here calling people names and all the rest. Of course, Victor supports your rights to free speech, while your pal Loftus does not...he regularly censors and even alters posts.

Why would you libel me and say I love Armageddon stories and can't wait for the End Times?

Is that even an argument? No, just another one of your personal attacks...you know, like your pal Jake pointed out that you specialize in to "get people off their game".

Well, Atheist Troll, I now know what your game is.

What you ignore is that while some preachers may talk about Armageddon, Science makes it Possible For It To Really Happen.

And Sam Harris loves talking about that...pre-emptive nuclear war, torture, blaming Jews for their own victimhood and this favorite THE MECCA OPTION.

Your pal Hecotor Avalos, and LOFTUS COLLABORATOR also calls for that in his book "Fighting Words".

Atheists are the most violence minded people on earth.

Karl Grant said...

Bob Prokop,

The idea if we nuke Mecca the Muslims will go away as it will make their pilgrimages impossible and constitute a sever blow to their faith. A stupid idea for a number of reasons.

B. Prokop said...

Interesting. Has Harris never heard of the Destruction of the Temple in 70 AD? That event certainly did not make Judaism disappear! Similarly, I doubt whether losing Mecca would be a death blow to Islam.

Papalinton said...

Ana, Morrison, whatever

"Why would you libel me and say I love Armageddon stories and can't wait for the End Times?"

So you're not a christian the? Don't believe in the Revelation of John, eh?

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Morrie, Papa is not my pal but he is my countrymen.

He has riled you worse then dog barking at a cut snake. Just let it go. In the gentle art of pleasantries, he has bested you, having you emotional and off your game. You might know his game but you now have to play it accordingly. And that's best done by taking a few deep breathes for starters.

Most of the stuff he says for effect. I am not sure how much he actually believes. For instance his pleading with teacher routine, that he was "unwittingly drawn into" fight, was hilarious especially as he was a teacher himself. Any teacher worth his salt would never have coped such a howler from a student.

So my suggestion is to let go.

Morrison said...

Jake, I appreciate you tag teaming for your pal PapaLoftus, but your mind reading abilities are obviously flawed.

And if he has bested me, it is only in his own mind, since he has not refuted any of my arguments about Harris but only responded with more insults.

That said, if I was bothered by it, I would "let it go"...but the trouble is, I get a kick out of it.

Yep, Harris has made excuses for torture, pre-emptive nuclear war, The Mecca Option, and even blaming the Jews for their own victimhood and PapaLoftus has nothing to say about it.

I call that a Win!

Morrison said...

Karl Grant, you are quite correct that the Mecca Option is a stupid idea, but nevertheless Harris and Loftus buddy Avalous defend it.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I can get you guys facts on Morrison if you want to use them.

He is a 20 something punk well known on campus here.

I wish Loftus had taken him up on his challenge.

Kid Christian v Old Man Atheist, it would be a howler. And Lawrence is a fun place. Heck, Richard Dawkins spoke here back in 06 or so and Dan Barker has been in several times.

In fact, and this is no shit, you can probably verify it with Barker, he was here about a month and a half ago and Morrison got into an argument with him in the book signing line!

But cheer up, in 40 years my pals and I will be younger than Papa and Loftus are now! The future belongs us! Those guys are has beens who probably drool.

And Papa, lose some weight.


Goldstein Squad Member

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton wrote, "The trend is palpable, the critical mass has been reached. The US is now right-sizing itself to a post-religion future pretty much as Europe has already done so."

I find such an idea inaccurate. Birth rates in many European countries right now is on the decline and has been since 1975 while the death rate has been increasing. However, this is not so among Muslims in which the population has increased significantly in most European countries even over the last few years.

While I will agree that much of Christianity has been on the decline in the U.S. there are a few things I find difficult for your position. The Christians (especially Catholics) and Muslims still believe in Pro-Creating. The average Muslim family has about 5 kids.

The second problem is in the increase in Latin and Hispanic Americans. From just 2000 to 2007 the Hispanic growth rate was 4 times the rate of the nations total population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the Hispanic population will account for over 30 percent of our population by the year 2050. Yet Hispanic Americans are, in the words of wikipedia, almost uniformly Christian with Catholicism as a majority and an increasing in Protestantism.

Another problem has to do with our failing economy. Ideas and cultural influence change in the wake of wars, plagues, economic collapse, etc. Our economy is headed towards issues of epic proportions. When this happens people start to question the common ideas and direction of the culture.

Personally I think post-modernism as we know it is going to die and usher in another type of "enlightenment." It will be up to those in Christianity to take advantage of the change of thoughts and ideas to prevent its end. However, even if much of Christianity dies from this "new enlightenment" I feel Islam will still be going strong. Yet many Muslims still convert to Christianity. I know I got into some rambling here, the main point is that with such a change in the economy both domestically and globally as well as so many new scientific advances I feel the thoughts and ideas are about to change dramatically which could "help" Christianity.

Also, if anti-Christian sentiments become very strong it could usher in a new type of Christian persecution. History however favors Christianity when this happens and sees new revived growth in the midst of persecution.

Another point is in people's belief in God. While secular culture seems to be "winning the day" and atheism is increasing we still have an overwhelming part of the population that doesn't relinquish their belief in God. When it comes to Christianity vs. Atheism I feel this is an advantage to Christianity especially in the coming change of thoughts and ideas.

Lastly, the most conservative (and perhaps inaccurate)figures show that China will pass the U.S. economy by 2020. Many others say by 2016 and some others think in 2012. Yet, in this future super-power Christianity is growing with current numbers ranging from 80 to 120 million Christians. This nearly 100 fold increase in just over 60 years.

My point with all of this is that there are other factors besides science and atheistic ideas that could have major influence on the direction our country goes in terms of belief and saying something like, "it will all go extinct soon" is very ignorant when looking at what is happening in our world.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: " Explain to me once again why RELIGION leads to violence."

I'll assume that you're asking why religion, rather than an atheistic mindset, is supposed to be more prone to violence. (I don't think one needs to look very hard to see religion as a cause of violent disagreement throughout history and the present day.) And I'll also assume that you mean that your religion, as you understand and interpret in your present context, is less violent than a worldview that includes atheism.

It seems like there are several ways to address the question you ask. 1) Is the answer to the moral dilemma that Harris offers more or less violent than the answer offered, on balance, by adherents from all religions? and 2) is the answer to the moral dilemma that Harris offers more or less violent than the answer that you would expect from adherents of your religion? and 3) are the set of answers to moral questions that Harris offers more or less violent, on balance, than those of other religions or the answers that you would expect from adherents of your religion?

VR: "In the Christian community, these kinds of statements went out with the Wars of Religion."

The Christian community is, from an outsider's perspective, tremendously splintered and divided over a vast array of moral dilemma questions like the one Harris asks.

A side question I'd ask you is, if you believed as Sam Harris does that there is no Christian or other God, would you answer the one he asks or others like it differently? The reason I ask is that if I imagine that I believed in the Christian story, I don't think that I would have a different moral outlook than the one I currently espouse -- I believe I could find the justification in Christianity for every moral answer I now give.

Anonymous said...

Why does atheism lead to violence?

After all every Officially Atheistic Government in History has been a murderous dictatorship, and by murderous I mean on a scale unprecedented in human history.

To say atheim has nothing to do with this is just Denial.

On a side note; some Asshole has already posted a negative review of the new John Loftus book.

What impudent gall!


A Theist

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony Fleming

This is one of the best comments I have read for quite some time. Many of your points are indeed big challenges that humanity will need to face front-on. No doubt about it. We, as a species, indeed have great problems and issues ahead of us, economically, environmentally, and socially. But again, i don't think religion can contribute much to addressing these issues. In my outline below, I think you will see the reason for this.

Yes, the rise in christianity in China has been remarkable and there seems to be a sort of wary circling between the communists and the christians at the moment. The communists seem to be somewhat ambivalent about the rise of christianity, especially the protestant form but they do keep a very wary eye on the catholics. They [the communists] seem content at the moment that so long as house churches remain private the government seems to tolerate them. But I have no doubt that in the not too distant future the communists will have to concede and allow christianity into the governing mix. Otherwise there will be blood on the sand.
As far as I am concerned anything to rid communism is a good thing. Having said that, from my perspective christianity would not have been my preferred strategy, because as the country matures and becomes settled into a good, safe and clean place to live, it will inevitably repeat history and have to address the significant downside challenges that superstitious supernaturalism brings with it, pretty much as the US is going through now. But whatever is occurring in China now is better than communism. Period.

In Europe, the scourge of Islam will probably reek a terrible price for humanity. Competing religions always do. History has shown that.

With it, global geopolitics is changing very dramatically, almost within a generation. As the old paradigm of christians vs muslims is coming to an end between the West and the Middle East re Iraq War, Afghanistan war, democratic change in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and now Syria, the new religious front line war to emerge will be between a Christian China and a Muslim Europe.

Religion is humanity's last remaining connection with our prehistoric past.


Anthony, some further quick points:
1. Yes, wherever there is poverty, stress, insecurity or existential fear, religion will always be circling. Religion is inextricably linked to the generating of poverty exacerbated by almost non-existent access to health and medical services.
2. With many Hispanics crossing the border from poverty, drug wars, etc religion will be also crossing, because religion is a euphemism for poverty, destitution and fear. Religion thrives on it.
3. Re birth rates. I don't think increased birth rates is a function of Islam per se, but rather a function of poverty, disease and destitution. Most of those economic refugees from Mexico will also be prone to larger families, and not only through the Catholic regime mandate but principally through less-than-ideal living conditions and standards south of the border.

Cheers

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton,

You made some very good points and I agree with most of them. The idea of the future religious battle being between Muslim Europe and Christian China is very insightful and mind-blowing. While I am not sure "how" it will come about, or what it all entails, it does make sense.

It seems however from your points that you no longer believe that religion is going to go extinct anytime soon. Is this accurate?

Morrison you wrote, "Sam Harris hates believers as much as Hitchens does."

I have bias in this issue because I happen to like Christopher Hitchens. He is incredibly fascinating. Still, in his book God Is Not Great he mentions different people including Christians and Muslims who have been and are his friends. In Dinesh's book Life After Death: The Evidence he talks about Hitchens and him going out for drinks together. Hitchens even wrote "praise" for that book on the back cover. My point is that I do not believe he hates believers. He definitely shows an elitist attitude towards them but that could just be the "Oxford" talking. :)

Papalinton said...

Anthony Fleming

"It seems however from your points that you no longer believe that religion is going to go extinct anytime soon. Is this accurate?"

Yes. Never have, never will. And there is no need for extinction. Extinction generally is a bad thing. It reduces us to homogeneity, to a mono-culture. Every person is entitled to adopt their worldview as best fits to guide their own lives. Christian are no less entitled to that right. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, indeed freedom generally, is a treasured commodity to be protected at all times. But no one should live under christian domination.

Secular humanism is the glue that binds us all regardless of the form of theism we chose. This is fundamental to Democracy, to diversity, to heterogeneity. Religion has had far too greater an influence in society at the political level. When it enters the political domain it is only about the wielding of power for its sectional interest.

Democracy is all about balancing the uses of power, be it corporate, multinational, religious or any other sectional interest. These must all be balanced. In the US as it is here in Australia, there has been far too great a deference to religion, well beyond its deserving of it. The US is in the process of rightsizing its society.

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony Fleming

Further to my comments, triggered by your thoughts there are a couple of other aspects that are pertinent to the overview.

While I appreciate the wonderful outflow of invective from Morrison and Anonymous they are wrongheaded on the issue of atheism per se.

Atheism is not something one would die for. But it does have a very strong link to the scientific method and science in general because of the great and wonderful inventions, knowledge and procedures that have improved human well-being and life chances so enormously. As with any area, science has its downside and can be abused and misused. And atheism is the only champion of science of science while religion generally wants to tear sections of it down for ancient reasons.
At the end of the USSR the people didn't stay atheist, because most were not atheists, regardless of the official line. So when Communism finally crumbled, most of the people simply went in search of another 'faith' and went back or reverted to Russian Orthodoxy. It was the exchange of one religion with another. I think you will find this to be the case with Poland as well, together with most of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. It wasn't a case of atheists becoming christians, it was communists becoming christians. It seems atheist is pretty constant in Russia today, and probably not much different to the statistical average.

Through anthropology and psychology some very interesting insights are emerging about atheists and atheism in general. And some of it not that endearing.

Religion is a group phenomenon; a person is either born into an authentic, traditional religious community (like a tribal religion) or, in the voluntarist style of Christianity and other world religions [Islam, Buddhism, and many newer ones], joins the religion. Conversely, atheism has typically resisted group formation. Atheists are notorious non-joiners; As David Eller notes [ Atheism Advanced ISBN978 1 57884 002 1]: "" .. it has been bemoaned over and over that atheists are not group-oriented and tend to be somewhere between individualists and loners. Atheists are infamously difficult to corral into organizations and to lead once they have been corralled (not that religionists are any less prone to disagreement and schism). [cont]

Papalinton said...

@ Anthony [cont]

Atheists groups have a tendency to be fractious, volatile, and transient" [p.238]

Eller goes on to conclude that atheist individualism is not a principle of atheism so much as a personality trait of atheists. Eller, "One can be atheistic in a group, but one can *only* be religious in a group. Therefore, there is perhaps something about groups that is antithetical to being atheistic and something about being atheistic that is antithetical to groups."

I don't subscribe to this view, as it doesn't account for the many theistic people who are by their very nature, loners, such as monks, isolated sects and Orders etc. However, Eller does say that to develop this hypothesis, " ... we must learn more about groups and their proclivities." [P.239]

So, despite the unfounded or prophesied concerns of Morrison and Anonymous etc, I don't think atheists are going to take over the world at any time, let alone any time soon.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Finally Anthony

"The idea of the future religious battle being between Muslim Europe and Christian China is very insightful and mind-blowing. While I am not sure "how" it will come about, or what it all entails, it does make sense."


Only we humans, cautious, careful and balanced and level-headed, all of us together, will prevent tragedy on both sides. And from that perspective I'm not sure religious ecumenism is capable of stretching that far, mindful of the current stock of religious 'leading lights' on both sides and their proclivities. These two giant religions are aggressive proselytizing phenomena, they are about winning; For them, living peacefully is achievable, but *only* on their own terms.

Peace out the window.

Ilíon said...

"... In the Christian community, these kinds of statements went out with the Wars of Religion."

The important question is not whether such propositions are fashionable, but whether they are true.

Ilíon said...

"... As I said, they are an interesting species. God love them."

One hopes ... for it's for sure that no one else does.

Ilíon said...

THe "Mecca Option" isn't stupid, and it stands a good chance of working.

Islam is not Judeo-Christianity. It has a different psychology and "theory of reality," and different incentives and motivations. Since Islam explicitly teaches -- right there in the Koran -- that Allah directly controls *all* events (they're like ulta-hyper-Calvinists, in that regard), were that stone they were commanded to worship destroyed, all Moslems would suffer a severe crisis of faith, of a sort for which Islam cannot, in principle, supply a satisfactory answer.

Anonymous said...

were that stone they were commanded to worship destroyed

I have a gut feeling that this will happen eventually, perhaps within the next couple of centuries or so. But insofar as this is accomplished via nuking the entire city and vaporizing millions of innocents, the "Mecca Option" remains absurd. Killing large numbers of innocents doesn't quite reflect the ethic of Jesus, in my opinion. Furthermore, the subsequent Muslim riots that would erupt with unprecedented rage all over the world would claim even more innocent lives. I mean, we're dealing with people for whom burning a Qur'an or drawing Muhammad engenders global mass-murder. I cannot even fathom how vicious their response will be if the "Great Satan" bombs their holiest site.

There are simply more sensible ways out there to counteract the Islamic Jihad.

GREV said...

Tony said -- " The reason I ask is that if I imagine that I believed in the Christian story, I don't think that I would have a different moral outlook than the one I currently espouse -- I believe I could find the justification in Christianity for every moral answer I now give."

I look forward to what you write as I find your comments enlightening.

But the above is a familiar though understandable misrepresentation of the issue as Christians often make their belief entirely about morality.

GREV said...

Paps -- your sermons continue to be interesting.

Morrison said...

I would certainly agree that atheism is not worth dying for, but the problem is that many atheists who have had the political power to carry out their plans HAVE felt it is worth making others die for atheism.

This is historical fact, and of course atheists are very vociferous in going into Denial over it.

They have to.

Ilíon said...

Someone has an interesting definition of 'interesting.'

Ilíon said...

Who needs to nuke Mecca to destroy the Kaaba? A barrage of cruise missiles dould do the trick.

Nevertheless, destorying the Kaaba would lead to tens of millions of deaths world-wide, as Moslems begin to slaughter one another.

Morrison said...

That is why atheists like Harris and Loftus co author Hector Avalos like to talk about the Mecca Option.

Of course, that is not Harris's only tactic...you still have tortue and pre-emptice nuclear war on the table.

And, historically, atheists with the political power to do so have loved to torture believers.

GREV said...

Sarcasm doesn't work well on internet postings. Interesting is a polite word to describe Paps sermons. I appreciate Victor allowing everyone a chance to be heard. But some seem to abuse that privilege.

Karl Grant said...

llion,

1) The Kaaba has already been destroyed before. In a war between two Muslim rulers it was hit by siege artillery. Later the wreckage was razed and a new structure built in its place. The fact Muslim generals and soldiers were willing to risk hitting it with artillery and a Muslim ruler was willing to raze it and build a new structure in place of the old one suggests the Kaaba valued for its historical significance. If Muslims themselves are willing to risk destroying the Kaaba, what makes you think us destroying it will cause Islam to collapse?

2) The Black Stone has also been stolen and defiled before (see above link). Islam did not collapse because of that either.

destorying the Kaaba would lead to tens of millions of deaths world-wide, as Moslems begin to slaughter one another.

Doubtful. More than likely, the anger and outrage would settle on us (and in this case it would very much be justifiable). More to the point, Mecca is in Saudi Arabia and last time I checked Saudi Arabia is a US ally. If we commit an act of terror (and make no mistake, what you are advocating is a terrorist act) against our ally you can pretty much kiss most of our other allies goodbye.

So you want to provoke a major war, possibly a world war, with an act that would strip us of allies we will need if we hope to win that war? That does not sound like a recipe for success.

Papalinton said...

Hi GREV

"I appreciate Victor allowing everyone a chance to be heard."

As I do too GREV. And yes there are those who abuse the privilege.

B. Prokop said...

I am appalled that anyone is discussing this so called "Mecca Option" other than with absolute disgust and condemnation. This is way, way beneath this website!

I am no fan of Islam, but we shouldn't even be thinking about such things. It's no better than the Taliban blowing up the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the Soviets razing Orthodox churches in the Stalin era, or Cromwell desecrating the cathedrals of England.

Morrison said...

Good point, Grev, its much more that Loftus allows on his site while he bad mouths Victor and calls him names.

Of course, he does more than censor, but that's another story.

Karl Grant said...

B. Prokop,

I am appalled that anyone is discussing this so called "Mecca Option" other than with absolute disgust and condemnation.

Agreed, but just saying your disgusted by the thought is not going to convince someone like Harris or llion that it is a real, real bad idea.

BenYachov said...

God as the author of life has the moral authority to take like it at will.

However such a command to kill whole populations could not come without a public revelation. All public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle so there exists no moral authority for a Mecca option.


OTOH if God wants to drop an Asteroid from space on top of Mecca He is free to do so. The only thing we can do is what Abraham tried to do for Sodom. Pray to God and intercede in hopes of turning back the destruction.

>>"Christianity is a MENTAL DISEASE that causes people to KILL QUEERS!."

>It is and they did. And the bible supports it.

Technically the Bible supports executing men who have public anal sex with other men(or Gentile women). I do remember reading somewhere there are no examples in the Mishna of gays being put to death. There are stories of lone Rabbis encountering gay dudes having at it in some isolated area of the world & having the gays threaten them. But as far as we can tell nobody in ancient Israel felt it was necessary to have anal sex in public between persons of the same gender.

Tradition is such an illumination to Scripture. Gotta luv ex-fundamentalists who can't seem to shake their fundie mentality when it comes to reading Scripture.

They are such idiots.

Ilíon said...

It is exactly the sort of pseudo-Christian false-maorality and/or "liberal" moralistic preening, which some persons have expressed in this thread, that makes it more, rather than less, likely that Mecca, and other Moslem cities, will eventually be nuked.

This moralistic preening -- Look at me! I'm more "moral" than God -- fostered the installation the 'Islamic Republic of Iran', and all the evils which have followed from that.

This moralistic preening demanded, and acheived, the abandonment of the peoples of SE Asia to the mass-murderers of communism.

====
God does not command us to commit suicide, neither as individuals nor as societies. He commands, in fact, the opposite.

All Moslems, as Moslems, are the mortal enemies of all human beings, including other Moslems -- for, due to the nature and commands of that demon they worship, the only good Moslem is a bad Moslem; and one never knows when a bad Moslem will decide to become Islamically observant.

Ilíon said...

Sam Harris:Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.

Victor Reppert: "... these kinds of statements went out with the Wars of Religion."

Apples and Oranges, Dude!

If a man believes that he has the right to kill you -- not for any crime or gross immorality you have committed, but simply because you live and breathe -- then it is moral to kill him before he murders you.

If an entire socirty believes it has the right to kill you (individually and collectively) -- not for any crime or gross immorality you have committed, but simply because you live and breathe -- then it is moral to kill them before they murder you.

===
God does not institute governments among men simply to confiscate their earnings and redistribute the loot to its supporters; but rather to punish evil-doers, both internal and external to the society the government rules/controls. Any government which refuses to do its primary duty -- protecting the lives and propery of its subject, or, failing that, avenging them -- is one which God will shortly destroy.

Karl Grant said...

llion,

fostered the installation the 'Islamic Republic of Iran', and all the evils which have followed from that.

Here I thought it was because a CIA orchestrated coup overthrew Iran's democratic government in 1953 and put a brutal dictatorship in its place. All because Iran had nationalized assets belonging to a British oil company (Anglo Iranian Oil Company to be exact, now known as British Petroleum or BP), by the way.

for, due to the nature and commands of that demon they worship,

And here I thought they worshiped the same God as the Jews and the Christians.

Morrison said...

Ilion, if I understand you correctly, you agree that it is ethical to kill people for what they believe?

Not just their actions, or for having done anything. bit for what they believe?

Well, that is what the atheist fanatic Sam Harris believes...the trouble is, what beliefs qualify?

Well, that will be determined by the atheist fanatic Sam Harris.

Of course, this kind of thing has been done before.

But it will fail.

Whoever you really are, thanks for the warning.

Morrison said...

Ilion, if I understand you correctly, you agree that it is ethical to kill people for what they believe?

Not just their actions, or for having done anything. bit for what they believe?

Well, that is what the atheist fanatic Sam Harris believes...the trouble is, what beliefs qualify?

Well, that will be determined by the atheist fanatic Sam Harris.

Of course, this kind of thing has been done before.

But it will fail.

Whoever you really are, thanks for the warning.

Mike Darus said...

A lot more light could come from this discussion if it was more instrospective than blame shifting. Theists need to admit the great evils done in the name of faith and atheists need to find a ground for morality. It is good for all of us to consider to what lengths will we go to defend ourselves and our beliefs.

The reality is that hose posting here will not kill anyone for what they believe. The situation would be extreme (like Ilion's self defense) where we would defend the morality of someone else killing based on a belief, opinion, or ideology.

We have more refined methods of dispatching one another on a daily basis.

Tony Hoffman said...

Criticizing Harris for his statement seems a little too easy to me. It seems like Harris is confessing that moral dilemmas exist, and that they need to be faced. Is the counter that Christians (or some other group) don't face moral dilemmas?

BenYachov said...

There can be no moral justification for nuking Mecca.

None at all. Only those with Lawful, God given authority, may take life(i.e. a government).

Governments may not deliberately and directly take the lives of the innocent. God can pronounce judgement on populations for His own purposes but like I said that can only come with a divine Public Revelation. All Public Revelation ceases with the Death of the Last Apostle(i.e. likely it was John).

Thus even a Government today can't order the destruction of a whole population.

Thus nuking Mecca is out. Beside Scripture says God takes to pleasure in the death of the wicked but in their conversion.

From the perspective of natural law Muslims do worship the same God as we do. But they have incorrect beliefs about him.

BenYachov said...

Harris just seems hypocritical to me. On the one hand he channels the Hitchens/Dawkins weirdness, shameless double standards and "no true Scotsmen" fallacy in regards to the crimes of atheist governments vs religious ones.

Yet he says this nonsense?

Weird.

BTW it's not an ethical dilemma. I have no problem with idiots believing it's moral to force me to believe something.

It's only when they try to carry out that belief will I response with sufficient force against such jerkoffs.

Let them be put on notice. If you really teach God's Truth I invite Him to move my heart towards you. Attempt to force me against my conscience you will pay dearly.

Of course Catholicism teaches it is a sin to force a person to go against their conscience even an erroneous one(i.e. one that believe a relatively false religion or no religion).

JS Allen said...

"Criticizing Harris for his statement seems a little too easy to me. It seems like Harris is confessing that moral dilemmas exist, and that they need to be faced. Is the counter that Christians (or some other group) don't face moral dilemmas?"

Not really. If he wanted to talk about moral dilemmas, he could use much better examples, like organ donor markets.

By focusing on political Islam, he is simply pandering to public opinion and jingoism, while sneaking in anti-religious bigotry through the side door. He essentially punk'd the entire audience of his TED talk by getting them to give a standing ovation to the idea of prosecuting thought crimes.

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen: "By focusing on political Islam, he is simply pandering to public opinion and jingoism, while sneaking in anti-religious bigotry through the side door."

Yeah, I've never read the book -- does anybody have link showing the statement from the OP in its original context? (I didn't know he was talking about Islam, for starters.)

JS Allen said...

@Tony - I think Chris Hallquist recently quoted some of it on his blog. But you can get the idea by watching his TED talk which is available for free online. It's a real masterpiece, since the audience at TED like to think of themselves as particularly open-minded and sophisticated. It's shocking how quickly he gets them to hoot and holler like rednecks.

His strategy is something like this:

1) Women are being oppressed. You are all sophisticated enough to be hip to feminism, aren't you?

2) The oppression is perpetrated by fundamentalists who are analogous to Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson. You guys don't want to be associated with dirty barbarians like that, do you?

3) Fundamentalists are religious. Religion is bad. If any of you are believers, you're probably the sophisticated non-religious types, right?

4) KILL ISLAM! (standing ovation)


It's ridiculous. Sam seems incapable of imagining that political Islam is the tool of a political process, or that the people in the middle east are rational human beings instead of brainwashed zombies bent on oppressing women.

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen, I just looked on Chris Hallquist's blog, and the only entry on Harris I found defends Harris with statements like this:

"When it comes to many of the things Harris has caught flak for from liberals–war, torture, and so on–I think the problem is that Harris provides an unusually frank discussion of questions where he fears we have no good options. As Harris himself notes, it’s quite likely that our brains just didn’t evolve to think well about many of these questions. So no surprise that Harris’ frankness would make some people uncomfortable, and mistake “all the options may be horrible” for “Yay! Let’s do something horrible!”

What I'd really like to see is a piece of writing or transcript -- it seems like there are single quotes (without context) or paraphrasing here that may be more nuanced in its full version. (And it's hard for me to set aside 45 minutes to an hour to listen to something like a TED talk.)

Dustin Crummett said...

"The link between belief and behaviour raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense. This is what the United States attempted in Afghanistan, and it is what we and other Western powers are bound to attempt, at an even greater cost to ourselves and to innocents abroad, elsewhere in the Muslim world. We will continue to spill blood in what is, at bottom, a war of ideas. "

Tony Hoffman said...

Dustin, thanks.

BenYachov said...

Oh Bugger! I really should start using the google account. At least I can edit.

Should say "Thus nuking Mecca is out. Beside Scripture says God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but in their conversion."

Anonymous said...

Of course Harris' words taken at face value......I have one question how can atheists like Loftus or Hector Avalos then complain about how Old Testament Israel dealt with the Canaanites and or the Midianites?

Morrison said...

Sam Harris say some propositions are so dangerous it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.

Who decides which propositions qualify?

What if belief in Jesus Christ is considered too dangerous for the state to allow believers to live?

That has happened before. It will happen again.

What if teaching creationism is considered too dangerous for the state to allow believers to live?

Don't tell me it can't happen.

Sam Harris is an evil man.

GREV said...

Anyone familiar with the work of Samuel Huntington will I believe recognize degrees of similarity between the quote from Harris and the thesis put forth by Huntington.

Mike Darus said...

What if Harris had said, “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for promoting them?”

Tony Hoffman said...

Okay, so my take on Harris's comments (in the context of the paragraph provided by Dustin), is not that Harris is necessarily advocating that we should kill people for what they believe, but asking us to admit that we already do. He even provides the example of our war in Afghanistan since 2001 -- an action initiated by (by my account, at least) what may be our most religious President.

So I think Harris's point is interesting -- is it the opinion of Christian here that it was not ethical to send troops to fight in Afghanistan after 2001, and if not, why not?

Karl Grant said...

Tony,

There is a difference in self-defense (defending yourself after attacked) and killing somebody who holds a different belief then you do and who might someday pose a threat. We are not attacking the Taliban or Al-Qaeda because they have different beliefs, we are attacking them because there is a big hole in the ground where the Twin Towers use to be.

Furthermore, this is not a war of religious beliefs regardless of what Harris thinks. Al-Qaeda may use religion to try and justify their actions but their goals are political in nature (withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East, cease support of Israel). America converting to Islam isn't one of them. And don't forget the Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden back in 2001 an offer Bush rejected.

And while Bush may have been one of America's more fundamental Christian presidents, that hasn't stopped people like Harris and Hitchens from turning into apologists for his administration. Hell, Hitchens pretty much became a wind-up doll for the Bush Administration. Make of that what you will.

Tony Hoffman said...

Karl: “There is a difference in self-defense (defending yourself after attacked) and killing somebody who holds a different belief then you do and who might someday pose a threat.

Agreed.

Karl: “We are not attacking the Taliban or Al-Qaeda because they have different beliefs, we are attacking them because there is a big hole in the ground where the Twin Towers use to be.”

I think you may be unnecessarily abstracting what is going on here. Not everyone in the Taliban today (or even in 2001) attacked the U.S. on 9/11. We are not singling out those who attacked us on 9/11 from those who agree with and belong to the Taliban now. We are targeting, and killing, the Taliban -- including individuals who joined the Taliban this year, who were children on 9/11. Those are the facts, and Harris did not command it so.

Karl: “Furthermore, this is not a war of religious beliefs regardless of what Harris thinks. Al-Qaeda may use religion to try and justify their actions but their goals are political in nature (withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East, cease support of Israel). America converting to Islam isn't one of them.”

I agree that this is not a clash of religions per se, but I think you are being naive about Islam, and what it means to be an Islamist. Yes, the Taliban has immediate goals and demands. But their endgame is a world in which Islam is the only religion. Islamists see their history as a series of back-and-forths but in an inevitable progression where the end is an Islamic world, and one in which religion and politics must not and cannot be separated. Sharia is not just a religious practice; it is also political. (I think it’s a weakness of the Western mind that we assume that competing powers understand the need for separation of Church and State as we do.)

Karl Grant said...

Tony,

I think you may be unnecessarily abstracting what is going on here. Not everyone in the Taliban today (or even in 2001) attacked the U.S. on 9/11. We are not singling out those who attacked us on 9/11 from those who agree with and belong to the Taliban now. We are targeting, and killing, the Taliban -- including individuals who joined the Taliban this year, who were children on 9/11. Those are the facts, and Harris did not command it so.

That's what happens when armies clash. We killed Japanese who hadn't bombed us at Pearl Harbor and who hadn't been soldiers in 1941, many of which bore us no ill will or particularly wanted to fight. But when homes, friends, family, their country were threatened they still fought. Same thing here, the majority of terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation. We attacked and invaded their country, we have bombed their towns and cities. It is only natural the Taliban should have new recruits.

But their endgame is a world in which Islam is the only religion.

Based on what I have read, they were predominately Pashtun nationalists, concerned mostly with Pakistan and Afghanistan and the creation of an independent Pashtun state. As far as I know world domination wasn't on the agenda.

I think it’s a weakness of the Western mind that we assume that competing powers understand the need for separation of Church and State as we do.

Mind explaining why there are several secular states with majority Muslim populations?

Anonymous said...

Karl,

Those "secular states" are secular in letter but not in spirit. In Indonesia, for example, Christian school girls have been beheaded on their way to school by Muslims for the mere "crime" of being Christian. In 2008 in the Turkish city of Iskenderum, a Christian archbishop was stabbed 8 times in the heart and then beheaded by a young Muslim screaming "allahu akbar!," and many priests have been murdered in Turkey since then.

Whether via government rule or not, anywhere there is a majority of Muslims, the Muslims oppress the non-Muslims.

JS Allen said...

"Harris is necessarily advocating that we should kill people for what they believe, but asking us to admit that we already do. He even provides the example of our war in Afghanistan since 2001 -- an action initiated by (by my account, at least) what may be our most religious President."

More proof that Harris is an ignorant redneck. Everyone knows that we invaded Afghanistan for 1) Strategic control of oil pipelines 2) Military base on Chinese border 3) Elimination of a regime that protected OBL, to make an example of them

America never kills people for thought crimes. Our politicians are far too pragmatic for that.

Karl Grant said...

Anon,

Those "secular states" are secular in letter but not in spirit. In Indonesia, for example, Christian school girls have been beheaded on their way to school by Muslims for the mere "crime" of being Christian

Have you looked at the newspapers in America recently? A Sacramento man sentenced for beating Sikh cab driver because he thought he was Muslim. Soldiers allege army ruined their lives because they were Muslim. Man stabbed because he said he was Muslim Then there is all the talk about banning Sharia law in America by our politicians.

The point is that you can find intolerant, bigoted assholes in any group. And whither it is official government policy or not does matter. Governments can't be held accountable for the actions of their nations' criminals. Unless, of course, you want how America treats its minorities to solely be judged on the actions of groups like the KKK.

BenYachov said...

I agree in principle with Karl that what motivates terrorism these days is largely political not religious.

But I disavow the left-wing propaganda he cites.

Huffington post? Plueez!

But debating politics bores me.

I prefer a left-wing Theist to a Right-wing Gnu'Atheist any day days of the week.

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen: "More proof that Harris is an ignorant redneck. Everyone knows that we invaded Afghanistan for 1) Strategic control of oil pipelines 2) Military base on Chinese border 3) Elimination of a regime that protected OBL, to make an example of them."

I don't think I buy that. If Al Quaeda had been based on the Ivory Coast, for instance, I think we would have approached the problem in a similar way that we confronted the Taliban in Afghanistan. There may be underlying strategic considerations, but this doesn't eliminate the fact that we are targeting those whose ideology threatens us. We didn't continue to bomb Japan, for instance, to regain access to strategic resources (we had already regained that) but to compel them to renounce an ideology that would continue to threaten those resources.

JS Allen said...

I think we need an objective way to distinguish between cases where actions are motivated by wanting to stamp out an ideology, versus other, more pragmatic motivations. Otherwise, it's just "he said, she said".

There are plenty of places in the world which have imposed Shariah law and hate the West, where we don't intervene militarily. Northern Nigeria, Somalia, Abu Sayyif in Philippines, Indonesia, etc. In fact, we're fighting on the side of Al Qaeda against Qaddafi right now, and sided with the Muslim extremists against Mubarrak.

Anonymous said...

JS Allen says, "Everyone knows that we invaded Afghanistan for strategic control of oil pipelines."

Uhh, there are no oil pipelines in Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

Karl,

The point is that you can find intolerant, bigoted assholes in any group.

True. But what you hardly ever find is explicit affirmation by the relevant religious authority/tradition of the intolerant, bigoted assholes' behavior. However, this is the case within the Islamic world. Every time Muslims behead a non-Muslim, take up child brides, bomb churches, etc., they are acting from within a broad, mainstream, and theologically-sound tradition in Islam that has been the prevalent form of Islam since the religion's inception, and very often these scumbags cite such authority as justification for their actions. (e.g., they cite the example of the founder Muhammad, and Muhammad himself - whom Muslims are told by their holy texts is the perfect man that they must strive to emulate - was a warlord who married a small girl, had multiple wives, and beheaded Christians and Jews during his wars of aggressive expansion.)

And this traditional, oppressive form of Islam is the dominant one being taught throughout all of the major Islamic schools of theology in the world. For instance, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the foremost authority in Sunni Islam, advocates the criminalization of criticism of Islam, advocates the subjugation of Christians and Jews residing in Muslim lands, and also advocates violent, global warfare against the entire non-Muslim world. As another example, the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach things like (1) the penalty for leaving Islam is death, and that (2) the life of a non-Muslim is intrinsically inferior to that of a Muslim.

No such theological backing can be found for the actions of the "Christian" KKK members or the "Christian" Nazis, so your wholesale grouping together of groups is misguided. Bigoted, intolerant behavior is, and always has been, institutionalized in Islam. It is not institutionalized in, say, Christianity.



[for the record, I believe that 9/11 was due to both foreign occupation and Islamic beliefs. Both were necessary components. Our being over there basically stoked the flames of their already inherent hatred, which originates from Islam. Occupation was a bad idea, but what many then fail to grasp is that, given the tenets of the dominant form of the faith, Islam will eventually attack the West in some form or another regardless of what we do.]

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen: "I think we need an objective way to distinguish between cases where actions are motivated by wanting to stamp out an ideology, versus other, more pragmatic motivations. Otherwise, it's just "he said, she said"."

Agreed. But I don't know if that one's achievable -- look at the consensus about why we fought the U.S. Civil War, for instance.

JS Allen: "There are plenty of places in the world which have imposed Shariah law and hate the West, where we don't intervene militarily. Northern Nigeria, Somalia, Abu Sayyif in Philippines, Indonesia, etc. In fact, we're fighting on the side of Al Qaeda against Qaddafi right now, and sided with the Muslim extremists against Mubarrak."

Agreed that we don't intervene everywhere we have ideological disagreements. But I think that Harris's point stands, that we do indeed intervene when an ideology proves that it will cause us immediate harm (because those who hold that ideology have the capability to do so). We did not start killing the Taliban and members of Al Quaeda there because they acquired new capabilities -- we started killing them when they demonstrated that their ideology could cause us harm and would continue to do so. (Another way of looking at this is Nigeria, which has much more significant strategic advantages than does Afghanistan. The difference between our belligerence toward these two states is largely in their controlling ideologies.)

JS Allen said...

"Uhh, there are no oil pipelines in Afghanistan."

Nobody said there were, moron.

Everyone knows that the U.S. is pushing TAP pipeline through Afghanistan, to avoid IPI pipeline through Iran. Western multinationals have invested billions of dollars in betting on TAP through Afghanistan, and this is why establishing security in Afghanistan is so critical.

U.S. and UK multinational efforts to establish a sphere of influence in Afghanistan purely for an oil pipeline significantly predate 9/11. This is not some new thing; it is an incredibly expensive long-term effort, and somewhat desperate last-ditch effort as China and Russia establish spheres of influence over other important pipelines.

Karl Grant said...

Anon,

But what you hardly ever find is explicit affirmation by the relevant religious authority/tradition of the intolerant, bigoted assholes' behavior.

Statements and actions by many Muslim leaders beg to differ.

was a warlord who married a small girl, had multiple wives, and beheaded Christians and Jews during his wars of aggressive expansion

That description could easily fit most contemporary leaders in Muhammad's time, not to mention a varity of Old Testament figures. Polygamy could be found in biblical and postbiblical Judaism. Child marriages were common, even in Europe, well into the Middle Ages. Many Biblical figures were military leaders (David, Moses, etc...)

Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the foremost authority in Sunni Islam...

Are we talking about the same Al-Azhar University who issued a condemnation of attacks on Christian churches? Whose students and faculty formed human shields to protect Christian churches during the Christmas mass? Were do you get your information from?

the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach things like (1) the penalty for leaving Islam is death, and that (2) the life of a non-Muslim is intrinsically inferior to that of a Muslim.

Actually, there is quite a few Muslim scholars and clerics who oppose any penalty for apostay.


No such theological backing can be found for the actions of the "Christian" KKK members or the "Christian" Nazis,

You have obviously never heard of Christian Identity:

http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/againsthate/Journal1/ostendorf.pdf

http://www.sullivan-county.com/id2/iden1.htm

http://www.rickross.com/reference/christian_identity/christianidentity19.html

Now you can say these groups pervert Christian theology and I agree to that. However, mainstream Muslims say the same thing about Al-Qeada.

Anonymous said...

The man's a barbarian.

Ilíon said...

Anon,
THe issue is not whether Harris is ahbarbarian (or an ass-het, which he is). The issue is whether the specific thing he said is correct. And, it is. His reasoning behind it may be incorrect (I make no statement about that); how he would apply it may well be incorrect (and I expect it would be); but the statement itself is correct.

cl said...

Gimli 4 the West,

Just remember the posts of what John Loftus would do to you if only he had the power.

Can you point us to these posts? That sounds really interesting...

Anonymous said...

I have lot of respect for most atheists, but this guy harris is no more than a neocon checken-hawk. BTW, I'm southamerican, and as a somewhat leftist christian I see myself WAY MORE progressive than any neocon (wether atheiis, chistian, or whatever)

Att: mountainguy

Mike Blansit said...

Sam Harris should be killed. Sam Himmler & the Thought Police. Harris is weak, fearful, & has become that which he purports to despise.