Thursday, October 27, 2005

Traitor? Betrayer? Enabler?

Victoria bought Sam Harris' The End of Faith for me....she's like that. Well, it took me almost 2 weeks to read. Very dense. But the biggest reason it took so long was that almost every paragraph I would stop and go "YEA!".

Harris just rips into those with faith, savaging Moslems, Jews and Christians alike. But after 1/2 the book, I realized that the people he was most upset with, were people like me.

We who have tossed off the shackles of faith but allow others to wallow in the mire. In my previous post I used the situation of a plane crashing. We can not throw the passengers out of the crashing plane, they will not go. They will fight tooth and nail to stay in the plane because there is a slight chance, maybe no more than .0001% that they will survive, but if they jump without a parachute, they will die. People can not give up on faith because to do so means they will die and very few people like that idea, even fewer look forward to it.

Of course one of the problems with our general society is that people are willing to tolerate a certain level of bad things happening to themselves and others because the afterlife will be better. If there were no afterlife, well then, people would have to make things better here because here is all we have.

How many suicide bombers would there be if they didn't believe they were going somewhere better upon their death?

The primary issue in The End of Faith is that those with dangerous beliefs about dying and faith (those that think killing is not only sanctioned but encouraged) once could be allowed to go to their bitter end in relative isolation, but no more. Radical (and he does not like that word because it suggests that it lets others with similar beliefs but less enthusiasm off the hook) Moslems can now jump a plane and within hours be anywhere on the planet with weapons much worse than a knife or gun.

The problem with ME is that I do not call those with faith on their irrationality when it pops up. Victoria is the exception but even there I don't dare go 'overboard' in the interest of familia harmony.

Many friends and family will recall a time when I proclaimed their faith was insufficient, that God was calling to them to quit being lukewarm. An attempt to now proclaim that even their lukewarmness is now affront to all that is rational would be met with a similar shaking of the head and overt dismissal as Tracy goes off the deep end again.

The plane is crashing but the passengers feel safe and secure. That the passengers would allow a 'lunatic' to shout and demand everyone jump off is highly unlikely. So what is the choice? Continue to allow friends and family, our entire society, to continue in their comfortable disdain of rationality? Continue to betray our own sense of reason and quietly accept everyone else's incoherence? Or turn our back on reason altogether and just accept that for 95% of the people, faith is more important that reason, that beliefs in the impossible are more important than facts, that religion is more sustaining than civilization?

I don't want people to fear death...that is like fearing breathing. Unfortunately, those that have NO fear of death are exactly the people that right now threaten so many of us. But people need the parachute, they will not jump without it. And given the overwhelming appearance that those that actually do an indepth study of religion STILL adhere to their beliefs, even rational discourse is not possible. Harris believes that no amount of facts, logic or reason will change a single mind devoted to faith. From the moment you claim not to believe, people of faith are on the defensive. The only people that reach the point of abandoning faith are those that do so themselves and not because someone convinced them.

There are not even 3 people that I think could read Harris' book and get any value out of it. What does that say about the range of friends I have?

What do I do with my new found ammunition? Well, it appears my only choice for now, is you!


Blogger Seva Alieva said...

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9:36 PM  

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