Atheists Leaders Embrace the Spiritual

Atheist activist Jerry Coyne gushes about Sam Harris’s spiritual life:

As my blurb notes, it’s a wide journey through the land of spirituality, ranging from the latest findings of neuroscience to a chapter on gurus Sam has known. He recounts his experiences with drugs, and tells us what he’s gained from his own many years of Buddhist study and meditation.

Wow. A a wide journey through the land of spirituality? I thought atheism was nothing more than a lack of belief. It turns out we can’t define Sam’s atheism as just a lack of God belief. His atheism is a spiritual journey.  Considering Coyne’s positive reaction, it looks like he too has a spiritual journey to share.

And given the inherent nihilism associated with atheism, it is no surprise that Harris’s spirituality amounts to distractions from reality with the use of drugs or meditation.

The book will surely anger or confuse those people who think Sam has gone soft on religion, but take my word for it, there’s not an iota of sympathy for the divine in the book.

Coyne is confused. “Relgion” and “the divine” are not the same thing. Yes, we know Harris hates God. But he also has clearly gone soft on religion through his attempt to turn atheism into a religion by blending it with a sanitized version of Eastern mysticism. Sorry guys, but when you turn atheism into a religion, you have gone soft on religion. 

And, having taken psychedelics in my youth, I have considerable sympathy for trying to understand what the brain is really capable of, and how our perceptions can be altered. (I myself am really glad I tried those consciousness-altering substances, for such experiences are both perceptually stunning and potentially life-changing.)

Is Coyne promoting the use of psychedelics?  Perhaps Coyne should share the way these drugs have changed his life?

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29 Responses to Atheists Leaders Embrace the Spiritual

  1. I don’t know how much I can dumb it down, so I’ll risk that this is too complicated for you:

    Atheism = Lack of belief IN ANY GOD.

    You can be as religious as you want and still consider yourself an atheist, as long as your religion does not include any god(s). And, surprise, Buddhism doesn’t, so it’s actually an atheistic religion.

    And… So what? Let me try it with an analogy: I don’t play football. If you were a football player, then you COULD ask: “But NOT playing football doesn’t give you anything to do on Saturday afternoons.” And while this is correct, it is totally irrelevant. “Not playing football” is not supposed to give me anything to do. It is only supposed to stop me from doing one specific thing. If I wanted to have something to do on Saturday afternoons, I would have to pick up another hobby – and I would be free to do so, as long as it wasn’t football.

  2. Crude says:

    And some people were upset when I called them the Cult of Gnu.

  3. Crude says:

    And by the way, isn’t it kind of cringeworthy how desperate so many atheists are to march in lockstep over this one? It looks like we’re going to come full-circle now, and now the problem isn’t that ‘Religion Poisons Everything’ as Hitchens said, but that everyone is just the wrong religion. 😉

  4. Michael says:

    I don’t know how much I can dumb it down, so I’ll risk that this is too complicated for you:

    Atheism = Lack of belief IN ANY GOD.

    You can be as religious as you want and still consider yourself an atheist, as long as your religion does not include any god(s). And, surprise, Buddhism doesn’t, so it’s actually an atheistic religion.

    I’m the one who understands this. You should pay attention to what Coyne wrote: The book will surely anger or confuse those people who think Sam has gone soft on religion, but take my word for it, there’s not an iota of sympathy for the divine in the book.

    Do you acknowledge that Harris is turning atheism into a religion?

  5. Do you understand what I wrote?

    Nobody forbids you to be religious AND atheistic. There absolutely no problem with that. But no matter how religious and atheistic you are, that doesn’t make atheism a religion. So, who cares if someone combines his atheism with his Buddhism? How does that change atheism itself? It doesn’t.

  6. Dhay says:

    > Is Coyne promoting the use of psychedelics? Perhaps Coyne should share the way these drugs have changed his life?

    I think he already has. Look back a few S2L entries, to “Jerry Coyne’s Conversion To Atheism Had Nothing To Do With Science”. Coyne was already taking LSD at 17, several of his blogs tell us he associated Beatles music with LSD usage, and he was listening to the Sgt Pepper album for the first time when he suddenly “began to shake and sweat”. He was either on LSD at the time or experienced a ‘flashback’. And, “For reasons he still doesn’t understand, it dawned on him at that moment that there was no God”, ie he became a committed atheist for no good reason.
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/jerry-coynes-conversion-to-atheism-had-nothing-to-do-with-science/

  7. TFBW says:

    @Atomic Mutant:

    Nobody forbids you to be religious AND atheistic. There absolutely no problem with that.

    I respect your tolerant attitude, but it’s not shared by certain high-profile New Atheists, such as Coyne, who is the primary subject of this post. I’m spoiled for examples to back this up: just search his blog, “Why Evolution is True”, for “faitheist” (derogatory term for someone who thinks that atheism and religion can coexist) or “accommodationist” (derogatory term for someone who thinks that science and religion can coexist). Really, if you think that “nobody forbids you to be religious AND atheistic,” go express that sentiment on his blog and see how well it is received. You can come back and post a retraction here afterwards if you like.

    But no matter how religious and atheistic you are, that doesn’t make atheism a religion.

    Theism isn’t a religion either, no matter how many religious theists there are, but there comes a point where harping on the distinction between “a religion” and “a metaphysical standpoint with particular relevance to religion” degenerates into pedantry.

    So, who cares if someone combines his atheism with his Buddhism?

    Buddhism is an atheistic (or nontheistic, which is all you want “atheist” to mean in any case) religion, so that’s like saying, “who cares if someone combines his theism with his Judaism?” What the …?

    How does that change atheism itself? It doesn’t.

    Quite so. I guess that’s why nobody was claiming that it did. Rather, what was being pointed out was the fact that the great atheism-and-religion-are-fundamentally-incompatible ranter, Jerry Coyne, is getting cosy with Harris’ Buddhist spirituality. So does Coyne have a problem with religion or not? He’s been banging on about it for ages, but suddenly this comes along and he’s all accommodating because it’s not theistic.

    So now we see that Coyne is really blowing a lot of smoke when he comes down against religion in general, because we see here that it’s not religion in general that he has a problem with: it’s theistic religion in particular. You can be as “spiritual” as you like, so long as you don’t let a divine foot in the door, and Coyne will smile benignly upon you. Like so many others who fall under the banner of New Atheism, he’s an atheist as a by-product of being something rather more extreme — namely an anti-theistic bigot.

    Why does he hide behind “religion is bad” rhetoric when he clearly means “theistic religion is bad?” I can think of several reasons, but I’ll go with this one as prime: he’s trying to frame it as an argument of “science vs. religion,” because otherwise it would be, “my religion is better than your religion.” The former is easy to defend, so long as you don’t mind resting the whole of your case on the dialectically vacuous observation that science is science and religion is not; the latter would take actual effort to defend, and might open one up to the risk of association with some rather monstrous high-profile atheists.

  8. Crude says:

    So we’ve gone from championing science and reason to using drugs to unlock deep truths. That didn’t take terribly long.

    Nor did it take very long for the Cult of Gnu to go from attacking religion to embracing it – and whether or not Coyne is ready to admit it, embracing religion is exactly what Harris is doing. Trying to pawn off his religion as science didn’t work for Hubbard, and it won’t work now – nor is calling it ‘spirituality’ going to paper over the similarities.

    There’s a lot that’s funny about this, but one of the best aspects is that Harris has repeatedly sneered at Christianity, etc, as the worship of an ‘iron age God’. And what’s his alternative to the iron age God? An iron age mystic, of course.

  9. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne > If you’re interested but don’t know if you want to take the plunge, Sam has published the first chapter for free on his website.

    While tracking down where I first saw a reference to Sam Harris’ Holy Land High, as quoted by reviewer Frank Bruni as linked to by Coyne, I found — at the Nautilus website — another chapter of Harris’ “Waking Up”; this chapter is entitled, “An Atheist’s Guide to Spirituality”; it mostly deals with Harris’ various gurus and their teachings; Bruni’s article identifies the chapter as being in the middle of the book.
    http://m.nautil.us/issue/16/nothingness/an-atheists-guide-to-spirituality

  10. Here’s a freebie: Gnu-ru.

  11. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne links to a NYT article by Frank Bruni, who starts by quoting a passage from midway through “Waking Up”, a passage about Sam Harris’ “high that he felt by the Sea of Galilee”. This in turn quotes Harris’ 2007 Washington Post article, “Selfless Consciousness Without Faith”. There, Harris said of this “selfless consciousness” experience that:

    “I no longer felt like I was separate from the scene, peering out at the world from behind my eyes. Only the world remained.

    If I were a Christian, I would undoubtedly interpret this experience in Christian terms. I might believe that I had glimpsed the oneness of God, or felt the descent of the Holy Spirit. But I am not a Christian.

    If I were a Hindu, I might talk about “Brahman,” the eternal Self, of which all individual minds are thought to be a mere modification. But I am not a Hindu. If I were a Buddhist, I might talk about the “dharmakaya of emptiness” in which all apparent things manifest. But I am not a Buddhist.

    As someone who is simply making his best effort to be a rational human being, I am very slow to draw metaphysical conclusions from experiences of this sort.”

    http://www.samharris.org/index_dev.php/site/full_text/consciousness-without-faith

    Actually, if Harris were a Buddhist – which for all practical purposes he is – he would be most likely to talk about experiences of this sort in terms taken from the basic Buddhist doctrine of “anatman”, ie selfless consciousness, rather than in the rather more esoteric terms of ‘the “dharmakaya of emptiness” in which all apparent things manifest”; Harris is here trying to distract and misdirect us.

    Christians, Hindus and Buddhists would, says Harris, “interpret”, or (merely?) “believe”, or “talk about” “experiences of this sort” in terms of the procrustean beds of their own religion’s metaphysics; whereas Harris claims to be very slow to draw metaphysical conclusions: yeah, yeah, it’s purely a coincidence that Harris “interprets”, “believes” and “talks about” his experience in terms taken directly from Buddhist metaphysics – drawing Buddhist metaphysical conclusions.

    “Slow to draw metaphysical conclusions from experiences of this sort” evidently doesn’t mean he is reluctant to, or that he won’t.

  12. TFBW says:

    If I were a Christian, I would undoubtedly interpret this experience in Christian terms.

    By which Harris no doubt means Christian-flavoured mysticism. I’m a Christian, and my first suspicion would be that someone had spiked my water bottle, so his interpretation says more about him than it does about anything else. (So does mine, probably.)

  13. Dhay says:

    Amazon > For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s new book is a guide to meditation as a rational spiritual practice informed by neuroscience and psychology.

    Psychologist Daniel Kahneman has recently written a book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, which reveals some of the latest thinking about how our brains or minds work, which is very different from how we used to think they work. He won a Nobel Prize for these ideas, including his idea that the mind works in two different ways, called System 1 and System 2; so I fully expect that Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” will engage with Kahneman’s ideas; and that if it does not, Sam Harris’ ideas on how our brains or minds work are out-of-date and deficient.

    Oddly, I do not find any engagement in either of the two chapters Harris has already published online; Harris’ engagement with modern psychology must be in some of the other chapters, mustn’t it.

    From Kahneman’s first chapter:

    System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.

    System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experiences of agency, choice and concentration.

    In Harris’ web-article “Selfless Consciousness Without Faith”, we find: “It soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self—an “I” or a “me”—vanished.” Well, it would vanish, wouldn’t it. Harris’ meditation techniques evidently aim to switch off System 2 and its subjective experiences of agency (self) and choice (free will), leaving him using only the thought-less System 1 which includes no sense of voluntary control.

    Does this demonstrate that there “really” is NO self and NO free will? Or merely that by intensive training over a long period, involving, probably, frustratingly slow progress and a sore back, some people can reduce their use of System 2. Note that it is System 2 which is involved when we perform the slow, deliberative thinking associated with rationality in general, and with science in particular, so meditation might well be considered very anti- the rational-scientific mind-frame. Looks like you don’t find you are self-less and minus free will when you are using the rational-scientific mind-frame of System 2.

    (I note in passing that when Harris and Jerry Coyne depict their respective plumbers as “scientists”, the plumbers are actually doing nothing more – or perhaps little more – than merely using System 2. So it looks like, in the eyes of Harris and Coyne, use of System 2 is identical to practising science, rather than merely a prerequisite for science.)

    In Harris’ web-article “An Atheist’s Guide to Spirituality”, we find: “At my level of practice, this freedom lasts only a few moments. But these moments can be repeated, and they can grow in duration. Punctuating ordinary experience in this way makes all the difference. In fact, when I pay attention, it is impossible for me to feel like a self at all: The implied center of cognition and emotion simply falls away, and it is obvious that consciousness is never truly confined by what it knows. That which is aware of sadness is not sad. That which is aware of fear is not fearful. The moment I am lost in thought, however, I’m as confused as anyone else.” Harris apparently manages to switch off System 2 for only a few moments at a time, highly values being able to, and regards the return of System 2 as painful confusion. Evidently full enlightenment is a permanent state of only using System 1; using System 2 is characteristic of the unenlightened state, or of mere partial enlightenment.

    The Zen Buddhist master Bankei said: “Not a single one of you people at this meeting is unenlightened. Right now, you’re all sitting before me as Buddhas. Each of you received the Buddha-mind from your mothers when you were born, and nothing else. This inherited Buddha-mind is beyond any doubt unborn, with a marvelously bright illuminative wisdom. In the Unborn, all things are perfectly resolved. I can give you proof that they are. While you’re facing me hearing me speaking like this, if a crow cawed or a sparrow chirped, or some other sound occurred somewhere behind you, you would have no difficulty knowing it was a crow or a sparrow, or whatever, even without giving a thought to listening to it, because you were listening by means of the Unborn.”

    http://buddhaspace.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/in-unborn-by-bankei.html

    Anyone who has read Kahneman will recognise that Bankei’s description of Buddha-Mind (the Unborn) is a classic description of System 1 in action. Yes, for Bankei, too, it looks like enlightenment is a permanent state of only using System 1.

    Will Harris point this out, or will his book evidence only Iron-age and other out-of-date psychology.

  14. The Deuce says:

    And given the inherent nihilism associated with atheism, it is no surprise that Harris’s spirituality amounts to distractions from reality with the use of drugs or meditation.

    They’ll never admit to it of course, but this is also confirmation that they are deeply miserable people.

  15. Vy says:

    From Oxford Dictionary:


    spiritual

    Line breaks: spir¦it|ual
    Pronunciation: /ˈspɪrɪtʃʊəl tjʊəl/

    adjective

    1. Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things:

    ‘I’m responsible for his spiritual welfare’

    ————————————————–
    1.1Having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion:

    ‘he never forgot his spiritual father’

    1.2 (Of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.
    ————————————————–

    2. Relating to religion or religious belief:

    ‘the country’s spiritual leader’

    SPIRITuality in an atheist? That’s the supernatural.

    That’s like believing in life after death.

  16. Vy says:

    “Do you understand what I wrote?”

    Do you?

    “Nobody forbids you to be religious AND atheistic.”

    As an atheist, you are religious.

    “There absolutely no problem with that.”

    To you, maybe. To other atheists, maybe not.

    “But no matter how religious and atheistic you are …”

    As an atheist, you’re already religious.

    “… that doesn’t make atheism a religion.”

    Atheism is already a religion.

    “So, who cares if someone combines his atheism with his Buddhism?”

    Buddhism is a sub-belief in atheism.

    “How does that change atheism itself?”

    It can’t, because Buddhism is a sub-belief in atheism.

    “It doesn’t.”

    Correct.

  17. Michael says:

    AM: I don’t know how much I can dumb it down, so I’ll risk that this is too complicated for you: Atheism = Lack of belief IN ANY GOD.

    I understand that. But you don’t seem to understand that times are a changing. Thanks to the atheist movement, we have atheist proselytization, we have atheist churches, we have atheist versions of utoptia, we have the atheist version of the “saved and the unsaved,” we have atheist spirituality, and we even have atheist leaders selling the chance to be part of some “inner circle” or the chance to learn meditation.

    Anyway, I hope you had a chance to read TFBW’s reply to you.

    In other words AM, your definition is quickly becoming an anachronism.

  18. Dhay says:

    This Ted Rall cartoon echoes at least some of what Michael is saying:
    http://www.gocomics.com/tedrall/2009/05/16

    As regards the “saved and the unsaved”, I have spotted that Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” includes in its first chapter:

    … Buddhism offers a truly sophisticated, empirical approach to understanding the human mind, whereas Christianity presents an almost perfect impediment to such understanding.

    The import of this is that whereas the Buddhist may attain enlightenment (and likewise the Harris-following neo-Buddhist may attain it), the road to Nirvana is firmly closed to the Christian. It’s an atheist version of the “saved and the unsaved”, in other words.

  19. Dhay says:

    Buddhism even has its own version of “saved by works” versus “saved by faith”. Harris’ neo-Buddhism follows the Buddhist herd in being based on a “saved by works” (“Jiriki”, or reliance on self-power”) doctrine and practice; there is also the family of sects akin to Shin Buddhist and Nichiren Buddhism, in being based on a “saved by faith” (“Tariki”, or reliance on other-power”) doctrine and practice.

    DT Suzuki, in his Essays in Zen Buddhism, Series II, tells us there are more enlightened Shin Buddhists than there are enlightened Zen Buddhists.

    (Unfortunately Suzuki does not tell us whether that disparity of numbers is because the Shin Buddhist practice of reciting Namu-Amida-Butsu (or O-Mi-To-Fo, in Chinese) is a more effective method for producing enlightenment (in the uneducated masses who practice Shin), or merely because Zen Buddhism is limited to so few (an intellectually-oriented elite); so it is hard to assess what relative effectiveness Suzuki claims for faith-based Buddhism when compared with works-based Buddhism like Harris’.)

    Perhaps Harris’ acolytes would be better off chanting the Nembutsu, rather than using Harris’ preferred method of counting breaths.

  20. Dhay says:

    The extract from the chapter of Sam Harris’ “Waking Up”, published on the Nautilus website as “An Atheist’s Guide to Spirituality”, quotes Harris spouting pseudo-science:

    … the human mind tends to wander, engaging in what has been called “stimulus-independent thought.” One study found that when asked whether their mind was wandering—that is, whether they were thinking about something unrelated to their current experience—subjects reported being lost in thought 46.9 percent of the time. As unreliable as such self-reports must be, this study found that people are consistently less happy when their minds are wandering, even when the contents of their thoughts are pleasant. The authors concluded that “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

    One should beware of 100.00% of suspiciously precise statistics: their quoter does not understand errors and how to quantify them – or chooses to overlook the the errors, or to not publish the error range; the unqualified three significant figures of “46.9%”, with plus-or-minus 0.05% points implied by customary usage, is far, far too precise to be reputable.

    But it makes it easy to web-search for the original 2010 study, which is “A Wandering Mind Is an
    Unhappy Mind” – see http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~dtg/KILLINGSWORTH%20&%20GILBERT%20(2010).pdf. There, we find that the people studied were not merely WIERD, but the even more exclusive and atypical group, those who are young (and rich) early-adopters of a particular expensive technology (ie only iPhone users – even now, four years later, the app does not work for users of other types of cell-phone); and only those who had volunteered themselves, reacting impulsively to a press release, to download a phone-specific app that says it will tell them what promotes their personal happiness. There’s one person in my extended family who might meet this markedly untypical quizzee specification: garbage in, garbage out.

    It gets worse: assuming a waking day of 15 hours, the default three quizzes per day, randomised, but randomised one within each of three regular 5-hour slot equates to an average of 5 hours between quizzes, but actually a gap of anywhere between moments and ten hours between quizzes: when the authors state (Item 11.) that “time-lag analyses strongly suggested that mind-wandering in our sample was generally the cause – and not merely the consequence – of unhappiness,” bear in mind that the default time-lag was an average of 5 hours, and that although quizzees could opt for more frequent quizzes, they could also opt for just one quiz per day, ie for a 9 to 39-hour time lag; that can one draw valid conclusions from unhappiness reports so far separated in time from the correlated supposed “cause” is somewhat questionable, and itself in need of experimental demonstration. And Harris himself acknowledges that self-reporting is unreliable. So, garbage in, garbage out.

    Then there’s Harris’ analysis for us of the results: “… study found that people are consistently less happy when their minds are wandering, even when the contents of their thoughts are pleasant,” he says. Er, no, not “consistently”: look at the bottom of Figure 1, where “pleasant mind wandering” and “not mind wandering” are level-pegging; also read, at top rhs, “… people were no happier when thinking about pleasant topics than about their current activity (b = –0.52, not significant)”; yes, that “not (statistically) significant” means that the study did not find that people are less happy when their minds are wandering but the contents of their thoughts are pleasant; and it means that Harris’ analysis is misleading, is a distortion of what the researchers found, and is bullshit.

    Did you spot that the study authors actually say that only 10.8% of a person’s happiness can be correlated with whether the person’s mind was or was not wandering: Harris’ quote that “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind” looks to be not 100.00% correct but 89.2% incorrect. (Don’t pull me up on my statistics – read that last as sarcasm.)

    Then there’s the extent to which what the researchers meant by wandering minds – or, more pertinently, what the quizzees assumed was meant, and responded to – overlaps, if at all, with Harris’ Buddhist usage of that term: I suspect that those quizzees who suppose their minds were not wandering would get a nasty shock on a Harris retreat on discovering what Harris calls the “monkey mind”; the two usages are surely chalk and cheese. So, garbage in, garbage out.

    Why post this long response? To highlight that Harris, the self-proclaimed champion of reason and science, drops into his “Waking Up”, presumably to impress the gullible, references to research which Harris himself does not understand, and which he ignorantly or wilfully misinterprets for us, and which he makes false claims based on.

    Looking at this and other examples, I suspect that much as some people will name-drop to make themselves appear better-connected, what Harris is doing is dropping science references to make his “Waking Up” look science-based.

  21. As much as Christians want to redefine atheism, to somehow be able to fight it, no, it isn’t. But if that hope is what keeps you going, dream on.

  22. Dhay says:

    Erratum:… assuming a waking day of 15 hours, the default three quizzes per day, randomised, but randomised one within each of three regular 5-hour slot equates to an average of 5 hours between quizzes, but actually a gap of anywhere between moments and ten hours between quizzes

    I neglected the 9 hour sleep gap in that example: so that should be an average gap of 8 hours between quizzes, and an actual gap of anywhere between moments and 19 hours.

    I also neglected to observe that although the minimum frequency of quizzes was 1 per day, and the default was 3 per day, no maximum was specified; there is thus the potential for eg a very enthusiastic one-per-hour, fifteen per day quizzee to complete many more quizzes than someone who accepts the default three.

    On an almost unrelated note, except it relates to pseudoscience: in his 10 September 2014 blog entitled “Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon”, Sam Harris says,

    If you can find an important distinction between the faith he [a popular Saudi cleric] preaches and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS, you should probably consult a neurologist.

    Had Harris said “psychologist”, “psychiatrist” or “psycho-analyst”, I would have understood fully, but “neurologist”; they have problems with their nervous system? Do we have in Sam Harris a neuroscientist who does not understand the distinction in meaning and usage between the prefixes, “psycho-” and “neuro-“?

  23. TFBW says:

    Had Harris said “psychologist”, “psychiatrist” or “psycho-analyst”, I would have understood fully, but “neurologist”; they have problems with their nervous system?

    Psychiatrist: “Now, then, why have you come to consult me?”
    Patient: “I was referred here by a neurologist.”
    Psychiatrist: “A neurologist sent you here?”
    Patient: “Yes, he said that your services were probably more in line with what I needed.”
    Psychiatrist: “I see. And why did you consult the neurologist?”
    Patient: “I was referred there by a neuroscientist.”
    Psychiatrist: “A … neuroscientist?”
    Patient: “Yes. Well, I say ‘referred’, but I mean that I was reading his blog, and he suggested that I should consult a neurologist if I could find an important distinction between the faith of a certain Saudi cleric and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS.”
    Psychiatrist: “So … Sam Harris?”
    Patient: “Right! I thought I saw an important distinction there, so I figured it was best to go for a checkup.”
    Psychiatrist: “I see. Hmm.”
    Patient: “So, do I have a problem, doc?”
    Psychiatrist: “Oh, almost certainly.”

  24. Dhay says:

    In http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/brain-science-and-human-values copy of his reply to an article by Jonathon Haidt, originally published on the Edge website, Sam Harris serves us this example of (allegedly Christian, I presume) pseudoscience to sneer at:

    He admonishes us to get it into our thick heads that many of our neighbors “honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats.” Yes, and many of them honestly prefer the Republican vision of cosmology, wherein it is still permissible to believe that the big bang occurred less than ten thousand years ago.

    I confess to being handicapped in my comments by ignorance of the actual views of Republicans and Democrats; but it seems to me that those Republicans who believe in an origin of the universe less than ten thousand years ago (YECs, presumably) will certainly not accept the origin was via a big bang; and it seems to me that those Republicans who accept the universe started with a big bang will place that event the usual 13.7 billion years ago.

    If anyone knows of a Republican whose vision of cosmology is that the big bang occurred less than ten thousand years ago, and who is ,em>not the laughing stock of his or her Republican peers, do let me know.

    Harris, the self-proclaimed champion of reason and science, drops into his Edge article, presumably to impress the gullible, a reference to Republican cosmology which Harris himself does not understand, and which he ignorantly or wilfully misrepresents to us, and which he makes false claims based on.

  25. Dhay says:

    Atomic Mutant > You can be as religious as you want and still consider yourself an atheist, as long as your religion does not include any god(s). And, surprise, Buddhism doesn’t, so it’s actually an atheistic religion.

    I am minded of those words of sweet reason often repeated by the late Victor Stenger, namely, “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

    Best to keep well away from Buddhism, then; for if you do not, then — as Stenger’s wise words tell you — you will be in imminent danger of flying a 747 into a skyscraper.

  26. Dhay says:

    And I presume a Buddhist look-alike, like Sam Harris, must therefore be a terrorist look-alike.

  27. “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

    When somebody says that, I always wonder where exactly these religious people get the technology to fly into buildings from.

  28. Larry Olson says:

    “It turns out we can’t define Sam’s atheism as just a lack of God belief. His atheism is a spiritual journey”

    He’s a person, not an atheist, the same way you don’t call him an Ahomeopath just because he happens to not believe in homeopathy. It turns out Ahomeopaths are on a journey to western medicine…. It turns out Aracists are on a journey to… Why do you keep defining him as an atheist rather than an Ahomeopath or an Aracist? The reason is simple: by using the atheist word you can persecute him, group him in, treat him like a fringe cult. As an ahomeopath Sam looks into western medicine.. When do we ever call people ahomeopaths? Or if you happen to not watch hockey, I guess you should label that person an Ahockeyist so you can make slurs about how their so naive for not liking hockey, as ahockeyists.

  29. Kevin says:

    So atheists do not call themselves atheists? Interesting.

    To directly answer, Sam Harris built a career on his anti theistic garbage, so he is primarily known for his atheism.

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