Sam Harris and the dangers of false atheism

Middle East
on 62 Comments

Recently, a heated email exchange occurred between Noam Chomsky and Sam Harris. It was another nail in the coffin of a movement that was almost taken seriously when it was launched ten years ago. But something was rotten in the kingdom of New Atheists from the very start. Christopher Hitchens brought all of his newfound love for war to the movement. Sam Harris was writing things like “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them”. And soon it became obvious who we were supposed to be “ethically killing”. It just so happened to be the same people that were already being killed – in Iraq and Afghanistan – and the whole thing was just too convenient. In the eyes of many progressives around the world, New Atheists were nothing more than apologists for neoconservative militarism.

Considering this back story, it is unsurprising that there was no love lost between Chomsky and Harris. Previously, Harris had repeatedly accused Chomsky of misrepresenting his views (Chomsky had in fact never even mentioned him by name) and ignoring the role of intent (Chomsky had written about the subject many times during his long career). The email exchange was short but exhaustive, and it touched on some important issues. Simply put: in his criticism of religion, Harris has reserved a special place for Islam; a religion shared by 1, 6 billion people, to which he refers as “The Mother Lode of Bad Ideas”. To defend his obsession with Muslims and Islam, he often highlights the importance of intent. An example he and Chomsky discussed in length was the 1998 US bombing of Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Since tens of thousands of innocent people are believed to have died as a consequence of this action, Chomsky views it as a state sponsored atrocity. Sam Harris, on the other hand, wants us to differentiate between the horror of 9/11 – which was perpetrated with ill intent, and the bombing of Sudan – which was supposedly perpetrated with good intent.

So what’s the problem? At a first glance, it appears quite natural that we should look at the professed intentions behind acts of violence. It is, however, a different question entirely whether we should believe in them. There are myriads of problems with believing in what people say about their intentions. And according to many commentators, Chomsky was so successful in pointing them out, that Harris no longer wished to continue with the debate, blaming it on Chomsky’s unwillingness to act “collegial”. But let’s not let him get away that easy. Let’s take a look at how Harris wants us to think, or more accurately; which shortcuts to thinking he expects us to take.

Accepting a person’s professed intent as a pure manifestation of their will is so blatantly unscientific that it shouldn’t even require any further discussion. Does Harris suggest we take all of Adolf Hitler’s professed intentions at their face value? Since Harris accepts everything ISIS and Al Qaeda are saying about their intentions, we should logically do the same with Hitler and other figures as well. Hence: George W. Bush was a democracy sprinkler, Stalin was simply cleansing the state from a “fifth column of wreckers, terrorists and spies”, and the Interahamwe in Rwanda were simply doing sanitary work. And further down the rabbit hole of silliness we go.

To only look at people’s professed intentions, without addressing their earthly grievances is not only intellectually dishonest, but ethically reprehensible. We know that people are not some automatons who are separated from their environment. Sam Harris wants us to focus mainly on the fact that ISIS claim they want to create a global caliphate. Let’s concede for a moment that this is their main objective. How do we then explain that there is not one single Indian Muslim fighting on their side? There are 180 million Indian Muslims, which is more than two times the population of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan combined. How come not a single one of them has found the idea of fighting for a global caliphate with ISIS appealing? After all, they are reading the same Holy Book, so why are their intentions different? The answer is self-evident.

The irony of New Atheists ignoring the material world and solely focusing on professed theological motivations perfectly illustrates their lack of analytical skills or – in the worst case scenario – a conscious effort on their part to muddy the waters. Even if we were to concede that religion is the biggest problem in countries like Syria and Iraq, there are heaps of studies that show that the most religious populations are to be found in poor and war-torn countries. Accordingly, the scientific conclusion of such an argument should be that we should shower these countries with aid (or at the very least stop incinerating their citizens).

But none of this is about science and reasoning. None of Sam Harris’ efforts in this matter are about making the world a better place. There is nothing atheistic in replacing the concept of God with an absolute faith in the country one lives in. There are dangers in not thinking, and negating every single fact that contradicts one’s view of the world. In fact we have a word for that: fundamentalism.

About Addi Svarogic

Addi Svarogic is a freelance writer and sociologist in Sweden.

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62 Responses

  1. Qualtrough
    May 22, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Somebody much wiser than me once said that we judge others by their actions and judge ourselves by our intent. I think this pretty much sums up the way we think in the USA, and probably many other countries.

    • Citizen
      May 25, 2015, 9:32 am

      Yes, and how many folks actually have a deep understanding of their intent? This all goes to serious self-awareness, not a popular activity. Know Thyself. I would add, and then act accordingly, and don’t project in the Freudian sense. As a lawyer, I know that once I see that the legal litmus test is “intent,” I know justice will never be served when any legislative activity or bill, law is involved. Actually, in the US, there is one group of legal activity, legislation, that booted “intent” out long ago, i.e, the civil rights cases that put “disparate impact” over intent, when judging the law–that sucks too. So now, where are we?

      • Doubtom
        October 9, 2015, 2:48 am

        Who cares about what a lawyer has to say? Doesn’t it always change depending on the case he’s handling?

  2. surewin
    May 22, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Sam Harris is a single-issue guy in disguise.

    • ziusudra
      May 23, 2015, 4:10 am

      Greetings,

      Theism / Atheism.

      All 3 Abrahamic religions have ‘mythological aspects’ on their menu.
      Devastating examples have been the following examples of their own Clergy upon them:

      The Crusades of Christianity, the ‘Sale of Indulgence’, the bogus ‘Donation of Emp. Constantine on the Church.

      The totalitarian yoke of religious requirements placed on World Jewry sequestering them in voluntary rejection of intercourse with mankind.

      72 Virgins in waiting of Islamic men.

      These examples & many more have nothing to do with Religion.
      ziusudra
      PS Theologists have been philosophizing from the very beginning, the Clergy of all Religions proved their worthlessness by producing fairy tales in their Dogma & Doctrine. Just ask Pharaoh Echnaton, the monotheistic sun worshipper, who was swept away.

      • Walid
        May 23, 2015, 12:22 pm

        “72 Virgins in waiting of Islamic men.” (ziusudra)

        If you want to get into serious controversial discussions about actual anomalies, you’d raise the issues of mut’a, misyar and urfi variations of marriages. Who said Moslems don’t know how to have fun? 1400 years ago, they reputedly used the services of a good Jewish lawyer (Moe) that taught them the art of negotiating with God; his sharp counseling got them to reduce God’s commandment of 50 prayers per day to only 5. Too bad they didn’t use Moe’s good services more often.

      • michelle
        May 23, 2015, 4:46 pm

        .
        prayer is the including of G-d
        in ones thoughts and deeds
        for those of faith
        50 times a day is not enough
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

      • Mooser
        May 26, 2015, 11:11 am

        “prayer is the including of G-d in ones thoughts and deeds”

        I do more than that, I always let God tell me what to do. And so far, we haven’t had a single argument! He always agrees with me.

  3. ahadhaadam
    May 22, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I wrote about the link between the “neo atheists” and “neo colonialism” in a post in my blog that received almost a thousand facebook shares. Since then for some reason those shares were erased by fb.

    https://dancingwithpalestinians.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/sam-harris-deconstructed/

    • Annie Robbins
      May 22, 2015, 7:44 pm

      Since then for some reason those shares were erased by fb. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/harris-dangers-atheism#sthash.lH6Sux4L.dpuf

      how weird. all our share statistics moved to zero when we changed formatting last august — but it was across the board. no picking and choosing.

      • ahadhaadam
        May 22, 2015, 11:03 pm

        I didn’t change formatting or anything and yet all of my post shares, thousands altogether, got erased. A Brief History of Gaza had almost a thousand shares, the same with 10 reasons why Bill Maher is a piece of shit, while the latest Elie Wiesel piece had over 300. It’s probably some goofy database administrator ran a wrong line of code.

    • Doubtom
      May 23, 2015, 1:38 pm

      What is it with this constant need for people to re-label something as basic as atheism? Atheism is simply the absence of a belief in gods, all the other embellishments are the product of people with different agendas. The same applies to the “new atheists”. Do the new atheists have a greater absence of belief in god than the standard atheists.
      What purpose this ‘relabeling’ serves it doesn’t clarify a damn thing. The “neo” tag, aside from its current popularity, appears to be attached to anything that doesn’t quite satisfy that observer’s view of that thing. How is that enlightening?

      • ahadhaadam
        May 23, 2015, 6:41 pm

        This is political atheism, not philosophical one. According to these douchebags Harris and Maher, political thought and analysis is based on theism / atheism paradigm, since all bad things in the world are because of religion supposedly. They support Israel because it is less religious than its neighbors supposedly (or perhaps they identify themselves as ethnic half Jews? perish the thought!) – a silly world view that would would entail supporting China and opposing Tibetans, supporting Germans and opposing Shtetl Jews and of course, supporting all Western interventionism in developing countries.

  4. John Douglas
    May 22, 2015, 5:35 pm

    Two points about Harris’s “End of Faith”.

    In the section on the evils perpetrated by religions in contemporary times, of course Islam gets slammed for terrorism, Christianity gets off with Bush’s interference with stem cell research (not the tens of thousands killed in Iraq), not a word about Israel’s use of Biblical texts to impose a system of apartheid upon Palestinians.

    Second, he considers the possibility that Palestinian terrorism is motivated by Israeli behavior rather than by the dreaded Islam. That gets rejected by an argument of great and subtle reasoning, “If it’s not Islam at fault, why don’t Christian Palestinians engage in suicide bombing?” As if there is no other difference between the two groups except what they understand concerning a certain Nazarene.

    Harris claims to be a philosopher. The closest he gets is to the Sophists as presented, probably inaccurately, by Plato.

    • Doubtom
      May 23, 2015, 1:50 pm

      Well you’re right in one respect, and that is ‘question everything’.

      Harris serves the purpose of presenting religion in general as a divisive and unnecessary force within the society of man. Of course one can find error or inconsistency in anyone ‘s views, regardless of topic but let’s not lose sight of his main purpose which seems to be ridding the world of this childish ignorance.
      Personally, I don’t care how he does it, including calling for violence to be used against violence.
      I’m unaware of Harris’ claim to being a philosopher but in any case not everything needs to be understood in relation to how the ancients thought.

  5. tokyobk
    May 22, 2015, 5:42 pm

    India always comes to my mind when talking about a massive and tolerant Islamic community as well but, in fact, there have been Indian Muslims who support and have fought for ISIS.

    It does not negate the larger critique of Harris, New Atheism or that everything is ultimately political (I tend to agree with that) but a simple google will show you support for ISIS in Tamil and also stories of lone Indian fighters, as well as fundraising from India. India has a recent attraction among younger people to Wahhabi led by preachers such as Zaik Nakir and others.

    What is certainly true is that Harris et al excuse and endorse all kinds of irrationality within the sanctioned ideas of modern secularism whom also basically accept and prefer the current geo-political situation which they see as best for smashing religion (especially the supposedly most scary one).

    • gamal
      May 22, 2015, 7:39 pm

      Zakir Naik: A Saudi-backed Radical Islamic Televangelist

      http://www.meforum.org/5150/naik-saudi-evangelist

      and

      2012 Defense Intelligence Agency Document:
      West Will Facilitate Rise of Islamic State “in Order to Isolate the Syrian Regime”

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41943.htm

      I mean whats it all about? you keep watching the Muslims, radicalization is invisible, it could be happening in a Muslim near you right now.

      Its stochastic no one knows why it occurs, not to essentialize but its probably inherent to Islam.
      I am currently holding the fort against my own incipient atavism, wish me luck, all our lives could depend on my success.

      • Mooser
        May 23, 2015, 12:27 pm

        Thanks, “Gamal”. Well said.

      • Walid
        May 23, 2015, 12:31 pm

        “I mean what’s it all about?” (gamal)

        The sudden fall to ISIS of Mosul, Ramadi and Palmyra where you had ISIS simply waltz into these major areas without a shot being fired should tell you what this is about. Some major strings are being pulled by a master puppeteer.

      • Keith
        May 23, 2015, 5:15 pm

        WALID- “Some major strings are being pulled by a master puppeteer.”

        I provide a quote and a link which you may find interesting.

        “Looking at a map, one begins to see then that ISIS has received US support in each of the strategically significant areas where it has made important gains. When reports of US airdrops going to ISIS in the province of Salahuddin first emerged, it coincided with the group’s military success in Tikrit. Now we see Ramadi in the easternmost part of Anbar province has fallen within weeks of more reports emerging of US-supplied arms being destined for ISIS in the al-Baqdadi region of Anbar.” (Eric Draitser)
        http://www.globalresearch.ca/ramadi-and-americas-fracturing-of-iraq/5451399

      • gamal
        May 23, 2015, 8:02 pm

        you da man Mooser, if you werent an ungulate i’d swear you are camelish.

        have you met Hatim al Tai, google him, this here is all the scriptures in 840 words

        and this real religion:

        The Heart Sutra

        Thus have I heard. Once the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagriha at Vulture Peak mountain, together with a great gathering of the sangha of monks and a great gathering of the sangha of bodhisattvas. At that time the Blessed One entered the samadhi that expresses the dharma called “profound illumination,” and at the same time noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, while practicing the profound prajnaparamita, saw in this way: he saw the five skandhas to be empty of nature.

        Then, through the power of the Buddha, venerable Shariputra said to noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, “How should a son or daughter of noble family train, who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita?”

        Addressed in this way, noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, said to venerable Shariputra, “O Shariputra, a son or daughter of noble family who wishes to practice the profound prajnaparamita should see in this way: seeing the five skandhas to be empty of nature. Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness are emptiness. Thus, Shariputra, all dharmas are emptiness. There are no characteristics. There is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity. There is no decrease and no increase. Therefore, Shariputra, in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no dharmas, no eye dhatu up to no mind dhatu, no dhatu of dharmas, no mind consciousness dhatu; no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death; no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment. Therefore, Shariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no attainment, they abide by means of prajnaparamita.

        Since there is no obscuration of mind, there is no fear. They transcend falsity and attain complete nirvana. All the buddhas of the three times, by means of prajnaparamita, fully awaken to unsurpassable, true, complete enlightenment. Therefore, the great mantra of prajnaparamita, the mantra of great insight, the unsurpassed mantra, the unequaled mantra, the mantra that calms all suffering, should be known as truth, since there is no deception. The prajnaparamita mantra is said in this way:

        OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA

        Thus, Shariputra, the bodhisattva mahasattva should train in the profound prajnaparamita.

        Then the Blessed One arose from that samadhi and praised noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, saying, “Good, good, O son of noble family; thus it is, O son of noble family, thus it is. One should practice the profound prajnaparamita just as you have taught and all the tathagatas will rejoice.”

        When the Blessed One had said this, venerable Shariputra and noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, that whole assembly and the world with its gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One.

        Lotsawa Bhikshu Rinchen De translated this text into Tibetan with the Indian pandita Vimalamitra. It was edited by the great editor-lotsawas Gelong Namkha and others. This Tibetan text was copied from the fresco in Gegye Chemaling at the glorious Samye vihara. It has been translated into English by the Nalanda Translation Committee, with reference to several Sanskrit editions.

      • Mooser
        May 24, 2015, 1:17 pm

        Thanks, “gamal”! Good advice all around. At any rate, it couldn’t hurt!

  6. Addi
    May 22, 2015, 5:54 pm

    You are absolutely right: I made a factual error. There are, in fact, a couple of individual cases of Indian Muslims fighting alongside Isis, acording to some news outlets. However, these cases are so few that they – as you point out yourself – do not negate the fact that there “should be” countless more cases, according to Harris’ line of reasoning. They should, infact, outnumber some of the other ethnic groups within Isis – statistically speaking.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Addi

    • Brewer
      May 22, 2015, 8:30 pm

      “a couple of individual cases of Indian Muslims fighting alongside Isis”

      Compare with:

      Australia: 250 (ASIS, April 2014)
      Belgium: 250 (Official figure, April 2014, 200 still in Syria)
      Canada: 30 (CSIS, February 2014)
      Denmark: 100 (PET, May 2014)
      Finland: 30 (Supo, March 2014)
      France: 700 (Official figure, April 2014, 275 still in Syria)
      Germany: 270 (BfV, January 2014, ‘about 300’ March 2014)
      Indonesia*: 30 – 60 (Official estimate, May 2014)
      Ireland : 25 – 30 (Ministry of Justice, February 2014)

      *Indonesia has a Muslim population of 204,847,000.

      Not sure how to interpret this but it appears other factors besides religion are in play.

      Source: http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TSG-Foreign-Fighters-in-Syria.pdf

      • zaid
        May 23, 2015, 6:23 am

        ISIS is bordering Turkey . which is the largest Muslim country (population) in the ME after Egypt.
        Almost all foreign fighter joins ISIS through Turkey.

        But surprisingly, the number of Turkish fighters in ISIS is almost negligible if not Zero.

        There is not any single answer to why Muslims falls to radicalization and violence, there are probably several factors. and each case is different than the other.

        the problem with Sam Harris or even Chomskey is that they believe in the theory of one single reason/motive which is wrong.

        Take it case by case.

      • michelle
        May 23, 2015, 5:02 pm

        .
        the totals still are quite low when compared to those of other faiths or groups
        a few thousand out of 1.5 billion
        take into account the damage done faith by faith or group by group
        it’s the wording/media coverage that twists the actual facts/numbers in the public mindset
        .
        seems like even with a few bad apples Muslims set the example of peace
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

      • piotr
        May 24, 2015, 2:46 pm

        About Turks in ISIS: there was a story about an “ISIS commander” who got wounded and left for his native Turkey for hospital treatment, and nobody bothered him. Unlike policemen who stopped trucks with weapons and explosives that were driving on orders of military intelligence and according to the shipping papers, contained “humanitarian aid”; the poor guys were fired.

        Statistics of ISIS fighters from various countries come from law enforcement in those countries, and zero stat from Turkey does not mean much.

        Concerning reasons for “radicalization and violence”, various societies experience crisis situations and “radicalization and violence” is one of the outcomes. And it is a genie that is not easy to put back in the bottle. For example, Colombia experienced something called “Violencia”, and it has effects on the society even today. Not much in our media on that. In any case, dependent on the distribution of religions and ideologies during the crisis, you can get “radical and violent” Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Shinto, Anarchists, Marxists, liberal democrats and so on.

  7. italian ex-pat
    May 22, 2015, 5:57 pm

    Thanks to MW I was introduced to your blog, and I have just read several of your recent posts.

    I find myself in agreement with practically all of your opinions, and I have done enough soul-searching to know that I’m not an anti-semite. Sadly, the very fact that I would agree with even some of the obvious truths you expose would make me one in the eyes of a lot of people I know.

  8. Keith
    May 22, 2015, 5:58 pm

    It would appear that Sam Harris is basically an imperial apologist selling the “Clash of Civilizations” meme in slightly altered form.

  9. ckg
    May 22, 2015, 6:09 pm

    Sam Harris sounds suspiciously like everyone I knew in my sophomore year of college.

    • Doubtom
      May 23, 2015, 1:55 pm

      It’s highly unlikely that your Sophomore class would be made up of so many bright individuals.

      • echinococcus
        May 23, 2015, 4:09 pm

        “Bright”?

      • Boo
        May 23, 2015, 5:22 pm

        There has never been any shortage of “bright” individuals whose ramblings aren’t worth the papyri they’re scrawled on or mud tablets they’re indented on. Modern technology only means that electrons instead of reeds or mud are wasted.

  10. michelle
    May 22, 2015, 6:50 pm

    .
    seems like the danger is in “false”
    stands to reason that the true atheist wants to
    find/know the truth as much as everyone else
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  11. JLewisDickerson
    May 22, 2015, 10:00 pm

    RE: “Recently, a heated email exchange occurred between Noam Chomsky and Sam Harris… There are myriads of problems with believing in what people say about their intentions. And according to many commentators, Chomsky was so successful in pointing them out, that Harris no longer wished to continue with the debate, blaming it on Chomsky’s unwillingness to act ‘collegial’.” ~ Addi Svarogic

    THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: Would Chomsky’s alleged unwillingness to act ‘collegial’ towards Sam Harris have violated Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise’s civility standard for the University of Illinois, thereby disqualifying Chomsky from employment at her institution?

    “What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” ~ Phyllis M. Wise, Chancellor *

    * SEE: “As Salaita’s case becomes a cause, U of Illinois issues declarations on ‘civility’ ” ~ http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/salaitas-illinois-declarations

  12. JLewisDickerson
    May 22, 2015, 10:08 pm

    RE: But something was rotten in the kingdom of New Atheists from the very start. Christopher Hitchens brought all of his newfound love for war to the movement. Sam Harris was writing things like “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them”. ~ Addi Svarogic

    SEE: “Christian Dogma Should be Questioned”, by André Vltchek, CounterPunch.org, December 19-21, 2014

    [EXCERPTS] This year as in every other year, Christianity and fundamentalist capitalism, two great allies, are joining their forces to extract billions of dollars, all over the world, mainly from the poor.

    As money flies towards the coffers of the church and into corporate accounts, over-sugary, kitschy Christmas carols and gospels are soaring out from the audio systems of department stores and malls all over the Empire and in almost all of its colonies (Saudi Arabia being an exception).

    ‘White Christmas’ is re-enacted and faked in the steaming-hot tropical ‘client states’, into where Christianity with all its nomenclature was forcefully injected decades and centuries ago. . .

    . . . Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, a giant in psychology and psychotherapy, declared in 1942:

    “The Christian Church should put ashes on her head and rend her garments on account of the guilt of her children. The shadow of their guilt has fallen on her as much as upon Europe, the mother of monsters.”

    But was Jung only referring to the horrors of WWII? Definitely not! He viewed Christian dogma and especially its practices, as racist, intolerant, dictatorial and imperialist, and his conclusion and suggestion for treatment was clear:

    “We are therefore forced to go back to pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions and to conclude that Western man does not possess the monopoly of human wisdom and that the white race is not a species of ‘Homo sapiens’ specially favored by God…”

    But is the world really moving to embrace what Jung used to call pre-Christian and non-Christian conceptions?

    The Empire itself is constructed on Christian dogmas, symbolism and practices. All of its leaders are Christians, almost all – Protestant. Every time they drag the world into war, their mouths are full of religious rhetoric and ‘mysticism’. We are not supposed to question the logic of bombing some poor countries, into the ground. We are not supposed to question the morality of the societies that are abandoning the fate of people to private and voluntary charities, instead of giving rights to all citizens. We are supposed to ‘believe’, to ‘trust’! And if we can’t believe in such idiocy, then at least we are forced to be scared.

    The dogmas of Christianity, of Western imperialism, capitalism, together with their brainwashing propaganda and ‘education’, have created one powerful entity. It fully controls the planet, allows no intellectual dissent, and destroys everything that dares to stand on its way.

    By now, our minds are fully ‘colonized’, our morality twisted, our logic corrupted.

    Only those who are by some ‘miracle’ spared formal education (read: propaganda) can see clearly.

    Christian crusades and colonialist expeditions did not end with the military terror, with rapes, plunder and physical enslavement of the planet. They have been continuing with spreading the most complete and complex net of indoctrination, aiming at ending intellectual diversity. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/19/christian-dogma-should-be-questioned/

    • JLewisDickerson
      May 23, 2015, 11:05 am

      P.S. ANDRE VLTCHEK (JANUARY 23-25, 2015):

      [EXCERPT] . . . But it is not just children and women the Empire kills: it kills everything that stands in its way.

      A few months ago I was almost killed by a unbalanced preacher in Surabaya, Indonesia. He said that he would, and he tried to liquidate me. These dudes are particularly malicious, as they or their ancestors, had already betrayed China after the revolution, and then they betrayed again, this time Indonesia, during and after the 1965 massacres. They have been serving foreign interests, they have been brainwashing people, and now many of them are going back to China, obeying orders from their foreign handlers to implant the ‘prosperity gospel’ and all sort of deranged Protestant crap.

      Killing with bombs is not the only way that the Empire destroys entire countries. It also kills through religion, propaganda and ideology.

      Its Pentecostal and Protestant implants have already caused great damage all over Africa, in Asia and all over Latin America, spreading corruption, ignorance and gloom. Only the strongest countries like Vietnam, China and Eritrea have stood firm and defined those religious inserts as weapons of imperialism and fundamentalist capitalism.

      Entire nations have been ruined by the anti-Communist and anti-socialist propaganda, by dark nihilism and commercialism, by pop culture and by the manufactured ‘opposition movements’, those that are serving directly or indirectly the interests of the Empire. . .

      SOURCE – http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/genocides-not-wars/

  13. aiman
    May 23, 2015, 2:37 am

    Harris is a neocon warmonger, it’s quite simple. However, Chomsky is overreaching – just like his position on BDS and the alleged strategic importance of that creepy parasite Israel to Empire – when he claims that New Atheists adhere to a religion of the state.

    Chomsky has an incredibly incorrect understanding of what “religion” is.

    As a more able-minded intellectual (and anthropologist), actually someone who has written several books on what “religion” is, Talal Asad says on the topic: “Let me first of all address the question of transcendence. The irony, it seems to me, is that although self-styled atheists say they reject “transcendence,” they are in fact subject (often willingly subject) to transcendent forces. Such as the transcendence of the market, which is a crucial part of modern capitalist society. And the transcendence of the state–the political form in which everyone lives in our world and makes absolute demands on our loyalty as citizens.”

    So unless it can be proven that atheists dwell in an impossible vacuum, it must be stated that Chomsky and those who claim to reject “transcendence” are themselves hostage to transcendent forces whether of the market or Marxism or the state. It’s not just the New Atheists, it’s every one. That said, I find Chomsky’s politics favourable and just. I’m just pinpointing logical deficiencies. Because Harris, Hitchens etc. are not just ‘nationalists’, and such a critique doesn’t fully get at them. Two things, apart from atheist, that Harris definitely is: stupid and a tribal Zionist.

    • marc b.
      May 23, 2015, 10:19 am

      He is stupid, and dangerous, and to call whatever it was that occurred between him and Chomsky an ‘exchange’ implies a seriousness that doesn’t exist. Harris’s foot in the door of Chomsky’s virtual domicile is the intellectual equivalent of a teenage groupie sneaking backstage to blow the singer in the band. No doubt he will be telling the tale of his relationship with Chomsky years from now as he promotes himself ‘gone girl’-style as some radical intellectual, radical now meaning criticism of the state’s ‘restraint’.

    • marc b.
      May 23, 2015, 10:22 am

      I’ll have to take a look at Asad. Very interesting. Irrational belief systems and the secular modern state.

      • Brewer
        May 23, 2015, 3:25 pm

        First take a look at Asma al-Assad. In the first place she’s much better looking. Secondly she is articulate, humane and knowledgeable. I find it impossible to reconcile the husband of this remarkable woman with the demonic image ascribed to Bashar al Assad.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0nASbOg3B8
        The follow up clip is Bashar’s interview by Barbara Walters.

      • Brewer
        May 23, 2015, 6:46 pm

        Apologies for the above – wrong thread.

    • Bill R.
      November 12, 2015, 12:36 am

      So do you actually deny that Israel is of great strategic importance to the US empire? It’s virtually an offshore US military base.

      I think what Chomsky means by ‘religion of the state’ is similar to what Asad means by ‘transcendence of the state’. They (not all New Atheists but definitely Harris, Hitchens and their followers) subscribe to the quasi-religious belief that the US (and the West and Israel by extension) is a force for good in the world, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This belief gives them transcendence, which is what both Chomsky and Asad are getting at.

  14. eljay
    May 23, 2015, 8:00 am

    Sam Harris was writing things like “Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them”.

    Does Mr. Harris accept that it is ethical for them to kill people who hold beliefs that they find dangerous? Or is he – like Zio- and other supremacists – simply another hateful and immoral hypocrite who is content to do unto others things he would not have others do unto him?

    • traintosiberia
      May 25, 2015, 9:28 am

      I have read this statement. The issue involved is not about addressing this atheism cult follower’s fanatic statement in meaningful way but to align this man and his ideas with the picture and ideas of Hitler and Kahane . He is a deranged psychopath.
      But here is the rub. How does he manage to stay visible? The answer is same that allows Kristol and Krauthammer to stay visible. In US visibility means relevance . It means knowledge and expertise. Before we can get rid of psychopathic tendencies,we have to get rid of the swamps that nourish them ,that protect them,that nurtures them.

  15. tommy
    May 23, 2015, 12:20 pm

    Islam and compound interest are incompatible, making Islam the enemy of the neoliberal global economy, and a target for total elimination. Godless finance capitalism is the ideology financing the bigotry and racism of provocateurs like Harris and Hitchens.

  16. Boo
    May 23, 2015, 5:30 pm

    “Religion … is the smile on a dog.” — Edie Brickell, “What I Am”

    And the “New Atheism” is merely fundamentalist godlessness.

    Mind you, I’m not deprecating all aspects of all religions. However, spirituality is what really matters. And that transcends all creeds and dogmas.

    • RoHa
      May 23, 2015, 9:23 pm

      What do you mean by “spirituality”?

      • Mooser
        May 24, 2015, 1:38 pm

        “What do you mean by “spirituality”?

        Dusk, of course.

      • RoHa
        May 24, 2015, 11:11 pm

        http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Project-D-by-Dannii-and-Tabitha/Dusk-10406.html

        But, seriously, I frequently ask “what do you mean by X”, and hardly ever receive answers.
        Why is that?

      • Mooser
        May 26, 2015, 11:18 am

        “But, seriously, I frequently ask “what do you mean by X”, and hardly ever receive answers.
        Why is that?”

        Have you tried asking these same questions while standing in the dusk, waiting to go gently in to that good-night? Do that, my son, and you may even learn the answer to the ultimate question: “What does ‘diddy-wah-diddy’ mean?”

      • RoHa
        May 26, 2015, 7:59 pm

        I don’t like the dusk. I don’t actually rage, but I do close the curtains against the dying of the light.

        And it means “down diddy doo.”

      • Mooser
        May 27, 2015, 11:56 am

        “And it means “down diddy doo.”

        Blake wrote of it, and its sublime mystery.

      • RoHa
        May 27, 2015, 6:55 pm

        “Blake wrote of it, and its sublime mystery.”

        I remember it from my schooldays.

        Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
        Bring me my Arrows of desire:
        Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
        Bring me my Chariot of fire!
        Singin’ doo wah diddy diddy down diddy doo.

      • Mooser
        October 9, 2015, 11:35 am

        “I remember it from my schooldays.”

        Yes, haunting and pelagic. No that’s not right, it’s “elegiac”
        The last verse, prefiguring and anticipating both existentialism and Man’s debouchment on to the Plains of Anomie,, made me laugh, cry, and became part of me:

        “There’s a great big mystery,
        And it sure is worryin’ me.
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie,
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie.
        I sure wish someone would tell me what
        Diddie Wah Diddie means!

        Ran to church put my hat on the seat,
        Ladies said sugar daddy you sure is sweet!
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie,
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie.
        I sure wish someone would tell me what
        Diddie Wah Diddie means!

        Man I got right out of church,
        Because they talk about Diddie Wah Diddie too much.
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie,
        It’s the Diddie Wah Diddie.
        I wish someone would tell me what
        Diddie Wah Diddie means! “

        And if Blake got us down, there was always ancient Geek Comedy, to cheer us over the Long Vacation.

  17. michelle
    May 24, 2015, 3:52 pm

    .
    ‘isis’ is yet another pawn an unknowing shill
    held under a microscope to appear larger
    an excuse to bend/break any/all reason/rules
    .
    such small numbers with the most basic of arms
    versus the worlds largest most state of the art forces
    maybe ‘they’ should be training us
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  18. piotr
    May 24, 2015, 9:06 pm

    I guess I am not an atheists because I worship nitpicking. Thus I would pick the following nit: not much evidence was shown for Sam Harris being a “false atheists”. That said, I will pick some nits on his luxuriantly hirsute head.

    Sam Harris advances the concept that Noam Chomsky has “dangerous delusions about global jihadism”. But what are “sober views on the global jihadism, stripped of any delusions”? That it is a part of a wider international conspiracy aiming to destroy motherhood, apple pie, Second Amendment and all the rest that is good, with Chomsky being one of the main culprits? Or that it is an inevitable consequence of the cult lamentably started by a self-styled prophet in Arabian peninsula, and motherhood, apple pie etc. are in dire danger as long as that cult is not expunged? When you add adjective “global”, do you mean that there exists good local jihadism that USA and other Western government can wisely support, like insurgents against Qaddafi, Assad, Russia (in North Caucasus) or Afghan mujahadeens? Or was (or is) the support of any of the above a stupid blunder? It is a fact that fighters in “good local jihadism movements”, goodness evidenced by Western support (we would not support bad folks, would we?) were subsequently found as “bad global jihadists”. Perhaps jihadism should be considered more comprehensively than the narrow focus on the “global” jihadism, with all arbitrary inclusions and exclusions. Any social study that focuses on “bad folks” as currently defined by the State Department lacks intellectual merit — why we need Sam Harris if we can read posts on the website of the State Department? Just because we are junkies who need more?

    In other words, the concept of “global jihadism” is not so much delusional as mercenary. tailored to get funding. And throwing invectives like “delusional” is a time-proven mercenary tactic as well. That hints that Harris may indeed be worshipping something. Nevertheless, while the concept is sloppy, what are prescriptions?

    If I understand, the prescription is to focus on the root cause, which is the existence of Islam. This is heavily delusional. Given the numbers of adherents, the dynamics of those numbers and their global distribution, I see no realistic policy based on that assumption. If this is the only way, we should just morosely await the end of our good atheist days, or concentrate on getting some fleeting carnal pleasures while we still can. Or create an international system of death camps to eliminate Muslim minorities in countries where Muslim are not in power (sadly impossible because of carping of lily livered liberals like Chomsky). I do not want to go into details, but outside radical Zionist circles most folks agree that to the degree that “jihadism” is a problem, most Muslim reject that idea, moreover, since “Jihadism” entails mostly Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities, 9/11 being very much an outlier rather than the rule, there is a necessity and opportunity to work with Muslim to reduce it.

    That said, the details are bewildering and crucial (e.g. the support of the fascist rulers of Egypt or absolute monarchies like KSA is not the best way to put it mildly). Rants in Harris style are much more dangerous than any mistakes in Chomskian analysis because they provide surprisingly effective support for very misguided policies. For example, USA supports (with cash and arms) a very bloody and completely fascistic regime in Egypt, and any time there is another news item about, say, hundred death penalties ordered in short proceedings with highly dubious reasons, most commenters approve because the victims are claimed to be “Islamists”, And it is not like that fascist regime is “secular”, in fact, it is somewhat theocratic, except that this is a form of religion deformed by the puppets nominated by the State.

  19. traintosiberia
    May 25, 2015, 9:40 am

    “Astoundingly, the newly declassified report states that for “THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY [WHO] SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”.

    http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/

  20. Citizen
    May 25, 2015, 10:36 am

    What does God have to do with anything? What do those who believe God is on their side have to do with anything?
    Answer: Nothing
    Answer: Everything
    Nothing changes. Nobody learns from History.

  21. traintosiberia
    May 27, 2015, 12:07 am

    Will Sam Harris try to excoriate the CUFI? Will he try to lampoon Mr Bernard Lewis of Princeton for conflating Islamic belief with state politics woven by him and then present it as evidence of possible cataclysmic threat to America that could justify his (undisclosed )intention of a preemptive attack on Iran?
    Joel C Rosenberg ,another end timer moved around WH selling his Ezekiel Option. The bombing target of this jewish to Christian convert is Muslim ,Evil leftists and academics.
    Re- The End Times Hits Primetime
    By Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone
    http://www.alternet.org Aug 30 2006.

    The support base of Israel include so many whose belief would horrify even those who harboured the Nazi ideas of securing 1000 yrs of peace under Reich.

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