The Raving Theist

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Understatement

September 30, 2005 | 13 Comments

At long last, atheistic End of Faith author Sam Harris has come to realize the futility of secularism. In an essay in Free Inquiry, he notes that

Comments

13 Responses to “Understatement”

  1. kmisho
    September 30th, 2005 @ 9:54 am

    I read the FI comments about the survival of secularism.

    I hate it when I see things like “secularism has negligible appeal to the culture at large” and “What words should we use to acknowledge the fact that the happiest person on this earth at this moment might have spent the last twenty years living alone in a cave.”

    The first part implies that we select a world view based on the best sales pitch.

    I don’t think happiness has much to do with anything. As individuals, we go up…we come down. I don’t understand why one would appeal to ‘the happiest person on the planet.’ Some of the sweetest people I have ever met were brain damaged from birth. What if they are the happiest people in the world? Should we wish to be like them just for the sake of happiness?

  2. AK
    September 30th, 2005 @ 11:28 am

    Aaaaw, the Free Inquiry link says file not found :(

  3. Pharyngula
    September 30th, 2005 @ 11:55 am

    Sam Harris…on dope

    I have my doubts about Sam Harris. The Raving Atheist links to his latest essay. He seems to get a fair amount of play as one of those outspoken atheists, but then everything I read by him turns out to have some bizarre twist that has me wondering what…

  4. mike
    September 30th, 2005 @ 12:33 pm

    harris’ happy caveman brought to mind the following:

    Olds and Milner (1954) first identified brain sites where direct electrical stimulation is reinforcing. Laboratory animals will lever press at high rates (> 6,000 times per hour) to obtain brief stimulation pulses to certain brain regions. The reinforcement from direct electrical activation of this reward substrate is more potent than other rewards, such as food or water. The potency of this electrical stimulation is most dramatically illustrated in a classic experiment where the subjects suffered self-imposed starvation when forced to make a choice between obtaining food and water or electrical brain stimulation (Routtenberg & Lindy, 1965).

    http://wings.buffalo.edu/aru/ARUreport01.htm

  5. seldonster
    September 30th, 2005 @ 12:40 pm

    It’s Harri’s attitude that annoys me:

    “Ohhhh, I am sooo happy because I meditate and lose my sense of self. Like, you would have to spend years listening to your breath before you can reach my achievements.”

    Besides, the happiest person on earth is probably a soccer mom on Prozac and not some buddist on a cave.

  6. Joe
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

    I don’t mind Sam Harris’ view on meditation. From what I understand (which is little) of his position, there are certain experiences (in humans) that seem to be beyond physical experience. These experiences have been (historically) assigned to some god(s). However, if we are to truely to understand what makes us conscience and aware beings, one of the few approaches that has any link to rationality is meditation. A person can meditate while having a CAT scan giving us further incite into the human experience on a physiological level (sp?), but on a personal level meditation could give an individual an insight into themselves.

    This can all be done without involving a supernatural being. Now some may find the same or similar results through exercise, music, drugs, etc (which personally I enjoy all three). Or it may just relax you with no major insight……..which nowadays is a perfectly valid reason to do pretty much anything.

  7. Nick the Dick
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

    I agree with Prof. Myers.
    Secularism is it for me. It is the thing that is vibrant and full of life, while religion is life denying.
    I leave meditation with losers like Depka Chopra.
    To me is just more new age nonsense.
    Hard to see coming from Sam Harris, who I agree with on so many things with!
    Damn retard.

  8. Joe
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:41 pm

    I find that many atheists have the fewest issues with budhism, but we need to remember one thing. The idea of karma is just as idiotic and potentionally evil as the concept of original sin. Budhist societies have historically viewed anyone who is born with any physical defect was simply a bad person in a past life, which is just as harmful as catholics stating a new born child is sinful at birth and must have these preexisting sins washed away….

  9. June
    October 1st, 2005 @ 8:30 am

    Sam Harris is a powerful spokesman for rationality and an expert in the neurophysiology of the brain. Dr. Myers is an expert in biology with a different view of secularism. Neither is a dingbat.

  10. John Landon
    October 1st, 2005 @ 11:01 am

    Secularism isn’t really an ‘ism’ but a stage of empirically given history that produced a grabbag, ‘modernism’, beginning with the Protestant Reformation, and climaxing in the Enlightenment. Thus the ‘new age or era’ was a change of ‘saeculum’ or ages. The point is that ‘secularism’ is really a term of periodization, and the period is more than a single ‘ism’.
    Check ‘Design for Atheists’ at the Darwiniana blog

  11. John Landon
    October 1st, 2005 @ 11:03 am

    Secularism isn’t really an ‘ism’ but a stage of empirically given history that produced a grabbag, ‘modernism’, beginning with the Protestant Reformation, and climaxing in the Enlightenment. Thus the ‘new age or era’ was a change of ‘saeculum’ or ages. The point is that ‘secularism’ is really a term of periodization, and the period is more than a single ‘ism’.
    Check ‘Design for Atheists’ at the Darwiniana blog

  12. a different tim
    October 1st, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    Can I just say that I fucking hate that word “brights”. It sounds arrogant, and doesn’t tell you anything about their (our?) stance. We’re atheists, dammit!

    Must stop now before I start frothing. Also cat has decided to walk all over the keyboaed making typing a pain.

  13. Mookie
    October 2nd, 2005 @ 11:49 am

    Meditation is a good thing. Brainwave patterns change when people enter a trance or meditate. It has a powerful calming effect on humans, such that they feel better and are more stable. Such techniques ought to be widely taught, in the interest of society. Better to have calm, happy monkeys than uptight, jittery, stressed monkeys.

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