Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sam Harris, Andrew Sullivan Blogalogue

This should be interesting.

I imagine this will come up later, but allow me to state what I believe to be Sam Harris's point about, and problem with, religious moderates and religious moderation:

The great theistic religions: Judaism; Christianity; and Islam base their authority and legitimacy on sacred texts. And these texts do not convey any sense of religious moderation and in many cases, appear to flatly condemn it.

Furthermore, and consequently, religious moderation is essentially the process whereby a religious adherent dilutes his or her faith with the increases in knowledge and human sympathy garnered from two centuries of human and material experience, and not a posture born from a reading of the texts themselves.

As a sort of religious moderate, I have to concede that this argument is pretty valid. I've "coped" with this issue by assuming that the religious experiences I've had are valid, even if the sometimes literal intellectual assumptions I once made about the text are not. There tends to be a lot of all-or-nothing thinking in the worlds of religion and politics (maybe you've noticed). The religious moderate, or religious liberal, or post-modern Christian (we come in a variety of appearances and terminologies) basically rejects this paradigm completely. As such the Bible is one text among many that contribute to our spiritual experiences and sense of community. And like any other text, writer or institution, it is assumed to be, and in our experience does in fact demonstrate itself to be, a book that reflects many of the usual subjective human understandings, attitudes and wishes, which in turn require our careful examination.

It's not a perfectly rational answer. But life doesn't always lend itself to neat, rational answers. And in fact it rarely does.

In this vein, here are some religious sites you might find interesting.

An interview with the pastor of my church.

A post-modernish exploration of Christianity and other religious faiths.

A self-described progressive Christian blog.

1 comment:

normdoering said...

I'm blogging the debate here:

Here's a taste:

Andrew turns the question around, instead of answering why he believes Jesus rose from the dead he asks Sam why Andrew himself and so many others believe Jesus rose from the dead. He asks "What is your explanation? How do you account for why one person out of the billions who have ever lived had this impact? How probable is it that all these countless followers were all deluding themselves completely?"

Well, contrary to Andrew's assertions, it's obviously quite probable that all those followers are deluding themselves. What does Andrew make of the believers in Islam, Hinduism etc.? Look at all the things people do believe, Andrew, and then think that through again. Aliens abducting people, faith healers curing people, John Edward talking to the dead, Sylvia Brown telling you where the body is buried, Elvis sightings, Nazi holocausts that supposedly never happened, white supremacy, Ouija boards, voodoo, penis enlargement pills, breast creams, real estate scandals, Scientology, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Ted Haggart becoming a heterosexual, the honesty and integrity of George Bush … and on and on and on. People's brains are apparently full to the brim with BS.