Earlier this week I heard author Chris Hedges on the Michael Medved radio program discussing his book "I Don't Believe in Atheists." Hedges made sure to get in a few shots at the "neocon" antiterrorism strategy in the Mideast--so his critique apparently comes from a region of the political left that might enable him to gain a hearing among those he criticizes. I say that because, with the exception of Randian Objectivists and their sympathizers (not to draw the resistance too narrowly, I hope), atheists demonstrate an affinity for progressive politics.
Hedges mentioned a debate with Sam Harris, and I have purposed to review that debate. Truthdig hosts the opening statement from Hedges, and I'll post a portion of that below.
I look forward to reviewing the debate.
Sam Harris has conflated faith with tribalism. His book is an attack not on faith but on a system of being and believing that is dangerous and incompatible with the open society. He attacks superstition, a belief in magic and the childish notion of an anthropomorphic God that is characteristic of the tribe, of the closed society. He calls this religion. I do not.What he fails to grasp is not simply the meaning of faith—something I will address later—but the supreme importance of the monotheistic traditions in creating the concept of the individual. This individualism—the belief that we can exist as distinct beings from the tribe, or the crowd, and that we are called on as individuals to make moral decisions that at times defy the clamor of the tribe or the nation—is a gift of the Abrahamic faiths. This sense of individual responsibility is coupled with the constant injunctions in Islam, Judaism and Christianity for a deep altruism. And this laid the foundations for the open society.