via Greg Laden
Via Pharyngula, an interesting concept from Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism:
“Much of what has gone disastrously wrong in American policy, especially foreign policy, in recent years can be attributed to a reliance on blind faith rather than evidence. When The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward asked President Bush whether he had consulted his father before going to war in Iraq, Bush famously replied that he had consulted a “Higher Father.” Isn’t it fascinating that the voice of God always sounds suspiciously like one’s own voice?
When politicians start citing God as the authority for whatever they want to do, they are usually promoting some policy that defies human reason.”
God does seem to be able to justify just about anything for people, from charitable goodness, to justifying genocides.
Ironically, Atheism is a hot top this Christmas with best sellers like Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation” on the scene. I haven’t read either of them yet, but just finished a very interesting exchange of letters between Sam Harris and Judeo-Christian talk show host, Dennis Prager. Prager’s on AM 1280 – The Patriot in Minneapolis, and has been mentioned before on The Deets as the guy who think Keith Ellison shouldn’t be able to take his congressional oath on the Qur’an.
The two writers correspond once a day for four days with their best arguments for their own beliefs / against the other author’s beliefs. I really like the format of the debate, since it gives both sides time to create well-reasoned arguments, unlike the polar opposite format of the now-defunct Crossfire show from CNN.
While the two never meet on whether a God exists, Sam Harris admits that there may be some value in believing in God. For example, if being a believer makes you a more moral person, believing has some benefits. However, there are also believers who use their beliefs to justify outrageous behavior up through genocide, so not all belief is a good thing. On the positive side, Harris uses the term “useful delusions” to describe the value that comes from belief. I believe Jesse Ventura called this “a crutch.”
There is one thing I’m certain about: I believe that many people are true believers.