BTW, Sam Harris--author of The End of Faith
--is my absolute fucking hero
From the above-linked interview on Salon.com (the site which I fully regard as the
greatest liberal site on earth:
We've been talking about how intolerant so many religious people can be. But aren't you asking us to be very intolerant of religion?
It may sound paradoxical but it's not. I'm advocating a kind ofconversational intolerance. It's really the same intolerance we express everywhere in our society when someone claims that Elvis is still alive, or that aliens are abducting ranchers and molesting them. These are beliefs that many people have. But these beliefs systematically exclude them from holding positions of responsibility. The person who's sure that Elvis is still alive and expresses this belief candidly does not wind up in the Oval Office or in our nation's boardrooms. And that's a very good thing. But when the conversation changes to Jesus being born of a virgin or Mohammed flying to heaven on a winged horse, then these beliefs not only do not exclude you from holding power in society; you could not possibly hold power, in a political sense, without endorsing this kind of thinking.
It should be terrifying to us because many of these beliefs are not just quaint and curious, like beliefs in Elvis. These are beliefs about the end of history, about the utility of trying to create a sustainable civilization for ourselves -- specifically, beliefs in eschatology.These are maladaptive. For instance, if a mushroom cloud replaced thecity of New York tomorrow morning, something like half the Americanpeople would see a silver lining in that cloud because it would presage to them that the end of days are upon us.