Sam Harris and Justifiable Homicide
A reader send this along:
The reviews of the atheist’s books that came out this summer have been done to death, and I was reluctant to even bother reading Dalrymple’s take (what more needs to be said?), but this is by far the best criticism I’ve read. In a way even more so when one considers that Dalrymple is an atheist.
Maybe I wasn’t paying attention in the previous reviews, but I did not know that Sam Harris had written the following:
Harris tells us, for example, that “we must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting.” I am glad that I am old enough that I shall not see the future of reason as laid down by Harris; but I am puzzled by the status of the compulsion in the first sentence that I have quoted. Is Harris writing of a historical inevitability? Of a categorical imperative? Or is he merely making a legislative proposal? This is who-will-rid-me-of-this-troublesome-priest language, ambiguous no doubt, but not open to a generous interpretation.
It becomes even more sinister when considered in conjunction with the following sentences, quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist: “The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.”