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Sam Harris on Colbert

Atheist Sam Harris was the guest on The Colbert Report recently. A few weeks back I blogged an excerpt from an interview with Harris where he commented on Islam and civil society. You can watch him on Colbert here. Harris began the interview by trying to establish that an atheist is not exactly an exotic specimen:

Colbert: Tonight I'll ask, "If there is no Jesus, then who carried me on that beach?"... Harris: We're all atheists with respect to Poseidon. We all know exactly what it's like to be an atheist with respect to Poseidon. Anyone worshipping Poseidon, even at sea, is a lunatic... Colbert: Your book is called the end of faith. Um, what do you mean by the end of faith? Is faith ending or do you believe that faith should end? Harris: I think it should end. I think either you have good reasons for what you believe or you don't. If you have good reasons, those beliefs are part of the world view of science and rationality generally. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin or that Mohammad went to heaven on a winged horse, that would be part of our rational world view. And it's only when people lose their purchase on evidence and argument - when they have bad reasons - that they talk about faith. Colbert: Well I've got historical evidence. The Bible tells me that Jesus was born of a virgin... The Bible is without flaw. It is inerrant. We know this because the Bible says it is without flaw...

Harris' main point seemed to be that society is not sufficiently critical of the harm caused by religion (for example, opposition to condom use exacerbating the spread of AIDS in Africa) because of the respect it gives to religious dogma.

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