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Sam Harris
Book Review With Commentary

For those of us who feel depressed by this country's ever increasing unification of Church and state, this little book is a welcome hit of adrenaline." -- Marc Hauser, Harvard Univ, author of "Moral Minds"

Harris begins:

    "Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse"

Unfortunately, this observation fits one of our own: "Monotheism and Violence."

These observations do not mean religion is inherently bad. It is not, and it serves useful purposes. The problem comes from an inherent similarity between monotheism and the Authoritarian Personality, and each feeds into the other. Monotheism is subject to hijacking by extremists as well as modification by later prophets who may do worlds of good while living as they preach. Extremism, as expressed by our genetic natures, is the real and most fundamental threat to peaceful co-existence among humankind.

Harris illustrates in graphic detail how minds respond when possessed by an idea, however mythic it may be. We quote:

    "Truth be told, I now receive e-mails of protest from people who claim, in all apparent earnestness, to believe that Poseidon and other gods of Greek mythology are real."

There are, of course, may discrepancies in the Bible; it cannot all be literally true. But that does not mean Mythos is useless.

Stay tuned


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