Sam Harris & Hugh Hewitt Debate The Pros & Cons Of Religion genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad

Sam Harris, the author of The End Of Faith, has argued that religion is, by its nature, a mechanism for conflict in the world. Harris contends that the belief in, and adherence to the words contained within the various religious books...supposedly written by the one divine being...are often the justification for the imposition of dogmatic laws and/or rules (Sharia law as an example).

Further, in its worst form, Harris believes these documents serve as the rationalization for the destruction and death of those whose beliefs come from an alternate source. When these conflicting beliefs are pitted against each other, there is little reason to believe that compromise is possible...and that often leads to the lack of rational dialogue which Harris finds to be so very dangerous. In other words, ideological intransigence born of an unwavering belief in a document, viewed to be incontrovertible, will invariably lead to violence couched in the rhetoric of righteousness.

Hewitt, on the other hand, contends that Harris is simply in favor of religious intolerance...immediately retreating to the newfangled argument of evangelicals...the one suggesting that people of faith are the victims of those who favor purging religion from the public square and installing a wholly secular system. In other words, all efforts to point out the problems with the doctrine and its application is viewed as an attempt to persecute the beliefs of the faithful.

Unfortunately, Hewitt, and many of those who embrace a particular book, have a propensity for interpreting their documents as they find most advantageous...calling for literalism where it fits their own preferences...and discounting those portions they find offensive or contradictory.

Rather than engage in an honest discussion, Hewitt moves quickly to hyperbole while Harris continues to reiterate his basic contention...stating on more than one occasion that it behooves societies to monitor and tamp down the absolutism of religious zealots in order to prevent the kinds of atrocities that populate much of our human history.

Hewitt then completes the circular argument by suggesting that God's presence prevails and enlightenment will emerge if people will simply open themselves to His message. Of course, that certain though subjective view, held by opposing religions, is the very source of the conflict Harris believes must be constrained by rationality. Unless society forces reasoned tolerance and debunks the plausibility of absolutism, we will remain a short fuse from factional fragmentation and the inscrutable and irrational violence it foments.

Sam Harris vs. Hugh Hewitt - Part One

Sam Harris vs. Hugh Hewitt - Part Two

Tagged as: Christianity, Factionalism, Faith, God, Hugh Hewitt, Rationality, Religion, Sam Harris, Sectarian Violence, Secularism, War

Daniel DiRito | July 16, 2008 | 6:00 PM
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1 On July 17, 2008 at 9:37 AM, ShagBoon wrote —

The Parthian shot that Hugh implores Lee to give him a chance to deliver during the final seconds is a classic. Is it a concise summation of his core position? A brilliant counterpoint to Sam's reasoning? A plea to listeners to think about what has been said here? Sadly, no: "Sam, you're not that smart." Not quite the level of discourse one hopes for from a professor of law.

This video shows precisely what Sam is describing, and what he is really up against when he attempts to publicly state his case. When he asks "...if religion is really not the issue, why don't we have Palestinian Christian suicide bombers", Hugh dismisses this with a physical wave of his hand, claiming it's "the wrong question, Sam" and then stating that men are bad because "they sin", "they're separated from God" and "they do not choose to conform their lives to the easily followed commands [sic]". Hugh appears to be completely unaware that he's demonstrating exactly the sort of rigid adherence to sectarian dogma and outright rejection of critical inquiry that Sam is claiming is our most dangerous problem. It would be amusing if it wasn't so scary: we look into Hugh's face and see a man utterly immune to rational scrutiny, shielded by the implied circular logic of "The Bible is true because it says it is". Once you enter that impenetrable circle, reason is simply excess baggage to be left outside the perimeter, and incoming messages like Sam's are reduced to mere static. I suspect he doesn't answer Sam's questions because they are, quite literally, meaningless to him.

Of course, I could be wrong.

2 On July 21, 2008 at 2:36 PM, daniel wrote —


Thanks for sharing your thoughtful observations. It is truly amazing how blind the Hewitt types are to the irrationality of their argument. Then again, as you so appropriately noted, it is perfectly understandable given the absolute ideology they embrace.

The fact that Hewitt chose to assail Harris' intellect is perhaps the ultimate irony. The evidence he had to leap over, in order to do so, is astounding. Unfortunately, such is the nature of the beast.



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