Who could forget the devastation wreaked upon thousands of innocent people and a prime symbol of capitalism and modern achievement that took place on September 11, 2001? Certainly not I. What some people, religious moderates in particular, seem unable or unwilling to accept, is that acts of violence such as the cruel, unctuous and calculated murder of what were considered "oppressors" and "infidels" were motivated entirely by religious brainwashing. Education and intelligence are no guarantee of inoculation; many of the hijackers had a tertiary education.
Harris begins with a bold claim; that Christianity and its policies are murderous. It is a claim amply supported by the evidence (the Catholic's anti-condom policy in Africa being a prime example, to say nothing of the myriad religious wars being fought today). He concedes and shows great respect for Jainism, which is objectively more moral and compatible with peace in today's modern world. Jainism influenced Mahatma Gandhi (and MLK's non-violent protests by extension). The hypocrisies of Christianity are examined in detail, particularly the religious right's stance against the HPV vaccine (the virus was considered a deterrent against teenage and pre-marital intercourse by the most outlandish Republicans), abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Essentially, Christians worship a hypocritical tyrant who cares nothing for blastocysts, which are naturally aborted via miscarriages in the majority of pregnancies. Harris could have bolstered his case with Exodus 21:22, but his point is still substantial and yet to be refuted.
"Mother" Teresa is given a harsh yet fair beating. As Hitchens eloquently put it, she was allied with poverty itself, not the poor who had to endure it. Her opposition towards analgesics and contraception ensured that women in third-world countries remained oppressed and uneducated. Her primitive morality and blind acceptance of Church dogma in relation to abortion has left her emotionally stunted and quagmired in the first stage of moral development (rewards and punishments/blind obedience to authority). By considering fertilised eggs to be the moral equivalent of fully-developed children, her priorities are, by definition, backwards. Such paradigms prevent otherwise compassionate human beings from working towards solving true moral problems, such as poverty, genocide and "honour" killings (which Harris rightfully treats with trenchant scorn in this book).
Slavery is never condemned outright in the bible, and "Saint" Paul instructed slaves to be extra-nice to their Christian masters. This isn't morality. This is propaganda written by slave-owners who lived in the lap of luxury. Funnily enough, Ravi Zacharias does not even touch on the issue in The End of Reason (to the best of my recollection). If the blatant contradictions of the bible weren't enough, the admonishments and edicts of Jesus make something transparent - the atrocious laws and regulations of the old testament are not to be altered until all is fulfilled (and despite apologetic hand-wringing, there are no verses that support their claims that Jesus fulfilled all of the laws upon his return; obedience is a far cry from fulfillment). The glut of contradictions between the gospels, written decades after their supposed events, are enough by themselves to disprove the presence of a divine hand. Theologians have as yet been unable to explain why multiple gospels were required for the life of just one man. If he is as crucial to human history and salvation as his followers claim, the tomes could be expected to be wordier and less ambiguous, for starters.
Harris is rightly concerned at the NAS' capitulation and deference to religion (understandable given that a sizable proportion of the US public rejects the fact of evolution). Although unstated, a Christian Taliban is feared and would result in grievously abhorrent consequences. Harris echoes Bill Maher's sentiments in Religulous: as a society, we must grow up or perish at the hands of fundamentalists.
Report Inappropriate Content