Why Are Atheists So Angry? Sam Harris Debates Dennis Prager

It’s a long email debate so I’ll just give you the beginning of it.

I’d like to begin this exchange by making the observation that “atheist” is a term that should not even exist. We do not, after all, have a name for a person who does not believe in Zeus or Thor. In fact, we are all “atheists” with respect to Zeus and Thor and the thousands of other dead gods that now lie upon the scrapheap of mythology.

A politician who seriously invokes Poseidon in a campaign speech will have thereby announced the end of his political career. Why is this so? Did someone around the time of Constantine discover that the pagan gods do not actually exist, while the biblical God does? Of course not. There are thousands of gods that were once worshipped with absolute conviction by men and women like ourselves, and yet we all now agree that they are rightly dead. An “atheist” is simply someone who thinks that the God of Abraham should be buried with the rest of these imaginary friends. I am quite sure that we need only use words like “reason,” “common sense,” “evidence,” and “intellectual honesty” to do the job.

(via Digg)

15 Comments

  1. “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Roberts.

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. I have not yet read the whole thing yet, but I thought an atheist was a person who denied the existence of any god, not just the biblical one….

  3. psychologicaly speaking, if reality is what you make it then you are your own god.

    anyone who insists on still considering themselves athiests do not breath any beauty into this world. or, do so unconciously through the gods they themselves dreamt up.

  4. if reality is what you make it then you are your own god.

    It depends on who the ‘you who are making the reality’ actually is.

    See Sartre’s Transcendence of the Ego

  5. pvc: well of course. part of the process is manifesting that transcedent ego into conciousness, untilizing the god of the self.

    oh boy… i am seriously going off the original topic with this.

  6. Yes, I agree. The supermodified transcendence of the nature of being enters an oblivium of no more or no less than a lexicon of superflous ambiguity. A discourse that overcomes the substratum of dipshit-ness is on the cusp of gestalt, a dichotomy according to earlier ontological models put forth by the early work of Heideger, before he sold out. Because as we all know philogeny re-capitualates ontgeny.

  7. i wish everyone would just drop the whole theist antitheist thing. believe whatever and move on with it! spiritual belief is like sex. it should stay in the ‘bedroom’ and should be shared with only those who want to know about it. but what i do in my bedroom is my business, so long as i’m not hurting anyone of course

  8. I see this all the time in these debates. Sam and Dennis are clearly speaking differing languages about things. When Sam says that Dennis needs to keep his X’s straight in regards to whether or not humanity requires belief in god to exist, he specifically italicizes belief in god because he’s referring to an isolated intellectual concept. Dennis, because he believes in some kind of god, can’t isolate belief in god from his belief in god, therefore he sees the two things as essentially so interconnected that belief for him is based on existence.

    Maybe I’m not being so clear here, but Sam’s arguing a logic proposition and Dennis is arguing a belief proposition. The kicker part is that Dennis thinks his belief proposition is a logic proposition and therefore gets confused.

    But nevertheless, I always have high-hopes that because it’s a correspondence debate it will stay more on track than a speaking debate which wanders tangentially. I think, the people involved will craft their arguments tailored to what the other person specifically typed. And I’m always disappointed because it still doesn’t happen.

    Plus, Prager wants to keep harping on Stalin as though an anecdote proves a single thing. You know, plenty of rappers who were once violent gang members make sure to thank god in their liner notes (to the point of it even being a joke made by others). Does that prove anything about belief in god’s existence or non-existence? I should hope no one thought it did.

    Then Prager brings in all this extraneous stuff inessential to the argument. He makes wild blanket statements like only Judeo-Christianity established the sanctity of human life, which is essentially, historically, philosophically bunk. He tries to bolster his argument of belief with further belief. Who specifically says Western art is the most beautiful, its music the best? That’s a value judgment the worthlessness of you could point out easily to a child, and it certainly can’t be used as any kind of proof to argue a separate point at all.

    I’d go on more, but I’ve already closed the tabs of each correspondent and don’t want to pull them up again to make even more specific points.

  9. Sam’s arguing a logic proposition and Dennis is arguing a belief proposition. The kicker part is that Dennis thinks his belief proposition is a logic proposition and therefore gets confused

    There’s the rub. You can’t expect to have a logical argument with someone who entertains a faith of any kind, much as you can’t explain algebra to somebody who can’t count. That’s an oversimplification, sure, and you might get lucky depending on the subject, but ‘meh’.

  10. that statement in and of itself is ignorant. you’re claiming that faith and logic are mutually exclusive. as an athiest, one must have knowledge of every aspect, corner, & dimension of the universe to be able to positively say that there is no God; otherwise, it’s a faith based belief system as well…and one that requires much more than believing in God. the believer in God has faith that God exists, no proof is necessary. it’s a belief that God is, not a claim that all of man’s self-inflating accomplishments on this tiny speck in the universe prove that He is not.

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