The fan club around Richard Dawkins has become somewhat nervous about Sam Harris contribution at the "Atheist Alliance Conference" in Washington (see link from this post). The link shows also the discussion.
In all this discussion around the books for Dawkins, Harris and the other "new atheists" a dimension is lacking: Why does religion still exist and what gives it such a strength throughout human history. Religous believe is so obviously wrong, misleading, damage producing.....and I agree nearly 100% with all what Dawkins writes about religion in his book....that it needs somewhat moreexplanation than speculations about memes. The part about "why religions exists" is the weakest part in "the God delusion". Religion does not only exist, but it is strong and influences human thinking. Intellectually seen all religious writing and "reasoning" is not of better quality than arguments for astrology, reading the future in cristall balls or in your hands, nevertheless religions persists.
Harris stresses this in his speech, when he speaks about the unability of people to confront live without running away all the time. Life has an aspect of tragedy. The main tragedy of life is it's limitation, is death. Dawkin's reasoning that death cannot be a threat because we were not existing for such a long time before our birth and we were not suffering, so why should we suffer of death is a nice intellectual play, but obivously does not convince.
Human life has no sense that itself, this is for most people very difficult to digest. Religion promises this sense outside of life itself. This is appealing for weak characters - and most characters are weak.
Combating religion will not change anything. Only strengthening characters through education and culture will weaken religion. This obviously does not mean to tolerate the intervention of religious believe into our live. Freedom has to be defended against religous attempts to limit freedom of science or human life, but an abstract battle against religion is without sense.
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