Sam Harris kicked it off with his Buddhist grift
This very serious neuroscientist is best known for his awful books on morality and free will.
He's also a Buddhist of the worst sort. You know the kind.
"Spiritual but not religious."
The kind who wants to pick apart religious traditions like a buffet to take the parts he likes.
He's got his own religion in mind, even if the sniffy atheist set refuses to admit it.
I don't mean religion as an explicit set of beliefs and assertions about the reality of the Invisible World
I'm talking first and foremost about a psychological need in human beings. A need for order, meaning, purpose, and a sense of right and wrong.
It's also got a social dimension. Religious belief and practice is built into shared community life.
This idea that religious belief is an optional extra is an entirely modern invention. Highly unlikely that a Crusader ranging through Outremer would have considered his faith as optional.
The modern view says that religion is a silly superstition.
Back in my die-hard atheist days I would have agreed.
These days I am profoundly unsure about that judgment.
Either way, religion as I mean it here is about a personal orientation toward the unseen that grants meaning and purpose.
Every human feels this pull. We need it as sure as we need water and air.
But Harris wants to have his cake -- the graven TRVTH of The Science -- and eat his Buddhist comfort-food, too.
Modern-day liberal atheists are as convinced of their Truth as any die-hard Spanish Inquisitor.
They only worship a different kind of god.
The arch-priest of The Enlightenment is a fire-worshiper
Reviewing Steven Pinker's latest establishment agitprop, contrarian thinker John Gray once wrote:
For Pinker, the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t simply identify a universal regularity in the natural world, “it defines the fate of the universe and the ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and knowledge to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order”.
The whole point of physical laws is that they describe physical events without recourse to any purpose.
When a rock falls down the side of a hill, the rock isn't trying to get anywhere. That's an old Aristotelian take on causality. Things move because they have intentions. They are fulfilling a purpose.
Aristotle lived in a universe where minds were everywhere. Not quite minds like you and I have as rational human animals. But nonhuman life and even inanimate matter all had a kind of innate form.
Everything had its own final end -- a way of existing that was natural to it and that it tended toward.
The big upsets of science back in the 17th century got rid of all that.
That's the whole point of the new science of Galileo and Newton and all those guys.
The rock falls because of the laws of gravity and motion and its chemical properties and whatever else you want to add.
There's no "wanting" in the rock. There's no "purpose" behind the motion.
It just moves.
But oh Steven Pinker, arch-priest of Reason and champion of Our Enlightenment Values, Pinker finds purpose and meaning in the blind laws after all.
That's the punchline for all these secular materialist lovers of The Science.
They say they get rid of God...
They get rid of all purpose and meaning and intention in nature... and...
They end up worshiping a weird pagan deity anyway.
If you find your higher sense of meaning in the laws of thermodynamics you may as well be a Persian fire-worshiper.
Funny how tough-minded scientists, ain't got no time for that religion junk, end up...
Peddling their own strange religion
Only instead of the wisdom found in time-tested faiths which have given meaning to many millions of people for thousands of years...
They opt for a religion of weird crap that scientists talk about.
At least Sam Harris picked a real tradition. Though there's not much nice to say about the shameless liberalizing of the Buddhist to fit the California cult's obsession with self-help and "being nice".
Harris wants to naturalize Buddhism. Present it as a secular practice after filing off all the spooky mystical religious serial numbers. Bring it in line with his brain obsession.
You can say whatever you want... but consider this.
The parts of religion that Harris doesn't like aren't optional add-ons. They aren't like super-sizing your extra value meal at McDonald's.
When you naturalize a religion, you destroy it. The guidepost that give it order, meaning, and purpose all depend on those transcendent values and the practical life of the community.
Harris demands that we sanitize it of all these blights, while using the wisdom for our (his) own purposes.
Religion without the theism isn't worth the "Made in America" label slapped on the side.
Without the transcendent "theism", you'll get muddle-heads like Pinker trying (and failing) to use physical laws to fill in the divine void.
Without the shared practical life, you'll end up with...
The same old McDonald-ized self-help cult of Feelin' Good that corrupts every other liberalized religion
That's the real effect of liberalizing religions.
They make hard faith into soft comfort food.
The ultimate point of religions, say these very smrt boys, is to make sure you feel good.
They justify this with their evolutionary biology and cognitive neuro-scams, which don't appeal to anyone outside this circle of modern-day Epicureans.
Harris, like Pinker, purges the heretics to prop up his own new gods.
Everything is pleasure. Hedonism.
Every religion becomes optional. It becomes belief instead of faith. You can try on your highest values the way you try on clothes at the store.
Mix-n-match until you find the one that fits the authentic you, honey-boo.
Liberals are caught up in a paradox of their own making -- and most are blind to it.
Harris can admit that everyone else is confused, but not him.
There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments.
Modern liberals commit themselves to two contradictory propositions:
- There is no single source of meaning or morality. Morality, being part of religion, is private and personal. We don't endorse any one moral or religious point of view over any other.
- What we believe about other moral viewpoints does not apply to our own ideas on what is ethically right and wrong. Our point of view is right.
There is no higher sense of meaning, purpose, or goodness...
Clever, ain't it?
No surprises that the moral viewpoint of the secular-liberal West finds itself caught up in the same religious violence and for much the same reason.
One worldview, one system of values, one understanding of right and wrong... against all the others.
Harris even speaks with that self-righteous authority that these geeks love so much. It's all "what WE need"... "what we ought to do"...
Nobody asked you, hombre.
If you're thinking, this must make morality impossible, you're right.
Fact is, the pro-Reason fanatics like Harris, Pinker, Dawkins and that ilk are only a hairs-width away from the postmodernist psychos.
Oh, they claim that the pomo set is a bunch of silly relativists who are against reason and science.
That turns out to be a superficial difference.
It is as yet undetermined what it means to be human, because every facet of our culture—and even our biology itself—remains open to innovation and insight. We do not know what we will be a thousand years from now—or indeed that we will be, given the lethal absurdity of many of our beliefs—but whatever changes await us, one thing seems unlikely to change: as long as experience endures, the difference between happiness and suffering will remain our paramount concern.
Everything is open to innovation.
Once you deny that any worldview has any privileged authority over any other, you've hopped on the Midnight Express to Pomo-town.
Anything and everything can be called into question.
Meditate on that. Trace out the consequences.
SPOILER ALERT: They aren't friendly.
Harris believes that only a preoccupation with suffering and happiness can survive.
What passes for morality in these atheistic circles is nothing more than making sure others feel good.
They call this altruism, but it's a watered-down and toothless way of caring about others.
Superficial hedonism does not, cannot, replace the need for meaning and a sense of higher purpose in human beings.
No wonder Harris and Pinker play serious tough-minded atheists while creating their own fan-fiction religions
By the way – If you liked this article, you'll get to read all the member-only posts if you join us.
Want to leave a comment? You'll need to join us on the inside with a bonus perk for members.
You get to be a part of the private rogue planet community. Leave your thoughts and hang out with other SFF Heretics on the inside, away from the screaming mess of Twitter and the privacy-thieving jumble of Facebook.
There's no charge (yet) to become a member, so click here and join now.
Members can discuss this article on the rogue planet zone on SocialLair.