koran

A Quote by sam harris on religion, belief, faith, koran, bible, and terrorism

Because they are believed to be nothing less than verbatim translations of God’s utterances, texts like the Koran and the Bible must be appreciated, and criticized, for any possible interpretations to which they are susceptible – and to which they will be subjected, with varying emphases and elisions, throughout the religious world.  The problem is not that some Muslims neglect to notice the few references to nonaggression that can be found in the Koran, and that this leads them to do terrible things to innocent unbelievers; the problem is that most Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal word of God.  The corrective worldview of Osama bin Laden is not to point out the single line in the Koran that condemns suicide, because the ambiguous statement is set in a thicket of other passages that can be read only as direct summons to war against the “friends of Satan.”  The appropriate response to the bin Ladens of the world is to correct everyone’s reading of these texts by making the same evidentiary demands in religious matters that we make in all others.  If we cannot find our way to a time when most of us are willing to admit that, at the very least, we are not sure whether or not God wrote some of our books, then we need only count the days to Armageddon – because God has given us far many more reasons to kill one another than to turn the other cheek.

sam harris

Source: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Pages: 34..5

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by sam harris on shakespeare, virgil, homer, belief, religion, faith, koran, and bible

There is, of course, much that is wise and consoling and beautiful in our religious books.  But words of wisdom and consolation and beauty abound in the pages of Shakespeare, Virgil, and Homer as well, and no one ever murdered strangers by the thousands because of the inspiration he found there.  The belief that certain books were written by God (who, for reasons difficult to fathom, made Shakespeare a far better writer than himself) leaves us powerless to address the most potent source of human conflict, past and present.  How is it that the absurdity of this idea does not bring us, hourly, to our knees?  It is safe to say that few of us would have thought so many people could believe such a thing, if they did not actually believe it.  Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or that specific software was coded by him.  Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98.  Could anything – anything – be more ridiculous?  And yet, this would be no more ridiculous than the world we are living in.

sam harris

Source: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Pages: 35..6

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by sam harris on beliefs, faith, and koran

Every sphere of genuine discourse must, at a minimum, admit of  discourse – and hence the possibility that those standing on its fringe can come to understand the truths that it strives to articulate.  This is why any sustained exercise in reason must necessarily transcend national, religious, and ethnic boundaries.  There is, after all, no such thing as an inherently American (or Christian, or Caucasian) physics.  Even spirituality and ethics meet this criterion of universality because human beings, whatever there background, seem to converge on similar spiritual experiences and ethical insights when given the same methods of inquiry.  Such is not the case with the “truths” of religion, however.  Nothing that a Christian and a Muslim can say to each other will render their beliefs mutually vulnerable to discourse, because the very tenets of their faith have immunized them against the power of conversation.  Believing strongly, without evidence, they have kicked themselves loose of the world.  It is therefore in the very nature of faith to serve as an impediment to further inquiry.  And yet, the fact that we are no longer killing people for heresy in the West suggests that bad ideas, however sacred, cannot survive the company of good ones forever.
     Given the link between belief and action, it is clear that we can no more tolerate a diversity of religious beliefs than a diversity of beliefs about epidemiology and basic hygiene.  There are still a number of cultures in which the germ theory of disease has yet to put in an appearance, where people suffer from a debilitating ignorance on most matters relevant to their physical health.  Do we “tolerate” these beliefs?  Not if they put our own health in jeopardy.
     Even apparently innocuous beliefs, when unjustified, can lead to intolerable consequences.  Many Muslims, for instance, are convinced that God takes an active interest in women’s clothing.  While it may seem harmless enough, the amount of suffering that this incredible idea has caused is astonishing.  The rioting in Nigeria over the 2002 Miss World Pageant claimed over two hundred lives; innocent men and women were butchered with machetes or burned alive simply to keep that troubled place free of women in bikinis.  Earlier in the year, the religious police in Mecca prevented paramedics and firefighters from rescuing scores of teenage girls trapped in a burning building.  Why?  Because the girls were not wearing the traditional head covering that Koranic law requires.  Fourteen girls died in the fire; fifty were injured.  Should the Muslims really be free to believe that the Creator of the universe is concerned about hemlines?

sam harris

Source: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Pages: 45

Contributed by: HeyOK

Syndicate content