September 28, 2012
Sam Harris is apparently not only a bigot, militarist, imperialist and hasbaroid, he's also a paranormalist.
Had he confined himself to discharging artillery shells at the folly of religion, his writings would have been redeemable, but Harris, though withering of the Abrahamic creeds, rejects atheistic materialism as just another religious "faith" and "sacrament" held by arrogant scientists and says, in a lunge toward mysticism, that we can survive the death of the physical body because consciousness is not generated by the brain:From an excellent and comprehensive takedown of Harris by Theodore Sayeed at Mondoweiss. It's not remotely the worst thing about them but I can't help focussing on the way the "New" atheists make atheists in general look bad. Which reminds me: at the time I deep-sixed a post on Jeff Sparrow's article about how the New Atheists are essentially defined by their politics (because I decided I was failing to make a coherent point) but here's a link to his piece if you've not yet read it. I can't say I agree with it entirely, but the history is very interesting. (Sneaky types suitably intrigued might be able to dig my discarded post out of the rss feed, where apparently nothing can be properly deleted, but bear in mind it was discarded for a reason.)
"Most scientists consider themselves physicalists; this means, among other things, that they believe that our mental and spiritual lives are wholly dependent upon the workings of our brains. On this account, when the brain dies, the stream of our being must come to an end. Once the lamps of neural activity have been extinguished, there will be nothing left to survive. Indeed, many scientists purvey this conviction as though it were itself a special sacrament, conferring intellectual integrity upon any man, woman, or child who is man enough to swallow it. But the truth is that we simply do not know what happens after death. While there is much to be said against a naive conception of a soul that is independent of the brain, the place of consciousness in the natural world is very much an open question. The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe that the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it."...Survive death? A possibility? Out goes scientific materialism and in comes supernaturalism. If the afterlife strikes the ear as a creepy throwback to the neolithic fables of Christians, Harris assures us that it’s not the gospel’s vision of heaven that he has in mind. His brand of post-mortem rebirth bears a closer kinship to something a tad more Hindu:
"There may even be credible evidence for reincarnation"...