I have always thought that Sam Harris overdoes his ‘religion is responsible for all the ills of the world’ pitch but it’s not often that I agree with his critics as much as I agreed with Chris Hedges in a recent debate :
Sam Harris has conflated faith with tribalism. His book is an attack not on faith but on a system of being and believing that is dangerous and incompatible with the open society. He attacks superstition, a belief in magic and the childish notion of an anthropomorphic God that is characteristic of the tribe, of the closed society. He calls this religion. I do not.
I found myself agreeing with more and more with Chris to the point where I almost shouted ‘Right on, brother!’ during this bit:
God is the name we give to our belief that life has meaning, one that transcends the worldâ€™s chaos, randomness and cruelty. To argue about whether God exists or does not exist is futile. The question is not whether God exists. The question is whether we concern ourselves with, or are utterly indifferent to, the sanctity and ultimate transcendence of human existence. God is that mysterious forceâ€”and you can give it many names as other religions doâ€”which works upon us and through us to seek and achieve truth, beauty and goodness. God is perhaps best understood as our ultimate concern, that in which we should place our highest hopes, confidence and trust.
That’s when I started to wonder if Chris was a spiritual atheist. Like me.
You scored as Spiritual Atheist, Ah! Some of the coolest people in the world are Spiritual Atheists. Most of them weren’t brought up in an organized religion and have very little baggage. They concentrate on making the world a better place and know that death is just another part of life. What comes after, comes after.