As usual, I didn’t learn anything new. The problem with these atheist related events is that they get to be like a broken record once you have been really involved in this issue for a while.
Some observations though.
#1) This was at Boulder Colorado, and about 300 people (I’m guessing) attended.
#2) In the question and anwser session most of the people still seemed to be sympathetic to religion and espoused all kinds of nonsens in defense of religion, despite themselves being atheists or agnostics, like religion helped my brother stop doing drugs, we can’t oppose that, religion is so pervasive it must be good, etc. :rolleyes:
#3) Sam Harris actually said that he though atheist was a bad word and he didn’t advocate using it, he said that people should simply forget that word and switch to "secular".
I was disappointed that Sam didn’t give the memetic explanation for the spread of religion. The concensus seemd to be that religion must have utility to humans since it has spread, which is in contrast to the memetic view that religion has spread for the same reasons that viruses spread.
I went up and gave my comments and questions.
I followed a guy saying how religon must be good, so I had to comment on that, to which I said:
Religion is an addictive entitiy, like cigarettes. People are not born "inherently smokers", but when introduced to cigarettes in large numbers from youth, many or most people will become addicted. Just because people become addicted to cigarettes does not make them either good or useful.
I also added that Christianity and Islam are relatively new religions and people should not make the mistake of thinking that humans have inherently held views anything like Christian or Islamic views, and that historically most religions were much less fanatical and well defined than these relatively new religions.
My question/statement then was this:
Sam, I know that you have been critical of liberals and moderates, and I agree. I think that the rise of post modernism in America in the 1960s and 1970s is what paved the way for the resurgence of fundamentalism because the post modernists undermined science and effectivly said that all views, including conservative religious views, are equal and have ultimately defended faith as a valid worldview as opposed to emperical observation.
I think that atheists and like minded people should stop focusing our attention on conservative fundamentalists and start taking on these "pernicous liberals" and post modernists. Do you agree to that?, etc.
His reply was somewhat weak. He agreed in general, but said that he felt post modernist views were mainly an academic issue that had little impact overall.
I completely disagree, but oh well… :p