I stumbled across this while doing homework. Apparently this Sam Harris fellow was a devout Atheist and came to embrace Buddhist philosophy. This disappointed the author and a discussion insues.
As a semi-Buddhist myself, I've always sort of enjoyed the unspoken luxury of the atheist communities unspoken creed of "All religions are "wrong"...except for Buddhism". If I say I'm religious, I get a rant, if I say I'm Buddhist, I get an uninformed whine at best. This is the first Atheistic thought I've seen (perhaps I'm just sheltered) that seems critical of Buddhism.
There was one recurring theme that sort of threw me off....which was Christianity. It really seemed like the foundation for all of the Raving Atheist's responses and it sort of blew me away how stupid it was. Yes, obviously the promises of grandeur presented by Christianity are founded in vague explanations, shady logic, and relative results, but meditation is fundamentally simple and not really caught up in dogma. Overall, I got the impression that The Raving Atheist's questions, responses, and objections were more rooted in Christian concepts than Buddhist ones and furthermore TRA wasn't really THINKING about what was saying. From my perspective, its blatantly evident to any contemplative individual that Mr. Harris was not reject the scientific, the rational, and the material when he suggested that there are limitations to the scientific method.
What I'm getting at here is.....polarization. I've got the impression that many Atheists are not intellectuals who have substantially contemplated existence and concluded there is no God, but instead are reactionaries. They don't like Christian methodology, religious cosmology, or the idea of anything being fundamentally beyond them. "I hate conservative Christians, so I'm an Atheist" seems to be the name of the game. I find this troubling, for many Atheists tout the qualities of independent thought and open-mindedness (qualities which I feel brought me to Buddhism in the first place) as the highlights of being Atheists, and yet from what I've gathered from this interview, the related comments, and Atheists as a whole, is more of a mob-mentality. Everyone sort of sits around....mocking the people they deem to be their inferiors. When faced with concepts that are different than theirs, they refuse to explore them on the basis that they are vaguely similar to something else they don't like. While this nature itself isn't too troubling (it is all to human) what I do find.....disheartening, is its seemingly robust presence in the Atheist community. Atheism, to me, was a sign of progress; a rejection of Dogmas, close-mindedness, and a celebration of intellectual investigation. Instead I get the sense that it is just....a new kind of faith. Where people tout out studies and concepts, which they fail to understand, on the sole basis that the "scientific majority" proclaims them to be the truth. While I think we can get away with this to some extent, I still feel as though the NATURE on the action is more significant of a problem then anything else. Religion's biggest folly is based in its adherents absolute belief in the righteousness and correctitude (is that even a word) of their belief system. You can believe the world is flat, that the Earth is 4000 years old, and an invisible man is watching you, and still not do significant damage to humanity as a whole.
Cross posted to thelunarsociety