On Realism and “Evangelical Atheists”

This statement shows why I love the Scientific community so much (atheists/rationalists/realists very much included). The following quasi-theological atheistic world-view shows many traits I find highly applaudable including integrity, intellectual honesty, and continual self-analysis/doubt, which in the end promote progress.

The point is not that all religious people are bad; it is not that all bad things are done in the name of religion; and it is not that scientists are never bad, or wrong, or self-deceived. The point is this: intellectual honesty is better (more enlightened, more useful, less dangerous, more in touch with reality, etc. ) than dogmatism. The degree to which science is committed to the former, and religion to the latter remains one of the most salient and appalling disparities to be found in human discourse. Scientists spend an extraordinary amount of time worrying about being wrong and take great pains to prove others so. In fact, science is the one area of discourse in which a person can win considerable prestige by proving himself wrong.

If there is an argument against “evangelical” atheists like Dawkins, Weinberg, and myself it must take one of these forms:

(1) Certain religious beliefs are true (or likely to be true); here’s why…

(2) Religious beliefs, while not likely to be true, are so useful that they are necessary; here’s the evidence…

(3) Many religious people are so irrational that it is simply too dangerous to criticize their beliefs. Please keep your mouth shut.

Sam Harris


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