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Essay:My problem with Sam Harris

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Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Georgie Enkoom.
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First, I would like to say that I do not hate at all Sam Harris, New Atheism and atheism in general (even though I'm not exactly fond of New Atheism for personal reasons). When reading on Wikipedia Criticism of atheism#Atheism and politics, I found this quote from Sam Harris responding to well-known crazie Dinesh D'Souza (who actually made a good point when talking about Pol Pot and Stalin, even though the way he said it seems kinda atheophobic):

The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

I agree that fascism and communism are similar to extremist forms of religion. I agree that Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. I agree that Auschwitz is not an example of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma.

However, I do not agree that the gulag and the killing fields aren't examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma. They are examples of what happens when human beings not only reject religious dogma, but religion itself, and try to fight it in the most extremist way possible.

That does not mean that rejection of religion automatically leads to violence ; I don't remember Richard Dawkins using a Heckler & Koch AG36 against churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.

In short, they are examples of what CAN (and not WILL ; and I hope it doesn't) happen if religious dogma is rejected.

Let's face it : like Daech has to do with Islam (even though I believe that they are quote-mining. A lot. Proof: I'm not killing anyone who isn't like me), some extremists regimes has to do with atheism:

  • During the Cambodian genocide, Pol Pot tried to get rid of religion: practicing religion was forbidden and Buddhist temple were closed.
  • Lenin and Stalin enthusiastically persecuted the Church. The League of Militant Atheists was created by the USSR in order to utterly destroy religion , to "intensify the persecution" (according to Wikipedia) of religious people (or the Church, I'm not exactly sure) by the governement and... By proselyting.
  • Enver Hoxha. Nuff said.

"There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable."... Harris seems to believe that atheism automatically means reason. I disagree :

  • Terrorists attacks have been made in the name of atheism against religion... I doubt they were reasonable.[1][2][3][4]

In conclusion, I believe that atheism can be violent, too. It can be irrational, too. It doesn't mean it is inherently violent nor inherently irrational. In others words, it can end up being quite similar to religions...But it's still not one. ...I think Reza Aslan was right. New Atheism gives atheism a bad name.

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