Sam Harris On How Religion Puts The World At Risk
If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion. I think more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than as a result of any other ideology. I would not say that all human conflict is born of religion or religious differences, but for the human community to be fractured on the basis of religious doctrines that are fundamentally incompatible, in an age when nuclear weapons are proliferating, is a terrifying scenario. I think we do the world a disservice when we suggest that religions are generally benign and not fundamentally divisive.
When your child goes mad, you begin to question everything you once thought to be true. Even if you’ve been a questioning person all your life, as I have, the things you took for granted — or, as my college English students often write, “for granite” — no longer lie rock-hard in your palm, but shift and slip away like sand.
Still, there is one day in the year when I go plumb God-happy. It’s a made-up holiday pulled randomly from the calendar, as far away from the retail conspirators and their chocolate bunnies and sawed-off pine trees as I can get; a twenty-four-hour period of gratitude, humility, and atonement I call “God’s Day.”
Last night my mother told me, “We just got DSL” — a high-speed Internet hookup for the computer. As we talked, we discovered that neither of us knew what DSL stands for. (Subsequent research revealed that it means “digital subscriber line.” Of course, it is also “LSD” backward.)
War and peace start in the hearts of individuals. Strangely enough, even though all beings would like to live in peace, our method for obtaining peace over the generations seems not to be very effective: we seek peace and happiness by going to war. This can occur at the level of our domestic situation, in our relationships with those close to us.
In winter they would board the train to Vienna: Little Max, his parents, and his grandmother. They always traveled at night, and they always left on the same day, just past the middle of December. Little Max knew that it was the same day, year after year, and it confused him when he looked up one year and saw the moon was almost full.