The discussion about Islam with Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on Bill Maher’s show is still making waves. Journalist Nicholas Kristof also took part in the discussion, backing up Affleck.
Both Harris and Maher are atheists. Even so, they shot down Affleck’s claim that Christianity is also a violent religion comparable to or maybe even worse than Islam.
Harris also got attacked by Affleck for this comment:
“We have to be able to criticize bad ideas, and Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas.”
As much as liberals want to claim that it’s not all Muslims who are engaged in violent acts, there are enough Muslims (millions) who use their religion as justification for their beheadings, rapes, slavery, and mass executions to be a major concern.
To attack this manifestation of Islam is not being “racist” or even necessarily anti Muslim, as Affleck and Kristof want to claim. I thought Harris made a great point in his response article “Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself?” in reply to something Kristof said:
“Kristof made the point that there are brave Muslims who are risking their lives to condemn ‘extremism’ in the Muslim community. Of course there are, and I celebrate these people too. But he seemed completely unaware that he was making my point for me—the point being, of course, that these people are now risking their lives by advocating for basic human rights in the Muslim world.”
Their risking their lives as Muslims because of Muslims! The irony of it all.
After the show, Harris, Kristof, Affleck, Maher continued their discussion. The following by Harris is priceless and captures the essence of what the supporters of the “Religion of Peace” do not get:
“At one point, Kristof reiterated the claim that Maher and I had failed to acknowledge the existence of all the good Muslims who condemn ISIS, citing the popular hashtag #NotInOurName. In response, I said: ‘Yes, I agree that all condemnation of ISIS is good. But what do you think would happen if we had burned a copy of the Koran on tonight’s show? There would be riots in scores of countries. Embassies would fall. In response to our mistreating a book, millions of Muslims would take to the streets, and we would spend the rest of our lives fending off credible threats of murder. But when ISIS crucifies people, buries children alive, and rapes and tortures women by the thousands—all in the name of Islam—the response is a few small demonstrations in Europe and a hashtag.’ I don’t think I’m being uncharitable when I say that neither Affleck nor Kristof had an intelligent response to this. Nor did they pretend to doubt the truth of what I said.”
It’s good to see atheists addressing the moral issues of the day. Hopefully, one of these days they will come to realize that atheism cannot account for either evil or good. While I have not read Harris’ new book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, I suspect he’s trying to find something that will give his cold atheism some meaning.
He tried unsuccessfully to account for morality in The Moral Landscape, but it’s hard to understand how a conglomeration of atoms can be moral or spiritual.