I wish to posit the question whether or not faith is a good thing.
I use as a springboard the paragraph below. Itís from a book Iíve been reading, The End of Faith by Sam Harris; itís on page 67:
A manís faith is just a subset of his beliefs about the world: beliefs about matters of ultimate concern that we, as a culture, have told him he need not justify in the present. It is time we recognized just how maladaptive this Balkanization of our discourse has become. All pretensions to theological knowledge should now be seen from the perspective of a man who was just beginning his day on the one hundredth floor of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, only to find his meandering thoughtsó of family and friends, of errands run and unrun, of coffee in need of sweeteneróinexplicably usurped by a choice of terrible starkness and simplicity: between being burned alive by jet fuel or leaping one thousand feet to the concrete below. In fact, we should take the perspective of thousands of such men, women, and children who were robbed of life, far sooner than they imagined possible, in absolute terror and confusion. The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not ďcowards,Ē as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faithóperfect faith, as it turns outó and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.
I AM CERTAIN that such a summary dismissal of religious faith will seem callous to many readers, particularly those who have known its comforts at first hand. But the fact that unjustified beliefs can have a consoling influence on the human mind is no argument in their favorÖ
As a card carrying atheist I should agree with him without reservations. (In fact, I begin to wonder why I bothered reading this; thus far, he hasnít said anything that I havenít already said, or with which I would disagree.) And, in general, I do. My only reservation is that he asserts religious moderates are equally dangerous; they make possible the extremists. As a libertarian, live and let live type, I have trouble accepting that idea, even though it is the logical consequence of the argument.
If possible, if we can do so without it degenerating to fisticuffs, Iíd like some other opinions.
Do you agree with this proposition, or not?
Does faith sustain, uplift, even enlighten; or justify monstrous acts?
Live long and prosper.