Karen Armstong wrote this: to which Harris has posted a rather rude, incomplete, shallow retort in the style of his usual blanket assertions about the inanities of religion and the superiority of his New Atheism.
I am hopeful that Armstrong’s winsome depiction of Islam will shame and enlighten them, as it has me. They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom, while we are ignorant bigots who know nothing of theology (of course), politics (Christopher, are you listening?), human nature (what’s to know?), or the proper limits of science (um … narrower?).
Nice, Sam. You say : “They will discover that Hassan al-Banna and Tariq Ramadan are paragons of meliorism and wisdom” , also something Armstrong doesn’t come anywhere close to saying. So who’s being hyperbolic , here?
And then , it’s right back into the straw man arguments Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are and were fond of:
I can’t quite remember how we got it into our heads that jihad was linked to violence. – Harris
And since Armstrong also spends a great deal of time and text exploring the ACTUAL history of “jihad” , INCLUDING the occurrences AND THE HISTORY OF THE VIOLENT STRANDS, that is a particularly OBTUSE way of scrapping her entire argument in favor of the ones you intend to perpetrate in the first place.
Then Harris launches in to his usual diatribe, cataloguing the instances of human sacrifice.
I hope that Armstrong will soon apply her capacious understanding of human nature to these phenomena.
But she did and has, Sam. But you stay with your winning narrative; ‘Winning” in it’s capacity to draw the applause of gleeful New Atheists worldwide. You seem adverse to ACTUAL socio-historical analysis.
Basically, Harris is here, as he often is, a sarcastic jerk. He detracts from any balanced philosophical, socratic approach he may well be capable of employing.
Armstrong need only reply with one answer, as she does:
Like many religious people, I do not believe in demons. I abhor violence of any kind, be it verbal or physical, religious or secular.
But Harris proceeds on as if he’s never been confronted with such obviously challenging and confronting claims. He sticks with the same , tired, applause lines.
More from Armstrong:
To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.
In the past, theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Rahner, and Paul Tillich enjoyed fruitful conversations with atheists and found their theology enriched by the encounters. We desperately need such interchange today. A truly Socratic dialogue with atheists could help to counter many of the abuses of faith that Harris so rightly deplores.
Harris is also seemingly oblivious (or conveniently obtuse) about Armstrong’s main point (yea, even in the subtitle does she point it out):
why secularism is almost as much of a threat to the world as fundamentalism
Harris simply ignores this. I also suspect that his obtuseness here is not necessarily intentional. It is a matter of simply not getting it (because he seems not to have read her at all….except that his habit of returning right back to his straw man arguments about religion could well be the culprit….but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he DID read her at length, in which case he simply reduced her to the same narrow confines that he has set out in the first place.