In this chapter, Harris looks at civilization today in light of religion. His opinions though still assume a sort of fundamentalist style of Christianity. For instance, he seems to think all Christians are pre-trib, dispensational. Whether I or anyone else is, that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that anyone in the know in Christian thought at least knows there are other ideas out there.
Harris quotes Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on morality and how he believes that the nation of America is a nation of religious people. The nation’s moral authority is rooted in the Christian ethic. Harris seems to think that this should be terrifying to those who think reason should prevail in the West, which is still his straw man that reason is automatically opposed to faith. (Christian philosophers are becoming more and more numerous.)
Funny though. The Founding Fathers weren’t terrified at that….
Harris thinks we should be drawing on sources that show a greater understanding of the human mind and modern society than saint Paul. Question here though. Why modern? What makes our time the main authority? Could it be that maybe we should go and dust off the old philosophical and theological works of the past and see if maybe the cure for what ails us has been buried by us?
Harris also speaks of the barbarous author of Leviticus. We will deal with his moral standard later, but let us remember that this barbarous author is the one who gave us the command that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Harris also speaks of the danger of drug use, to which I agree, and adds that people use drugs to get effects that mirror those of religion, which is why religious people supposedly want to ban drugs. Hmmmm. Sorry Mr. Harris, but I don’t know a drug that makes me grow to be more like Christ or seek to serve my fellow man more. Maybe you can tell me what it is.
Interestingly, on page 161, he says that it can’t be about health effects that we want them banned since cigarettes and alcohol are both allowable. However, on page 163, he notes that Prohibition came about because of an explicitly religious exercise of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the lobbying of Protestant Missionary societies?
And these within two pages of each other….
In speaking about abortion, he states that we are concerned about the fate of a single cell. Harris says whenever the president scratches his nose, cells are dying as well. This is an extreme straw man. It is only with cloning that such happens. The zygote naturally becomes another human being. One wonders at the thinking behind such an objection.
In the next chapter, Harris will finally address the question of morality. We’ll join him again then.