maandag 23 oktober 2006

Let's be (a) bright

I was doubting whether I should blog about this subject, but I guess Wired has this article for a reason. It's readers are more receptive to the message(s) brights like Richard Dawkins (author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion), Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and others have for us. I indeed hope that one day we will all be (a) bright.

"Look at slavery," he says. We are at a beautiful restaurant in Santa Monica, near the public lots from which Americans -- nearly 80 percent of whom believe the Bible is the true word of God, if polls are correct -- walk happily down to the beach in various states of undress. "People used to think," Harris says, "that slavery was morally acceptable. The most intelligent, sophisticated people used to accept that you could kidnap whole families, force them to work for you, and sell their children. That looks ridiculous to us today. We're going to look back and be amazed that we approached this asymptote of destructive capacity while allowing ourselves to be balkanized by fantasy. What seems quixotic is quixotic -- on this side of a radical change. From the other side, you can't believe it didn't happen earlier. At some point, there is going to be enough pressure that it is just going to be too embarrassing to believe in God."

Or in (his) other words: "There is, he writes, "nothing more natural than rape. But no one would argue that rape is good, or compatible with a civil society, because it may have had evolutionary advantages for our ancestors." Like rape, Harris says, religion may be a vestige of our primitive nature that we must simply overcome."

There's a long way to go: "Still, Adams admits some marketing concerns. Atheists are predominant among the "upper 5 percent," he says. "Where we're lagging is among the lower 95 percent."

But then again "the New Atheism does not aim at success by conventional political means. It does not balance interests, it does not make compromises, it does not seek common ground. The New Atheism, outwardly at least, is a straightforward appeal to our intellect. Atheists make their stand upon the truth."

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