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Oct 6 2007
The problem with atheism

Sam Harris spoke on this subject to the Atheist Alliance conference in Washington on Sept. 28th. His main point was that the use of labels (such as atheist, secularist, humanist, skeptic, freethinker, bright) enables others to categorize or demonize us, thus making it easy to dismiss our criticism of religion as unworthy of consideration ( if not downright evil).

Sam suggests that we not call ourselves by any label. Instead, we should continue to speak of "reason", "evidence", and "common sense", and be decent, responsible people who destroy bad ideas wherever we find them.

I agree with his analysis of the problem with labels, but I still am not able to visualize how we can avoid them altogether. I would be interested in seeing our SHL (another label) discuss this and see if we can come up with a workable solution.

Oct 6 2007
Ellen Johnson's reply to Sam Harris

I also was perplexed by Sam Harris's argument. I didn't hear the speech but read about it on the Humanist network News. I'm not sure it will matter if we use those labels or not. Other people still will, I think. Thomas Paine was called an atheist (sometimes still is) and he never was.

I thought Ellen Johnson made good arguments in her reply to Harris. It's posted on the Humanst Network News:

Oct 8 2007

I have read both articles and can see each viewpoint. However, Ellen Johnson seems militant. I had rather be for something than against something, i.e., for peace, for reason, for choice. It just feels better to me.


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