Re: [asa] Letters to Sam Harris a "Maladjusted Misotheist"

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Mon Dec 04 2006 - 13:54:05 EST

At 12:10 AM 12/2/2006, Pim van Meurs wrote:

>..So far her postings on scientific issues like global warming .." ~ Pim

@ "Global Warming" is the red herring you drag across the trail --
either in actual ignorance -- or in the hope that most people are
careless readers and will go sniffing off in the particular direction
you want them to go.

So once more I will bring you back to the subject of all of my posts
on the subject, ie: "Human-induced global warming / global cooling", etc.

As you well know, this is the sort of thing I ALWAYS post, because I
agree with these sorts of sentiments:

 From 1640-1715 or so, the Royal observatories in England recorded
not a single sun spot. That timeframe was referred to as a mini ice
age. Afterward, the sun spots resumed their 11-or-so year cycle, and
temperatures on Earth returned to normal. The hubris of these people
that think we can cause global warming. We can not affect the sun,
the size of which could hold a million earths, with individual sun
spots (magnetic anomalies) each the size of our entire planet. The
core of the sun is so dense that it takes 200,000 years for the
photons generated at the core to reach its surface. Once it exits the
sun, the photon only takes 8 minutes to hit the earth, 96 million
miles away. We are so insignificant in the whole scheme of things.
Global warming freaks are one of two things:
    * Megalomaniacs showing their Hubris el Grande, or
    * Dictator wannabe's forcing global govermnent down our throat.
I suspect the latter.

Transcript from the Oral Arguments Presented before the Supreme
Court [Re: CO2]
05-1120. Massachusetts v. EPA 11/29/06

>...Sam Harris's book, based on letters he actually received from
>Christians should be a powerful reminder of Augustine's wise
>words. ...." ~ Pim

@ I doubt if Harris would agree with you:

4. "...Augustine, laboured to show, that we are not corrupted by
acquired wickedness, but bring an innate corruption from the very
womb. It was the greatest impudence to deny this. But no man will
wonder at the presumption of the Pelagians and Celestians, who has
learned from the writings of that holy man how extreme the effrontery
of these heretics was...."

11. "...Augustine hesitates not to call those sins natural which
necessarily reign in the flesh wherever the grace of God is wanting. ..."

10. "...Augustine justly derides some who arrogate to themselves a
certain power of willing, as well as censures others who imagine that
that which is a special evidence of gratuitous election is given to
all (August. de Verbis Apost. Serm. 21). He says, "Nature is common
to all, but not grace;" and he calls it a showy acuteness "which
shines by mere vanity, when that which God bestows, on whom he will
is attributed generally to all." Elsewhere he says, "How came you? By
believing. Fear, lest by arrogating to yourself the merit of finding
the right way, you perish from the right way. I came, you say, by
free choice, came by my own will. Why do you boast? Would you know
that even this was given you? Hear Christ exclaiming, 'No man comets
unto me, except the Father which has sent me draw him.' "

13. "..Augustine uses these words, "Every good work in us is
performed only by grace," (August. Ep. 105).

14. ".... [Augustine] presses Pelagius to confess that gratuitous
grace is necessary to us for every action, and that merely from the
fact of its being truly grace, it cannot be the recompense of works.
But the matter cannot be more briefly summed up than in the eighth
chapter of his Treatise De Correptione et Gratia, where he shows,
First, that human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace
obtains liberty. Secondly, that by means of the same grace, the heart
being impressed with a feeling of delight, is trained to persevere,
and strengthened with invincible fortitude. Thirdly, that while grace
governs the will, it never falls; but when grace abandons it, it
falls forthwith. Fourthly, that by the free mercy of God, the will is
turned to good, and when turned, perseveres. Fifthly, that the
direction of the will to good, and its constancy after being so
directed, depend entirely on the will of God, and not on any human
merit. Thus the will (free will, if you choose to call it so), which
is left to man, is, as he in another place (Ep. 46) describes it, a
will which can neither be turned to God, nor continue in God, unless
by grace; a will which, whatever its ability may be, derives all that
ability from grace.

How embarrassing:

B&N Customers Who Bought This Book [Letter to a Christian Nation by
Sam Harris] Also Bought
God Delusion
    * Richard Dawkins
End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
    * Sam Harris
the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
    * Daniel C. Dennett
Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina
    * Frank Rich
Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and
Borrowed Money in the 21st Century
    * Kevin Phillips

What People Are Saying

"Sam Harris's elegant little book is most refreshing and a wonderful
source of ammunition for those who, like me, hold to no religious
doctrine. Yet I have some sympathy also with those who might be
worried by his uncompromising stance. Read it and from your own view,
but do not ignore its message." Sir Roger Penrose, emeritus
professor of mathematics, Oxford University, author of The Road to Reality

"Reading Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation was like sitting ring
side, cheering the champion, yelling 'Yes!' at every jab. For those
of us who feel depressed by this country's ever increasing
unification of church and state, and the ever decreasing support for
the sciences that deliver knowledge and reduce ignorance, this little
book is a welcome hit of adrenalin." Marc Hauser, Harvard College
Professor, author of Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Sense of
Right and Wrong

"I can't sign my name to this blurb. As a New York Times best selling
author of books about business, my career will evaporate if I endorse
a book that challenges the deeply held superstitions and bigotry of
the masses. That's exactly why you should (no, you must) read this
angry and honest book right away. As long as science and rational
thought are under attack by the misguided yet pious majority, our
nation is in jeopardy. I'm scared. You should be too. Please buy two,
one for you and one for a friend you care about." Unsigned, New York
Times best selling author

"It's a shame that not everyone in this country will read Sam Harris'
marvelous little book Letter to a Christian Nation. They won't but
they should." Leonard Susskind, Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical
physics, Stanford University, author of The Cosmic Landscape: String
Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design

"We all know about good things that have been derived from bad ideas.
Modern religions serve many social goods such as health care for the
poor. The problem is that is also services many reprehensible ideas.
Harris blows the whistle, pointing out the religions of the world are
based on human generated vengeful stories. Read this book and you
decide your stance for the future." Michael S. Gazzaniga, Director
of the Sage Center for the Study of Mind, University of California,
Santa Barbara, author of The Ethical Brain

"Sam Harris fearlessly describes a moral and intellectual emergency
precipitated by religious fantasies--misguided beliefs that create
suffering, that rationalize violence, that have endangered our nation
and our future. His argument for the morality, the honesty, and the
humility of atheism is galvanizing. It is a relief that someone has
spoken so frankly, with such passion yet such rationality. Now when
the subject arises, as it inevitably does, I can simply say: Read Sam
Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation." Janna Levin, Columbia
University, author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and A Madman
Dreams of Turing Machines

This book review excerpted below sounds to me like something that
could just as easily have been written by certain people on this list:

November 15, 2006
Review of Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

"..Unlike his first book, The End of Faith, which addressed religion
and faith in general, this book is very specifically aimed at those
Christians who believe the God and Jesus are real beings whose nature
and history are at least in part accurately described in the Bible
and thus these are Christians that believe the bible to be a font of
truth and a guide to moral behavior. Harris acknowledges that not all
people who call themselves Christians hold these beliefs, but he
produces good evidence that there are scores of millions of them in
the US who do believe just that. It is to them that Harris is taking the fight.

Much of the book takes on the idea that the Bible in fact is any kind
of moral guide at all. Harris agrees that there are some fine and
decent moral precepts in the book, but that there are also many moral
laws and dictums that are just as strongly worded and which we all
find abhorrent in modern society. ....

...Basing your life on the myths and stories that provide faith leads
to viewing the world through an unrealistic
lens. .."

~ Janice

>On Dec 1, 2006, at 8:42 AM, Janice Matchett wrote:
>>Letters to a Maladjusted Misotheist
>>Responding to Sam Harris and his book, Letter to a Christian
>>(Sam Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University
>>and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions,
>>along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty
>>years. Mr. Harris is now completing a doctorate in neuroscience. )
>>Nine different reply "letters" were done this month and there will
>>be a couple more at least this coming month. ~ J. P. Holding
>>~ Janice ... Sigh... Why do scientists and secular humanist
>>philosophers make exactly the mistake St Augustine warned
>>Christians against regarding science:
>>Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
>>heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and
>>orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions,
>>about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of
>>the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs,
>>stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being
>>certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and
>>dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably
>>giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these
>>topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an
>>embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a
>>Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an
>>ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the
>>household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions,
>>and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the
>>writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned
>>men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they
>>themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions
>>about our books, how are they going to believe those books in
>>matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of
>>eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their
>>pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves
>>have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and
>>incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and
>>sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their
>>mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are
>>not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend
>>their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will
>>try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from
>>memory many passages which they think support their position,
>>although they understand neither what they say nor the things about
>>which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

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Received on Mon Dec 4 13:54:55 2006

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