What is your counsel?

Question: Collectively, what should we be doing?

Sam Harris:  Well I think we …  It’s really just a matter of conversation, and releasing these taboos that prevent us from applying pressure to people’s religious beliefs, particularly at the level of politics.   You know we had this recent Republican debate where three presidents … or candidates for the presidency of the United States raised their hands to testify that they don’t believe in evolution.  And there’s no follow-up question, and there’s no penalty paid by these guys endorsing the starkest ignorance about the state of our knowledge . . . about biology.  And then worse than that, the New York TimesNew York Times and the Los Angeles Times that were starkly racist by today’s standards.  And we have made real progress in a very short span, and I think we could make the same kind of progress in talking about religion.  It’s just, you know, whether we’re likely to do that, I don’t know. publishes a further defense about intelligent design by one of these candidates, Sam Brownback, a week later.  This has to change.  I mean there has to be a price paid for being . . .   You know, if one of the candidates said he thought the earth was flat, that would be synonymous with mental illness in that conte . . .  We would just be worried about his health at that point, and his political life essentially would be over.  And I think the same kind of . . .  There’s a reason why people who are certain that Elvis is still alive don’t get promoted to positions of great power and responsibility in our society.  And it’s not like we’ve passed a law against Elvis worship.  We haven’t . . .  We just cease to take these people seriously.  And I think we have to just cease to take people’s religious certainties, metaphysical certainties, certainties about the divine origin of certain books seriously.  And that can happen very, very, quickly.  And I think we should not be . . .  I don’t think we should doubt that a sea change in our discourse is possible, because it clearly is on that . . .  Look how racism has undergone a . . .  has fallen into disrepute in the last 40 years.  Fifty years ago, 60 years ago there were editorials in the

Recorded on: Jul 4 2007 

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