Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan Discuss Faith

Michael McAlister Blog Leave a Comment

While I happened upon this discussion late, I liked it very much. Both men are intelligent, passionate and polite.

In their exchange Harris, author of The End of Faith, establishes a definition:

I think that faith is, in principle, in conflict with reason (and, therefore, that religion is necessarily in conflict with science), while you do not.

Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul, goes with this:

Agreed. As the Pope said last year, I believe that God is truth and truth is, by definition, reasonable. Science cannot disprove true faith; because true faith rests on the truth; and science cannot be in ultimate conflict with the truth.

Of course, it continues on.

Despite their eloquence, however, I’d have to say that they miss the holiest (if I may) of all points. The problem is not that either one of them is necessarily right or wrong, it’s that they are both looking at the reality that both faith, and faith-in-God, point to as something outside of this very experience. It seems that Harris clings to the notion that God is a lie that exists out there in the minds of those people. Sullivan clings to the idea that God is the name and form of omnipotent truth. Either way, both cling to a version of their personal truth and are thus establishing the very boundary of separation that will keep the mind in control of the search. This is what Buddhist teaching suggests will build the inertia of attachment. And attachment causes fundamentalism to arise no matter whose “truth” it is that one seeks to defend.

There is much more as both Harris and Sullivan carry on. Enjoy.

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