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New atheist Sam Harris goes to war against fireplaces

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And presumably, wood-burning stoves?

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Which he thinks are just like religion:

And yet, the reality of our situation is scientifically unambiguous: If you care about your family’s health and that of your neighbors, the sight of a glowing hearth should be about as comforting as the sight of a diesel engine idling in your living room. It is time to break the spell and burn gas—or burn nothing at all.

Of course, if you are anything like my friends, you will refuse to believe this. And that should give you some sense of what we are up against whenever we confront religion.

Actually, most people, religious or otherwise, just plain have more fun than we suspect the average new atheist does.

Note: Coffee is bad for you too, you know. So is cream, and sugar. So are chocolate pretzels. If you did everything right, you would live forever and read all Sam Harris’s books and wish you were dead. Lucky none of the above will likely happen to you.

Oh well, this time out Harris isn’t after Francis’ Collins’s job just because that guy claims to be a Christian.

Hat tip: friend

14 Replies to “New atheist Sam Harris goes to war against fireplaces

  1. 1
    lpadron says:

    Harris wrote:
    “Certain of us have made careers out of bemoaning the failure of religious people to adopt this same attitude.”

    But of course, Sam. You’d certainly not make a career of being a philosopher or scientist. You’re simply not qualified or good enough at either to attract any notice.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If you did everything right, you would live forever and read all Sam Harris’s books and wish you were dead.

    🙂

  3. 3
    News says:

    At bottom, it is merely the dreadful suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having a good time and the government isn’t doing a thing to stop it.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Good point, news.

    I watched a program last night about the declining population in Western Europe – Spain specifically – where the mortality rate exceeds the birth rate. The population is aging and there are major effects on the economy.

    They interviewed some couples who have big families and they talked about all the fear that was created by the government and media about having children.

    It’s the same kind of thing with warnings about backyard barbeques and the dangers of sledding on non-government approved hillsides.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Aurelio Smith at 5, Sam Harris is actually a tree. But he only came out to his closest friends recently. Watch for developments here. 😉

  6. 6
    velikovskys says:

    Sa:
    They interviewed some couples who have big families and they talked about all the fear that was created by the government and media about having children.

    Maybe but from your link

    “Although the financial crisis, unemployment, the impossibility of many women in their 20s and 30s being able to leave home and settle down independently, and the constant threat of redundancy is the main culprit for the falling birth rate at the moment, within 10 years the decline will be due to a lower number of women of fertile age rather than a question of economics.

  7. 7
    Silver Asiatic says:

    velikovskys

    What that article points to, but doesn’t state, is that most of those reasons are fear-based (e.g. “…the constant threat …”). The couples interviewed with big families, simply stood against those fears. One couple concluded that it’s the collapse of the Catholic faith in Spain (as in France, Italy, Germany) that made people vulnerable to these fears. Having a big family is somewhat of a faith-based activity — it’s having some trust for the future.

    But you’re right that it’s not just government and media. Although I’ll say that the article I posted could be an example of spreading fear. It arrives, somehow, at ‘the main culprit at the moment’ (listing several culprits) as if it can know such a thing and providing no data to support it. For example, as mentioned above, since practicing Catholics have higher birth-rates, why isn’t the decline in faith a ‘main culprit’? That topic is nowhere mentioned. Isn’t the Catholic culture of Spain a hugely influential aspect of the family life of the country?

  8. 8
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    What that article points to, but doesn’t state, is that most of those reasons are fear-based (e.g. “…the constant threat …”).

    Their fear is warranted by reality.In 2012 the unemployment rate was 25% in Spain.

    The couples interviewed with big families, simply stood against those fears.

    People are free to choose either way but just because you have a large family you are not exempt from economic fear. You have just increased your baseline.

    One couple concluded that it’s the collapse of the Catholic faith in Spain (as in France, Italy, Germany) that made people vulnerable to these fears.

    The collapse of the Catholic Church provided those who did not want a big family a choice.

    Having a big family is somewhat of a faith-based activity — it’s having some trust for the future.

    Any size family is a faith based activity

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    V

    People are free to choose either way but just because you have a large family you are not exempt from economic fear. You have just increased your baseline.

    You’re not exempt from fear but fear didn’t dictate their decision in those cases. In the same way, people might be afraid of using the fireplace but they won’t let that fear cause them to stop. And whether there really is something to be afraid about is a different question also.

    Any size family is a faith based activity

    Yes, agreed.

  10. 10
    JoeCoder says:

    Of course, if you are anything like my friends, you will refuse to believe this. And that should give you some sense of what we are up against whenever we confront religion.

    I consider myself religious. I remember reading an article by Harris about fireplaces a few years ago. It changed my behavior and I now avoid inhaling wood smoke as much as possible. Having since read more from him, I now think the fireplace article was the best he’s written. Perhaps he should have stuck with that?

  11. 11
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    You’re not exempt from fear but fear didn’t dictate their decision in those cases.

    Not running up your credit card is fear of high interest, sometimes is the appropriate response.

    In the same way, people might be afraid of using the fireplace but they won’t let that fear cause them to stop.

    Maybe the $2000 fine will

    And whether there really is something to be afraid about is a different question also.

    That is a legitimate question, during winter inversions fireplace use traps fine particulate pollution close to the ground. This is an issue for those with respiratory problems.

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    I’m an atheist though I don’t accept the sobriquet ‘new’ before it, just plane atheist.

    I have Christian acquiantances and can safely say from simple observation that their ‘fun’, is mind numbingly dull. It involves group meetings, lunches, dances etc preceded by interminable prayers. Then when a youth gets too flirtatious (or human as I see it) they are reminded that Christ is watching, and they tone down the ‘fun’.

    Their ‘fun’ involves the self imposed spying upon the behaviour of their peers, the scrutinization, and snooping into the doings of the group. It is a religious meddling into the personal behaviour of the individual which is tolerated as there is accepted behaviour, and behaviour that is beyond the pale ie. ‘fun’.

    Drinking, mild drug use,safe pre marital sex, safe teenage sex, dirty dancing, modern rock, the movies, friendships beyond the church, humour at the expense of religion and many other ‘fun’, youthfully normal behaviour, are all systimatically excluded.

    As a result you develop the most introverted, saturnine, generally dull personalities possible. Incapable of a lively discussion, and hell bent on turning every aspect of life into a mind numbingly dull discussion upon the fate of their pointless souls.

    The ‘new’ atheists News are really quite fun.

  13. 13
    Diogenes says:

    Why do I get the feeling that if Sam Harris had written about how you should have a wood-burning fireplace, O’Leary would now be lecturing us about how fireplaces are obviously dangerous, and the New Atheists are stupid and unscientific for being for them?

    But no, he’s against fireplaces. So now O’Leary is going to tell us how much fun Christians have, and how little fun atheists have.

    Uh, most of us have been to Christian churches. Most atheists have a Christian background. We remember what church is like. Sermon, doughnuts, smug judgmentalism. We remember. We know her claim is nonsense.

    What’s more ridiculous is that her claim contradicts the most common creationist complaint about evolutionists, namely, that scientists believe in evolution because they are sexually licentious and want to have fun without consequences.

    Here’s how Ray Comfort put it recently in WorldNutDaily:

    To hold to a belief that nothing created everything is scientifically ludicrous. So why would such a massive weight of elephantine evidence go unheeded?

    The answer is simply that he loves his pornography, his fornication, and all the other pleasures that come with it, and atheism (in his mind) deals with his problem of moral accountability.

    Hmm. So for over 100 years, creationists have been saying that scientists only believe in evolution because they’re sexually licentious and sensual, and have too much fun, unlike Christians, who restrain themselves.

    But one atheist writes a perfectly reasonable blog post, filled with interesting and irrefutable scientific facts, and O’Leary reverses all that in an instant, and now she announces that atheists are no fun, not like “fun” Christians.

    O’Leary, whose religion forbids masturbation, premarital sex and birth control between married people under all circumstances– a religion that tells people to give up something they like for 40 days a year– is going to lecture us about fun.

  14. 14
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    The “Christians” you are describing represent a narrow subset of Christian people. You cannot take their attitudes and practices as typical of all Christians.

    Given where you are located (China), it is not surprising that the Christians you have encountered are of this narrow type. Christianity in the Far East generally tends to be the product of recent American evangelism, and American evangelists overseas are quite often of the extreme type, leaning toward fundamentalism in dogma and uptightness about small morals.

    That you would take this narrow sample as typical of Christians indicates a lack of a familiarity with Christians. I don’t believe that most Christians in New Zealand (presuming there are still some left there) would match the description you are giving of Chinese Christians, so I would guess that you had little interaction with Christians when you lived in New Zealand.

    Here on this side of the ocean, the majority of Christians go to movies, and, except for a few, have no objections to dancing. I don’t consider “mild drug use” to be a “normal” part of growing up for either Christians or non-Christians, except in certain depraved parts of society, so I hardly think it problematic that any kind of Christian is against it. Drugs aren’t good for you, and should be avoided, for purely secular health reasons having nothing to do with Christianity per se, though there are Christian reasons for avoiding some drugs as well. As for restrictions on sexual behavior, they are quite traditional not just for fundamentalists but for Christians of any kind; they originally were to the great benefit of teenage girls and young women. Until the arrival of The Pill in the 1960s, most young women welcomed the social restrictions on sexual behavior, which allowed them to say “no” more easily than they could later. No longer having the excuse of “I might get pregnant,” young women are now expected by immature and horny boys to “put out” at ages as early as 13 or 14 if they hope to be popular — a pressure not put on teenage girls of the pre-Pill generation. Christian sexual attitudes, far from being imprisoning, are liberating for young girls who would rather wait a little longer.

    I know many young Christians, including those who would call themselves “evangelicals,” who are very lively, full of fun, have a great sense of humor, play all kinds of pranks on each other, dance, play cards and games of all kinds, camp, canoe, rock-climb, do triathlons, play in rock bands (the songs don’t have the filth in the lyrics typical of secular rock bands, but the music is of the same type), have friends outside the church, and yes, some of them even drink beer. The grim, puritan sort of Christian you are portraying is typical of the new convert who is overreacting against secular humanism; they are not representative of Christian life and thought.

    So why are you an atheist only when on a plane, and not when in a car or on a boat? Or did you mean that you were a two-dimensional atheist? 🙂

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