A fear of the faithful who mean exactly what they believe

Review of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris:

“Sam Harris is tired of being nice to religious people. Why, he wonders, should we be expected to respect individuals who in the year 2004 still believe in virgin birth? And Christians rarely return the favor. Instead, they’re down in Washington holding prayer breakfasts and smiting ‘sinners’ through mandatory drug sentences, intrusive sex laws and prohibitions against stem cell research.

If Harris mistrusts Christians, he’s openly mocking of Muslims, whose beliefs, he suggests, ‘belong on the same shelf with Batman.’ In fact, he doesn’t like any religion much at all. As he points out in ‘The End of Faith,’ believers of every denomination constantly engage in civil wars. They are also responsible for such historical lows as the Inquisition, witch hunts and the sustained anti-Semitism that eased the way for the Nazis.

What most annoys Harris, however, is that the faithful are averse to development and change. Fixated on ancient scriptures, they ignore the accumulating insights that have transformed the world. Every other field redefines its positions in the light of fresh data. Only religion takes increasing pride in being backward…” (San Francisco Chronicle )