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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:54 pm 
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Acharya's Work Complements Sam Harris's Philosophy

The thread below has been brought to my attention, and it appears that for some people, there's a need to briefly explain the difference between what authors like Sam Harris offer and what Acharya S brings to the table.

The 'Reason Project' forum thread: The Mythicist Position: Go Beyond the Endless Theist vs. Atheist Debate

First of all, congratulations to Sam Harris for his success.

Sam Harris has a degree in philosophy from Stanford and his Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. His books are centered around philosophical arguments regarding faith and science. According to Wiki: "Harris's basic message is that the time has come to freely question the idea of religious faith. He feels that the survival of civilization is in danger because of a taboo against questioning religious beliefs."

And we here at Freethought Nation support his efforts, as well as his work for the Reason Project.org. Acharya has even recently posted this blog:

Sam Harris speaks truth about Islam on MSNBC with Lawrence O'Donnell

Acharya S/D.M. Murdock has a degree in Classics, Greek Civilization. Classics studies encompass the entire culture, whether Greek or Roman. She studied philosophy, history, archaeology, languages and linguistics, anthropology, mythology - and she uses all of these in devising as accurate and comprehensive a worldview as is possible vis-a-vis ancient religion and mythology.

Also at Wiki, in Dr. Harris's "Worldview" section: "In a January 2007 interview with PBS, Harris said, "We don't have a word for not believing in Zeus, which is to say we are all atheists in respect to Zeus. And we don't have a word for not being an astrologer."

Dr. Sam Harris's worldview as described at Wikipedia is about as close to the worldview of Acharya's as one could get. Acharya, while being a non-believer in any religion, doesn't care to be labeled an atheist. She prefers something with far more substance. That is why she created the mythicist position, which fits perfectly with Sam's comment above about Zeus and astrology. The mythicist position, I would think, would be right up Dr. Sam Harris's alley.

So, the difference here rests in the fact that Sam Harris's books are centered around philosophical arguments regarding faith and science, while the books by Acharya S/Murdock offer evidence for the origins, history and evolution of religious concepts dating back thousands of years, demonstrating that these religious concepts are based in natural phenomena. Acharya explains with great detail how that nature worship is largely based in astrotheology; "Theology founded on observation or knowledge of the celestial bodies," such as the sun, moon, planets, stars, constellations, etc. She further emphasizes that myths were created by anthropomorphizing or personifying them into stories that could be passed on to other generations. And that development eventually led to many of our modern religions around the world today, as explained in the Mythicist Position video and articles, as well as throughout the works by Acharya S/Murdock.

In order to emphasize my point, I have searched through all of Dr. Harris's books, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation and The Moral Landscape, for 35 different keywords, such as;

Astrotheology, archeoastronomy, archaeology, astronomy, Christmas, December 25th, solstice, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, Easter, Good Friday, Passover, sun god, moon god, solar, lunar, natural phenomena, mythology, mythicist, mythicist position, comparative religion, Jesus myth, Christ myth, constellation, virgin birth, walking on water, twelve disciples, star in the east, three kings, cross, crucifix, zodiac, precession of the equinox, crucifixion, resurrection.

These terms are very significant, because Acharya S actually explains their origin, history and evolution into modern times, using primary sources and scholarly commentary on them from a wide variety of backgrounds, demonstrating that origins of religious concepts are based in natural phenomena. Occam's razor - how much more reasonable and logical could one possibly get? The point of this exercise is not to pit one against the other; rather, to show that they complement one another.

Here is my summary about Harris's books:

The End of Faith

No explanation or mention of historical background of: Astrotheology, archeoastronomy, archaeology, astronomy, Christmas, December 25th, solstice, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, Easter, Good Friday, Passover, sun god, moon god, solar, lunar, natural phenomena, mythology, mythicist, mythicist position, comparative religion, Jesus myth, Christ myth, constellation, virgin birth, walking on water, twelve disciples, star in the east, three kings, cross, crucifix, zodiac, precession of the equinox, crucifixion, resurrection.

He does mention the virgin birth, cross and resurrection in all his books, but in passing or relating to Christian or other religious theology and does occasionally provide a footnote.

Letter to a Christian Nation

No explanation or mention of historical background of: Astrotheology, archeoastronomy, archaeology, astronomy, Christmas, December 25th, solstice, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, Easter, Good Friday, Passover, sun god, moon god, solar, lunar, natural phenomena, mythology, mythicist, mythicist position, comparative religion, Jesus myth, Christ myth, constellation, virgin birth, walking on water, twelve disciples, star in the east, three kings, cross, crucifix, zodiac, precession of the equinox, crucifixion, resurrection.

On page 68 we see a mention of Greek mythology:
Quote:
"Truth be told, I now receive e-mails of protest from people who claim, in all apparent earnestness, to believe that Poseidon and the other gods of Greek mythology are real."

It sounds like they (and Dr. Harris) would benefit by reading Acharya's work. Acharya S explains why they are not real but are instead based in natural phenomena - a monumental difference that many other authors and scholars do not match. For example, Poseidon represents the ocean - very clearly an anthropomorphization of water - a natural phenomena which every culture on earth has created myths. It is not enough for us just to have the atheistic hand waving dismissal of everything attitude; we have compiled the evidence that shows the origins of these religious concepts are based in natural phenomena and we feel that the world would be a better place if we were allowed to have that conversation bringing forth this fantastic material which has been buried for 2,000 years. We find it far more interesting and fascinating than what theists would lead us to believe, or atheists would simply dismiss. It's a very significant part of our own ancestor history yet, it is nowhere to be found or taught in schools. We, as mythicists find this omission to be a major disappointment.

The Moral Landscape

No explanation or mention of historical background of: Astrotheology, archeoastronomy, archaeology, astronomy, Christmas, December 25th, solstice, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, Easter, Good Friday, Passover, sun god, moon god, solar, lunar, natural phenomena, mythology, mythicist, mythicist position, comparative religion, Jesus myth, Christ myth, constellation, virgin birth, walking on water, twelve disciples, star in the east, three kings, cross, crucifix, zodiac, precession of the equinox, crucifixion, resurrection.

We have a mention of "natural phenomena" on page 41, in passing.

Again, Dr. Sam Harris is one of my favorites, but so is Acharya S. Nobody else alive today is explaining in as much great detail how the origins of religion have their foundation in natural phenomena like Acharya S. It's just basic common sense - it's about as REASONable as it gets and I don't see any board members from the Reason Project, FFRF, Secular Coalition, American Atheists, Atheist International, or any authors like Dawkins, Hitchens or TV personalities like Bill Maher, etc., even discussing it at all, let alone at the level it really should be. One would think that Mr. Harris would want this taught in schools and throughout academia because currently it is not.

One can do this with other authors books as well such as Richard Dawkins.

In The God Delusion, page 119:
Quote:
"Robert Gillooly shows how all the essential features of the Jesus legend, including the star in the east, the virgin birth, the veneration of the baby by kings, the miracles, the execution, the resurrection and the ascension are borrowed - every last one of them - from other religions already in existence in the Mediterranean and Near East region."

So, why would Richard Dawkins thoroughly embarrass himself with utter ignorance of even the basics about the pagan origins of Christmas in his comment provided in the link below? I mean, what we see here is Dawkins, without hesitation, deferring to Tom Flynn who defers to Robert Gillooly, saying "the essential features of the Jesus legend ... are borrowed - every last one of them - from other religions already in existence," yet, when Zeitgeist Part 1 or Acharya S are mentioned saying the same thing about Christmas, Dawkins rejects it out of hand immediately without any interest in learning more about it. It's very frustrating and disappointing especially when this guy is held up as the world's most famous atheist, supposedly on our side!!! There are simply far too many atheists oblivious to the substance behind these myths and it's precisely what's missing from the discussion. It also demonstrates the DIRE need for people to be made well aware of the mythicist position.

The link below exemplifies the monumental need for both theists and atheists to understand where all these religious concepts originate in the first place and why. It also demonstrates the DIRE need for people to be made well aware of the mythicist position.

Richard Dawkins on Christmas and Zeitgeist Part 1

Richard Carrier is a self proclaimed mythicist who makes no mention of significant subjects like astrotheology or archeoastronomy because he knows nothing about them.

As noted above, Acharya S supports Sam Harris and his work, why can't Dr. Harris and others return the favor by steering their readers who are interested in the history of religion to her work? I'd like to emphasize the fact that not only can Acharya read biblical texts in their original languages, but she also researches in a wide variety of other languages. All of these skills are required to delve into the history of religious ideas, and to my knowledge neither Harris nor Dawkins can do research in all these languages.

I fully understand that Mr. Harris has other things he wants to discuss throughout his books, but he could AT LEAST tell his readers who ARE interested in further explanation of the astrotheological and mythological roots of religion that are based in natural phenomena to read the works by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock. Dr. Harris doesn't discuss any of this at all, so why not mention someone who does?

The attitude that if it's not in Harris's books, then it's obsolete is diametrically opposed to the points made throughout his books and, even worse, shows a leaning towards another new type of cult that Sam would certainly not approve of.
Quote:
"The idea that any one of our religions represents the infallible word of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained-as the beliefs, rituals, and iconography of each of our religions attest to centuries of cross-pollination among them."

- The End of Faith, page 16

This quote above is precisely what the work by Acharya S is all about. Which also happens to be exactly what Mr. Harris does not explain - that's why I keep saying that they complement one another.

As we here know, because Acharya S herself has said it enough times, we are NOT in a competition here, and no one person should be expected or desired to be our source of knowledge. For any kind of progress, we need millions of people to know as much about religion as possible. Handwaving dismissals are entirely insufficient and are really just a continuation of the same old tired modus operandi or business as usual. Philosophizing is great and necessary, but so too is the study of the history of religious ideation based on natural phenomena dating back thousands of years.

The fact that hardly anybody is aware of astrotheology and its myths based in natural phenomena concerns me and it should concern you - it's precisely what's missing from the discussion. We can begin fresh and renewed; Go Beyond the Endless Theist vs. Atheist Debate with the mythicist position as a new viable option which serves as bridge between the two.

The Mythicist position video


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:57 pm 
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Good read. I have often wondered myself why people like Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens never quite dig into the why like you do, Acharya. I think that is the most important part. One can philosophize about their distaste for religion their entire life, but to gain the knowledge that you give gives it a whole new meaning. It gives reason behind the madness. Don't get me wrong, I love to listen to them and read their books, but I think what you do holds a much more vital importance.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:13 pm 
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nita22 wrote:
Good read. I have often wondered myself why people like Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens never quite dig into the why like you do, Acharya. I think that is the most important part. One can philosophize about their distaste for religion their entire life, but to gain the knowledge that you give gives it a whole new meaning. It gives reason behind the madness. Don't get me wrong, I love to listen to them and read their books, but I think what you do holds a much more vital importance.

Nita, your comment perfectly summarizes this issue so, thanks so much for your comment. 8)

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:15 pm 
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I notice a few of the posters at the Reason Project forum thread: The Mythicist Position: Go Beyond the Endless Theist vs. Atheist Debate were far more concerned (stuck) on the "ism" in the word "mythicism," rather than taking any interest in what it entails. A completely ludicrous argument - especially when one considers Dr. Harris's thoughts on atheism posted below.

I asked Acharya S/Murdock for her thoughts on this issue, and she replied that she doesn't care for another "ism" either. However, she also said that since we humans don't grunt or use telepathy (LOL :lol: ), we still need words to communicate; therefore, "mythicism" is simply a word used to clarify a specific position, philosophy or set of ideas. In this case, the word "mythicism" is merely utilitarian to describe the perception of various religions and religious figures from antiquity as being mythical, rather than historical. It's not a new word that we've made up; nor need we get all freaked out over using a perfectly good word. Acharya's recently created mythicist position simply offers an Occam's razor explanation demonstrating that the origins of religious concepts stem from observation of natural phenomena, about which both theists and atheists apparently know very little - that's why it's significant. It's precisely what's missing from the discussion! One would think the mythicist position and mythicism would be greatly appreciated by the Dawkins, Harris crowd et al but, they've never heard of it. I guess someone needs to ask them to read Acharya's work.

Sam Harris gave a speech at the Atheist Alliance International (AAI) conference in Washington, DC, in 2007. In this speech, and in other lectures by Dr. Harris, he points out the limitations of atheism:

Quote:
"My concern with the use of the term “atheism” is both philosophical and strategic. I’m speaking from a somewhat unusual and perhaps paradoxical position because, while I am now one of the public voices of atheism, I never thought of myself as an atheist before being inducted to speak as one. I didn’t even use the term in The End of Faith, which remains my most substantial criticism of religion. And, as I argued briefly in Letter to a Christian Nation, I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.”

"Attaching a label to something carries real liabilities, especially if the thing you are naming isn’t really a thing at all. And atheism, I would argue, is not a thing. It is not a philosophy, just as “non-racism” is not one. Atheism is not a worldview—and yet most people imagine it to be one and attack it as such. We who do not believe in God are collaborating in this misunderstanding by consenting to be named and by even naming ourselves."

"So, let me make my somewhat seditious proposal explicit: We should not call ourselves “atheists.”

- The Problem with Atheism

Sam Harris - AAI 2007 - The Problem with Atheism - skip to 4 minutes




Added edit 3-16-16: Here is American Atheists President David Silverman's "Firebrand Atheism" lecture. Plus, be sure to read this thread The Agnostic Fallacy.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:07 pm 
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With the risk of being hanged here, I look forward to this book, criticizing Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. Not from a christian perspective, but from an animist perspective.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Anything to say about the topic at hand?

This thread isn't any sort of anti-Sam Harris thread in any way at all.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:48 pm 
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Freethinkaluva22 wrote:
Anything to say about the topic at hand?

This thread isn't any sort of anti-Sam Harris thread in any way at all.


I know, and I don't mean to be the black sheep here. I am however not the ordinary atheist myself; Sam Harris' statements and Richard Dawkins' as well, doesn't always resonate well with me. If one has read any other book by the author which will touch both Harris and Dawkins in his coming book, tend to look at it from a slightly different perspective. I love listening to Harris and Dawkins, their work is fantastic, but they both feel kind of "blunt" for a lack of better term.

The quote about the book and the both men in question: "there is no reality outside what can be measured using the tools of science." sums up my animist-inspirated view quite well.

Peace.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:14 pm 
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Let's have a look at the link in question:

Quote:
Jensen's furthest-reaching book yet, Dreams challenges the "destructive nihilism" of writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who believe that there is no reality outside what can be measured using the tools of science. He introduces the mythologies of ancient cultures and modern indigenous peoples as evidence of alternative ways of understanding reality, informed by thinkers such as American Indian writer Jack Forbes, theologian and American Indian rights activist Vine Deloria, Shaman Martin Prechtel, Dakota activist and scholar Waziyatawin, and Okanagan Indian writer Jeannette Armstrong. He draws on the wisdom of Dr. Paul Staments, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, who discusses science's lack of accountability to the earth, and many more. As in his other books, Jensen draws heavily from his own life experience living alongside the frogs, redwoods, snails, birds and bears of the upper northwest, about which he writes with exquisite tenderness.

Having taken on the daunting task of understanding one's dreams as a source of knowledge, Jensen achieves the near-impossible in this breathtakingly brave and ambitious new work.

As far as a reality outside of what can be measured by science what are we talking about here? Extra dimensions? Parallel universes? Referring to these other realms as the spirit worlds of ancient lore? I guess you need to explain what your animist views consist of in order to consider them against people Harris and Dawkins.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:34 am 
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What about interspecies communication?
When indigenous people talk about the subject, it's a given for them, while for us, we tend to see it as metaphors. Why is that? Because we can't measure it? Because we objectify everything that's not a human, and reason tells us that objects are silent? Or is it all just hallucinations? :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:44 am 
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I guess it depends on whether we're talking about the ancients doing drugs and then talking to the animals. :lol:

But in any case you'd have to factor in the particle / wave duality of light and matter somewhere in all of this when taking it a scientific explanation, which has given rise to newer understandings about the structure of matter. Here's a wave based structure of matter physics that pretty much lays waste to the older and more primitive point particle conception of the Greeks: http://www.quantummatter.com/space-reso ... hat-is-it/

If you research Milo Wolff's site long enough you'll get a feel for how each particle of matter is viewed as spherical standing wave structure, not a literal discrete point particle. In other words, space acts as a wave medium substance with in moving and out quantum level waves - carrying energy and information - which are constantly going to and from all of the material objects in the universe. This explains a lot of former paradoxes such as the particle / wave duality and even spooky-action-at-a-distance. It presents a vision of the natural universe as an interconnected, interdependent whole where the perception of separateness between any two given objects is merely an incomplete perception of the big picture. Everything exists within the bounds of a continuous wave medium substance. I spent several years retraining myself to understand the physics of the universe from a strictly WSM perspective. And it's a naturalist perspective which can explain nearly everything. I ran into this as I was reading about the quest for a theory of everything (TOE). Even the possibility of mind-to-mind and mind-to-matter communication via the quantum waves moving through the wave medium substance from object to object:

Quote:
http://www.quantummatter.com/space-reso ... t-thought/

There are other reasons for focusing on matter waves. The funded Human Genome Project ambitiously proposes to completely unravel four billion genes of human chromosomes which determine the structure of our bodies. This structure is the hardware of our body computer. Where is the software? We are born with many built-in emotions and survival mechanisms which are ’software programs’. Like consciousness, they occupy our mind but have no identified physical location. Since our unconscious brain and its peripherals are the ‘CPU‘ of our body computer, then matter waves could be their internal communications mechanism. These waves are not limited in their range, so it becomes conceiveable that external mind-to-mind and mind-to-matter communication can also occur. Survival is the primary goal of each organism thus internal communication would be the predominant role while external communication would be rare. This may explain the greater effectiveness of meditation.


In this case, what you're talking about is not outside of the realm of the scientific method. Granted, it requires looking at newer science, but the sort of communication you're talking about is theoretically possible with respect to the standing wave structure. And perhaps these shaman have been tapping into that level of communication since deep antiquity. Like Wolff says, internal communication would be the dominant role waves and external communication would more be rare. But that's what we find when facing the shaman problem. It's rare to find people who claim to be able to have that sort of communication. And I've also considered that this sort of possible external communication may also have something to do with the power of the human mind. People get spiritual and pray and do all sorts of things, but what is happening through all of this? They are using their brain waves all the while. They are directing their minds into a focused direction. So from what I understand the WSM can address a lot of mysteries which were formerly considered beyond the range of science on the more primitive point particle conception of matter level. A Swedish scientists actually just filmed an electron and it made a big stink on Wolff's e-mail alerts because the empirical image matches the in and out wave spherical standing wave center model. And so theory appears to match observation:



Now I doubt that Dawkins or Harris have read through Milo Wolff's math and research. They may not understand how it's conceivable for science to explain these type of claims because it pretty much requires moving from the point particle conception to a strictly wave based perspective in order to explain them rationally. But since you brought this up here I thought I'd take a stab at trying to explain it with whatever science based methods I'm aware of. It would mean that maybe you're right about the interspecies communication, but everything you're describing would be perfectly natural as opposed to something supernatural of course...

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:36 am 
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I never claimed it be supernatural, of course its natural. :)
I'm just saying that the way indigenous people look at the world (an animist perspective) and the experience they have with living with the world should not be taken as false just because science may yet not have invented their tools to "test" it yet.

Like, now and then, you read about scientists torturing animals to test and see if animals feel pain. That is the dark side of going to the extreme to find "proof" of everything.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:24 pm 
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Quote:
I'm just saying that the way indigenous people look at the world (an animist perspective) and the experience they have with living with the world should not be taken as false just because science may yet not have invented their tools to "test" it yet.


It has to be taken as false until proven otherwise, don't you see that? I tend to think that there's a lot going on with the human mind that we're just barely beginning to understand. But I take no offense to people like Dawkins and Harris who would question these assertions and want to see hard evidence. The burden of proof rests on the one making the positive claim. What's the alternative? Do you suppose that any one can make any wild claim without meeting the burden of proof? I'm not sure why you'd even be offended at that, aside from the fact that you've taken on animism as a personal belief and so it pisses you off that any one would ask for credible evidence to substantiate these extra ordinary claims. It's only fair that they'd ask for evidence isn't it?

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 1:13 pm 
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View the full debate here

The God Debate II: Harris vs. Craig


Lots of really good debate but at 45 minutes - he explains that if people are unwilling to value evidence, logic or reason the conversation is over.

Interesting Q & A discussion of "consensus" at the very end 2:04:30

The God Debate II: Harris vs. Craig
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-god-debate/

Here's a brief clip from around the 1 hour mark in the full debate:

Is Christian morality psychopathic Sam Harris

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 11:45 am 
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Eyewitness Accounts of Miracles (Sam Harris)


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Here's a blog by Bruce Gerencser that is pretty much in-line with the views by Sam Harris above:

Quote:
Dear Skeptic Community

"In recent weeks I surveyed the various enclaves within the skeptic community and have come to some sobering conclusions....

If the goal is for skeptics to move the United States towards becoming a true secular society where science, reason, and rationality are the norms, then they MUST change their approach....

... First, the skeptic community must change how it is perceived. As long as they are perceived as arrogant, argumentative, educated god-haters, the people who make up the majority in the United States will turn a deaf ear and blind eye to them. They must come down out of the ivory towers and walk among the uneducated. They must be seen as normal, every day folk, as people who understand the plight of the uneducated, working class community.

Second......."

It appears Bruce Gerencser knows nothing of Acharya's work or at least her mythicist position video and articles. Maybe someone would post them in his blog as a viable option for his quest.

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