so yesterday was my anniversary. four years ago i was married to my love, lindsay. in celebration we decided that we would eat at the sydney street cafe in benton park. before that however we made a trip to barnes and noble. i heart books. and bookstores. we had two gift cards totaling forty dollars, but i wanted to buy the whole store. i settled instead on two books, the reason for god - tim kellers new book, and letter to a christian nation - sam harris' sequel to the end of faith.
i have read most of harris' book at this point, and it is a typical piece of atheistic nonsense. so many of his arguments succumb to basic logical fallacies it astounds me that this kind of crap gets such public praise, but then on the other hand i am not surprised at all. the thing which makes books like this so successful is that it nestles up to peoples already existing prejudices and using suspect arguments makes them feel that they now have logic standing behind their biases. sadly, it's a sham. honestly this book is such a pathetic example of argumentation a freshman philosophy major could pick it apart.
there are so many examples, here is one: "everyone recognizes that to rely upon 'faith' to decide specific questions of historical fact is ridiculous--that is, until the conversation turns to the origin of books like the Bible and the Koran, to the resurrection of Jesus, to Muhammad's conversation with the archangel Gabriel, or to any other religious dogma."
really? "everyone recognizes" this? i suppose he means, everyone who is in a state of denial about what an act of historical cognition is. every act of belief about some historical event relies on something analogous to the passing of a baton in a relay. in short the recipient of some piece of information stands at the end of that relay, and faith is a fundamental part of accepting the baton. you have to believe that the information relayed to you is trustworthy. this is inescapable. belief, is always a product of faith. you cannot, with any real confidence, believe anything that you have not witnessed without placing faith that it has accurately been relayed to you. either harris does not understand this, or he does, and he's just being disingenuous. either he's stupid or ignorant.
second, harris falls into a kind of laziness in which he doesn't bother to distinguish between religious traditions. this is especially pathetic given that his stated purpose for this book is "demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms." He conflates the motivations of islamic terrorists who fly planes into buildings with missionaries who preach against condom use. it's so inane. i keep reading it because the fact is that this kind of stuff ends up being ammunition in the battle over belief in this country.
the really scary thing about this is that harris seems oblivious to the implication of his position. he wants religious faith to be a disqualification for any kind of involvement in the public square. this is frightful. and should scare the shit out of anyone who understands the full implications of this kind of intellectual fascism. the irony of this position is that he is doing this in the name of freedom...ha!
now about the dinner. i had apple wood smoked duck breast and duck confit with a wild mushroom ragout and a port wine reduction sauce. yummy. two weeks ago i bought a duck from the soulard market and attempted to my best with it. my best was not good enough. it was pretty bad. the duck i had at sydney street is the way it should be done. tender, juicy and immensely flavorful. of course the duck breast was significantly different from the confit, as they are the result of two separate preparations. and it was fabulous. lindsay had a herb tenderloin, roasted root veg and garlic mash. yummers! also, if any of you ever go there you have to get the lobster turnovers for an app. we washed down the dinner with 2007 pinot noir from washington state. it was a great evening and a memorable fourth anniversary. love you lindsay!