"It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error." U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson
"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet." Emily Dickinson
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Carl Sagan
"Once the shift is made from a process of reason to one of faith, everything can be made to fit your thesis." Alexander Shulgin
"Well behaved women rarely make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
"For a true scientist there can never be a crisis of faith, just new equations." Majutsu
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas Jefferson
"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I will say the love we give our fragile craft." Adlai Stevenson
Here’s an excellent bit from the question and answer period after a debate with Rabbi Wolpe. I’ve been watching a lot of Mr. Harris on YouTube, and I have to say that I like him even more than Richard Dawkins. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dawkins, but, as an American, Harris is more aware of the need to speak with the religious politely and without snarkiness. Dawkins can come off a bit smug, which is a mistake when dealing with the American religious, who already feel beset and belittled, and whose defense mechanisms thereby fly up as soon as the subject is broached with any sort of superior attitude.
Here’s another bit: Sam Harris at the TruthDig conference, talking about how beliefs have consequences, and why the taboo on not examining religious beliefs needs to be lifted.
Here he is talking about the relative morality of various books of the Bible and what would happen if as a society we actually followed it.
And one more, at the Idea Festival in Aspen, where he disputes a lot of common misconceptions about atheism:
If you’d like to hear more of what he has to say, here’s the link to his website, which includes links to a number of articles and videos (including the full debate with Rabbi Wolpe). His thinking is even more in line with my own than Richard Dawkins’s. Dawkins and the rest of the recent crop of atheistic authors turn their backs on mystical experience, whereas Sam Harris, while approaching it as a skeptic, acknowledges that there’s something there to examine that could prove worthwhile, perhaps yielding up that which religions seek but never truly find, tied up as they are in their supernatural superstitions and dogmatism. He’s experienced contemplative states and acknowledges that they can lead to an increase in the ability to experience empathy and compassion, which are clearly in short supply these days.
A neurobiologist, he was motivated to start writing by the events of 9/11, and his focus is on the affect of beliefs on behaviors. Some people have painted him as some sort of warmonger Islamophobe, but that’s hardly the case when you read the suspect passages in context. Does he say that people holding the beliefs indoctrinated by Islam can be led therewith to bad behavior? Absolutely, but that’s hardly the same thing.
With all the allegations of socialism leveled at the Democrats lately (which certainly rang with a very ironic twang for me, coming from Republicans, who just helped oversee a partial nationalization of our banking industry), I was heartened to read this article by the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz (at HuffPo) about what business needs to be doing right now to help the economy get back on track, and it’s not about being short sighted and only looking at the bottom line:
Now is a time to be bold. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in our people, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. The argument–and opportunity–for companies to do this has never been more compelling. A recent opinion piece by former Vice President Al Gore Jr. and David Blood makes this point eloquently. “Sustainability and long-term value creation are closely linked,” they wrote earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal. “Business and markets cannot operate in isolation from society or the environment.”
I share that belief, and it has guided me and my partners over the past three decades, as we have grown Starbucks into the company it is today. Sure, we are the first to admit that Starbucks is by no means perfect. We have made our share of mistakes. But I can tell you unequivocally that as Starbucks confronts today’s economic challenges, it will do so while remaining true to our principles and fostering a culture that genuinely embraces our collective humanity.
Last week, Starbucks gathered 10,000 of our store managers together for a leadership conference in New Orleans. I am proud to report that among many other benefits of the conference, our leaders performed more than 50,000 hours of community service in that still-struggling city. During the conference we also announced a set of ambitious but realizable goals for the way we source our coffee, how we help to sustain our environment, and what we can do to work with, and continue to contribute to, the communities in which we do our business and the world as a whole.
Good business, like good government, isn’t about socialism. It’s not about taking from the hardworking and giving to the undeserving any more than it should be about duping customers with a shoddy product or externalizing costs with environmental degradation or cheap foreign labor. It’s about recognizing the value in every life, and in doing business in such a way that real value is created, for the benefit of everyone, including the shareholders. That’s good business, and that’s the true American way.
The number of people arriving at my blog searching for terms having to do with Obama and the Illuminati have skyrocketed now that he’s won the presidency. And I’m curious…just what is it that people fear?
I tried to allow an “Other” in the poll, but couldn’t get it to work, so please feel free to voice your fears, if they’re not included in the poll, in a comment.