~Omni-Peephole: Give Sam Harris Some Slack

Most of you who have been flowing this blog know that I’ve been picking on Sam Harris. That’s because I had the impression that he’s trying to collapse the interiority of the religious feeling into the rational without making room for the transrational (or the transcendent). I thought I was already being too hard on the dude, but then I read this criticism by Robert Godwin in his One Cosmos blog:

"Yesterday while driving home from work, I caught a bit of the Michael Medved show. His guest was the famous atheist Sam Harris, who has written the bestseller The End of Faith. He is a perfect example of Wilber’s dictum, because this man was so intellectually banal, such a metaphysical yahoo, such an adolescent drone, that it is no surprise that he cannot raise his intellect to religion. But, in the American way, he has turned his infirmity into a virtue, and is no doubt making a small fortune in the process."

Now, I think that’s a very unhealthy attitude towards Sam Harris. I’m not sure if Rob Godwin had read all of Harris’ books or watched his interviews that’s why he lashed out that way. But I don’t think Sam Harris deserved to be insulted and dismissed just like that. I do think that Sam Harris is fighting a good fight here. So instead of taking the dude down and insulting him downright, why not build on top of his arguments? I think building on Sam Harris’ work, like taking what’s partially right and extending his rational arguments into the transational, is a more "integral" way of doing it.

To be honest, I haven’t read any of his books, yet. That’s why my criticisms of him are mostly open-ended and tongue-in-cheek. But the more I read about his views and watch him on interviews, the more I think that Sam Harris is the most inclusive of the New Atheist Trinity: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris. His reasoning and opinions may be lacking on the transrational or spiritual side, but hey, at least he’s open to Buddhism, mysticism, meditation, not to mention that he’s an advocate for contemplative science.

Case in point: Here’s a video of a very composed and compassionately sharp Sam Harris talking about rationality, and get this: Buddhism, transformation, meditation, consciousness, contemplative science. He even alluded to some sort of pointing out instructions! How cool is that? That doesn’t sound like "metaphysical yahoo" to me.

I really think that in order to take this conversation that Sam Harris (and Dawkins, and Dennett) had started to the next level, integrally-aware people like B. Allan Wallace and Ken Wilber should have a more constructive dialogue with him, because they’re all after the same thing: to put meditation, interiority, and consciousness back into mainstream academia.

Bottomline: I see Sam Harris as an ally to the "integral" cause. Make that a very ballsy ally. So give the dude some slack!

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