by Richard Dawkins
Congratulations to Sam Harris on acharacteristically brilliant broadside. His book, The End of Faith is one of those books that deserves to replace the Gideon Bible in every hotel room in the land.
Articles like Harris’s are valuable, not because they will change the minds of religious idiots like Bush or those who voted for him, but because they will have a ‘consciousness-raising’ effect upon the intelligent. There are millions of intelligent atheists out there who are too frightened to come out and admit it, because American society has allowed itself to drift into a state where religious mania has become the respectable norm. But every time a Sam Harris raises his voice in public, it will give courage to other intelligent people to come out. Maybe there are some – intelligent but not well educated – who didn’t even realise atheism is a respectable option.
I know, I agree, it is easy for me, living in Britain where religion has no power and it is religious people who feel the need to apologise (despite the paradoxical existence of an established church with the queen as its head). But America will change only when a critical mass of people is prepared to ‘come out’. The more that do, the more that will.
I really don’t mean to sound presumptuous or condescending, but my appeal to my American friends is this. When you read something like this Sam Harris article, don’t just nod in silent agreement and go on keeping quiet yourself. Start shouting, to encourage the others. I am hard at work on my own book, The God Delusion, for precisely this reason.