March 12, 2011

Sam Harris, Christopher Hitcheens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennet

One can describe them as the elegant future, the fighting present, the glorious past, and the dinosaur ...

Before folks turn on me in all their fury, let me explain ...

I admire them all of course ... they've been the guiding lights of my life who've given me confidence that I was not some lone loony who properly belonged in the slammer of one sort or another.

Those who are still unfamiliar with these names of course are merely intellectually spectacularly impoverished.

How does one give a brief 'summary' of who these people are? Here, let me try.

Sam Harris. He's a great scientist who knows 'everything' about science. Now, if you introduce him as such in front of an audience, I know that he will protest. He will add the caveat that he does not know about all science. Okay. He has got a PhD in neuroscience. So, perhaps I can narrow the broad tapestry of science and say that Sam is an 'expert' on neuroscience. But he has done deep research into various eastern 'contemplative traditions' too as he so elegantly puts them. I like the way he takes liberals to task. I just loved the way Sam destroyed Deepak Chopra's mumbo-jumbo and without so much as raising his voice.

Christopher Hitchens. I'm sure his very name might make some people shudder and sweat ... or shrug their shoulders. His acerbic wit is incomparable. He clearly has encyclopedic knowledge about the content and history of the various major religions ... and perhaps the minor religions as well not to mention some of the older and extinct religions and gods.

It's perhaps a reflection of some sense of false priorities of us as a species that we do not give more important to men like Hitchens with the kind of incandescent intelligence that they possess.


Richard Dawkins. What to say about him? He continues the great tradition pioneered by the inimitable Carl Sagan. Ever humble and ever elegant and lyrical. Whereas Sagan's forte was talking about our place in the astronomical context, Dawkins wonderfully conveys the splendor of our evolutionary inheritance. Dawkins has contributed an enormous amount to the great intellectual discourse about evolution. He has been patiently refuting the non arguments of the scientifically illiterate who come up with non arguments to show that evolution is a myth.


Gentle as Dawkins is, he is not afraid to take on those who usurp and warp the message of science to pursue their own agendas. Dawkins deserves enormous admiration for the way he takes on the religious right in the United States and New Age gurus such as Deepak Chopra and other false sciences such as homeopathy. Watch him speak. Watch him talk with other great thinkers and scientists. Watch him to learn about life itself.


Daniel Dennet. I am not a paleontologist. Well, I'm quite ignorant really about Dennet's work. So, please, somebody fill this in ...


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