If I only had a nickel for every time one of the Atheist Triumvarate (Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins) said something ironic. The latest comes from Sam Harris:
"Reason is a compulsion, not a choice. Just as one cannot intentionally startle oneself, one cannot knowingly believe a proposition on bad evidence."
Well, Sam, if that were really true, then why do so many people believe in God? There are logically only three possibilities:
1. All those people who claim to believe in God don't really believe it (which immediately begs the question of what motivates people to blow themselves up in God's name if not belief).
2. There is in fact good evidence for believing in God.
3. Your claim is wrong.
It seems like a no-brainer to me. Just because reason is a compulsion for Sam Harris doesn't mean it's a compulsion for everyone. It's pretty clear to me that many -- possibly most -- people are quite capable of self-delusion about a wide variety of matters. Moreover, self-delusion can actually be beneficial as the placebo effect demonstrates. Not only that, but there are evolutionary arguments that self-delusion actually has survival value, which means that evolutionary theory itself refutes Harris's claim. (More on that in an upcoming post.)
I despair when I read Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins. The world needs reason now more than ever. It is a tragedy that logic's greatest advocates are blind to their own irrationality.