Harris’ approach is clearly refreshingly philosophical: he not only takes to task the epistemological issues surrounding faith-based assertions and propositions, but also challenges the metaphysical presuppositions of the Abrahamic Trio–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  With respect to the latter, he briefly compares what he presumably believes to be the more “rational” metaphysics and science of the modern West with that of the Trio.  On balance, his somewhat common sense, scientifically enlightened commentary should challenge all of us to reconsider the grounds of our religious convictions.  What is the warrant for making a certain kind of religious claim?  What might a philosophical approach offer in the way of clarification and understanding?  It might be advisable to take a look at some of the more recent, but, now classical, works that discuss religious phenomena, such as William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience. Here is a most relevant excerpt: http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/james/james3.htm#26

One promising avenue to a study of religious pheneomena is suggested by this quotation: I do not see why a critical Science of Religions of this sort might not eventually command as general a public adhesion as is commanded by a physical science. Even the personally non-religious might accept its conclusions on trust, much as blind persons now accept the facts of optics- it might appear as foolish to refuse them. Yet as the science of optics has to be fed in the first instance, and continually verified later, by facts experienced by seeing persons; so the science of religions would depend for its original material on facts of personal experience, and would have to square itself with personal experience through all its critical reconstructions.James, LECTURE XVIII

A “science of religion” subjected to empirical standards and pragmatic criteria!  Indeed, if we could mix reason and faith and structure our understanding of seemingly irrefutable personal claims regarding religious experience, we might well see some advance in interfaith dialog. Or, is that wishful thinking?

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