Monday, October 08, 2018

Why Sam Harris is an Idiot

A continuing series:

As Sam Harris put it, we are talking about cultures that would have thought the wheelbarrow a radical invention. 

"Cultures" meaning those of the Ancient Near East, in what is commonly known as "Biblical times."  And yes, the wheelbarrow would have been a radical invention, for the simple reason that the technology of the wheelbarrow would not have been wasted on peasants, or been possible without blacksmithing and metallurgy which was turned to weapons of war (chariots and swords, which existed even in "Biblical times."  Solomon, as Walter Brueggemann has pointed out, was an arms dealer; he sold chariots and swords, among other things).  No thought was given to turning that technology into something that made labor easier or more efficient.  The Egyptians had chariots, but they built the pyramids without wheelbarrows.  Why?  Because they believed in magic?  Or because it didn't occur to them to make labor easier for those who labored?  And what turned our attention to the laborer, the worker, the people at "the bottom"?

Oddly enough, a religion out of the Ancient Near East.  Today we call it "Christianity."  And today we make devices to make life easier for the wealthy and the powerful; for the workers?  Crops not harvested by machine are still harvested by hand.  Field workers still use ancient technologies like ladders and baskets and bags to pick our food and harvest our crops.  I'm sure there's a "radical invention" possible to make labor easier for them, but who cares?  We want new apps and phones!

1 comment:

  1. It was answering these kinds of things that got me banned from commenting at Rawstory. They don't like it when uppity faith-heads refute atheists.

    I got into a go round with an atheist about The Problem of Evil a while back and asked him to tell me where in atheism he found a means of defining what is evil and what isn't. Of course, the answer is nowhere in atheism. Tom Holland, a non-believer, got a lot of flack a couple of years ago for admitting in The New Statesman that his moral sense was entirely attributable to Christianity.

    As Marilynne Robinson said, the radical economics of the Mosaic Law would have been far more radical than just about any modern prescription for avoiding the creation of wealth at the expense of the desititue. The warning Samuel gives the Israelites when they ask him to anoint a king is one that any modern state I can think of should consider. It's certainly something the United States could stand to take seriously.

    Sam Harris is an ass.