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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 104 to what moderate Jews, Christians, and Muslims would say about fundamen- talism. It isn’t the beliefs that promote dogmatism but the fundamentalists who lock on to a belief system and dogmati- cally reject other views. It is certainly true, as Harris points out, that much of the suffering throughout history has resulted from religious hatred, religious wars, religious taboos, and reli- gious diversions of scarce resources. But the twentieth century—during which atheism was violently imposed on much of the world—witnessed the greatest acts of inhumanity in history. In no preced- ing century of religious intolerance were more people persecuted and killed than in the communist regimes of the twenti- eth century, whose zeal was to eradicate religion from the face of the planet and replace it with science and atheism. This is exactly Harris’ hope; he is now in the process of creating a foundation for the purpose of waging his own war against religion and promoting atheistic science in its stead. Religious people have no monopoly on dogmatism, and they are not solely responsible for the many divisions of our world into separate moral and ideo- logical communities. The root of human suffering is not religion; it is mental af- flictions such as hatred, attachment, and delusion. While Harris embraces the noble ideal of reducing suffering in the world, to a tragic extent Letter to a Christian Nation promotes the mental toxins that perpetuate human divisive- ness, conflict, and misery. This is especially unfortunate in light of the many valid points he makes throughout this poignant critique of re- ligious fundamentalism, including his insistence that ethics be based on the goal of alleviating suffering and promot- ing genuine happiness, and his convic- tion that religious beliefs be subjected to rational analysis. If he had shifted his efforts from waging war on religion to eliminating hatred, attachment, and de- lusion in public policy, he would have made a significant contribution to pro- moting world peace. ♦ Zen Center of New York City Fire Lotus Temple A Lay-Practice Community Offering: Daily meditation schedule Saturday retreats Sunday beginner’s program and Dharma talk Meditation intensives and sesshin Resident Zen Teacher and senior staff Residential training For more information: www.mro.org/firelotus