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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brooks Recommends - Sam Harris vs Rabbi David Wolpe

Frankly, you either get this picture or you don't.
I'm not gonna lie to you. I've always been a skeptical sort. I didn't have any traumatic experience with the church, but even at an early age I remember having doubts about the Big Bearded Guy in the sky. I remember vividly at the age of six being alone and having these doubts, but then trying to cover my tracks I would use my internal monologue to say in my brain "I do believe in God. I do believe in God," just in case the Big Guy was up there paying attention. As the years wore one, I became less and less cautious as it became clearer and clearer to me that this whole religious stuff was all a bunch of hooey.

However, I have respect for the religious. Growing up Lutheran, I can tell you that it was nothing but a good experience. Pastor Rockwood taught me everything I need to know about nuanced and intelligent public speaking and story telling. I met many good friends both young and old through the church. I sort of consider myself, like many "secular jews" a "cultural lutheran". When I listen to A Prairie Home Companion, I laugh because those are my people. But I'm about as atheistic as they come.

But I also like a fair and strong fight. Last year, notorious raconteur (and Cancer patient (we're pulling for you Hitch!)) Christopher Hitchens battled ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair on the question of whether or not Religion was a force for good in the world. Quite frankly it was a one sided blood bath. Tony Blair put up a pretty weak defense and Hitchens danced circles around his opponent. Far more interesting is the heated and significantly more nuanced debate author Sam Harris and Rabbi David Wolpe had concerning the existence of God, which they conducted two years earlier.

It's a long discussion, and there's not much to be gained by watching it. I do though highly recommend playing the video and doing something else as you listen to these two go at it with intellect and vehemence. Forewarned, Rabbi Wolpe  takes a decidedly Jewish slant on the issue, but it's a fascinating discussion all the way around.

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