If I have one quibble with Dyson, it is that he has been far too modest in drawing out the implications of his argument. He is, of course, right to declare that “science and religion are here to stay.” But magic is here to stay too, George; Africa is full of it. Is there a conflict between scientific rationality and a belief in magic spells? Specifically, is there a conflict between believing that epilepsy is a result of abnormal neural activity and believing that it is a sign of demonic possession? Dogmatists like Coyne and Dennett clearly think so. They don’t realize, as Dyson must, that the more one understands neurology, the more one will understand–and honor–demonology. Have Coyne and Dennett read the work of sophisticated magicians like Aleister Crowley or Eliphas Levi? Don’t count on it. Ask yourself, how could matter conflict with spirit in any way? Answer: it cannot. Forgive me, but I find it embarrassing to have to explain these things to people who are supposed be well educated.
I can’t read minds, but the ‘sarcasm’ of Sam Harris is a trick, and, unless I am mistaken, and I may be, the joke is on the hard core devotees of scientism.
I can’t be wholehearted in recommending anyone read Eliphas Levi or Aleister Crowley, but then again the history behind them points to the total blindspot of modern science.
Surely Sam Harris is engaging in a tricky deception, since he has obviously considered Levi/Crowley himself, along with a host of Eastern mystical teachings, even as he debunks them for the science set.
Either Harris is a complete idiot, or he is deceiving his audience.