Recently prominent atheist, author, and podcaster Sam Harris created quite a stir as a guest on the Triggernometry podcast. While conversing with the show’s hosts Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foste on topics such as Twitter, the Intellectual Dark Web, and wokeness vs. religion, the topic of Donald Trump (of course) came up. In particular, Harris commented on how weeks before the 2020 election, Big Tech and the legacy media, suppressed the original New York Post article about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. That article was one of eight such news stories, which polls have shown that had they not been suppressed, more Americans would’ve voted for Trump.
Nonetheless, Harris made it clear that “at that point Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement. I would not have cared” and that even if Joe Biden was “getting kickbacks from Hunter Biden’s deals in Ukraine or wherever else, right, or China. It is infinitesimal compared to the corruption we know Trump is involved in.” He even wryly admitted that those who were calling the efforts by Big Tech and the media to quash the Hunter Biden Laptop story “a leftwing conspiracy to deny the presidency to Donald Trump” were correct, “Absolutely it was. Absolutely. But I think it was warranted.”
That’s when Konstantin, stopped Harris and asked him to clarify whether he really meant that he was “content with a left-wing conspiracy to prevent somebody being democratically re-elected as president.” In proper leftist fashion, Harris lamely replied by broadening the definition of what most people think of when they hear the word “conspiracy”, to excuse the suppression by comparing it to people finding out that an asteroid was hurtling towards earth and then getting together to formulate a way to divert it.
The Descent of Sam Harris
As has now become de rigueur with these sorts of gaffes, Harris tried to walk back his comments on Twitter about what he was really “trying to say.” He talked about the proportional use of self-defense against someone he sees as dangerous as Trump, that it was a “hard call, ethically and journalistically about the wisdom and propriety of ignoring the Hunter Biden laptop story until after the election”, and that he was in no way suggesting that “Democrats would have been right to commit election fraud or take other illegal measures to deny Trump the presidency.”
However, the damage had been done. Nick Arma over at Red State, noted, “You can spin all you want now, your words were clear. We heard what you said. You weren’t just talking about “ignoring” it, you were talking about suppressing it, acknowledging what was done to the NY Post.” But Jack Posobiec summed it up nicely by tweeting, “Sam Harris just admitted he supported censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story because it helped Biden. This man just set his entire career on fire!”
It is interesting, as well as fitting, that Harris compared conspiring against Trump to devising a plan to prevent an asteroid from impacting upon the earth. For the imagery perfectly encapsulates the blowback his reputation took after his comments went viral. All the hard work that Harris has done over the years to cultivate an image of a highly educated rational skeptic and free-thinker, just got lit. The weight of his vainglory dragged his reputation out of orbit, where it burned up in the Twitter-sphere and cratered within a day.
A Descent Long in Coming
While some may have been shocked to hear Harris being so blatantly partisan (and ruthlessly so), his saying the “quiet part out loud” was something that has been in the making for a long time. When he first emerged as one of the original Four Horsemen of the New Atheism in the early 2000’s, he was seen as one of the fresh new intellectual luminaries that would usher in a new age of enlightenment. An era that would leave the religiously motivated socio-political strifes of the 20th century behind.
However, after reading his 2010 book The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values, I saw right away how the New Atheism was a sham and worse than the old atheism. It was scientifically informed utilitarianism masquerading as moral philosophy. In particular with Harris, there was his notion of a “science of morality” which advocated using science to do “morally good things” so as to increase the overall flourishing and “well-being of conscious creatures.”
Aside from his hypothesis being incredibly vague, the conclusions he arrived at in his book contained far too many suppositional or logical holes to be taken seriously. Holes so big, you could shove all of the tens of millions of people who were were murdered by totalitarian (not to mention atheist) governments that also adhered to such airy-fairy utilitarianism, through them. This fact, goes a long way to explaining Harris’ comment about not caring if Hunter Biden was hiding “corpses of children.” After all Harris is avowedly left-wing in his politics, a political worldview whose history is filled with the broken eggs of human life that were scrambled over and over again with the intention of increasing human flourishing. Whether it is abortion, Malthusian population reduction schemes, open borders overrun with human traffickers, or even the Trans ideology that is sterilizing our kids, Harris’ worldview is and always has been “comfortably numb” with the accumulation of corpses.
Needless to say Harris did not invent this worldview, but it is one that he has hitched his wagon to. This is yet another benefit of his “science of morality” being so vague and fungible, since it allows him to reverse engineer his atheism and philosophy to fit nicely into his preferred political beliefs. This is something that many of the New Atheists and their descendants (e.g. the Atheist + community) were fond of doing, as they tried to make the case that they held political belief x, y, or z because of their atheism.
The Circle Quirks of Atheism that Trap and Burn
However, the problem with purporting to use the scientific method to arrive at your moral principles, is that it ossifies those principles into what most of us think of as scientific truths such as the laws of gravity. This lead to the rise of Scientism during the last two decades, to the point that it has become an ersatz religion with its own unquestioned doctrines and first principles. This arrangement will work for awhile, until the “moral landscape” (to use Harris’ own words) changes, and drastically so. After which the moral truths and unquestioned authority of science of one era, becomes the next hierarchy or establishment to smash and destroy in a new era. This in fact has already happened, when last year Salon (certainly not on my reading list) ran a scathing piece on how the new woke generation views the original New Atheists as a bunch of “Godless Grifters” in addition to being the usual gamut of “-phobes” and “-ists.”
In 1998 St. John Paul II opened his encyclical Fides et Ratio with the words, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” The problem with Harris is that he is flying with one wing that works- reason- and one wing- faith- that is a cheap Chinese knockoff of the real thing. Thus, it is no wonder that his thoughts, no matter how high they soar, will always be quirky and circular in his reason. And this last week, his unbalanced flight pattern, at long last, ran into a torrent of ideological wind that were very different and far more tempestuous than the ones when he first made a name for himself.
What can you say, fame is as fleeting as his philosophy, which now sits in a crater of his own demise. This is not to say that Harris is not a highly educated and intelligent person who has some original thoughts of his own, or that he his not entitled to his own opinion. But the fact is the times have changed, and despite his best efforts to repeatedly rebrand himself, Harris has not. He may be able to revive his reputation, but if he does it will only be because he relinquishes his identity to the woke collective. A collective that will discard him (if it hasn’t already) should he ever deviate from its dictums.
Photo Credit- spectator.com. au