Bill Maher Show: Sam Harris vs Ben Affleck Debate- I’m with Sam on this one

Ideas should never be above criticism, particularly religious ones. Though I have great respect for Ben Affleck’s acting and humanitarian work, I have to go with Sam Harris on this debate. Islam not only leaves room for violence and oppression, its texts call for it. I am grateful that a great deal of the adherents to Islam, being around 1 billion in the world, have found a more nuanced way to view and practice their faith. Yet, many Muslims take the fundamental dictates of Islam regarding violence very seriously.

Affleck was impassioned in his challenge to Harris. Yet, his indignation, straw men, and non sequiturs added nothing to his argument.

There are several key points to consider about this issue:

1. Islam is not a “race,” rather, a religious ideology. Ideas are not above reproach or criticism. People deserve protection, rights, and respect. Ideas are made to be tested, discussed, debated, and even ridiculed. To quote Steven Brutus, “Anything that can’t be mocked is dangerous.” No idea, philosophy, or ideology should ever be off-limits from being battered like a pinata to see what ends up falling out, for better or for worse.

2. Islamic religious texts not only allow for violence against non-believers, but actually prescribe it. The portion of Muslims who put those admonitions into actual practice (or just agree with them) are not employing strained or fringe interpretations of those religious texts, but literal ones. For a list of such references, click the link:

Not to single out Islam for possessing religious texts with a call to kill unbelievers, as there are plenty of similar verses in the Hebrew Bible & other religious texts. I am no fan of those either. But, it is Islam that is the matter of debate in the video above.

3. Any fundamental and violent faith text or system is an enemy of human progress. ANY text, religious or otherwise, that says, “Kill a person who does not agree with this,” is an abomination to humanity. Any or all texts deserve public condemnation. We should all support religious freedom and also the freedom NOT to be religious. But, that doesn’t include the right to harm, imprison, or kill others for not agreeing with you.

It Makes No Matter To Me (A Poem)

grand canyon
There is a place on the edge of the Grand Canyon

Where once I stood

It, being in the shape of a long, narrow triangle

I walked out to the point

Just barely wider than my shoulder-width feet

And stood there trembling

With my closest fellow

Choosing to remain

In safer territory


For to the right and left of me

No stone floor was found

And there was none still in front

Only underneath me and back behind…


So, as my gaze lifted up from my own tattered shoes

I saw only the distant floor and walls of the Canyon afore and about me

As though I floated in the air

Or rather plummeted

As a falling angel

Cast out of Heaven perhaps

Who opened his eyes

Before crashing into the fallen and cursed, terrestrial plain

Just to think to himself,

“Goddamn… it is so beautiful.”


I felt the vertigo grip me

Yet I lost not my balance

As any wavering would be death


I stood there for a single moment

Stretched into eternity

I marched in my mind

Both forward and back

As much as I was only present in that moment as well


Foolish and bold though it was

There I stood forever

And though after that moment

I walked back away from the Canyon’s treacherous edge

I never left it


I am standing there still today

Suspended in the air

Held by an unseen stone


As unsure as it is firm

Until I eventually fall


Into my own bliss

Never again to return


Yet, ever to be.

If only as a whisper


Through the lips of eternity

Or only the moment

Either way…


It makes no matter to me.


Copyright: Luke Austin Daugherty 2014

(all rights reserved)