I’ve been listening to this “debate” between Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Deepak Chopra, and Jean Houston, discussing the future of God today, and just have to blow off some steam.
I think Harris is a great person, who has a masterful way of talking, presenting evidence, and arguing, whether he’s discussing with someone or just presenting a speech. I’ve read some of Shermer’s work, and thought that was quite good as well. I had heard about Deepak Chopra before, but never read anything by him, nor heard him “debate”. I had no idea who Jean Houston was before this.
It has been a very enlightening experience to watch this discussion, and see how the three people involved behave. Shermer and Houston are unfortunately not very active in the link, and Shermer often defers to Harris, which is okay, because like Fry and Hitchens, I don’t think I can get enough of watching movies with Sam Harris. Not only is he exceedingly knowledgeable and intelligent, but he also avoids seeming arrogant and humourless (like Dawkins does, which is why I don’t like listening to him; see this clip for a perfect example of how boring and devoid of humour Dawkins can be), and he doesn’t come off as confrontational and argumentative as Hitchens. Instead, he seems to be humble, reasonable, calm, and exudes a kind of aura of intelligence at all times.
This is specially the case when he’s discussing with Chopra, who seems to be a domineering, ignorant, buffoon, who doesn’t understand the complex matters that the others try to discuss — or even some of the simple matters — and who seems to be entirely uninterested in doing anything other than spouting nonsense with a sprinkling of scientific buzzwords in it that makes it seem as if his incoherent babblings are profound. Why does anyone take Chopra seriously? I though Dinesh D’Souza was the most incoherent and amateurish and small-minded person who was ever given a podium, but having seen Chopra, D’Souza has to move down one spot (number three on the list would be John Lennox, and number four the combination of Roger Scruton and Nigel Spivey in this clip).
I likened it earlier today to sitting down to see a show of dancing mice, only to have it interrupted every few minutes by a heard of wildebeest stampeding across the stage.
Pity that Jean Houston didn’t get more words in, though, as she seems to have many interesting things to say.