07 May 2008

The taboo delusion

The atheist author Sam Harris makes a remarkable statement in the middle of this article on Huffington Post website:

I could list other examples of encounters with editors and publishers, as can many writers, all illustrating a single fact: While it remains taboo to criticize religious faith in general, it is considered especially unwise to criticize Islam.

He certainly provides plenty of examples of why it might be unwise to criticise Islam, or at least extremists variants of Islam, but he provides no evidence at all for the idea of a taboo on criticism of religious faith in general.

Sam Harris, along with Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have together sold millions of books by attacking religion in the most vituperative terms. Their works have been heavily promoted by major publishers and reviewed extensively throughout the mainstream media. So where exactly is the taboo?

Self-proclaimed rationalists like Mr Harris should take care not to make such blatantly irrational statements.