The Stakes of Human Conflict

Religion raises the stakes of human conflict much higher than tribalism, racisim, or politics ever can, as it is the only form of in-group/out-group thinking that casts the differences between people in terms of eternal rewards and punishments.

–Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

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4 Comments on “The Stakes of Human Conflict”

  1. Judy Says:

    Our religions are too small and exclusive. I think that we have molded God in our own small image. We need to start where we are and move out and into a greater God. Here is an antodote, a prayer by Edwards Hays from ” The Great Escape Manual”:
    May my prayers reach you, O God, through the Living Mystery of the Risen One in unity with all the prayers of the Church and of all Christians.
    May my prayers be one with all those who pray this day in synagogues, mosques, pagodas and temples.
    May my prayer be united with the prayers of all believers and all unbelievers, one with all praying creation within the cosmos, so that my prayer and my very person might be fully united with you, my God, who is one with all.

  2. gerry rosser Says:

    Sam Harris appears to be writing in English, I recognize all the words, but I’m unable to attribute any significance whatever to the way he’s arranged them.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    Well, the significance is probably too contextual; in other words, those words meant more to me in the context of the book from which I drew them. The point felt salient to me — that because religion has “eternal stakes,” it has more destructive potential than any other form of bias, because people who truly believe their religion is the only way are often determined that everyone should also believe or will face damnation, and they are sometimes willing to mete out punishment in the form of death because their god tells them to.

  4. Kathryn Says:

    Judy, I appreciate your position and desire for unity. I too think god is a limiting term and that humans have too small an image of god, but I am moving away from thinking of god at all. There is a marvelous universe to explore, there is the Nature of things which can be understood through science and math, which is plenty of mystery (or Mystery) for me. A god that is personally conscious of each and every person does not make sense to me anymore — and it never really did. This quote spoke to me in a way that I’m not fully able to articulate yet. It’s a bookmark for me in my journey, as I am experiencing a shift in how I perceive things (or am recognizing and understanding this shift which has occurred).