Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Unformation Age

Before I go off to do some much neglected garden work - it decided to skip spring and go from winter to summer around here -  I've got to share the, so far, best try to answer my accusation that Sam Harris was lying, as detailed below.

One "happyhaze" says, at Salon:

happyhaze 54 minutes ago

Sam may have gotten the details wrong, but this account --from Bartoleme de Las Casas, Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies. (1542)--is even worse than his 'fable'. 

From that time onward the Indians began to seek ways to throw the Christians out of their lands. They took up arms, but their weapons were very weak and of little service in offense and still less in defense. (Because of this, the wars of the Indians against each other are little more than games played by children.) And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers' breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, "Boil there, you offspring of the devil!" Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim's feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive. To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim's neck, saying, "Go now, carry the message," meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains. They usually dealt with the chieftains and nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them....

I'm not exactly certain of the chronology but I think after he read my response pointing out that de las Casas was a Catholic missionary, he said:

happyhaze 44 minutes ago
@Anthony_McCarthy I say "worse" because there is no calculation of the infant victims going to heaven. 

On the other hand, this was not the work of missionaries as such. Just xtians of the ghastly strata. Believable because de las Casas was a man of the cloth and major source for eyewitness accounts of events of the time; and because Spain gave us Torquemada, who set the bar for religious loopy pretty low. 

If this is the story in Sam's mind, based on a much earlier reading of the account, his recall may have been inaccurate. 

So, citing A CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, believed to be the earliest advocate for the human rights of the natives of the Americas, calling out the crimes against them by the conquistadors, the earliest opponent of slavery in the Americas, who DIDN'T SAY WHAT SAM HARRIS CLAIMED in support of his condemnation of CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES on a charge that they baptized, then murdered them so they would go to heaven.  

Welcome to the unformation age, where truth isn't just optional, it's meaningless, logical coherence is replaced by convenience and lies don't matter if you can get away with them among people who don't care as long as they like the lie.  And all brought to you by the champions of sciency, evidency, simulated reality.   Throwing in Torquemada doesn't do anything but send up a smoke screen to mask the lie.


  1. I was going to say, the moment I read the name "de Las Casas," that he was a Catholic priest who inveighed against the treatment of the natives by the Spaniards.

    And nothing he says there describes baptizing infants before dispatching them, which would be so contrary to Christian practice as to be ludicrous.

    Yes, Christians have slaughtered people. Yes, Christians have baptized people. I know of no case in history where it was the practice to make sure the former followed the latter. And this certainly doesn't present one.

    Maybe Daniel Dennett can explain to us how the internet is going to resolve this "secret," because the inner workings of a mind that refuses to understand what is right in front of it, is a mystery indeed.

  2. P.S. Gotta love the fanboi apologetics for Harris. He didn't say what he really meant (he was in a hurry to get the book to press, right? Publishing a book is just like publishing a comment on the internet, you can't always proof it before you publish it. Right?) but what he said was "true" anyway because "history"!

    Or something. Anyway, facts be damned because "DID TOO!"

    Honestly, the on-line world is turning into a gigantic sandbox. Celebrities quitting Twitter because it's such a noxious space are just the canaries in the coal mine.

  3. Sam Harris is Joe Scarborough's twin?