For instance, religious doctrines about the sanctity of human life are hindrances to the scientist who seeks cures through research on embryonic stem cells, the mentally incapacitated, the terminally ill, or prisoners. The same goes for the social researcher who believes that population control is essential for socio-economic health. Revealed religion is also at odds with the investigator who believes that the gnawing questions of our existence will be answered in the quest for extraterrestrial life.

To those whose ultimate hope is in the limitless potential of man through science, religion is a danger more menacing than the Black Plague or runaway global warming. Consequently, Harris frets that “Iron Age beliefs—about God, the soul, sin, free will, etc.—continue to impede medical research and distort public policy.”

To meet the threat, Harris urges the scientific community to blast “the hideous fantasies of a prior age with all the facts at their disposal.” Once religion and faith are vanquished by reason and science, Sam Harris envisions that

the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu [will] be broadly recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.

Mr. Harris would be wise not to bet the farm on his hope. According to an Authority I trust, the church will not only prevail over all who would rout it; it will advance . . . even against the gates of Hell.

Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a Centurion of the Wilberforce Forum. His "All Things Examined" column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at: centurion51@aol.com.