I started this as a response to the comments on my last post but it go long and I have a goal of posting something each day during the holidays. Much more to say and think about. I have listened to 14 minutes of Harris here and find I agree with everything he says. Still need to listen to his debate with Hedges and need to find some of the more vitriolic stuff I've heard he has said. Must go to family xmas party, hence I'm sending out myy half-boiled ideas into the blogosphere.
Personally, Dr. W., your description of faith and doubt certainly reflects my life. I think I finally gave in to doubt because I was going crazy trying to hold both faith and doubt in my mind. Of course I still existed as a somewhat faithful Mormon for many years with much doubt. And I would consider many of my friends as "doubting" mormons though, certainly faith has the upperhand if you will.
But here, I think, we move away from Hedges' criticisms of the new atheists. Hedges' key point is that, as Lisa quotes, morality can both spring from faith or non-faith/doubt/science. Understanding/believing/using the scientific method doesn't guarantee moral outcomes. Partially this is true, must be true, because of the gap in what we actually know and understand. .
For me it's important to recognize that we as humans will employ different "ways of being" in order to work through/deal with this gap--the gap between what we know (can verify with the scientific method) and what we don't know OR what we don't know that we don't know. Humans will always need to humbly accept this gap.
But some of these new atheists give little credence to this gap. While I understand on a theoretical level that science can/could/maybe will slowly but surely fill in this gap in knowledge, there will always be a gap. Therefore we need a way of engaging this gap, speculating on this gap, comforting us because of this gap. For many this is religion which I can empathize with from this perspective even though it doesn't work for me. For many story and art help “fill” this gap, or at least contend with it.
To me postmodern theory does a lot of work with this gap but new atheists like Dawkins totally reject postmodernism as a critical vein of study--just a bunch of bullshit to Dawkins (see Postmodernism disrobed). That smacks me as pompous and dogmatic, a position that doesn’t respect the gap. Dawkins ends The God Delusion (I quite enjoyed the first half of this book) with “I am thrilled to be alive at a time when humanity is pushing against the limits of understanding. Even better, we may eventually discover that there are no limits.” Here I agree with Hedges that Dawkins ultimately tries to externalize what’s wrong with the world as religion. Once we get past that there are no limits. And my understanding is that Harris and Hitchens go way beyond Dawkins in this front—e.g. Harris’ support of torture and possible preemptive strike on the Muslim world.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we will always be humans, we will always have gaps in our knowledge, we will always live in socially constructed narrative which will continue to impose limits.