First, watch the talk. Believe me–it’s worth it.
Now, I think the talk is brilliant, and I think he makes a strong point that would stand strongly in almost any other time and place. But we are here instead.
I feel that the biggest problem logic has is not having enough moderates on its side to fight against the illogical. It’s hard enough to get people to leave the ranks of apologists without asking them to join a team that has no name.
Harris would normally be right, if it were not for the extraordinary pressure we are currently under to fight clear and present dangers that face us. While I admit atheism to be a blunt tool, I’d rather we have a blunt one than none at all.
Sadly, I fear the “logic and reason” banner will get us nowhere. This is especially true given the lack of sophistication of many of our opponents. If someone calls us an atheist, and we say, “I prefer not to use that term…”, they will immediately follow with, “Do you believe in God?”
If our answer is “no”, then we will be instantly accused of trickery and deceit (something they expect from the Godless anyway, of course). That is the mentality we will face in this situation.
In short, I believe Sam’s argument is one that we must accept once we have achieved some measure of success. But until then we must attempt to make enough progress that his distinction can even be comprehended by the other side. ::