Sam Harris is focused and relevant in his below talk on "free will"1—he asserts that God is sadistic and insane. He challenges "believers" or "followers" to better understand the implications of their usage of the concept of "God".
Better yet, Harris has begun to articulate some of the astonishing implications for both the individual and civil society when each begin to rethink and change their usage of the concepts "God" and "free will".2
Fortunately, over time scientific methods tend to crowd out religious methods and will likely continue doing so—what is an optimal rate at which the "crowding out" should or can occur?3
UPDATED 06/26/2017 NPR, Supreme Court Rules Religious School Can Use Taxpayer Funds For Playground
There is nothing constitutionally unpleasant about ensuring our Supreme Court draws very bright lines between protecting our citizens' right to believe any sectarian religious doctrine they choose and our government's promotion of those sectarian religious doctrines5.
The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court is evidently confident scraped and bruised knees are the only odious insults to children on the playground of a sectarian institution, which is now paid for and promoted by our government. ( @ Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer: No. 15–577. Argued April 19, 2017—Decided June 26, 2017)
The Chief Justice's tries to understate the odiousness of a sectarian playground, but it's difficult to imagine a more ideal space to indoctrinate children with deadly sectarian dogma than a children's playground. Now paid for and promoted by our governments, courtesy of the Supreme Court of the United States!
UPDATED 05/25/2017 SA, College Freshmen Are Less Religious Than Ever
UPDATED 04/19/2017 AP, Church cops? Congregation Eyes its Own Unusual Police Force What could go wrong when the state attempts to delegate (very likely unconstitutionally) its Police Powers to groups of religious citizens, which largely function in an alternative reality?
UPDATED 04/22/2016 NG, The World's Newest Major Religion: No Religion
Perhaps a global maturing? It seems healthy that more of our species are beginning to recognize, albeit reluctantly, that they act entirely within a physical framework that is agnostic. But, weirdly such a recognition, for many does not mean accepting that religious beliefs are irrelevant?
UPDATED 04/13/2016 Guardian, Letting them die: parents refuse medical help for children in the name of Christ
The United States constitutional doctrine of Separation of Church and State does not exempt any parent for any harm and abuse or torture inflicted on their children4 (or other persons).
Stated differently, religious beliefs are irrelevant in any prosecution of parents for any harm and abuse or torture inflicted on their children (or other persons).
UPDATED 07/20/2012 Reason Project 2012 Video Contest Entries
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1. Harris refers to the concept of "free will" as an illusion, but these assertions are unlikely to persuade those using the concepts of "free will" and "God" to do work—in their frame of reference neither is an illusion.
2. UPDATED 04/13/2012 Unfortunately, science has yet to articulate a model that members of a civil society can use to arbitrarily and continuously change their frame of reference.
Harris might argue that civil society members are continuously and arbitrarily changing and religious concepts are simply irrelevant (illusory) impediments.
Nevertheless, members of every civil society deploy the concept of "God" in combination with "free will" (in numerous wacky forms including the absence of "free will"!) to perform work (e.g. arbitrary differentiation for all manner of perceived beneficial and inimical purposes from punishment and poverty to welfare and warring).
It's this definition of work that must be induced from the numerous wacky forms and then explicated as part of any effective model of change! Simply asserting that the concepts of "God" and "free will" are illusory or alternatively indefinably arbitrary however necessary is alone insufficient.
3. It seems more complicated than applying Internet information diffusion theory. Additionally, many religious methods incorporate an active or militant ignorance.
Moreover, parents are unlikely to stop teaching or modeling religious methods for their children if they think that doing so will disadvantage their child—and parents using the concept of "God" will likely think so.
Furthermore, it seems highly probable that the rate at which religious methods are "crowded out" is directly impacted by the tendency of those utilizing the concept of "God" to dissociate themselves with its creation and operation.
Finally, one wonders whether a correlation or continuum exists between how one defines their concept of "God" and the rate at which religious methods can be crowded out? (e.g. will an individual incorporating omnipotence, omnipresence, or omniscience into their definition of "God" think their "God" requires: no defense; vehement defense; violent defense?) Does education or circumstance or peers influence a definition of "God" or the religious methods crowd out rate?
4. Unfortunately, our species has a sordid and nefarious history of justifying all manner of bizarre behaviors by citing religious beliefs.
Withholding medical treatment from a child (or other persons) seems like a particularly gruesome form of abuse, which may rise to the level of torture—think interrogator intentionally withholding medical treatment during "enhanced interrogations".
Civil government authorities need not be atheists to immediately and unambiguously excoriate, decry, and intervene to obviate such forms of child abuse and harm or torture.
5. UPDATED 07/11/2016 NewsHour, Pride, patriotism and how Putin helped redefine what it means to be a 'true Russian' Russia provides a modern example of commingling church-state: