Over at The Edge Scott Atran and Sam Harris continue to spar over the question of religion. This is a continuation of the discussions that occurred at Beyond Belief 2006. The Q & A’s at the end of the presentations were actually far more interesting to me than the talks themselves. Having so many super-intelligent people in the room was incredible. In regards to Atran and Harris, those of you who have read my opinions about religion know that I lean strongly toward Atran in regards to the science of religion as a natural phenomenon. On the other hand, I think Sam Harris plays an essential role in declaring that the emperor has no clothes. Nevertheless, Sam is most powerful and persuasive when confronting believers with the incoherency of their own beliefs. The problem is that Atran of course takes that incoherency as a background assumption and shows how it is insensitive to disconfirmation, so Harris’ jeremiad seemed a bit out of place amongst the den of unbelievers who congregated at Beyond Belief 2006. If I may condense, it seems that Harris takes the perception of ideas very seriously, while Atran is cautious about the nature of both perception and ideas.