Having commented on the Newsweek/Washington Post "On Faith" trainwreck, it's a pleasure to witness an active and lively exchange between a devout Catholic and a published atheist author on the subject of faith, atheism, reason, politics, and the interface between them. Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, has engaged Andrew Sullivan, author of The Conservative Soul to debate the meaning and propriety of religion in contemporary life. Quite thankfully, the discussion has neither turned into a scream-fest like "On Faith," nor has it consisted entirely of bromides and backscratching, so afraid of devolving into histronics that nothing ever gets said. In the exchanges so far, the disagreement has been profound, but has stayed within the bounds of respect and decorum.
What keeps this dialog under control, I think, is the epistemological humility that each maintains. Sullivan's most recent book is a treatise pleading for a politics based around what he calls a "conservatism of doubt," in which one may hold strong convictions, but be constantly mindful of the limitations of ones own knowledge, and proceed with care in the world of public policy. Harris, while an atheist with more than a small share of annoyance towards religious entries into worlds that he believes should be the province of reason solely, in turn acknowledges that science, logic, and human reason do not constitute nor divulge absolute knowledge, hence any claim of certainty about the lack of an existence of God based on reason alone would be no less a self delusion than he considers faith in God.
I find this particularly interesting, because they touch upon many of the same lines of thought that I both discovered and struggled with in the long process that lead to me finally returning to the Church. (I finally officially joined First Presbyterian of Durham late last year.) Reading the Sullivan/Harris exchange has made me want to write about my own experiences there, but since I seem to be running behind on everything else in my life recently, that's not likely to happen for a while.