How we too often exchange the truth for a lie (see Romans 1)
Click here to read my critique of Harris’ argument against the existence of God.
Christian Thought, Culture, Science
absolutes, agnosticism, atheism, Authority, Bible, Christianity, church, creation, Darwin, Doubt, existentialism, Intelligent Design, knowledge, Letter To A Christian Nation, rationality, reason, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Sorokin, The End Of Faith, The Problem of Pain, truth
June 17, 2008
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You raise some interesting points in regards this rather incendiary book. I remember reading it when it came out and losing what little respect I’d garnered for Harris after reading The End of Faith.
Is God truly “knowable?” Is man?
Hardly. And yet we must come to some decision regarding these things, even if we readily admit that our conclusions stand on shaky premises.
And depending on the sophistication of one’s arguments, Occam’s Razor can cut both ways. Harris errs on the side of “natural” and “explainable” where many believers swing way too far toward “supernatural” or simply “unexplainable,” therefore “unknowable.” Both have a measure of faith, indeed.
Nice paper. Have you gotten a grade yet?
Either this was a very short review, or something was cut off. In any case, you make a very curious statement:
“Similarly, science points out that of the known planets and their orbits, there is one planet that does not orbit in the same direction as the other seven. Venus is able to contradict our understanding of the nature of gravity and the origin of the solar system.”
Venus orbits the sun in the same manner as the other eight planets (where’d you get 7?). Only its rotation is different, a characteristic it also appears to share with Uranus. True, scientists are unsure how this came about, but to claim it “contradicts our understanding of the nature of gravity and the origin of the solar system” is rather bizarre and simply not true.
With respect to pain and suffering, you do the honest thing and throw up your hands, unable to reconcile an omnibenevolent, omnipotent deity with their existence. Could there be some reason which would allow them to be reconciled? Sure, but why should any reasonable person hang their beliefs on such a remote possibility? When you’re sick, do you allow for the possibility that demons are the cause and see an exocist, or do you follow the most reasonable course and visit a doctor?
Harris is not foreclosing the possibility of any god. Rather, he’s showing why deities like the Christian god are highly improbable.
you cannot convert statements to logically non- equivalent paraphrasing and interpretive “other statements” to logically and intellectually decipher meaning of the original statement and point out fallacies. whatever fallacies you have pointed out that i have read in this obviously grade F philosophy paper are ones derived from your improper analysis and your synthesis based on misinterpreted reason. take an intro to logic and and advanced comp class before you start citizen journalizing about how you can make something appear false by “saying it this way” so that maybe you can be clear and unambiguous in your evaluation of more sound lines of reasoning than your own. the depth of his argument is obviously beyond your level of comprehension to make a meaningful opinion-statement about to be meaningful and significant to the world and the understanding of it, because you had your mind made up before you truly opened your mind up to possibly considering another point of view based on its own self evident truth, which doesn’t require belief without evidence. if i started a messianic cult how would you certainly disprove my spiritual superiority over your savior and god without using an orgy of statements which are meaningless within the context of actual reality that is the same reality all humans experience? anyone persuaded would not be so from logical statements, that is for sure. the best is that you try to use falsified scientific facts and amateur historical interpretation to disprove actual science, much how faiths are used to debating with each other is it not? But only because with meaningless religious statements you can twist them into new meaning without consequence to the point of the argument, which is ultimately nothing, equivalent to the truth value of your statements. have a great day!
oh by the way to respond to other comments man is knowable because man can observe himself; man cannot observe god and obviously never truly has, otherwise we would have a lot more answers about god, now would we not? And do you know what Occam’s razor is? seriously, you cannot have two opposing sides sides of a proposition both with an equal number of assumptions to support each opposing truth value without them being logically equivalent, and hence not opposable. otherwise true and false would be ambiguous and meaningless; Occam’s razor determines that the truth value of a statement to be one or the other based on a method. And i hate to burst your bubble but there are way more assumptions required to believe in god or gods than to not because we cannot gather facts on such matters but we can about the parts of reality that we all experience. just because science hasn’t answered everything yet, doesn’t mean its demonstrably flawed to provide better answers than the narrow purpose of religion, which was to give us beliefs in things we could not gather facts about. as we have increased our ability to gather knowable data, we have used that as a solution to problems that religion could not solve because religion is not designed to give us knowledge through inquiry and testing, just pure “knowing” of what cannot be disproved or proved.
and to agree with the latter comment most people cannot really understand what harris actually says, he doesn’t arrogantly says he’s right and your wrong, he says his position is so far more probable now than the cognitive relics of the past and challenges the religious to put forth more compelling argument based on logic and indisputable facts to provide an epistemological foundation for the certainty of their beliefs over atheism and doubt in religious faith.
if there is a god it is obviously racist, doesn’t care for children, the poor or the mentally ill, the world and its other life it created, and only offers you a 50-50 chance of answering your particular needs in prayer (to be fair its 0-100 by my experience but shit happens to some people supposedly). I would feel much more confident in the faith i have in my ability to understand and adapt to the world and control my experience within the context of the circumstances of my surrounding environment than something you would have to continue to justify to yourself day in and day out based on a desire to believe that which does not prove itself. truth is always self evident, and can be expressed very simply. to justify religion you need an arsenal of preprogrammed reactionary statements that don’t reveal any truth of the reality that we participate in.
I love you all!
Good point. I understand your point. You are correct. Venus is orbiting in the same direction as the other seven. (I say 7 because Venus + 7 other planets = 8–since Pluto’s recent downgrade.) I’m revising my article to clarify what I meant to say. Instead, Venus is rotating on its axis in a clockwise direction. This is true also for Uranus. All scientists say about these two rotations compared with their cousins is that while forming during the origin of the solar system, some stray mass must have collided with them and sent them spinning contrariwise. I don’t buy it for a couple reasons too long to mention here, but in brief, consider Uranus. It’s knocked on its side and spinning the wrong way–Uranus’ axis is so vastly different from the other planets that it’s tilt in nearly 90 degrees. Thanks for the clarification on the revolution bit.
The point yet remains that we can theorize what the cause may be, but it is a theory. Our interpretation of the data is a suggestion. Nothing more.
If it were to be shown tomorrow that our suggestion was wrong, that would mean that we have to redefine our contemporary understanding of the origin of the solar system. We are quick to defend our theories. This is not an argument for I.D., but I am not trying to prove I.D. I am only pointing out that randomness in the cosmos is not necessarily without reason, just because the true interpretation of the data may not yet be ours.
Sidebar: Let the believers of Creation attempt a discourse that accepts science as a supplement of faith. I would prefer to distance myself from the notion that science and religion necessarily contradict one another and leaves us with the tragic necessity of choosing one or the other. The second tragedy is the opposite–that of making faith supplement science.
Evil cannot make sense:
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