Friday, April 08, 2011

William Lane Craig vs. Sam Harris Debate Audio

In this audio from the University of Notre Dame that took place on April 7, 2011, William Lane Craig and Sam Harris debate the topic: Is Good From God? In other words, "Are the foundations of moral value natural or supernatural?" For video of the debate, go here.

Full Debate MP3 Audio here (120 min)

Enjoy.

This debate has been added to the William Lane Craig Debate Audio podcast feed. Get it here.

82 comments :

Scott Smith said...

Holy smokes - that was fast!

BTW, great job in your presentation today Brian! I was the "Scott S." posting you questions. I'm now catching up on the part I missed.

bossmanham said...

You must have some killer software to get this done so fast.

Russell said...

Harris looks like Ben Stiller in that picture...Thanks for the audio Brian! I've been waiting some time for this debate to happen!

Maryann Spikes said...

the Notre Dame video web page link is dead

Kim said...

This is part two. Do you have a link to part one?

Pastor said...

Thank´s Brian you were so fast...Luvin Areas from Costa Rica

Glenn Hendrickson said...

Thanks Brian!

Maryann Spikes said...

Kim, the God Debate I was between Krauss and Craig and the audio is here: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WilliamLaneCraigDebateFeed/~5/EnDDIdDzZW4/debate-craig-krauss.mp3

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the full video? I got to my apartment late and wound up only getting about 80% of the feed.

travislambertwriter.com said...

Ditto on that last comment. I only got to see the first few minutes of it. I hope the video will become available.

Anonymous said...

I tend to think that we should think that in this debate both sides have critical and serious thought behind their positions. This debate robbed my of that assumption.

Harris did not even seem to understand the issues or have the arsenal to participate in this debate. This debate did no favors to the students of Notre Dame other than to highlight that WLC was interested in logic and reason, while Harris seemed to think insults and mockery could function as an argument.

Ryan

P. Stone said...

My goodness, Harris was up the creek without a paddle.

Anonymous said...

What is most frustrating about all the debates that are posted on this blog with WLC are how they usually end.

WLC pours out voluminous amounts of evidence, facts and logic and then his opponent will just summarize, "well there is just absolutely no evidence for..." whatever the debate is about.

I can't help but admire WLC's composure in the face of such obtuseness.

Ryan

Anonymous said...

Craig's spiraling arguments were confusing as usual; i wish he'd talk in plain english. I thought that Harris provided a wonderful framework for a consistent system of morality devoid of any notion of God or commandments. Harris actually made sense.

Craig suggests that just because people are more likely to behave morally if they are under threat from an all-knowing arbiter, then the existence or knowledge of morals requires there be an arbiter. However this is patent nonsense. People can have morals and still decide on an action against better judgment through greed, envy or whatever. This does not make a moral any less of a moral just because people may or may not be more likely to fall into temptation.

Anonymous said...

Is God Necessary for Morality? (Kagan vs Craig)

Look it up on Youtube.

In this debate Shelly Kagan tackles Craig's ideas head on. The look on Craig's face at many times during this debate is priceless.

In fact Craig verbally concedes many point's to Kagan. It is laughable to see Craig re-hash the same ideas in his debate with Harris when he already conceded them to Kagan.

chris said...

Exporting an mp3 takes 5 minutes. No high tech software required.

chris said...

Its really amazing to me how people can watch the exact same debate and think their side totally kicked ass and the other side was thoroughly trounced.

Personally I feel like Craig didn't even present an intellectually honest debate. Sam shredded his arguments and then he would either just not respond or try to equivocate into some semantic side alley, or just hammer away repeatedly with the same argument that was logically defeated in the last round.

Sam clearly elucidated why there isn't a problem with the is-ought distinction (every is ultimately comes from an ought-- we ought to value logical coherence, we ought to trust mathematical proofs, so we inevitably pull ourselves up by our bootstraps somewhere) yet for the next hour Craig kept on talking as if Sam had no ground to stand on because of of this brilliant is-ought argument.

When a claim you've been making has been demonstrated in front of everyone to be wrong, you have to stop making that claim if you want to be listened to seriously. Craig doesn't seem to mind.

Russell said...

Chris I have to agree with you on people seeing different outcomes. I have no idea how someone listened to this and felt that Harris made a decent case for himself. I am still not even sure what he was arguing. Can someone please explain this to me? Where is he grounding all of this?

Aside from his opening statement, I heard nothing but insults, red herrings, and a ridiculous caricature of the Christian faith. Unfortunetly it seems like many at the debate, and sadly many on a few blogs, ate this kind of nonsense up.

Anonymous said...

I'm generally on Sam's side of this issue, although I disagree with him on some points.

I was hoping that Sam would research Craig and prepare accordingly. Sam does have a degree in philosophy, and he is often well spoken, so I thought if anyone had a chance again Craig, it would be Sam. It all boiled down to if Sam would do the work to prepare specifically for Craig. Clearly he did not.

Sam did poorly. He generally re-hashed the same talking points for his book that he has used many times before. Some of these talking points are interesting, but almost none of them were on target such as to be a suitable response to Craig.

I hope Sam at least learned something from this experience, and maybe now that Sam has started a blog, he will respond to some of Craig's points there. Better late than not at all, which is what did during the debate.

chris said...

I agree with Anonymous that Sam did mostly run through his talking points. The reason I felt that was still a big win for him is because I think the arguments are strong enough to do it alone. If someone having a debate with a holocaust denier just runs through the same old boring talking points, it wouldn't make the holocaust 'truther' any less credible, just more boring.

Mark said...

I'm an atheist, so I tend to agree with Harris, but several people here make the valid point that Harris doesn't address some of Craig's major lines of argument. At the same time though, it's hard to let someone posit that their God is the foundation for morality when the evidence for the existence of that God is terrible. Craig wants to have his cake and eat it too by positing that the God of Abraham is the foundation of morality without having to get into some side debate about theology. I think Harris is right to shift the debate by essentially saying, "Look, if you believe that the Christian God is the foundation for morality, here are the other things that you are tacitly admitting that you believe, and here's what the world really looks like when morality is determined by religion." And his critiques of religion are only "mocking" or "insulting" if you believe the shit. When he reduces transubstantiation to a deluded person eating a cracker and thinking he's munching on Jesus, I can imagine how it would sound offensive to a Catholic, but just imagine if he was talking to 12th century audience and made similarly dismissive comments about with hunting ... And yet we now recognize that the witch hunting was nothing more than a bunch of paranoid, deluded fools who thought that they had the right to burn people alive because GOD TOLD THEM TO ... And we've come full circle. Religious people say about atheists that if there is no God, then anything is permitted. Quite the opposite. In as much as you believe that God is telling you what to do, THEN literally anything you do is justified.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem though Mark as Dr. Craig did mention.

On what grounds do you label God terrible? What does that word even mean? Is this just something subjectively you feel? I am sure you and Bin Laden would have different views on the meaning of the word "terrible" so which would be objective?

Do you see? You have to borrow an objective moral framework, which requires God, in order to take shots at him.

Your outrage of God being terrible can never be anything but babble until you answer the great question about moral obligation; who says?

This is where Harris quickly fled from objective morality and just resorted to it being axiomatic...or in other words, a matter of belief.

Ryan

Matt S said...

Chris,

You said,

"Sam clearly elucidated why there isn't a problem with the is-ought distinction (every is ultimately comes from an ought-- we ought to value logical coherence, we ought to trust mathematical proofs, so we inevitably pull ourselves up by our bootstraps somewhere)"

And Craig shows how this is equivocating, which I don't think you heard. The sense of "ought" by which you ought to accept logical coherence and mathematical proofs is the sense of "it would correspond to reality if you accepted such proofs." No one is actually under any sort of obligation to accept them, as if they were violating a duty in not accepting them!

Damion said...

my initial reaction is posted on the Agnostic Popular Front debate blog:
http://agnosticPopularFront.blogspot.com

Unlike most of the commenters here, I don't think my side won. In fact, I'd hesistate to declare victory for either side, because both men seem to basically presume that their definition of morality is the right one, and just hope that the audience shares their presuppositions about the nature of moral action.

Damion said...

Ironically, Craig accuses Harris of simply defining morality in essentially utilitarian terms, seemingly without noticing that he has blithely defined objective morality to mean (neither more nor less than) obedience to Authority

Mark said...

Anonymous is it? On what grounds do you label God good? That word game can be played both ways. Look, morality shifts based on our scientific understanding of the world. We have access to levels of happiness, wealth, knowledge, etc. that people didn't even know existed whent the Bible was written. Science can adapt and make these new discoveries and help us figure out what things (morally and otherwise) are worth pursuing ... But what we can't do is edit the founding regligious documents that were written during periods of barbaric ignorance. I don't need a "moral foundation" because much like health, the defintion of morality, if it has a meaningful definition, should be ever changing based on how well we understand ourselves and our place in the universe ... I just don't know what else to say.

Russell said...

Mark,

I think that is a very hard position to maintain. If morality has no objective source and we are free to change it at will then it seems that anything goes. Who decides our place in the universe? Especially when naturalists will say that we are merely an accident. Who is the final authority on what is and is not moral?

Anonymous said...

Graig really knows his stuff and demolishes both Harris and Krauss. Krauss came off as an idiot but the both try changing the topic of the debate in other to avoid defeat.

Atheism is really looks bankrupt. I never thought it was in such a bad state. I thought at least there would be a draw.

Maybe, these atheists are getting hammered because they are really amateur philosophers.

Has Craig debated a professional atheist philosopher that is also an experienced? debater?

Anonymous said...

Mark,

Foundational moral principles are right or wrong regardless of advances in knowledge. For example the act of killing an individual is wrong even if the mind or self can be reduced to memories and preconditions. Moral principles accommodate new knowledge, but the foundational principles themselves don't change due to them. Just because morality may shift to accommodate what it means to kill someone, the basic moral fact that killing is wrong is in no way changed. If there exists such unchanging foundational moral principles then please account for them in your world view.

Scripture generally takes moral stances on these foundational moral principles rather than what you make out to be falsifiable and changing scientific knowledge.

"on what grounds do you label God good?"
His nature which constitutes metaphysical perfection.

Anonymous said...

"His nature which constitutes metaphysical perfection."

I have to kiss clenched fingers tips at this statement. First rate gurgling blather all in one discrete sentence. Linguists would be so proud of you while the rest of us are simply embarrassed. The question mentioned the word "grounds" that word means evidence in English doesn't it? And you retort with a sub-Emotivist exclamation. Hurrah.

My act of groundless faith is that you're an America, if so please stay there. Please.

Byrom said...

Whoever "Anonymous" is, when you say:

"Craig suggests that just because people are more likely to behave morally if they are under threat from an all-knowing arbiter, then the existence or knowledge of morals requires there be an arbiter."

You've got it completely wrong. Craig never made an argument like that.

And, don't forget, you were also complaining about how difficult it was to understand what Craig was saying... so why did you jump in and mis-represent his arguments so badly?

Are you just keen to avoid the conclusion? Your behavior is certainly consistent with this.

Russell said...

I have to kiss clenched fingers tips at this statement. First rate gurgling blather all in one discrete sentence. Linguists would be so proud of you while the rest of us are simply embarrassed. The question mentioned the word "grounds" that word means evidence in English doesn't it? And you retort with a sub-Emotivist exclamation. Hurrah.

My act of groundless faith is that you're an America, if so please stay there. Please.


This sort of hostility and ranting is exactly what I expect to come about in Harris's "Moral Landscape".

Belief in God and His nature are based on a cumulative case derived from scripture, science, observation, and various other forms of evidence. You may think that it is all nonsense, but many intelligent and capable people do not. Simply calling it "bad evidence" as Harris did does not solve the problem.

anon atheist said...

What Sam Harris did was that he briefly sketched a secular foundation for morality, advertised his book, and then abandoned the topic of the discussion to “preach” atheism instead. And I think he did a brilliant job and it was the right thing to do.

If you want a philosophical discussion about the topic you should watch the Kagan vs. Craig debate on youtube about that topic that another poster mentioned. Craigs pseudoarguments are not new and it is very difficult to win a debate against him because he very cleverly mixes emotional appeals with equivocation fallacies. But moral ontology is irrelevant. What is relevant is moral epistemology. And here Harris clearly showed how bankrupt religious moral epistemology is.

Anonymous atheist

Anonymous said...

I did not use grounds in an evidential term, but an ontological one.

If you want to know what good is, simply use your moral intuitions.

As for the atheist here who want to skip the ontological grounding of their objective moral values.
Fine
But you fare no better when it comes to moral epistemology. Why believe your moral intuitions are correctly representing real objective moral values. Here obviously I'm granted a form of morals that exist in the platonic sense.

If we apply the principle of indifference and you have no reason to think that under atheism we would be fine tuned for moral values, then under atheism moral fine tuning is in unlikely.
While on theism it is certainly explainable through moral fine tuning.
Apply a simple Bayesian inference and you have a teleological argument for moral fine tuning. I have a few other reasons why atheism cannot support objective moral values, but I'll wait for your response first.

Anonymous said...

The anonymity of the internet does inspire unwarranted boldness!

"moral ontology is irrelevant." Such a statement simply proves a lack of understanding. If ontology is irrelevant, then how could epistemology be relevant?! With respect to Craig's views on the very issue of epistemology, I believe he said in the debate (if not somewhere else) that he is open to a wide variety of theories in that area. I think that a good portion of folks in the Judeo-Christian tradition, like myself, do not look at their religious texts as if they were this legal sort of rule-book (that is, most religious people in the world simply don't rely on much in the way of 'revelation' for determining how to behave). Jesus himself reduced the "good life" to a very simple rubric, Love God with your whole being and Love your neighbor as your own self. It seems that there is a lot of room for Reason, Rationality, etc. to work with these simple commands.

I'm pretty sure that the people who mentioned the Kagan-Craig 'debate' on this board have no ability to understand it. It seems that the measure of Kagan's success has so far been measured by 'the looks on Craig's face.'

-matt

Anonymous said...

Anonymous athiest, I'm really curious to know why Craig's arguments count as pseudoarguments. Let's look at the his argument from the Harris debate. His two contentions can be reduced to:

1. If God exists then Morals/Duties exist (If A, then B)
2. If God does not exist then Morals/Duties do not exist
(If not-A, then Not B)

so, two arguments can follow from those premises, for which Craig thoroughly presented evidence. So, let's look at them in the simplified "A-B" form.

1. If A then B, A, so B
2. If not-A then not-B, not-A, so not-B

How is that a pseudo argument? There are two premises, from which Craig forms two very simple syllogisms and then he defends the premises of each. Now, you are entitled to remain unconvinced, but you need to provide good evidence that these are pseudoarguments if you want to throw that word around. Given that Dr. Craig is a professional philosopher, I would think he would know better. If you can actually explain why Craig's arguments were not actually arguments, I'd love to hear it.

In fact, Harris engaged in pseudoargumentation by departing the debate topic and engaging in unfounded Ad-hominem (the 'psychopath' comment) and Straw-manning (especially the crack about transubstantiation, which is not, properly understood, "magical" as Harris made it sound, and furthermore is not a belief that Craig or any other protestant Christian believes at all). Beyond that, there was the red-herring of the problem of Evil. The debate was not about the existence of God, but what the proper grounding for moral values is, Natural (or 'physical') or Supernatural ('meta-physical'). Harris provided no grounding other than morals are axiomatic, and that they are mind dependent. Now, Harris may be completely right about that, but if he is, then he is simply affirming Dr. Craig's second contention, that the truth of atheism would also affirm the absolute subjectivity of morality (meaning that morality is a construct and NOT an objective feature of the cosmos). Harris' contention that morals are mind-dependent absolutely underscores this point, since minds are not a necessary feature of the universe (on atheism) coming very late in the evolutionary scheme (13 billion years late!). Harris contention that morals are mind-dependent is an ONTOLOGICAL contention, and would, if true, establish morals and their attendant 'truths' as contingent rather than necessary. This simply means that while it might be a good idea to care about human flourishing, it is not a morally issue since morals as such do not exist.

-matt

Anonymous said...

Aside from that, there does seem to be a lot of misunderstanding of the debate. Judging by a wish expressed above that Dr. Craig would "speak in plain English' there is very little understanding of the discipline of philosophy. Craig's defeater of Harris' moral landscape relied on modal logic, which most people have a hard time with. Most people don't seem to understand as well that an argument in the context of debate is NOT a disagreement. It is a set of premises which must logically follow from one another and each be more probably true than not. The goal of each debater is to defend the truth of the premises of the arguments that they lay out in their opening speech. Unfortunately most debates do not run in this way and tend to be something more like verbal tennis matches. Harris started off well, making the argument (which I paraphrase):

1. Morals are mind dependent
2. minds are natural phenomena
3. therefore morals are accessible through natural means, namely science

This is, from what I can tell, a logically valid argument and definitely on topic for the debate. Unfortunately he completely left it. He didn't provide any reason for thinking that morals would be objective on this account, in response to Craig's objections raised in his opening speech. Craig never had to address this beyond his opening argument, because Harris went wandering all over the intellectual map for the rest of the debate.

Of course, we'd all like now and then for these professionals to dumb it down a bit for us laymen! If we continue to demand that, though, we will only interact with the world through anecdotes, jokes and catchphrases and go on mistaking wit for depth.

-matt

anon atheist said...

What Craig does is that he hijacks the meaning of the word “objective”. Because then he uses the word he actually means “transcendent”. Harris basically said that we can base objective morality on reality. In order to deny that you need to deny the existence of an objective reality. And what Harris further showed is that religion hinders our understanding of reality and thus our discovery of morality.

Anonymous atheist

Ted said...

this was a funny one..i'm a fan of both. I think harris knows that his ted talk, for all its merits, slipped with is-ought, (so maybe a month or so ago on twitter he said he's defining is from ought i.e. not ought from is as he set out to). And even about an objective morality. In this debate harris frustratingly said that actually he's saying that objective statements can be made about subjective morality - this makes more sense. Craig also surprised Harris twice, once with his point that if there is no god then there's no objective morality and Harris is wrong!!! that was in part1. Harris knew he was snookered when that happened. And the second surprise came when he said, also near the start, that indeed science can help towards human flourishing/well-being and that there's no controversy there. So Craig accepted what Sam's main point is, but it changed nothing in the debate. Craig had taken the truth from Sam's work and discarded the bit of fallacy in it, and really Craig was right on the money! Also Sam knew how brilliant Craig is and was afraid to engage him v directly and risk completely demolition so he played it safe by not addressing him, so that was a bit disappointing of Sam Harris. Sam is the only one of the four horseman that had a chance. It'd have been good to see a dialogue rather than a debate, but it looks like Craig would always have the upper hand, especially if Sam stuck too strongly to what I think he should make his old positions(is-ought and objective morality). But sticking to objective statements about subjective morality. And just trying to convince WLC that morality is based on human flourishing. By definition! They needed a dialogue really 'cos Harris was ignoring Craig's points.. And Harris is good in dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Sartre says, "To that I can only say that I am very sorry that it should be so; but if I have excluded God the Father, there must be somebody to invent values. We have to take things as they are. And moreover, to say that we invent values means neither more nor less than this; that there is no sense in life a priori. Life is nothing until it is lived; but it is yours to make sense of, and the value of it is nothing else but the sense that you choose."

Craig's point is that unless Harris can find an alternate transcendent ground for morals,God is the only thing that fits the bill. If morals don't have that ground then they're not objective. There's no hijacking going on.

-matt

Anonymous said...

"Craig's point is that unless Harris can find an alternate transcendent ground for morals,God is the only thing that fits the bill."

God of the gaps (argument from ignorance) much?

Anonymous said...

well, no, because Craig provided positive arguments for God being the ground of morality and vice versa. There's no 'gaps' here. The "point" referred to is not an argument itself, but is made in light of the arguments. I suppose you could be a Platonist to avoid God being part of your moral ontology, but Harris is not a Platonist.

It also seems to me to be important to remember that posts made on this thread are probably made in the context of the debate =)

MrFreeThinker said...

Does anyone want to help edit the Wikipedia section with criticisms of Harris' book Craig made in the debate? Someone need to include Craig's critique from the debate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moral_Landscape#Criticism

Lee said...

Funny how Harris didn't want a debate, rather give a lecture - but hey, I enjoyed it all the same.

One quick question though to the theists.

WLC claims that objective morals can only come from his God and it is from Him we "know" good and bad.

So how does WLC judge God is good? How does WLC know this, what is his measure?

Surely if WLC can call God "Good" he must know what "Good" is first. Without reference to his God. If WLC can do this, then his knowledge of morals are not coming from God. God is not required.

Now if WLC says that whatever God does is Good, then why can't God just change His mind?

If everything God does is "Good" then how can we know what "Bad" is - anything and everything God does is (by this definition) "Good" then if God said "Kill your first born child" it would be "Good"

This makes no sense. Anyone help me out here?

Lee

Anonymous said...

That's some pretty tortured logic, Lee. You seem to be wanting to claim that objective morality is actually subjective in nature. Furthermore, you beg the question when you place just about all references to goodness and badness inside inverted commas.

While it is open for debate amongst Christians if God changes his mind in terms of his interactions with his creations, it doesn't follow that God's morality changes.

You seem to be suggesting that goodness is something independent of God and that WLC should measure God against this standard before he can assert if God is, in fact, good. The obvious answer is that goodness is not an independent thing. Goodness is part of God's nature, and therefore it is inseparable from him. The nature of an acorn is to grow into an oak tree. God's nature is, amongst other things, goodness.

The contention of Christianity is that we are created beings who reflect the image of the creator. We know what is good and bad - at least in terms of the concept of such things - because we have a moral grounding in God. And if we can define goodness then we can use that to determine if a deed is good and if it is not good.

Lee said...

Hello Anonymous (if that is your real name)

That's some pretty tortured logic, Lee

Really? In that case I am sure you will go on to demonstrate why it is, highlighting my logical fallacies and pointing out why I am in error.

You seem to be wanting to claim that objective morality is actually subjective in nature.

Did I – I thought I asked questions trying to understand WLC position.

Like this one you:
”So how does WLC judge God is good? How does WLC know this, what is his measure?”
And this one:
If everything God does is "Good" then how can we know what "Bad" is

Did you address these points?

I do not recall mentioning “nature” at any point, so have you jumped to a conclusion I was not making?

Furthermore, you beg the question when you place just about all references to goodness and badness inside inverted commas.

“Good” and “Bad” are the terms we are trying to understand. Is it not? If I do not place them in quotes, would I not be asserting we already know their meaning and origin? The very point we are trying to discuss? So why is this begging the question on my part?

Back on track.

You claim (I think) that I can only define such terms with reference to God. Without God, ultimately these terms are meaningless – is that what you think?

WLC claims that God is “good” but does not define what this is, or how he came to know it. If WLC can define what “good” is without reference to God, then God is not required in understanding “good”.

If WLC defines “good” with reference to God, then we have we not merely a circular argument that “God is good, good is God” – we have learnt nothing about either “God” or “Good”.

We have certainly learnt nothing about “bad” (which we need to understand to have a moral basis) The knowledge of both good and bad is required. How do you get this from an all-good God? You have to provide the logical steps for me since WLC fails to do this.

Lee said...

While it is open for debate amongst Christians if God changes his mind in terms of his interactions with his creations, it doesn't follow that God's morality changes.

Ah... debate – don’t we just love it. And with debate we demonstrate the lack of absolutes morals (A dirty word I know).

So – what do YOU think. Can your God change his morality? (And how would you know?)

You seem to be suggesting that goodness is something independent of God and that WLC should measure God against this standard before he can assert if God is, in fact, good.

This is what I am questioning. WLC claims God is good, I want to know how he came to this conclusion.

It is key to my points here.

The obvious answer is that goodness is not an independent thing. Goodness is part of God's nature

This is an assertion, not a proof/argument. It is also meaningless if we want to understand morals. “Good is whatever God does/is” gets us nowhere since you are left with everything is good – unless you can demonstrate something that God could do that isn’t good.

Can you do that? I doubt it but here is your chance.

God's nature is, amongst other things, goodness.

Lets run with your moral idea – So God is good – right? So what is wrong? How do you know?

Do you know the mind/nature of God?

The contention of Christianity is that we are created beings who reflect the image of the creator. We know what is good and bad - at least in terms of the concept of such things

Reflect the image of the creator? But your God can do no wrong? So we could not have got this idea of ‘bad’ from God – right?

So where does this idea of “wrong” come from? You still have yourself in a deep moral hole.

And if we can define goodness then we can use that to determine if a deed is good and if it is not good.

And this is my whole point – we are in agreement. If we can define goodness and we can agree to this goodness, then who needs god for morals? You have not shown any value in this God of yours in the moral debate.

Take care

Lee

Luther said...

WHY DID HARRIS COMMIT INTELLECTUAL SUICIDE IN THIS DEBATE? DR. CRAIG DID HIS HOME WORK AND ACTUALLY READ THE WORKS OF HARRIS SO HE WAS PREPARED FOR THE DEBATE. HARRIS NOT ONLY DID NOT CHECK OUT THE BOOKS OF DR. CRAIG TO COME AGAINST, HE SEEM TO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND THE TERMS!! I SCORE THIS A 5 OUT OF 10

crentinho said...

I thought Harris would come close to Craig but to my surprise he was worse than Krauss.

It was clear he lose the debate in the moment Craig exposed his blunder, from them, basically, the only thing Harris did was to try a "but your God is a meanie" red herring. Quite a bad performance, though i have to admit he is pretty good at pretending things are under control.

Anonymous said...

[b]And with debate we demonstrate the lack of absolutes morals (A dirty word I know).[/b]

I don't think we demonstrate anything other than our lack of complete knowledge. I'm not sure how you can infer from this that there is no such thing as absolute morals. An absolute remains an absolute irrespective of what we say or think. That is the point of it. That you think ambiguity is some defetor to objecitivity is strange. But I'm guessing you are selective in how you apply this in your life.

[b]So – what do YOU think. Can your God change his morality? (And how would you know?)[/b]

I would firstly say that he isn't simply [i]my[/i] God. If you are going to enter into a discussion on a Christian resorce blog and debate Christians you could at least do us the courtesy of not trying to score rhetorical points. If the God exists then he is the God of all creation - you included. If not, well, we are all wasting our time because he is the god of nothing and no one.

I don't believe that God can change his morality. How do I know this? I don't know it and I've never claimed to know it. However, I think it is consistent with what orthodox Christianity (and possibly Judaism) has believed. If you want to get into a theological and epistemological debate I would suggest that this is not the place, nor I am not the opponent.

[b]This is what I am questioning. WLC claims God is good, I want to know how he came to this conclusion.[/b]

Given that none of us are likely to be WLC, I don't suppose you will get your answer unless you email him. However, my helpful advice aside, let's call a spade a spade. Your question was also a vehicle to transport your assertions.

I must be brutally honest, Lee. Nothing WLC or anyone else can say will sway you. I've seen you over the internet posing various "thought experiments" and challenges and it always comes down to the same point (not just with you but most of the "god bothering" atheists I've seen). God doesn't exist, therefore any evidence contrary to this is to be rejected. That's fine, of course. But don't expect me to be any more swayed by your presuppositions than you are by any other theist out there.

[b]This is an assertion, not a proof/argument. It is also meaningless if we want to understand morals. “Good is whatever God does/is” gets us nowhere since you are left with everything is good – unless you can demonstrate something that God could do that isn’t good.[/b]

Let's be clear that I never stated that I was offering proof. I merely provided an axiom on which to base an argument. An axiom that many people feel happy to work off. In this regard, the statement "God is good" is not any less reasonable than the statement "God doesn't exist".

(part1)

Anonymous said...

(part 2)

[b]Can you do that? I doubt it but here is your chance.[/b]

Do what? Why would I defend a position that I don't agree with? I don't accept that "you are left with everything is good" is a valid statement in respect to Christian orthodoxy. Clearly even the most superficial glance at the Bible would suggest that not everything in creation is good and not everything that happens is according to God's will.

[b]Lets run with your moral idea – So God is good – right? So what is wrong? How do you know?

Do you know the mind/nature of God?[/b]

I'm sorry, Lee, but for somebody who seemingly spends a large amount of time arguing against Christianity I would have thought that you should at least be able to demonstrate some familiarity with it's basic tenets. One word: sin.

And I don't claim to know the mind of God. That is a nonsense. A finite mind can not know an infinite mind. What I said was that we are made in the image of God. I suggest that this means that we can perceive what is good and what is bad even if we can't know such things with absolute certainty.

[b]Reflect the image of the creator? But your God can do no wrong? So we could not have got this idea of ‘bad’ from God – right?

So where does this idea of “wrong” come from? You still have yourself in a deep moral hole.[/b]

I don't mean to be insulting, Lee, but I don''t know if you are being deliberately obtuse (i.e. talking me for a ride) or not. Look up the doctrine of sin, even the very basic concept of it. I've explained before that if good is definable then anything that is not good is bad. That we may not be able to be so categorical is neither here nor there when it comes to objective morals.

[b]And this is my whole point – we are in agreement. If we can define goodness and we can agree to this goodness, then who needs god for morals? You have not shown any value in this God of yours in the moral debate.[/b]

Who said you need God for morals? You need God - or whatever immutable source you want to posit - for [i]objective[/i] morality. I gather that people arguing for objective morality (or objective truths in general) aren't saying that we can't define goodness and badness. What we are saying is that there is one correct definition and all our laws and personal morals are in deference to this whether we acknowledge it or not.

Anonymous said...

Debates are rarely that clean cut; in practice, they're far more about grand standing and rhetoric than point-counter-point argument.

Neither party is compelled to answer the others' arguments, especially if they aren't relevant, or are red herrings. If the second speaker were compelled to grant the first speaker their framing of the debate, that would be a persistent handicap.

Sam Harris saw WLC coming from a mile away. The ideas posed by WLC are old and have long since been discredited in the world of philosophy. Sam pointed this out and then moved on into the rest of the debate as Sam thought fit to frame it. Sam's presentation was clear, focused, and thought provoking.

You all need to look up and **WATCH** the 'debate' between Shelly Kagan and WLC on youtube. It actually starts out as a debate and moves into a discussion which is a better format to get WLC to expand-on, and justify, his blathering diatribes. Shelly brings WLC's ideas to account and then decisively demolishes each and every argument posed by WLC.

(Don't start typing a response to this post - go watch that ENTIRE youtube video first)

Anonymous said...

Lee is bringing an open mind and applying honest inquiry to these questions. The Christians are bringing prehistoric dogma and preconceived notions and trying to make reason/reality fit.

Christianity has been in retreat from science and reason from day one and will continue to retreat into the darkness from whence it came. What's odd is that in two-hundred years people will look back at us and wonder how people could possibly believe this prehistoric tripe. (Oops! I forgot that the "rapture" will probably happen in our lifetime.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Kagan vs WLC video, watching it now. I have to say that Sam Harris has recently got me to question the validity of religion at all.

I was raised evangelical but I find that there is too much in the way of mental gymnastics for Christians (or any religion for that matter) to grapple with our true perceptions of the real world.

Too many contradictions and roundabout explanation to rationalize the seemingly insane. Why does it have to be so complicated when reality far simpler? We laugh about it when the Muslims rationalize to justify the absurdities of their faith. What if I was born (god forbid) a Muslim? Where would I stand? Does the usual answer even make sense?

Anonymous said...

"Debates are rarely that clean cut; in practice, they're far more about grand standing and rhetoric than point-counter-point argument."

Watch Sam and WLC without even thinking about what they're saying, and on body language and tone.

Harris is engaging you and speaking from the heart, while Craig is stiff, strident, and running through the well-worn grooves of repetitive theological rationalizations.

Combine Harris's manner with the clarity of thought behind his words, and it was a total rout.

Anonymous said...

Craig doesn't HAVE arguments to address. As pointed out elsewhere, they're circular at best, and he (and his ilk) keep punting back to the ontological argument.

To paraphrase, "it's presuppositionalism; i ain't gotta justify shit."

Russell said...


"The ideas posed by WLC are old and have long since been discredited in the world of philosophy."

"The Christians are bringing prehistoric dogma and preconceived notions and trying to make reason/reality fit."

"Christianity has been in retreat from science and reason from day one and will continue to retreat into the darkness from whence it came. What's odd is that in two-hundred years people will look back at us and wonder how people could possibly believe this prehistoric tripe. (Oops! I forgot that the "rapture" will probably happen in our lifetime.)"

"Watch Sam and WLC without even thinking about what they're saying, and on body language and tone.
Harris is engaging you and speaking from the heart, while Craig is stiff, strident, and running through the well-worn grooves of repetitive theological rationalizations."

"Craig doesn't HAVE arguments to address. As pointed out elsewhere, they're circular at best, and he (and his ilk) keep punting back to the ontological argument.
To paraphrase, "it's presuppositionalism; i ain't gotta justify shit.""


These sort of comments make me think that this conversation has hit it's intellectual limit.

In regards to the "Anonymous" who is questioning his beliefs, I would suggest you put some more research into apologetics and theology before abandoning your faith. I can't imagine a well informed Christian having any trouble with the "arguments" Harris put forth.

Lee said...

Hi Anonymous,

Don’t have time for a full reply now, but I will hit a few points now.

RE: And with debate we demonstrate the lack of absolutes morals

You wrote: I don't think we demonstrate anything other than our lack of complete knowledge. I'm not sure how you can infer from this that there is no such thing as absolute morals.

If we can debate a point of morality, that sometimes the right thing to do in situation A,B and C is Y, but in another situation A,B and D, the right thing is Z.

Then we have a debate, there isn’t an absolute – it is dependent on the situation.

You do not have an absolute, you have relative moral – relative to the situation.

Now, if you still wish to claim that absolute morals exist, but you just do not know them. Then fine, you believe in something that is meaningless since we cannot ever know it.

But I'm guessing you are selective in how you apply this in your life.

I wonder who you could know this? Could you provide an example?

My turn now - please provide me an example of an absolute moral act. Something that is not dependent on the situation. Something we can all agree on for ALL situations and has been agreed for ALL time.

I wait for the “Killing babies for fun” (and the pleasure I will have in pointing out the situation of ‘fun’ and that in the stories in the Christian bible has God killing babies all the time… for some morally good reasons I suspect you will claim)

I would firstly say that he isn't simply [i]my[/i] God. If you are going to enter into a discussion on a Christian resorce blog and debate Christians you could at least do us the courtesy of not trying to score rhetorical points.

I believe it is you who is defining God. When you understand this point, you will understand why I say your God.

Sorry if you believe all Christians believe in the same God, they do not. The God you believe in will not be the same as all other Christians. Surely you must really know this to be true.

If the God exists then he is the God of all creation - you included. If not, well, we are all wasting our time because he is the god of nothing and no one.

Is this the only point you use to define the Christian God? I doubt it. To repeat, I say “your God” because He is your God. You are the one I am discussing with now.

Lets move on – this point isn’t important.

I don't believe that God can change his morality

Good. I will bring you back to this point I suspect.

How do I know this? I don't know it and I've never claimed to know it.

But you and WLC are claiming morals come from God, that without God we cannot have morals… so you must have something more than just a claim.

Why should I accept a claim without proof, argument or evidence?

Lee said...

RE: WLC claims God is good, I want to know how he came to this conclusion

Given that none of us are likely to be WLC, I don't suppose you will get your answer unless you email him.

Ah ignore the point through humour… Sorry, but I thought you were defending WLC argument because you also hold a similar possible. Am I wrong?

When you are unable to defend WLC’s position do you run away from the argument… but still accept what WLC is arguing?

So, do you hold a similar position to WLC – that “God is good”? Yes or no?

If no, then what are we discussing? If yes, then do not run away from the points as you are doing.

I must be brutally honest, Lee. Nothing WLC or anyone else can say will sway you.

Maybe you are right… so do you concede you do not have an argument for your claims?

God doesn't exist, therefore any evidence contrary to this is to be rejected.

Ah, you wish to dismiss me with a strawman argument? Good for you, amazing the defence mechanism Christians have built up over the years.

When have I ever said “God does not exist”?

God might exist. However neither you or WLC or any other Christian I have spoken to has demonstrated to such a degree that I should also accept your claims.

In fact, when challenged I find the arguments weak at best, filled with logical fallacies, that normally do not actually argue for what the Christian believes.

As for the evidence – what do you actually have? You tell me – and I will then judge the evidence.

And so I do not start from “God does not exist” and I should be insulted that you think this.

However - whatever gets you through you day (another defence mechanism?) You believe that if you need to.

I do not state a conclusion and work back from it – that is just no way to get at the truth, since what if the original conclusion is wrong? Think about that for a moment…

But don't expect me to be any more swayed by your presuppositions than you are by any other theist out there.

I don’t expect to ‘sway’ any Christian here. In fact, I find most Christians here on this forum to be proud of their beliefs, it defines them. Why would I hope to change such minds? Why would I care?

I’m here to understand my own thinking, to have my own ideas challenged.

If there are others here who are not fixed in their conclusions then great – we might help one another.

What I do hope to achieve is showing people like you that there are other ways of thinking.

Up to you what you do with this information.

Let's be clear that I never stated that I was offering proof.

Then why are you here? You are asserting much, stirring up objections but running away when challenge on them.

I merely provided an axiom on which to base an argument. An axiom that many people feel happy to work off.

Doesn’t mean it is right. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”

There’s a nice little phrase/axiom that many people live their lives by. So what? Is it true? Is there some truth in it? Is it important?

In this regard, the statement "God is good" is not any less reasonable than the statement "God doesn't exist".

1. I’ve never said "God doesn't exist"
2. Your assertion makes more claims than the first – one that God exists, and two He is good. Both of which you have failed in the burden of proof to demonstrate.
3. Who are you arguing against? Care to address the points I made, such as if God is all good, where do you get your knowledge of wrong

Lee

Lee said...

PS (replying to your second post)

Where did "Sin" come from? If God is "All-Good", I am interested in knowing where you think it got created.

so to the same point:
I've explained before that if good is definable then anything that is not good is bad.

If God is all-good, where did these "not-good" things come from?

You see, starting as you seem to do - God is all good - you walk into a problem... Not-good.

Either "not-good" does not exist and then we have not knowledge of right and wrong.

Or, you need to explain where "not-good" came from.

Just telling me "sin" is telling me nothing. If an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God created us and the universe... why did this 'not-good' come from?

Your problem, so I look forward to reading your response.

Lee

Anonymous said...

I think it's all a bit of gamesmanship on your part, Lee. Even if I dared offered something approaching a complete answer (and that means a logically coherent answer) it wont satisfy you. Why? Because you assume that there is no God and reject a priori anything that suggests there is. Again, that's fine. Believe what you want. But at least be honest and stop asking for answers that you are predisposed to utterly reject.

While Genesis offers a description of the out-workings of sin (and it really doesn't matter if one understands Adam and Eve as metaphor or whatever) there is never any attempt to offer a full explanation of the origins of sin or its full nature. As I've never pretend to have some supplementary knowledge of the origins of sin, I don't see it as my problem. But clearly you do have one.

I'm going to assume that even though you don't know the ultimate origins of existence (that there are mysteries yet to be uncovered, in other words) this ignorance isn't something you see as a problem, at least not with respect to the understanding we gain about the nature of existence. Similarly, I don't see my inability to explain everything about God (and this surely is something to be expected) as a problem that pushes the very concept of God out of the room. The difference is I am being consistent, whereas you are being selective.

To reiterate. I don't think the problem rests at my feet (or the feet of Christianity). It rests with your automatic incredulity when it comes to anything other than materialist naturalism or whatever it is you believe.

Aside from this clash of world-views, if you think that it is not logically consistent to state that "if goodness comes from God then anything opposed to God is not good" (or bad, if you prefer) then perhaps you could explain where Christianity is going wrong?

Lee said...

Hi Anonymous,

I think it's all a bit of gamesmanship on your part, Lee

A game? I would like to call it a friendly discussion.

However, if what you believe is true was true (i.e. The Christian God as disclosed in the bible) – this discussion is probably the most important discussion ever.

So which one of us is not taking it serious enough?

Even if I dared offered something approaching a complete answer (and that means a logically coherent answer) it wont satisfy you.

Are you making excuses again for your lack of ability to explain your own beliefs?

As you would say :-

Why?

Because you assume that there is no God and reject a priori anything that suggests there is

There you go again. I’ve written already, quite clearly I thought, that I do not assume there is no God as my first conclusion. Neither too I assume there IS a God as my first conclusion.

Both would be in error.

Better to have no conclusions first and see where the evidence points.

Oh I could (and do) ask the question “Assuming there is a God, what would I expect to observe in the universe” just as much as “Assuming there is no God, what would I expect to observe in the universe”

These are valid questions, but neither is making a conclusion BEFORE asking the question and looking at the observations.

You on the other hand have made your conclusion it seems, and nothing is changing it.

So, no – I would not reject out of hand anything that you might offer, so try me.

Of course, if I have heard it all before, I might have already rejected it, but not without good reason.

Most importantly on this point – I find it very interesting that you have concluded that you know me well enough to say what you are doing. You cannot know what you claim you do about me, you know nothing of the questions and searching I have done in my life.

Yet you can conclude that the only reason that I do not accept your God is that I have rejected Him out of hand, without thought, without reason, priori, making the conclusion FIRST that there is no God…. Why would I do that?

Do you really need to believe this all nonsense about me?

I reject your Christian God because of lack of evidence for the claims made, a lack of good logical arguments. It is not for the want of looking either.

Of course, I might be wrong – I am willing to say that I am wrong if you could provide good evidence and good arguments for the Christian claims.

This is not a game – since as I said before, if what you are claiming is true then this is the most important few hours of my life. It is very, very important I get it right.

But then again, I have been having such discussions for the last 20 odd years with all walks of life – I’ve given these questions a lot of thought. And you know what… nothing. Nothing is what I have heard from believers.

Why is that? Is it that I am not trying hard enough? You tell me.

However, here I still am. Opening myself up for the possibility that I might be wrong.

Yet of course, you claim I am rejecting your claims “out of hand” having already made my conclusion. You have to laugh…

While Genesis offers a description of the out-workings of sin (and it really doesn't matter if one understands Adam and Eve as metaphor or whatever)

Adam and Eve has never made any sense to me – would you care to explain this to me.

Lee said...

there is never any attempt to offer a full explanation of the origins of sin or its full nature.

And you do not see this as a problem? Your whole world view (I thought) is based upon the account of Adam and Eve, the entering of sin into the world… Original Sin. Isn’t this what Jesus had to die for? You do not feel there is a need for a full explanation? You do not expect that from your all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God?

What it seems you are telling me is that even you do not understand what it is you believe – but you believe it anyway. Why is that?

As I've never pretend to have some supplementary knowledge of the origins of sin, I don't see it as my problem. But clearly you do have one.

Could you at the very least explain the account as provided in the bible?

God made Adam and Eve… perfect? (Would a perfect God make anything other than a perfect Adam and Eve?)

From these perfect beings… erm mistakes arise? Sorry, I am losing it already. This isn’t making sense. Perfect… mistakes, errors… quick fixes…

So please, in your own worlds – explain to me what it is you actually believe is going on in Genesis here.

I'm going to assume that even though you don't know the ultimate origins of existence (that there are mysteries yet to be uncovered, in other words) this ignorance isn't something you see as a problem

Correct.

Most importantly I do not go from “I do not know A, therefore I know it must be Y”

I don't see my inability to explain everything about God

You don’t need to explain everything – just the bits you claim are true, that you claim you know are true.

You see the difference is the bits of the universe I do not understand are not the bits I go around telling others to believe.

The difference is I am being consistent, whereas you are being selective.

When I do not understand something, I say “I do not know”. That’s it.

You on the other hand are saying “I do not know understand Y, therefore I will believe it is X” You are replacing one unknown with another. Why?

To reiterate. I don't think the problem rests at my feet (or the feet of Christianity).

You (and Christianity) are making a claim – so yes, the problem does rest at your feet if you want others to accept your claim.

The fact you do not see this is, well, rather interesting to say the least.

It rests with your automatic incredulity when it comes to anything other than materialist naturalism or whatever it is you believe.

You see, you have done it again. You are blaming me for your own inability to explain what it is you believe in.

Better yet, you are now saying it rests with my “automatic incredulity” to not accept your claims out of hand.

To show you have empty your response is let us just suppose for a moment I DO believe in the supernatural… in a god. Where does that leave your ‘argument’?

My ‘automatic incredulity’ in believing a different god to your own is the reason I do not accept your god.

Amazing piece of thinking there my friend.

Have you ever considered that the reason you are not a Muslim is your “automatic incredulity” to believing in Allah?

perhaps you could explain where Christianity is going wrong?

It has made a claim that it cannot support. Just try explaining ‘Original Sin’, Jesus and the resurrection to a stranger who does not already accept your own conclusions.

Try it now… here I am. What to take the challenge?

Then we can move on to the lack of evidence for the claims made by Christianity…

Take care

Lee

Lee said...

Why are posts going missing off this thread?

An e-mail goes out with the comment, I come here - and they have gone. Including the latest from me.

Is this an error with blogspot or censorship?

Lee

Lee said...

Here is the missing post from me (again)
Do not have time for formating

Hi Anonymous,


I think it's all a bit of gamesmanship on your part, Lee

A game? I would like to call it a friendly discussion.

However, if what you believe is true was true (i.e. The Christian God as disclosed in the bible) – this discussion is probably the most important discussion ever.

So which one of us is not taking it serious enough?


Even if I dared offered something approaching a complete answer (and that means a logically coherent answer) it wont satisfy you.

Are you making excuses again for your lack of ability to explain your own beliefs?

As you would say :-


Why?

Because you assume that there is no God and reject a priori anything that suggests there is

There you go again. I’ve written already, quite clearly I thought, that I do not assume there is no God as my first conclusion. Neither too I assume there IS a God as my first conclusion.

Both would be in error.

Better to have no conclusions first and see where the evidence points.

Oh I could (and do) ask the question “Assuming there is a God, what would I expect to observe in the universe” just as much as “Assuming there is no God, what would I expect to observe in the universe”

These are valid questions, but neither is making a conclusion BEFORE asking the question and looking at the observations.

You on the other hand have made your conclusion it seems, and nothing is changing it.

So, no – I would not reject out of hand anything that you might offer, so try me.

Of course, if I have heard it all before, I might have already rejected it, but not without good reason.

Most importantly on this point – I find it very interesting that you have concluded that you know me well enough to say what you are doing. You cannot know what you claim you do about me, you know nothing of the questions and searching I have done in my life.

Yet you can conclude that the only reason that I do not accept your God is that I have rejected Him out of hand, without thought, without reason, priori, making the conclusion FIRST that there is no God…. Why would I do that?

Do you really need to believe this all nonsense about me?

I reject your Christian God because of lack of evidence for the claims made, a lack of good logical arguments. It is not for the want of looking either.

Of course, I might be wrong – I am willing to say that I am wrong if you could provide good evidence and good arguments for the Christian claims.

This is not a game – since as I said before, if what you are claiming is true then this is the most important few hours of my life. It is very, very important I get it right.

But then again, I have been having such discussions for the last 20 odd years with all walks of life – I’ve given these questions a lot of thought. And you know what… nothing. Nothing is what I have heard from believers.

Why is that? Is it that I am not trying hard enough? You tell me.

However, here I still am. Opening myself up for the possibility that I might be wrong.

Yet of course, you claim I am rejecting your claims “out of hand” having already made my conclusion. You have to laugh…


While Genesis offers a description of the out-workings of sin (and it really doesn't matter if one understands Adam and Eve as metaphor or whatever)

Adam and Eve has never made any sense to me – would you care to explain this to me.

Lee said...

Here is the missing post from Anonymous (taken from my inbox):

I think it's all a bit of gamesmanship on your part, Lee. Even if I dared offered something approaching a complete answer (and that means a logically coherent answer) it wont satisfy you. Why? Because you assume that there is no God and reject a priori anything that suggests there is. Again, that's fine. Believe what you want. But at least be honest and stop asking for answers that you are predisposed to utterly reject.

While Genesis offers a description of the out-workings of sin (and it really doesn't matter if one understands Adam and Eve as metaphor or whatever) there is never any attempt to offer a full explanation of the origins of sin or its full nature. As I've never pretend to have some supplementary knowledge of the origins of sin, I don't see it as my problem. But clearly you do have one.

I'm going to assume that even though you don't know the ultimate origins of existence (that there are mysteries yet to be uncovered, in other words) this ignorance isn't something you see as a problem, at least not with respect to the understanding we gain about the nature of existence. Similarly, I don't see my inability to explain everything about God (and this surely is something to be expected) as a problem that pushes the very concept of God out of the room. The difference is I am being consistent, whereas you are being selective.

To reiterate. I don't think the problem rests at my feet (or the feet of Christianity). It rests with your automatic incredulity when it comes to anything other than materialist naturalism or whatever it is you believe.

Aside from this clash of world-views, if you think that it is not logically consistent to state that "if goodness comes from God then anything opposed to God is not good" (or bad, if you prefer) then perhaps you could explain where Christianity is going wrong?

Lee said...

Russell wrote:
I would suggest you put some more research into apologetics and theology before abandoning your faith. I can't imagine a well informed Christian having any trouble with the "arguments" Harris put forth.

Love it : so if a Christian does have problems with the arguments, it is their fault. Not Christianity.

It is really great to read excuses rather that real objections

Lee

Lee said...

In regards to the "Anonymous" who is questioning his beliefs

Very good thing to do. We all should do it, everyday.

Lee

Anonymous said...

@ Lee

For whatever reason my replies aren't showing up. Perhaps they have to be approved. Still, it is good that they are somehow being transmitted to your account.

For clarity sake, I am also the same anonymous that replied to you with the two part post on the 14th beginning with the following.

"I don't think we demonstrate anything other than our lack of complete knowledge."

So that is 3 posts (including a two parter) that I've sent to you.

And you do not see this as a problem? [...] You do not expect that from your all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God?

I've already said I don't expect a full explanation. If you think this unsatisfactory then that is your problem. Not mine. Furthermore, that God is all knowing, all loving and all powerful is completely irrelevant to objective morality and our understanding of sin.

What it seems you are telling me is that even you do not understand what it is you believe – but you believe it anyway. Why is that?

It would be nice if you let me speak for myself, Lee. I'm fairly articulate. There really is no need to offer an unfaithful summation of my position.

There are plenty of things that I don't understand but I believe in. For example, I believe in both energy and conciousness despite our inability to fully explain either.

I think that I have sufficiently outlined my position in previous posts. If you don't get now then I can only assume you are incapable of accepting my position. Or perhaps are simply unwilling to comprehend it.

Could you at the very least explain the account as provided in the bible?

Read it yourself. I don't particularly want to get into a discussion about the various interpretations of Genesis here. Whatever I say doesn't change the core Christian teaching that sin is that which is opposed to God.

God made Adam and Eve… perfect? (Would a perfect God make anything other than a perfect Adam and Eve?)

Ok, if you really want to get into the theology then, no, I don't believe that God made Adam and Eve perfect. Again, read the creation account in Genesis and you will notice that the word prefect does not appear in relation to creation, which unsurprisingly includes A&E. You will, however, see the Hebrew word towb which means many things like - good, excellent, agreeable, becoming etc. But as my interpretation of Genesis has nothing to do with the existence of objective morals all of this is one big tangent. No?

Most importantly I do not go from “I do not know A, therefore I know it must be Y”

I've no idea what you mean. Simply stating that I'm making leaps A to Y without any attempt to elaborate on your claim is rather fatuous.

From these perfect beings… erm mistakes arise? Sorry, I am losing it already.

Well, considering you are operating of a mistake of your own making, I'm not surprised you are losing it.

So please, in your own worlds – explain to me what it is you actually believe is going on in Genesis here.

OK, for the third time, I'm really not interested in giving you a description of Genesis. This is not the place, nor is it the format for such things. But if you really want to know a little more of what I think then go to the Faraday Institute and listen to a chap by the name of Earnest Lucas. For example, http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/resources/FAR294%20Lucas.mp3

FB

(Part 1)

Anonymous said...

(Part 2)

When I do not understand something, I say “I do not know”. That’s it.

You on the other hand are saying “I do not know understand Y, therefore I will believe it is X”


Good for you. But that isn't at all what I was talking about. I accused you of being inconsistent. In other words, while it is fine for you to say "I don't know", it apparently isn't fine for the Christian to say the same discussing the finer points of God, a infinite being.

You (and Christianity) are making a claim – so yes, the problem does rest at your feet if you want others to accept your claim.

As I see it, the Christian has a few options when attempting to spread the message. They might try to set a good example by living a Christlike life. The might pray for (or with) the non-believer. They might encourage them to engage with God as a person rather than as an abstract idea. They might offer evidence for the truth claims of Christianity. But ultimately it is your choice as to what you do with all this - dismiss it as tosh or investigate it further with at least a possibility that it could be true. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

You see, you have done it again. You are blaming me for your own inability to explain what it is you believe in.

I'm not blaming you, Lee. I grant that you might be correct. There may be no God. There may be no objective morality. Perhaps all our achievements will ultimately be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins. Yes! You could be correct. But what I'm actually saying is that if you operate off the presuppositions of a materialist world view then all your "questions" are nothing more than a disingenuous way of rejecting any views that don't conform to materialism. See the challenge you lay down in the second last line for an example.

To show you have empty your response is let us just suppose for a moment I DO believe in the supernatural… in a god. Where does that leave your ‘argument’?

I'd say more power to you. We could discuss the various merits of our beliefs. But merely positing a counter argument - even if one that is equal and opposite - doesn't invalidate all other arguments.

Have you ever considered that the reason you are not a Muslim is your “automatic incredulity” to believing in Allah?

I would say I am not a Muslim because of various geographic, cultural and familial factors. But we are talking about truth here. If I was to be born in Alabama and I was a passionate 6-day creationist that does not in any way impact the truth of whether evolution is an accurate description of the change in inherited traits in organisms. Going back to my very first post, objective truth remains objective truth irrespective of whether we think it true or not.

perhaps you could explain where Christianity is going wrong?

You beg the question. In what way is it going wrong?

Just try explaining ‘Original Sin’, Jesus and the resurrection to a stranger who does not already accept your own conclusions.

You should look up the growth of Christianity in China. My friend often goes on missions over there to talk to members of the underground church and he has met people exactly like those you attempt to claim don't exist. In my own life I've met a number of people who came from non-religious families who heard about Jesus and the resurrection and eventually believed.

Try it now… here I am. What to take the challenge?

Try what, Lee? Convince you of something we both know you are going to reject?

Then we can move on to the lack of evidence for the claims made by Christianity…

Of course there is no reliable evidence, Lee. You are a materialist and all evidence that challenges this view is automatically invalidated.

Russell said...

Lee,

Long time no talk. Hope all is well. It seems like you very much want an argument here, and unfortunately I don't think I am going to be much help.

My point was that it seems strange that someone posting under the name "Anonymous" is being so easily swayed by such a poor performance by Harris. I felt like Harris was going somewhere during his opening speech, and then I found myself quite disappointed with the strange red herrings and pathetic portrayals of Christianity he followed up with. I listened through it twice, but if someone can lay out the conversion worthy argument that i missed please do.

Also, to your second comment "Very good thing to do. We all should do it, everyday.", I have to say I agree. Which is exactly what I was encouraging him to do.

Anonymous said...

"Belief in God and His nature are based on a cumulative case derived from scripture, science, observation, and various other forms of evidence. You may think that it is all nonsense, but many intelligent and capable people do not. Simply calling it "bad evidence" as Harris did does not solve the problem."

Asking you for evidence and you saying scripture (?!) Science (which one?) various evidence (below ancedote?) and that clever people can fool themselves, does solve a problem, one that exists only in your psychological need for a Daddy figure. You have no grounds but faith.

If I say that the basis of morality is dragon musk (look at ancient books, science, various evidence and clever people believing in dragons), I should except hysterical ranting, finger pointing and laughing.

Why do you expect immunity from non-cultists?

Russell said...

Anonymous,

You are completely missing the point. Just calling it bad evidence, throwing out a completely unfounded genetic fallacy, and then comparing the debate to dragon musk does nothing but scream ignorance. Just out of curiosity, how many blog topics have you spent weeks commenting on that claimed the basis of morality was dragon musk?

When you're ready to have a grown up talk, please let me know.

Mary said...

Here are some thoughts about which you might mull, Lee:

First of all, evil isn't something that is created like a tree or a horse or a cloud. It's the absence of good just as darkness is the absence of light. Yes, God is good, but that doesn't mean that it is impossible for him to know what constitutes evil and sin. On what do you base your belief that a being who is entirely good MUST also be totally ignorant of evil?

In fact, because God is holy, that is, sin-free, AND omniscient, he himself is the ONLY being who has the complete understanding of sin and is, therefore, the only being with the right to be able to designate what is good and what is bad.

What is sin? Literally, the word means "to miss the mark". What is the mark? It's the holiness of God.

How do I know that God is good? I know so through his revelation of himself and his character in the Bible, through his activities throughout history, through my own personal relationship with him through Jesus Christ and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, through the experiences of bother born-again, Spirit-filled believers.

You might ask the question, why did a good God allow sin and evil? Here's the reason:

God created us to be in a loving relationship with him and with each other. True love must be given out of choice. It cannot be forced. God could have created us as automatons made to love him, but that would be out of character for him since he IS love and knows that true love must be given freely. God cannot and will not do anything outside of his nature and his nature demands that his creation should have the free will to love him.

However, if you give someone the option to love you, you obviously give them the option NOT to love you. This is the choice given to Adam and Eve. The devil came along and made them doubt that God really loved them. The devil is still doing that, by the way.

God never wanted us to know evil which is why he told Adam and Eve NOT to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, as I said, he had to give them the option to love him. True love includes trust. If they had loved him, they would have trusted that he had their best interest at heart. But they didn't. So they committed the sin of disobedience and sin entered the world. It is common for people to misunderstand God and his love and therefore attribute all manner of evil to him when, in reality, we are the ones who have chosen it for ourselves.

People who don't know God seem to have their own idea of just what God should be like. What they fail to realize is that God could have left us in our sin. Instead, he sent Jesus Christ who died on the cross and took our sins, giving us his righteousness in exchange. What Jesus did on the cross represents the one true way to measure God's love. It doesn't lie in preventing evil or death. It lies in redeeming us from evil and death.

This, of course, is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. They're all about people trying to earn their way into the favour of a far-off God. Christianity is all about God coming to us in the person of Jesus. God knew we couldn't make ourselves sin-free, but he couldn't share eternity with us as sinners. So he did the one thing necessary to give us that privilege by sending Christ to die in our place. Other religions do not deal with the question of evil or the solution to it adequately. That's why Christ is the only way to God. There is no other name by which man can be saved.

I realize this is difficult for anyone who is spiritually dead and not filled with the Holy Spirit to understand as only the spirit understands the things of the Spirit. How does one become spiritually alive and filled with God's Spirit? He/she has only to accept Christ in true faith, faith being the evidence of things hoped for and the assurance of things not seen, the confident trust in a reliable source. I can honestly say there is no more reliable source than God.

Mary said...

You asked for evidence for the existence of God, Anonymous. What kind would you like? Cosmological? Teleological? Ontological? Axiological? There is no lack of valid and reasonable evidence for God's existence. The only thing that keeps people from God is sin, not a lack of good evidence.

I particularly enjoy J. Warner Wallace's web site pleaseconvinceme. com. He is a cold case homicide detective. An atheist until the age of 35, he decided to apply the same methodology he used as a detective and apply it to the issue of God's existence. He found it undeniably convincing and thus began his journey with the Lord. You might check his website out to see the evidence he provides if you are so inclined.

It always saddens me to see that people have so little knowledge of the history of science that they claim it stands in opposition to the Christian faith. The great scientists of the Scientific Revolution, men like Francis Bacon who is perhaps the greatest instigator of it, were men of God. Because they knew that God was reasonable, they believed that they could learn about nature and the universe using reason -- and they did! This was the epistemological base for science, one that 20th-century non-Christian scientists like J.Robert Oppenheimer (who studied the atom) and Alfred North Whitehead (mathematician and philosopher)recognized and proclaimed (See Francis Schaeffer's How Shall We Then Live).

People blame the Church for its persecution of Galileo and rightly so. But what people don't realize is that nothing Galileo believed and proved contradicted the Bible. It only contradicted the Roman Catholic Church into which Aristotelian beliefs had crept as it drifted away from the truth of the Bible. When scientists like Galileo and Bacon discovered the mistakes that Aristotle had made about natural phenomenon, they weren't challenging God or his Word, only a church that had fallen away from God and his Word into beliefs that incorporated Aristotle's misinformation. The Protestant Reformation reclaimed and recovered God's Word, thus laying a true foundation for scientific research and discovery through scientists like Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.

I could go on at great length about this, but have no more time. I do hope I have given people some things to think about and seriously consider.

Anonymous said...

"The universe exists therefore there must be a creator."

Ok so how do we go from that idea to Allah, or Yaweh, or Buddha, or Krishna. Remember more people on the planet happily believe in a "God" other than the Christian God. Why can't you see the farcical situation you're in? How do you link the existence of the world to the personal God described your particular holy book?

Remember Atheists are happy to believe in anything so long as there is evidence for it. Indeed Atheists accept that there MIGHT be a "primal cause" for the universe but they understand that to personify it and ascribe it human qualities without evidence is intellectually dishonest. The fact is that there is no evidence for a personal God.

Anonymous said...

Harris: “There is no evidence that unicorns exist!”
Craig: “That’s not the topic of tonight’s debate! We’re debating whether unicorns have horns”

Lee said...

ARGH... just lost my post (again)


Silly blogger.


Anyway, @Anonymous.


Just to say that I have been getting your posts in my inbox - no idea why they are getting lost here on the blog.

Also wanted to say that it will be a while before I can post again in full. My mother is staying over with us for the week so little time for the internet as I am sure you understand.


Oh, lastly - do you have a name? It does not have to be your real name just that there may be more than one 'Anonymous' on a blog

Thanks


Lee

Brian Auten said...

Blogger is the culprit if there are any comments not showing. Apparenty, some are sent to the spam folder even though there is no indiction to the moderator. They seem to show up in the email as approved but then don't show up on the site. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Joseph said...

Approximately eight minutes into Sam Harris’ opening speech came this charge from Harris: “Now, incidentally, you should not trust Dr. Craig’s reading of me; half the quotes he provided from me as though I wrote them were quotes from people I was quoting in my book and, often, to different effects. So, you’ll have to read the book.”

Misquoting Sam Harris
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mjeG8mzPTQ)

So, is Sam Harris’ allegation concerning William Lane Craig that “half the quotes he provided from me as though I wrote them were quotes from people I was quoting in my book and, often, to different effects” justified?

Joseph said...

Brian Auten, who needs a topic for a debate these days?

machinephilosophy said...

Russell, we are building a complete set of arguments and rebuttals of the Craig-Harris debate, but it is slow-slogging, since we have several other major projects going. You can monitor it at:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Atcf0vXDCaTNdDl4N0hiaWpSS21UbUZSbnB1SkJXMWc&hl=en&authkey=CNzxoegK

Cheers

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