Grey Thoughts
5.4.07
 
Sam Harris vs Rick Warren
Newsweek have a few pages of excerpts from a 4 hour debate between Rick Warren "America's Pastor" and Sam Harris (The zealous atheist).

I've posted a few times about Sam Harris' lack of rationality, but in this latest debate he matches up perfectly with the completely unsupportable claim that Richard Dawkins also makes. The claim they have both made is that not only do they not have any evidence for God, but that no-one else can either. From the excerpts from the debate
HARRIS: There's no evidence for such a God...
HARRIS: It is intellectually dishonest, frankly, to say that you are sure that Jesus was born of a virgin.
As I mentioned when talking about Dawkins. There is absolutely no way for Harris to defend this position. None. All he can do is assume God doesn't exist so that then logically there could be no evidence for God...otherwise, his statement is moronic.

Sam pretends he is intellectually honest and faults Rick for not being intellectually honest, but it is Sam who is the one not being honest in the debate. He is simply assuming that Rick is wrong. There is no rational basis there... just an assumption.

Mike Gene from Telic thoughts also, highlights this point.
Harris can not possibly know this is true.

Let’s scale things down to a billion people and give each person a mere 10 minutes to provide their reasons for their beliefs. It would take about 1900 years for all these people to provide their reasons. Obviously, it is impossible for Sam Harris to have heard all this in order to make a conclusion about everyone on Earth. Thus, instead of making an observation, Harris is inflating his own personal perspective. What he can legitimately claim is that he, Sam Harris, has never heard a good reason for such belief. But the problem there is that while this tells us something about Sam Harris, it doesn’t tell us much about the validity of such miracle beliefs.

In fact, it all hinges on what constitutes a “good reason.” Take the resurrection belief about Jesus. In Harris’s mind, what would such a “good reason” be? Does he need a team of scientists to travel back in time and videotape the resurrection? Does he need a philosopher to come along and turn this belief into certainty? Why think that we all share the same views about what makes for a “good reason?”


Indeed. Sam goes on to make it even clearer that he is simply assuming God doesn't exist and so no evidence is possible, when he says the following, whilst pretending to be 'open'
WARREN: So you are open to the possibility that you might be wrong about Jesus?
HARRIS: And Zeus. Absolutely.
WARREN: And what are you doing to study that?
HARRIS: I consider it such a low-probability event that I—
How does Sam Harris know it is a 'low-probability event'? It is just his assumption affecting things again. But, as CS Lewis said
It is useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question. If miracles are impossible, then no amount of historical evidence will convince us. If they are possible but immensely improbable, then only mathematically demonstrative evidence will convince us: and since history never provides that degree of evidence for any event, history can never convince us that a miracle occurred. If, on the other hand, miracles are not intrinsically improbable, then the existing evidence will be sufficient to convince us that quite a number of miracles have occurred. The result of our historical enquiries thus depends on the philosophical views which we have been holding before we even began to look at the evidence. This philosophical question must therefore come first.
Sam Harris simply assumes an atheistic philosophical position. His "rationality" is really just a zealous faith in disguise...the very thing he rails against.
Comments:
I read the article and was not surprised at Harris' inconsistencies. He was at his most irrational when he started talking about being spiritual, and being one with the universe. What a joke!
 
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