Thursday, May 5, 2011

God's Quality Control 6.11: Coda

Here I conclude my series covering the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig at the University of Notre Dame on April 7, 2011. We've finished the debate, but before we move on to the questions, I'd like to address a point that I missed earlier. Craig misrepresents Harris as saying the following:

<clip Craig rely on axioms>

Let's hear what Harris really said:

<clip Harris every branch of science>

Harris is saying that in order for science to work, certain assumptions must be made. He's not saying that we are morally bound to make any particular assumption, or even any assumptions at all. He's just saying that no science is entirely self-justifying.

Craig attacks the argument that he has invented on Harris' behalf:

<clip Take it by faith>

If Harris were making claims about facts, and telling us that we must accept his claims as axioms, then what Craig has said here would be true. But Harris is making no such claims. He is offering an idea that, if we were to accept it as axiomatic, could make the world a vastly better place for everyone. To let him speak for himself:

<clip Harris make one assumption>

We move on to the questions. A couple of the questions to Harris went over my head a bit, but in His answers Harris made some interesting points that are worth hearing.

<clip (07) 5:04 Cut books to improve Christianity;>
<clip (07) 5:37 Improve ten commandments>
<clip (08) 13:42 Psychopathic core>
<clip (07) 12:12 No god needed to say that love is good>
<clip (07) 12:29 Euthyphro>
<clip (07) 13:01 Not leaving anything out>

Check out this awesome question, directed to Craig, and his awesome answer.

<clip (07) 7:00 Awesome question>
<clip (07) 9:14 You misunderstood>

Whether she understood the analogy is irrelevant. She's not even asking about the analogy. When he talked about our understanding of light and dark, she was inspired to come up with her own analogy. She's asking a simple, honest question. Craig dodges it and makes more pseudo-intellectual sounds to distract from his failure to answer the question. But she's paying attention.

<clip (07) 9:51 Clarification>
<clip (07) 10:04 I can't see it>
<clip (07) 10:30 That would be repetitive>

In other words, sit down; I have no intention of answering your question.

A couple more questions for Harris.
<clip (07) 14:37 What about miracles?>
<clip (08) 0:39 Dude in India>
<clip (08) 1:00 Every miracle>
<clip (08) 1:10 Discovery Channel>

<clip (08) 4:14 Destroy it all>
<clip (08) 5:58 No>

Note that Harris' medicine analogy works well here too: is anyone asking whether we could improve global health by killing all the sick people? No. Further, we're talking about flourishing here, which most dead people don't do.

Another awesome question for Craig, and his awesome answer.

<clip (08) ??? How do you know?>
<clip (08) 8:55 Because I know>

I conclude this series with some thoughts to consider: if you were to ask Craig what his ultimate reason for participating in this debate, what would his answer be? Now, ignoring all of his faulty arguments, how badly has Craig misrepresented Harris during this debate? Would Jesus approve? If Yahweh cares about truth, then doesn't it seem that it might be unhappy for its evangelists to deviate from the truth? If Yahweh is so awesome, then why would its ambassadors ever need to resort to anything but the unvarnished truth? Some superstitionists may wish to trot out the cliche that the imperfection of Yahweh's ambassadors underscores Yahweh's awesomeness, by showing that it can use even imperfect humans to save others. That sounds really nice, but I notice that all of its evangelists have to sacrifice the truth in some way or another. I would be far more impressed by a god whose message could be delivered in good faith, at least by a few of its followers.

That's 6.11, and the end of the series. Thanks very much for watching, and for joining in the conversation.

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