Sam Harris Unleashed

Sam Harris grins and bears Rabbi Wolpe’s “meta-physical” argument until finally he unleashes a scathing condemnation of the approach.

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Posted by on Mar 20 2011. Filed under Debate, Videos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
  • Joe Manning

    Once again, brilliant. I would argue that the monetary paradigm that has been pervasive throughout the world is just as dangerous if not more so than religion. But that is an entirely different debate. (I just thought of it when he mentioned Sept. 11th, and all the monetary gain done in the name of patriotism/religion)

  • Hollynwill

    Elvis and God is such an apples to oranges analogy. Whether or not Elvis is alive has no bearing on the deeper questions of life like what is the basis of human dignity (or whether there is such a thing) or what is the ultimate purpose of human existence (if there is any). Now atheists will argue for human dignity and purpose by trying to explain it without our having been created with intrinsic worth and given meaning and purpose by that Creator, but they do not worry themselves in answering this question over whether or not Elvis exists (or for that matter Santa Claus, of fairies or the Flying Spaghetti Monster). The Rabbi was headed in the right direction but did not go far enough. You see the question to ask is what kind of “proof” would you accept that God exists? What kind of proof do you need to reasonably conclude that He does?


    I would also add that there are two kinds of “proof.” (At least two kinds) The one is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, which one might call “scientific” proof, and then there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. IN the first case, I think very few things are so proved, even things that we hold to be very important to us, like human dignity, equality and worth. As well as things like justice and love. These cannot be proven scientifically, or beyond a shadow of a doubt, but they are held to be important and I would dare say “true” by even atheists. On what basis? this demonstrates to me that atheists live “by faith” not scientific proof when it comes to some very substantial ideas we hold to be self evident or a first principle. What is justice if there is no human dignity, and how does human dignity derive from an impersonal, mindless and meaningless universe which has no concern over our existence?

    • Anonymous

      The logic of your first argument is, “because you cannot prove A, then B must be true.” That logical fallacy doesn’t work…not even in a high school debate class. Your second argument is unintelligible.


    The other proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – is the kind of proof we settle for in determining a verdict to be “true” in a court of law, and then to act on that verdict. So, as I said earlier, we hold human dignity and equality to be “true” but these things are not self-evident in an a godless universe. (Our founding fathers could call human equality “self-evident” because they believed we were made by a common Creator.) I would say that the existence of God can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but not beyond a shadow of a doubt. The challenge here is that if you, as an atheist, are willing to accept certain “truths” not on the basis of science, like human dignity, equality, justice and love, then why can’t one accept God’s existence on the same “faith” basis as these important ‘truths?”

  • well ello heem

    Those characteristics can be seen, demonstrated and felt. They can be proven to exist through observation. Observation just happens to be one of the methods used by scientists to ‘prove’ hypotheses. Although characteristics may be intangible, they can still be seen and demonstrated. Also, Justice has nothing to do with human dignity, its a product of evolution. People function as a sort of pack animal. We’ve lived and traveled in groups for thousands of years, it is only natural that rules would develop to maintain order in an expanding community where not everyone knows each other. Don’t need ‘god’ to establish what is already common sense; maybe you can find the verse in the bible where ‘god’ came down and hands Hammurabi a code of laws.

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