Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reaction to My Book Review of Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape

I received this email from Mark Triplett about my book review of Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape. I though he made some very important points.


I linked over to read your review of Sam Harris' book and wanted to tell you I thought you did an excellent job. I saw Sam Harris in an interview recently and wasn't impressed. I was going to read his book to prove to my friend that I am an "open-minded" Christian but I think you-plus other reviews I have read- have spared me that exercise. My hope was that the book would offer a scientific link between, what you reference as, the is and the ought (I am not very familiar with Hume so that will be my next venture). I've read enough critiques of religion, in general, that I don't need more examples of how humans have abused religion. I also feel that scientific materialism is a religion in-and-of itself, whose biggest problem is explaining absolute morality, and I was hoping this book attempted to do that. It seems we're stuck with moral relativism for the time being (if we want to rid ourselves of God, I should say).

 Atheist like to think that they are the truly intellectually honest and are leaving there options open until more perfect knowledge becomes available and maybe they find "proof" of God (I would argue that this is agnosticism, but maybe the distinction is irrelevant). Back to the interview, Sam Harris said he couldn't believe in the God of the Bible because of his disagreement with slavery in the Bible and not being able to reconcile slavery with an all-knowing, all-loving God. Non-starters like this show a lack of depth of the understanding of slavery in early history and the Bible and a willful ignorance in not exploring it more. As a person who has taken on the task of being able to "give reason for the hope that is within (me)" it is hard to hear of someone giving up on God so easily.

It seems to me that atheism has famous supporters like Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins that have turned more into anti-theists who critique religion more than use there own worldview to solve philosophical problems. It appears that Harris has failed to do so again. Science/evolution/materialism has, to many, rid us of the need for religion as an explanation of what we are or how we came to be, but is still looking answers to the why's and the where's. I'll stick with God, thanks, because he does provide answers as to why we are here and where we go from here (in life and beyond). Mene mene tekel upharsin. For me, science has been weighed and found wanting.

Again, congrats on the nice piece of writing that I would not have been able to conjure up and thanks for the good read.

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