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Desc:Sam Harris smacks a rabbi around for about an hour.
Category:Religious, Nature & Places
Tags:atheism, debate, Sam Harris, david wolpe
Submitted:Magical Man from Happy-Land
Date:07/28/10
Views:1284
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Comment count is 22
Albuquerque Halsey
That's it Rabbi, bathe the area with G_d-rays.

Activate the ten Hunter-Seeker Atheist missiles I have deployed.

He'll have to be at top bullshit to evade them all...


...he isn't. I watch them kick him around for about an hour.
takewithfood
These sorts of debates quickly drift away from the actual subject of whether or not there could be a god, and gravitate towards "be it resolved that religion's one redeeming quality is that it sometimes scares some people into not doing some bad shit." And even that is still debatable.
Bort
Stalin was a seminary student in his youth, so yeah.

Wolpe is pissing me off right now, so as a sorbet to cleanse the palate, I present Obama's thoughts on religion and public policy:

http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=37574

Xenocide
That's probably because a debate which actually stuck to that subject would be pretty boring, as it would essentially consist of two grown men going "DOES NOT!" "DOES TOO!" for an hour.

Since neither side has anything but conjecture to back up their respective beliefs, they naturally fall back on a less impossible-to-prove topic, and that's usually "is organized religion a good thing?" Atheists especially love this tactic since they have an upper hand there.

takewithfood
I absolutely agree, which leads me to wonder why the fuck do they still host debates on the subject of whether God is up there watching you masturbate or not. The Fry + Hitchens vs some religious nuts debate on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good was fantastic because they could easily keep to the topic. (For those who haven't seen it, it's somewhere on PoeTV.)

It just frustrates me to get two well-spoken guys off to a bad start. They touch on some great topics that could and should themselves be entire, separate debates, but they wind up talking themselves away from them before they're resolved because there is no sense of focus. Raar.

glendower
The problem with these types of debates is they pit professional atheist iconoclasts against clergy figures. People usually choose to join a clergy based on faith, not pure reason, and spend their time studying the laws, tenets, history, moral outlook of their religion. Therefore, priests and rabbis generally make for weak debaters when it comes to defending religion on philosophical, logical, rational grounds. This would be akin to pitting Plato (who systematically argued about the inferiority and danger of art) against an artist in a debate about the value of art.

When are we going to see a debate between one of these professional atheists and a theist philosopher? It would be interesting, for instance, to see this anti-religion soapboxer try to wrap his head around Alvin Plantinga's ontological proof of God based on modal logic.


Let the hate begin:


takewithfood
Likewise, the scientist guys fail to sway the religious folks because they aren't there to sell comfort or validation. All they really have is cold logic and the occasional "I don't know, but neither do you." Which should be enough for people, but sadly, it isn't.

baleen
"The problem with these types of debates is they pit professional atheist iconoclasts against clergy figures." I agree, and they're rarely people who have gotten there without a whole lot of problems on the way. The debates that show up here tend to be between established scientific minds and a fundie or cradle clergymen or something boring like that. I'm an atheist, but I know it's possible to experiece debates where people of faith can actually hold interesting conversations about the nature of the universe.

If people lay into you because of that comment they're idiots.

baleen

"I don't know, but neither do you." Yes, so the intelligent debate would essentially unfold to be about the nature of knowing. "Whether God exists or not based on a bunch of stories" is just silly.

takewithfood
It isn't always about the nature of knowing. Sometimes it's just that science doesn't have an explanation *yet*.

Just because you're 5 minutes into your calculus exam and you haven't had time to finish all the questions, doesn't mean that the answer to the last question is "Jesus loves you". The answer is probably still a number that you can logically deduce in time.

Xenocide
You clearly didn't go to my high school if you think the answer couldn't still be "Jesus loves you." Not just in math, either. It also worked in English lit, music, and sex ed.

That's not really what this is, though. This is more like two guys being told only the first digit of hyper-complex equation and each insisting that they know the answer. And that the other guy is a bad person for daring to suggest a separate answer. And no one ever points out the fact that they don't know the other seven hundred digits in the equation and should maybe just shut up until they do.

And all the while, the correct answer is.....love. I mean twelve.

poorwill
glendower: Here's Daniel Dennett vs Alvin Plantinga, if you're interested. Audio only.

poorwill
Crap, forgot the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQka-7E8hg8

phalsebob
Fuck Plato.

athodyd
can you prove this comment is maximally great

CharlesSmith
This says a lot more about the types of people willing to debate the two points than it does the organizers of these debates. How many eloquent, rational monotheist philosophers do you really think are out there? And how many have clear schedules to dick around on a pointless debate?

notascientist
The idea that "science cannot answer moral questions, therefore religion can" is so transparently a non-sequitur that I am surprised anyone tolerates it. In this capacity, I disagree with Harris' approach - we would do well, before entering into any discussion of morality, to admit that the notion that the cosmos or God "cares" what we do, which is generally what people mean by morality, is retarded, or, if not retarded, utterly outside of the purview of rational knowledge. Morality is obviously a set of social conventions directed at a poorly specified, but evolutionarily coupled goal. Mankind has no verifiable access to moral knowledge in the former sense. What we call morality is a hodge podge of social conventions which we have discovered by trial, error and biological evolution.

The burden of modern humankind is to shake off the dregs of this ad-hoc social regulatory system and replace it with a rational one, produced by the combination of rationality and introspection of our deep desires. I am of the opinion that we should, as atheists, replace the discussion of morality entirely with a discussion of social convention and shared human aspirations. Morality has never intervened in human affairs anyway, even if it does exist, and so obviously the question is not "what is right," but "what should we do about the discrepancy between our desired world and the one we live in."
pastorofmuppets
I'm fine with calling it morality as long as it derives from study of humans and societies as opposed to the alleged decrees of a deity that only a select few have communion with. IE if you're going to tell people who they can't marry, come up with a reason why instead of literally pointing to your imaginary friend and saying he ordered it.

The said thing is that a rational, humanist approach to ethics and morality goes back thousands of years and never stopped being useful, yet here we are gunning for it like it's a novel idea.

poorwill
Harris screwed up by (mostly) allowing Wolpe to frame the argument as Religion & Philosophy vs Science, metaphysics vs physics. But that's simplistic and misleading - all of the uncontroversially 'good bits' of religion can be comfortably boiled down to secular ethics, and all of them can function (or be improved) when you extract them from the religious component altogether. There is no battle between philosophy and science, only religion and science, so it's a false dichotomy.
Wolpe wants to be able to dismiss the fuckups of both the followers of the religion as well as the ones inherent in the actual core teachings of the religious texts themselves as being irrelevant, but it turns out he can't have the good stuff either. I would say that it cuts both ways, but really, it doesn't cut either way.
StanleyPain
I like Sam Harris a lot, but these kinds of debates are stupid. Modern monotheisms are essentially founded on the followers believing in the faith regardless of whatever arguments or evidence is made to the contrary. I believe in god, no matter what.

So..what's the point in arguing with a member of the clergy?

pastorofmuppets
Debates between different religions are way funnier. Like asking if Superman could outrun the Flash, but longer beards.

http://www.answer-islam.org/

StanleyPain
I will say this: I'm am so fucking tired of religious people pulling out the tired, old, boring, misinformed bullshit about how the regimes of people like Stalin, Hitler, etc. are examples of societies ruled by an absence of religion. It's the most intellectually dishonest argument these people can muster and it's such a goddamn frustrating, stupid thing.

If you seriously think that secular humanitarianism was the idea behind, say, Soviet Russia or the Khmer Rouge, you are a fucking retard and should have to go back to school for 20 years until you learn something about shit other than campfire ghost stories that man afraid of women wrote 3000 years ago.

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