Friday, April 08, 2011

Sam Harris debated William Lane Craig - ugh

Just finished listening to the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig, as discussed at Why Evolution is True, and there was one point that really annoyed me that it was not addressed, WLC argued:

If god exists, then we have an objective basis for morality. 
If god does not exist then we do not have an objective morality, therefore morality does not exist.

Of course this argument is for saying that god must exist, or we would not want to suffer the consequences.   Consequentialism is not a good reason for having an unfounded assumption.

I would have preferred a response to this argument that was reframed from an atheist point of view. A better response is that we know morality exists, and because god doesn't exist* morality must be intrinsic in how conscious creatures think.  Easy peasy.  I think that is what Sam Harris is getting at in his book, The Moral Landscape.

WLC also argued that we must have an objective morality, and the only way to have an objective morality is through some higher authority that dictates what that morality is.  Sam Harris responded that objective morality exists anyway.  To expand on that, what WLC is saying is that morality needs to be dictated by, well, a dictator.  Appointed for life, and as he is an immortal being, that is as big a dictatorship as one can get, this dictator has ultimate say in all things, and there is no avenue for redress.  Back here on Earth, in some countries we did away with kings and their absolute power a long time ago, and replaced them with representative democracy.  This is a good analogy as to why we don't even need the idea of a god.  Through parliamentary representation, common law and equality under law we have our own objective morality that is decided through the rules of law and the decisions of the people under which that law applies.  No need for kings.

* no evidence for god = no god.

Update: I should have mentioned in the beginning of this post that I thought Sam Harris did an excellent job in the debate, and enjoyed what he had to say.  My annoyance is just what popped into my head at the time.  As for WLC, not so much on the enjoyment front there. 

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