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Sam Harris on Deriving Ought from Is — BY MEANS OF SCIENCE!

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About Sam Harris: Adored by secularists, feared by the pious, Sam Harris’ best-selling books argue that religion is ruinous and, worse, stupid — and that questioning religious faith might just save civilization.

Women's bodies Sam? Sure there is a middle ground. It is as the Bible says: "Women should dress modestly". Suffering Sam? Given your worldview where all material objects (including us) are just complex arrangements of atoms, what the hell does suffering really mean other than electrical signals in our brains? Likewise, I cannot even understand what you are talking about re human flourishing ... compared to what exactly? Other complex arrangements of atoms??? "...the distinction between a healthy person [the good] and a dead one [the bad] is about as clear and consequential as any we make in science..." Yeah, good one Sam. And upon what do you base this claim? Where is this moral law that you are appealing to? Is it under your pillow? In the ether somewhere? Your heart may be telling you this Sam, but you cannot get it from logic or science. What a pathetic talk by a sweet talker, and clapped by a bunch of stupid liberals. I know many Christians are a bit stoopid, but can these smart enlightened liberals really be this blind and dumb? NZer
Isn't it somewhat ironic, or at least amusing, that the more "liberal" wing of the "you can't get ought from is" crowd so frequently evince the belief that you can get is from ought -- at any rate, from the oughtness they assert ought to be? For example, it *ought* to be the case "that religion is ruinous and, worse, stupid — and that questioning religious faith might just save civilization" ... therefore, it is the case. Ilion
Re #4: So that is an interesting question. Is it morally wrong for a person to take Zoloft, even if they don't need it? How about a person taking Zoloft who does need it? Are there really clear MORALLY RIGHT answers? hrun0815
It's really a joke for someone like Harris to use a utility-based approach to morality if he's not willing to grasp the outcomes it would actually lead to. Would we be morally better off if everyone had a prescription for Zoloft? I highly doubt it, but if Harris took his views literally he just might disagree. F2XL
I have always liked Wilson and Ruse, who, unlike Harris, are thoughtful enough to follow their world view through to its logical implications:
As evolutionists, we see that no [ethical] justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will…. In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding. (Wilson and Ruse, “The Evolution of Ethics,” 1991)
If Harris agrees with W&R, his whole argument is a contradiction. If he doesn’t, he needs to provide a basis within a naturalistic framework for arguing that morality is anything other than an adaptation—this, in light of the fact that any characteristic we may possess in a naturalistic framework is ultimately merely an adaptation. SteveB
I was looking to see if Harris has ever debated anyone and I stumbled upon this resource for archived Apologetic debates in MP3 MP3 Debates, Apologetics Talks, EWTN, http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/audio.htm#CreationEvolutionTalks It had none of Harris though,, but I did find these: Does God Exist? A debate between Sam Harris and Rabbi David Wolpe http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2329504685124044436# Debate on religion and reason Reza Aslan vs. Sam Harris Debate Part 01 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5og-hyD3A7A Hugh Hewitt & Sam Harris Debate on Faith Under Fire http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=48716725 Dennis Prager & Sam Harris Debate Religion (4-Parts) http://videorow.blogspot.com/2009/05/dennis-prager-sam-harris-debate.html Sam Harris and Chris Hedges http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/20070617_religion_politics_and_the_end_of_the_world/ bornagain77
Well he's at least half right - questions about morality are factual in nature. Unfortunately, he provided absolutely no grounds for believing that. Just because a certain position helps society mature, or helps make more people happier, doesn't prove in any way that one has an obligation to adhere to it. So sophomoric a response as "who cares who it helps" completely demolishes his argument. Why should anyone care about making the world a better place? Science can, perhaps, tell us what attitudes and values will help provide a better living environment for people. But science cannot tell anyone why they should care about pursuing that end without begging the question. Leslie

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