Craig vs Harris

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Frank Grau

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Harris' Stinky Fish
« on: June 15, 2014, 08:28:45 am »
It's conspicuous that Harris spent most of his debate time issuing red herrings by attacking Dr. Craig's faith. One has to wonder how Harris would have spent his time had he been debating an intellectually honest atheist who might have argued,

"Sam, it's painfully obvious to everyone that objective moral laws require an objective moral lawgiver. Since we both agree that no such lawgiver exits, why can't you be intellectually honest both to yourself and the world and just admit that ethics are illusory? Why must you borrow from theism as if you were a closet theist?"

Since Harris couldn't spend all of his debate time attacking the faith of such an atheist opponent (not because such an atheist opponent exercises no faith, but because he and Harris share the same faith), exactly how would Harris have filled his time?

What's interesting is that Harris believed that offering counterfactuals to God's commands (like removing the eye of every third child) serves as an argument. In reality, he's only making an emotional appeal to the audience because he knows (as do we all) that God did not, in fact, issue such an imperative. What he fails to realize is that if such a counterfactual were the case (i.e., if such behavior were actually "good"), no one would be shocked when he offered such an example. However, both he and the audience know that such behavior is morally prohibited. But that returns us to the very question that everyone must be able to answer, namely, what is the objective ground prohibiting behavior from which we recoil when Harris raises such counterfactual examples? Harris never offers one.

What Harris did offer was human well-being, which he claims is empirically objective. But offering an objective something or other is not equivalent to offering an objective ground for morality. Harris mistakenly believes that as long as he can point to something empirical that it can serve as the ground for morality.

What's interesting is that Harris fails to understand the significance of claiming to know what counts as human well-being. Why, after all, for example, is bleeding from one's ears abnormal or unhealthy? If "healthy" is an objective notion, then it implies teleology, i.e., a purposeful standard of function for which we are designed. On the other hand, if "healthy" is just a subjective standard, then anything can count as human well-being and Harris' ethic is reduced to relativism, which further reduces to no real ethic at all.

Harris seems to believe that whatever state of health is optimally furthest from death counts as "healthy". But even using such an understanding of "healthy", how is such a state of being "normal"? Why should an organism be in a state of health furthest from death?

Harris then suggest that anyone who wants to suffer or die is, essentially, not in his right mind. Again, this also assumes some teleological purpose which determines a standard of "right mind". Why, after all, is the desire for comfort or survival a "right" state of mind? Believing in a "right" mind again leads to the very theism which Harris so desperately wants to avoid while simultaneously borrowing from it to maintain his belief in objective morality and objective standards of physical and mental health.

Finally, Harris briefly made mention of the Euthyphro Dilemma and the Epicurean Paradox, but he never fully explored those. However, the fact that Harris and other atheists continue to raise these irrelevant arguments in this day and age is indicative of the philosophically inept state of the atheist community. Until atheists become more sophisticated in their philosophy, they'll continue to behave like ignorant village atheists. Then again, if they were philosophically competent, they would't be atheists.
Frank Grau



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Re: Harris' Stinky Fish
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 07:39:06 pm »
Why does moral law require a law giver?  And even if such is true, how would humans know anything about the law giver?

I am totally fine with well being as a basis for morality.  Morality can simply be a tool to achieve our obvious desires.

Poster, I am convinced that you, and as I have seen with Dr. Craig, are satisfied with insisting several assumptions right of the gate, then proceed with a long winded defense based on those assumptions. 

How do you start a conversation with such a bold and awkward claim: humans cannot have morality if an invisible god-man did not give it to them?