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The God Debate (Harris / Craig)

Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 12:15:33 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Harris's Blog :

"As I observed once during the debate, but should have probably mentioned again, Craig employs other high school debating tricks to mislead the audience: He falsely summarizes what his opponent has said; he falsely claims that certain points have been conceded; and, in our debate, he falsely charged me with having wandered from the agreed upon topic. The fact that such tricks often work is a real weakness of the debate format, especially one in which the participants are unable to address one another directly. Nevertheless, I believe I was right not to waste much time rebutting irrelevancies, correcting Craig's distortions of my published work, or taking his words out of my mouth. Instead, I simply argued for a scientific conception of moral truth and against one based on the biblical God. This was, after all, the argument that the organizer's at Notre Dame had invited me to make." [1]

Really, high school debate?

In response :

"Harris' chief claim throughout the book is that moral judgments are a kind of fact, and that as such they are amenable to scientific inquiry. First of all, the second statement does not at all follow from the first. Surely we can agree that the properties of triangles in Euclidean geometry are "facts," in the sense that nobody who understands Euclidean geometry can opine that the sum of the angles in a triangle is not 180° and get away with it. But we do not use science, or any kind of empirical evidence at all, to arrive at agreement about such facts. Morality, of course, is not mathematics, but it is easy to show that science only informs, doesn't determine, our ethical choices. Consider abortion. If we agree, for the sake of argument, that abortion is morally permissible before the fetus can feel any pain, then it is a matter for science to give us the best empirical estimate of when approximately that happens during human development. But notice that science cannot make us agree on whether that particular criterion (pain) is moral or not. We need to argue for it in some other way." [2]

[1] http://www.samharris.org...

[2] http://www.skeptic.com...
Meatros
Posts: 1,075
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5/11/2011 6:53:19 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 5:18:28 AM, Thaddeus wrote:
Just sounds like Harris is a bit peeved that he isn't as good as debating as Craig.

In fairness, most people aren't as good at debating. Further, Craig has had decades of practice against some great minds.

That said, Harris probably is a bit peeved.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 9:15:34 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
It seems interesting to me that the skeptic side seems to want their explanations to be accepted on merit, and that they can trivially ignore issues such as ontology of morality simply because they are "not interesting".
Meatros
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5/11/2011 9:47:37 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 9:15:34 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
It seems interesting to me that the skeptic side seems to want their explanations to be accepted on merit, and that they can trivially ignore issues such as ontology of morality simply because they are "not interesting".

While I appreciate that the ontology of morality is more important, it seems to me to be an almost impossible thing to actually discuss during a debate. Just to lay out all the relevant material would be an undertaking.

Craig doesn't really do a good job of it - he basically appeals to intuition. This is not really dealing with the ontology of morality, but he hardly ever gets called out on it.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 11:32:41 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
It is not a trivial issue I agree, however if it is central to the debate then I really can not see justifying ignoring it.

As well, anyone who has watched Craig knows he will pound with relentless fury on ontological vs epistemology precisely because he is confident and he knows his opponent is not.

What I find almost idiotic is to walk into the debate, know that this is going to happen and not be prepared to deal with it. You only need to watch oneof Craigs debates to know exactly what points he will bring to the table.
badger
Posts: 11,793
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5/11/2011 12:46:31 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 12:15:33 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
Harris's Blog :

"As I observed once during the debate, but should have probably mentioned again, Craig employs other high school debating tricks to mislead the audience: He falsely summarizes what his opponent has said; he falsely claims that certain points have been conceded; and, in our debate, he falsely charged me with having wandered from the agreed upon topic. The fact that such tricks often work is a real weakness of the debate format, especially one in which the participants are unable to address one another directly. Nevertheless, I believe I was right not to waste much time rebutting irrelevancies, correcting Craig's distortions of my published work, or taking his words out of my mouth. Instead, I simply argued for a scientific conception of moral truth and against one based on the biblical God. This was, after all, the argument that the organizer's at Notre Dame had invited me to make." [1]

Really, high school debate?

In response :

"Harris' chief claim throughout the book is that moral judgments are a kind of fact, and that as such they are amenable to scientific inquiry. First of all, the second statement does not at all follow from the first. Surely we can agree that the properties of triangles in Euclidean geometry are "facts," in the sense that nobody who understands Euclidean geometry can opine that the sum of the angles in a triangle is not 180° and get away with it. But we do not use science, or any kind of empirical evidence at all, to arrive at agreement about such facts. Morality, of course, is not mathematics, but it is easy to show that science only informs, doesn't determine, our ethical choices. Consider abortion. If we agree, for the sake of argument, that abortion is morally permissible before the fetus can feel any pain, then it is a matter for science to give us the best empirical estimate of when approximately that happens during human development. But notice that science cannot make us agree on whether that particular criterion (pain) is moral or not. We need to argue for it in some other way." [2]

[1] http://www.samharris.org...

[2] http://www.skeptic.com...

what do you think of the responce cliff? i don't really get it.. i get what harris was saying though.. i think.. the "kind of fact" bit is a bit confusing? i'm figuring he means our behaviour is determinable/with reason and thus can be changed? with which i'd agree.. i mean muslims are generally muslims cos they're raised muslims right? if one was taken from his/her muslim family at birth and instead raised christian then he/she'd probably end up christian/athiest, right? there's science behind that.. or understanding at least if that's where the confusion's coming from? but with understanding comes the ability to mould or recreate, no? like the mind is just a more complex computer, no? where did a computer programmer's ability come from if not from science? granted, we created computers :) but i can't think of a reason why whether we created the mind or not would matter?

having read back over the responce i figure that was where the confusion came from? couldn't be arse editing..

and we could use the scientific method to determine the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees couldn't we? i'd just consider maths a science myself but i suppose i'm not a scientist :) what do you think? the proof looks like an experiment to me?

and all that might very well have been sh1t but it's my thoughts.
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Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 1:02:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 12:46:31 PM, badger wrote:

what do you think of the responce cliff? i don't really get it.. i get what harris was saying though.. i think.. the "kind of fact" bit is a bit confusing? i'm figuring he means our behaviour is determinable/with reason and thus can be changed?

Harris's main argument is that you can from the brain states of people tell if they are suffering and thus you can measure the morality of your decisions by measuring the suffering you cause and thus it is no different than measuring gravity. This all seems quite logical and sensible except from one thing - how can you assert that suffering itself is immoral as that is the presupposition.

If it was this easy to handle objective morality then a lot of philosophers would have been out of a job long ago. Ok, what causes suffering is immoral, the more of it that is caused the more it is immoral. It is a bit like laying bricks, the more bricks you lay in a given time the better a bricklayer you are. Thus the more suffering you cause in a given time the more of an immoral bugger you are.

However, the fundamental problem is what gives one the right to claim "suffering". For example if I try to molest you and you stop me, can I claim I am suffering because my brain states can easily show it (depending on the nature of my personality). In fact it could be the case that I woul suffer more if I did not molest you than you would suffer if I did. Does that mean it is immoral for you to stop me?

What about in a situation where you want to molest me but I am brain dead. My brain waves will not be effected at all, but maybe Grape is watching it and he is extremely upset at your machinations. Can he then claim suffering as his brain states would show it and thus it is immoral for you to do it - even if I would not care less at that time (I would not if I was brain dead, it is just a body then not me). Or maybe my family would suffer at the sign of the corpse defilement?

As a less radical example Harris obviously suffers when he sees what he considers oppression of women in Islam, but some of them women do not feel suffering and their brain states do not show it so what is the moral measurement there? My wife is extremely orthodox and most people from a western culture would feel I am oppressing her, do they have a right to claim suffering if they are upset as they feel she is acting too subservient to me?

and all that might very well have been sh1t but it's my thoughts.

In the end, it is very difficult to have anything but our thoughts unless of course you can claim witness and then you have God's thoughts. But if you do there is no conflict at that point, you are an acting agent for divine will so you are perfectly aware. Of course if you have not witnessed then you are in the same plane as the rest of us trying to make sense out of all this gibberish.

At the end of the day almost everyone knows how to behave, it isn't like rational people debate over if you should deep fry babies, it is just a semantic exercise in the extremes. But there are some interesting questions such as do you have the right or should you take action to remove oppression if the party which is being oppressed doesn't actually feel it is being oppressed or the other party lays claim of right to oppression. For example farmers will lay claim to animals, if you feel they are being oppressed do you have the right to lay claim to act to remove their oppression.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 1:02:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 12:59:34 PM, badger wrote:
or was he arguing science can prove an objective morality or what? i'm kinda lost..

That is exactly it.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 1:03:14 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 12:52:55 PM, Kinesis wrote:
Harris lost, but he still did 10^321^342 times better than most of Craig's opponents.

I would like to see the derivation of that number.
badger
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5/11/2011 1:14:49 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
yeah well that wouldn't be a claim i'd agree with at all so.. for your reasons, and just that we've all fairly obviously got different brains/tastes.. one man's sorrow being another's joy and that kinda thing.. i'd agree that a pretty much objective morality could be created using science though.. like in brave new world..

also, nicely done on the subservient wife, bud :P
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Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 1:43:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 1:14:49 PM, badger wrote:

also, nicely done on the subservient wife, bud :P

She is also an exotic dancer and well my junior, has a Master's degree, spreaks and writes multiple languages, plays several musical instruments - and of course is a wonderful kind and compassionate human being. I have no idea why she is with me, but somethings are better left unquestioned.
badger
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5/11/2011 2:07:23 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 2:06:32 PM, badger wrote:
how's she for giving blowjobs?

or is that a bit personal? i never know... :)
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Meatros
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5/11/2011 3:07:24 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 11:32:41 AM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
It is not a trivial issue I agree, however if it is central to the debate then I really can not see justifying ignoring it.


Yes, I agree - if you are going to debate morality, then you can't really ignore it. I suppose this is one reason I don't really like debates on morality. They seem more superficial then most - or perhaps I'm just not as up to speed on morality as I should be to appreciate the debates.

As well, anyone who has watched Craig knows he will pound with relentless fury on ontological vs epistemology precisely because he is confident and he knows his opponent is not.


I agree and he should do this.

What I find almost idiotic is to walk into the debate, know that this is going to happen and not be prepared to deal with it. You only need to watch oneof Craigs debates to know exactly what points he will bring to the table.

In fairness though, most of the people who walk into a debate with Craig do not do their fair share of research (so it's not just the ones arguing about morality) - it's not like he's presenting new arguments.

Yet time and time again atheists show up unprepared. Not all do, though. Some bring substantial challenges (IMO).
Cliff.Stamp
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5/11/2011 3:41:42 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 3:07:24 PM, Meatros wrote:

Yet time and time again atheists show up unprepared.

To be frank, I think this is the case of "I am right, he is a bible dummy - no need to prepare." This is why you have people like Craig really criticizing and being correct about the philosophical ignorance of the "new atheists".

Not all do, though. Some bring substantial challenges (IMO).

Yes, minority though.
Meatros
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5/12/2011 8:41:50 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/11/2011 3:41:42 PM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
At 5/11/2011 3:07:24 PM, Meatros wrote:

Yet time and time again atheists show up unprepared.

To be frank, I think this is the case of "I am right, he is a bible dummy - no need to prepare." This is why you have people like Craig really criticizing and being correct about the philosophical ignorance of the "new atheists".


I definitely think this is the case with some of the new atheists (Hitchens in particular).

Craig submits papers to philosophical journals. He's no slouch. Yet it seems like a lot of people prepare for him as they would Ray Comfort.

Not all do, though. Some bring substantial challenges (IMO).

Yes, minority though.

True.
Cliff.Stamp
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5/12/2011 2:18:07 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/12/2011 8:41:50 AM, Meatros wrote:

I definitely think this is the case with some of the new atheists (Hitchens in particular).

Hitchen's is simply playing to a role, there is the man and there is the image of the man and the latter is what sells. On a fundamental level academic exchange isn't that exciting, it is not like people are racing to the stacks for the newest journals. Hitchen's knows what sells and he writes it - his persona is the same.

Craig submits papers to philosophical journals. He's no slouch. Yet it seems like a lot of people prepare for him as they would Ray Comfort.

Yes, I am actually being to wonder if it is intentional. Did Harris know for example he could not win in a debate with Craig and thus didn't try as then he would always excuse his behavior and claim it was beneath him to actually debate with Craig - which is what he did. But if he did exchange, did try to actually have a discourse and was soundly refuted - then what?