6.4.07

Does God Exist? (HT to OotM)

That was the question debated by atheist Sam Harris and Christian pastor Rick Warren in this weeks Newsweek.

Warren's main argument: [His] God exists. There can be no morality without God. Altruism comes out of knowing there is more than this life, that there is a sovereign God, that I am not God.

Harris's main argument: Christians don't believe in Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, Raelism, Heaven's Gate... Atheists just don't see any more validity in Christianity. ...we're all atheists with respect to Zeus and the thousands of other dead gods whom now nobody worships.

I was disappointed that Harris, who had a good rational argument for every other question, dodged the question about why atheism is unappealing. For me, this is the only question that matters. If atheism is so simple, and transparent, and logical, why are only three percent of Americans atheists? I've always thought it obvious that fear of death is what makes religion so appealing. I've noticed that atheists don't get as excited talking about death as they do talking about evolution.

I did still think that Harris had the better argument. Of course, Warren does not speak for all Christians, much less all religious (there are other religions out there that think that they, too are the only correct religion). In a follow up provided by Newsweek, Rabbi Marc Gellman picks up where Warren dropped the ball.

Gellman's main argument: Science cannot explain everything. There can be no morality without God. Sam's response to the mystery of meaning is to try to hold onto the absolute moral judgments born of Rick's and my faith while not allowing the God who both birthed and sustained that moral truth.

The issue of morality seems to be a common argument. I think the rebuttal to that is this article in the NY Times on primate morality. Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

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