Monday, September 18, 2006

Sam Harris Tries to Argue for an Atheism Which Doesn't Destroy Objective Morality

Well, Sam Harris confuses religion with God. "Religion isn't necessary for meaningful morality" has a different meaning than "God isn't necessary for meaningful morality." Harris repeatedly makes this mistake.

Then, he tries to claim utilitarianism as a basis for objective, meaningful morality.
Clearly, we can think of objective sources of moral order that do not require the existence of a law-giving God. In The End of Faith, I argued that questions of morality are really questions about happiness and suffering. If there are objectively better and worse ways to live so as to maximize happiness in this world, these would be objective moral truths worth knowing.

And if God doesn't exist, why should I care? Why would any of that have any ultimate meaning?

There are a bunch of atoms bouncing around which have a certain chemical state in their brain telling them "hey, I'm happy." Why does this matter?

Why should I care? Why should I maximize everyone's happiness and not just my own happiness?

Let me accentuate his main problem. Mr. Harris doesn't want a law-giver. But he wants moral laws. But how do you get a meaningful law without a law-giver? Otherwise, you just have laws hanging in mid-air.

And if you say morality is made by humans (making society the law-giver), then you still have problems. Laws can come and go. You get into the realm of subjective opinion. Does anyone really think that a meaningful morality gets decided by a vote? Was chattle slavery OK? Was killing Jews OK in Nazi society?

No. Meaningful morality needs God. Can atheists be moral? Yes.

But they are showing that they have knowledge of God written on their hearts.

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