Pooh’s Think

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More On Harris

The open letter response to Harris is getting interesting. Why Wilson is speaking directly to Harris while being nice is a little bit beyond me, but it is what I prefer if I am going to have to keep scanning MaBlog for further signs of cultish degeneracy. Yet, given the record over there for intentionally misquoting critics, I should probably get the book if I were to continue following this. I doubt at this point one will get an accurate sense of just what Harris is saying. This worry is further confirmed by this second post on Harris’ book. Wilson opens by referencing Harris’ “first argument,” which is apparently completed by page number 7. However, during the course of this post, Wilson does not even let us know what the argument is. Rather, he claims Harris has set up the debate wrongly (the debate in general or this first argument?), and then in a fairly confusing manner makes a transition to his own argument for the existence of God, which does not amount to anything further than an implied inaccurate caricature of natural explanations of life, which I will call ‘X,’ along with the argument from the feeling of human wonder: these things seem too wonderful to me to be the result of ‘X.’ It is not clear how the feeling of human wonder is going to amount to a counter-argument at this point, but it becomes entirely futile as a convincing argument for the atheist once it is grounded in something like ‘X.’ I am reminded of Peter van Inwagen’s work (a Christian and well known philosopher in metaphysics) with respect to the possibility or probability of the truth of theism versus natural explanation. Inwagen, from what I recall, thinks both views force the same degree of “wonder” (to change the language a bit).

Wilson’s rejection of Harris’ claim that he stands to Christianity the way a Christian will stand to the god of Muslims seems both inaccurate and unmotivated. What is really the point here? Why not grant that “what it is like to be” for Harris to approach the Christian God is “what it is like” for Christians to approach the Muslim God?:

“The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims” (p. 7)

Given how “unique” and utterly different the Christian God is compared to all other views on Wilson’s Van Tillian terms, whether religious or not, I think a more honest approach would have agreed with Harris on this point anyway. Further, Wilson’s analysis is inaccurate. Smith and Jones are two different real people who you know; but God and Allah are not. This perhaps is even Harris’ very point. And it is not clear at all how it is important whether or not the nature of the explanation points back to personal or impersonal causes. But Wilson has not explained to us what Harris’ argument was in the first place, so this is all perhaps neither here nor there. It is probably better this way however, since Wilson would mostly likely intentionally distort Harris’ argument into an unrecognizable straw man if he was to do so.

November 10, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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