Apologetics vs. Proving the Opponent’s Point
As already noted here in the Wood, Doug Wilson is the kind of theonomic fundamentalist that frightens Sam Harris. Doug Wilson is the pastor of sociological violence, neo-reconstructionsim, and the serrated edge. Wilson cites research for U.S. military war strategy to explain his use of dehumanizing ridicule in his culture war and regularly bashes enlightenment “reason” and the educational “establishment.” Wilson has expressed more affection for the caste system of southern slavery than he has for political liberalism, secularism, or pluralism. And no matter how successful external exposure of his deceitful and dangerous tactics are, it is apparently impossible to see him offered accountability within his own small sub-culture. The idea of Doug Wilson taking up this particular apologetic challenge is therefore fraught with irony, and it is not surprising that we are witnessing what might be one of his most rhetorically anemic apologetic stands. In response to Harris’ appeal to human empathy, Wilson only offers rationalistic moral maxim, giving evidence that Wilson does not even know what it is like to have moral action grounded and guided by natural human sympathy, let alone affection. I have already discussed this enough for now. However, I have also noticed some fresh ironic responses from Wilson’s followers. Here are two recent ad homs from Wilson’s blog:
What I really don’t understand about Mr. Harris is why he feels he must attack Christianity with such vigor. If Darwinism is true, why doesn’t he just relax, knowing that in a million years or so, it’ll win out naturally?
Jon Swerens – 11/14/2006 9:20:17 PM | Report Comment
Good question Jon. I’ve often wondered this about atheists in general (who appear to pick up the sword against Christians over other religions rather frequently). I think, it is because in his heart…he knows his Creator. And he knows Darwin is wrong.
Dave Houf – 11/14/2006 9:33:02 PM | Report Comment
Jon replays once again one of the common themes that give vindication to Harris’ concern; many Christians have responded to Harris by noting the fact that they would be some of the most dangerous people on the planet if God did not exist. Recall: “Daddy would solemnly observe “If there was no god (and here he would insert a dramatic pause)…I wouldn’t care what I did.”
If Darwinism is true, then we should all relax and have fun butchering one another. This monstrous rejection of the natural, social emotions and dispositions of man – regardless of metaphysical origin or explanation – is something we have been seeing at a surprisingly high rate from Wilsonite fundamentalists.
Dave Houf presents yet a different sort of reply: Sam Harris has no legitimate complaint or worry, but is just a bitter man venting since he is the enemy of the Christian God. Harris is not really concerned about religious extremists, but just trying to “pick up the sword” (!) against Christians. I’m particularly sensitive to this sort of reply, since it is now a common attack from Wilson’s followers even against me.
I was therefore happy to have just located an article written in the L.A. Times by Sam Harris; Harris’ thesis fully refutes this ad hom criticism. You can see the full article here; I have copied the first half of it below:
Head-in-the-Sand Liberals: Western civilization really is at risk from Muslim extremists.
By Sam Harris,
SAM HARRIS is the author of “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.” His next book, “Letter to a Christian Nation,” will be published this week by Knopf. samharris.org.
September 18, 2006
TWO YEARS AGO I published a book highly critical of religion, “The End of Faith.” In it, I argued that the world’s major religions are genuinely incompatible, inevitably cause conflict and now prevent the emergence of a viable, global civilization. In response, I have received many thousands of letters and e-mails from priests, journalists, scientists, politicians, soldiers, rabbis, actors, aid workers, students — from people young and old who occupy every point on the spectrum of belief and nonbelief.
This has offered me a special opportunity to see how people of all creeds and political persuasions react when religion is criticized. I am here to report that liberals and conservatives respond very differently to the notion that religion can be a direct cause of human conflict.
This difference does not bode well for the future of liberalism.
Perhaps I should establish my liberal bone fides at the outset. I’d like to see taxes raised on the wealthy, drugs decriminalized and homosexuals free to marry. I also think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility.
But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.
On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.
This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that “liberals are soft on terrorism.” It is, and they are.
A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a “war on terror.” We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.
This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims. But we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy.
Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.
Given the degree to which religious ideas are still sheltered from criticism in every society, it is actually possible for a person to have the economic and intellectual resources to build a nuclear bomb — and to believe that he will get 72 virgins in paradise. And yet, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, liberals continue to imagine that Muslim terrorism springs from economic despair, lack of education and American militarism.
I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists before this fantasy will dissipate. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world’s Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals. . . . [go to the link above to read the entire article].
No comments yet.