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LIFE AS A MIDDLE MANN

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God or Not

Just read a fascinating article on Newsweek.com that featured a debate between Saddleback's founding pastor and the author of the Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren and the atheistic author Sam Harris. I wouldn't normally suggest the non-academic type such as Warren go head-to-head with someone getting a PhD in neuroscience. While they can discuss the same topic they approach it from such different angles and use such different language to do so that I really feel it puts Warren at a disadvantage, even though on Newsweek's site a poll shows 90% of readers believing in some form of God. The article is fascinating and highlights some valid points coming from the other side. There is, understandably, a fair amount of technical jargon but I really appreciated the place Sam was coming from when he made this comment:
How is it fair for God to have designed a world which gives such ambiguous testimony to his existence? How is it fair to have created a system where belief is the crucial piece, rather than being a good person? How is it fair to have created a world in which by mere accident of birth, someone who grew up Muslim can be confounded by the wrong religion? Harris is different than most atheists in that he is not a moral relativist (i.e. he believes in a moral law). My question is, how can you have an objective moral standard that all humans are under with it having a source? Am I wrong on that? My other question is, how can anyone know for certain that there is no God? I understand how many could not be certain there is a God, the word for that is an agnostic. But how can you be absolutely positive there is no God? Even if there is no evidence there could still be a God. Even if the world was created via the big bang and we all evolved completely seperate from God there still could be a God, right? Little humans believing with all passion, "No, I promise, I know absolutely, 100% for sure, there is no God." You can't know that, can you?

  1. Blogger bradley james | 11:03 AM |  

    Perhaps Harris is a "negative atheist," one who does not believe that 'there is no God,' but who also does not believe that 'there is a God.' This was Antony Flew's position until he became a deist. A really interesting read is his article "A Presumption of Atheism" in Contemporary Debates in Religious Epistemology.

  2. Blogger bradley james | 11:04 AM |  

    Oops. That book title should be Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology.

  3. Blogger Josh Mann | 11:25 AM |  

    So...tell me how a negative atheist is different than an agnostic? I'm glad I have smart friends like you to help me with this stuff! How was Iowa?

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