I’m thankful for Sam Harris, the infamous Gnu atheist and founder of Project Reason. I’m thankful because he nicely illustrates the deeply subjective aspect of evidence, reason, and atheism. With his recent attempt to use Reason and Evidence to make his case for guns, Harris, in conjunction with his atheist opponents, display this subjectivity in all its glory (as discussed here and here.)
But let’s consider the words of one of his opponents, atheist Ian Murphy. Murphy insists that Harris is guilty of a vast array of intellectual blunders and sins. Consider some excerpts from his analysis:
- There are many mysteries posed by this world for which science offers no answer: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Who let the dogs out? And, perhaps most confounding, why does anyone take atheist pundit Sam Harris seriously?
- Phew! I was beginning to think this was going to be yet another one of Harris’s patented fake-smart-for-dumb-people routines wherein he constructs a series of strawmen then proceeds to knock them down. Oh wait. That’s exactly what this is. Harris fails spectacularly to provide the advertised rational discussion.
- The common thread running through all of Harris’s logic-abortions, the key to understanding how a purported “intellectual” can be so consistently wrong and so morally repugnant, is his unbridled cowardice — both of the intellectual variety and an all-pervasive, crapping-his-pants fear that manifests itself in the form of sophistry and a brazen disregard for following the available evidence to its logical conclusion.
- Harris’s fears, like much of his “philosophy,” are arbitrary and logically inconsistent.
- Harris displays a true talent for contradicting himself.
- Then there’s some more fake-sagacious obfuscation,
- Here’s where we reach the most telling paragraph–a glimpse into Harris’s stunning intellectual cowardice:
- That’s always been a transparent tool in Harris’s kit of intellectual dishonesty–if you don’t agree with Sam Harris, whether you have good reason or not, you and your ideas are just not serious enough for Sam Harris
- Those familiar with Harris’s record will have already spotted the logical inconsistency. For those blissfully unaware of his many crimes against thinking,
Imagine that. According to one atheist writing for Salon, the founder or Project Reason is guilty of many crimes against thinking.
As before, I urge you to ignore the subject of the debate (for it could just as easily be about elevators or profiling) and instead focus on the larger picture – both atheists would insist they are just following Reason and Evidence, yet they not only disagree, they insist the other one is not following Reason and Evidence. So who is right? Clearly, whether or not someone is following Reason and Evidence is the in eye of the beholder. Do you think Harris is right? That’s just your personal opinion lining up with his personal opinion. Do you think Murphy is right? That’s just your personal opinion lining up with his personal opinion. Reason and Evidence are clearly powerless to get beyond these opinions and lead them to the truth. All they do is go round and round in circles.
And there is one more thing. If Murphy can recognize that Harris is guilty of fake-smart-for-dumb-people routines, logic abortions, logical inconsistency, intellectual dishonesty, etc., when it comes to guns, why think Harris magically and perfectly cleans up his act when it comes to atheism and God? Don’t you think it possible that a guy who can be so irrational and unreasonable about guns can use the very same tactics when arguing about atheism and God? As an atheist, Murphy would be blind to this because he would share in Harris’s opinion on that matter. Yet the fact that atheists cannot recognize the same tactics being used against theism is about as meaningful as the fact that those who agree with Harris about guns can’t see the tactics Murphy claims to exist.