Who Is More Reasonable In Religious Discussions?

The book True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism responds to the claims of modern atheists who are fond of trying to take the rational high ground in the discussion of religion.

Tom Gilson is the editor of True Reason and also the author of a chapter in the book that reviews a 2011 debate between Christian William Lane Craig and atheist Sam Harris. Gilson summarizes the arguments of both Craig and Harris while not trying to prove whether Craig was correct or not. Gilson lists six major points of logical argument that Craig presented in the debate, then spends the rest of the chapter explaining Harris’ positions, with the goal of showing which man was reasonable.

Gilson states “What rational, logical, reasoned arguments did Harris use to respond? One struggles to find any reasoned answer at all. He paid Craig’s deadliest arguments no attention whatsoever.” (p.65, emphasis in original)  Gilson goes point by point through Harris’ presentation, then points out:

Granted that Harris thinks religion is wrong, bad, and evil. Granted that he thinks his conclusion is the only rational one. What we want to know is, what makes his conclusion more rational than Craig’s? A tirade is no answer. Ignoring logical arguments that undermine your position is also no answer. Arguing fallaciously is no answer. . . Craig made a point of employing rational argumentation in his speeches. We haven’t asked here whether his reasoning was sound or not. Neither did Harris–he ignored every one of Craig’s arguments . . . (p.71, italics in original)

Such a response seems to have become a pattern. In his book The Moral Landscape, Harris spends an entire book asserting that morals have a material cause. The glaring weakness is that nowhere in the book does he explain how he can derive human well-being from pure matter. Harris spends a great deal of energy asserting that human well-being is a moral good, but no energy explaining how we can get morals from matter. Even assuming the morality of human well-being is itself is a weakness, since moral questions are designed to determine whether morals exist at all, not assume from the outset that they exist. But even if we accept his assumption that human well-being is morally good, he spends no ink telling us exactly how morals are grounded in world that only contains matter and energy. (For more on the weaknesses of The Moral Landscape, see here.)

Our atheist friends seem to have a lot of salty rhetoric that appeals to the taste buds of those predisposed to their position. Like Harris, they repeatedly claim that they are the reasonable ones, but offer no substance to show that this is so. What many atheists, including Sam Harris, seem to fail to realize is that merely asserting that you are rational does not prove that you are, even if you fill a book with the repeated assertions.  In many of these discussions, it is the Christians who stand on the reasonable ground.

For more on the reasonableness of Christians and the irrationality of atheists, I recommend the book True Reason by editors Gilson and Weitnauer.

About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Atheism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Who Is More Reasonable In Religious Discussions?

  1. dwwork says:

    Reblogged this on Reasons For The Hope Blog and commented:
    A book review from my friend Glenn’s blog. I too recommend the book “True Reason”. Have a blessed day, David

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