Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

The blurb says, "Adored by secularists, feared by the pious, Sam Harris' best-selling books argue that religion is ruinous and, worse, stupid - and that questioning religious faith might just save civilization."

Watch a (very slick!) video of the man here.

Actually his views have nothing necessarily to do with 'science'. It is just a common sense pragmatism: moral value = what reduces suffering.

There's some attacks on some religious practices (eg veiling), which seems enough to indicate, in his view, that religion is 'bad morality'.

Watch out for the bit early on where he shows a map of US states that permit corporal punishment in schools. It shows more than half the US, with these states coloured red. Most of them are in the south, 'therefore' it is all about the commands from God, spare the rod, spoil the child. What he doesn't show is something more like this diagram here, which, with the accompanying article, indicates that in seven of the states where corporal punishment is legal, fewer than 0.1% of pupils actually receive this form of punishment in 2002, whilst three-quarters of the instances were in just five of the twenty-two states on is map.

So apparently being a bit disingenuous in the interests of making a point is morally OK if you're a 'scientist'.

Slick? Yes. Profound? No. Scientific? Don't make me laugh.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sam Harris, like most of his ilk, knows nothing about science. They tend to talk about "science" because their real god is convenience, which doesn't sound so nice; and that would be inconvenient.