Prager / Harris debate
Posted: 13 July 2005 10:21 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

Hello,

Does anyone have a transcript of the Dennis Prager / Sam Harris debate that aired August 24, 2004?  I read a small excerpt of it and it was really provocative.  I'm dying to read the rest!

Thanks for your help!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 July 2005 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  88
Joined  2005-03-11

http://www.dennisprager.com/samharris.html

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 July 2005 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3166
Joined  2005-04-25

I would like to see Sam Harris on O’Reilly. Wouldn’t that be a show! Lots of fireworks.

 Signature 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-29

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 July 2005 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

Harris already was on O’reily awhile back. It seemed like more of
  dud than any “fireworks”. Are you somehow convinced that O’reily
  is your ideological bedfellow simply because of certain things he has said and wrote? For all you know, the man could be an avowed atheist. Your naivete is staggering, yet amazingly twisted
and….well it’s beyond words really.

  You will place unquestioning trust in a big-time TV anchorman who used to work for “inside edition”.  He could buy and sell your
puny brain for what he spends on coffee during the average week.
Yet mountains of scientific evidence can stare you in the face.
The vast majority of it, the efforts of men and women that had
more brains in their turds then you and your semi-retarded
christer ilk have in your cracked skulls and you will deny it until
you closest relativ….I mean, the cows come home!!!!Please
consider offering your brain/body to science, you simply can’t be
human.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 July 2005 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

TChamp - from the main page here (at samharris.org) go to Appearances and you can watch Sam converse with Bill from “The O’Reilly Factor” (March 31/05). Can you tell me again how very brilliant you are?

Bob

p.s. - How fucking dumb you really are -now!

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 July 2005 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1229
Joined  2004-12-22

That was beautiful Landulf II

I saw O’Reilly on The Daily Show….

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 July 2005 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  901
Joined  2005-02-23

Ok, this is probably crazy, but I have to mention it.  I watched Sam Harris on O’Reilly’s show, and I have to say that I got the impression that, despite everything, O’Reilly actually seems to like (or at least have a soft spot for) Sam.  I don’t like O’Reilly, but I have seen him jump all over guests, and although he was his usual brusque self with Sam, he was more respectful than he has been with others.  It probably has to do with O’Reilly thinking that he can pick and choose Sam’s argument to support a radical stance on Muslims, but whatever.

-Matt

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 July 2005 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

It seems quite obvious that Prager requires a morality (or a moral doctrine) that already tells him what to think, and as soon as Harris attempted to explain the true complexity of making moral evaluations, Prager would go into the same chant about needing a ready made morality; a morality that spells it all out “no to that act” and “yes to this one.”  And I could see many people would agree with Prager.  Take the simplest remedy, “abortion is always a murder” - “a human is created at conception”  - etc.  These kinds of people want morality to come ready-made as if it could be chiselled on the face of a rock.  They don’t want to think about all the complexities, all the nuances, all the possible consequences - they just don’t want to think.

Whenever Sam would try to explain the reality of every moral dilemma and how it is not as easy as black or white, I could see the glazing over of a large percentage of eyes -  a glazing that Prager could clear up very easily by offering the simple facts according to divinely-inspired morality.

In my opinion, what Sam is advocating is a thoroughly moral society where we take our ethics very seriously and properly evaluate what is “the best move” in every situation.  It’s the kind of ethical perspective that is open to change and refinement because when we look back at our moral history we can see that what we thought was morally correct in 1822 has now become morally wrong (i.e., slavery) and we can expect that more mistakes might still be made until the time that we can perfect our moral aptitude.

Prager, on the other hand, wants a simple “follow the text/rules” kind of morality. Now of course the simple version is much easier to apply universally, but when we look back at our history we will also see that this very desire for eternally valid rules is exactly the approach that caused us to make the blunders that we made in our moral perspective.  So we can apply the same old methodology and repeat our mistakes, or we can adopt a better strategy that truly reflects the essence of what it means to be a moral being - that is, NOT the ability to follow rules blindly, but the refinement to appreciate and respect others in the same way that we appreciate and respect ourselves.

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 January 2006 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2006-01-22

This is an old thread, but I was only just introduced to Sam Harris from coincidentally reviewing his book on CSPAN in a lecture that aired on 11/06/2005.

After reading the Dennis Praeger so-called debate, I defintely must side with Dennis having the greater experience, perspective and level of thoughtfulness. This is not to dismiss Sam’s premise of the religious views of some in all Abrahamic faiths as being potentially disruptive. As a Christian, I have often been frustrated and angered by fundamentalist Christian and Jewish responses to some of the world’s problems. I believe that the bible is taken out of context and God is used as a crutch allowing some to divorce themselves from thoughtfulness and introspection in favor of cherry picked bits of biblical reference that support their dogmas. However, this is the limit of my agreement with Mr. Harris.

I strongly disagree with CanZen for dismissing Mr. Praeger as requiring a moral doctrine that tells him what to think. Mr. Praeger shows no indication of unquestioning faith. His faith has been reinforced by personal experience and exploration. I suggest anyone that is not familiar with him take teh time to listen to his radio show through the internet.

In the 11/06 lecture, Mr. Harris refers to some secular states, such as Sweden that demonstrate a high level of civilation without any overwhelming religious influence. It occurs to me that this is not intellectually honest. I am a former Catholic who does not agree with the teaching of Jesus’s divinity and I have not for several years raised my children in as Catholics. However, I am still influenced by the basic moral and ethical structure that Christianity provided, the golden rule that Mr. Harris referred to in the debate. My children are benefitting from that experience through me and I predict that they will pass the golden rule to my grandchildren.

I don’t know the statistics, but in the case of Sweden and most so-called secular states, I suspect that even if the parents are not themselves religious, they are still influenced by their parents or grandparents that were and instinctively teach this moral template to their children. They may not attend church, but they retain and pass on the fundamentals of morality that without religion would not have taken hold in Western society.

The failure to recognize the overwhelming positive contributions of Judeo-Christian morality in the Western world by first or second hand influence seems to be a signifcant failure on the part of Mr. Harris. Any constructive dialogue must ackowledge this contribution. I would have hoped that Mr. Harris was better influenced by Mr. Praeger, but since the lecture I read occurred some months after the debate, its clear that he maintains some level of prejudice against crediting religion in order to continue the basic thesis upon which his book depends.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 January 2006 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

I will have to stand by my conclusions following the text of the Harris/Prager debate, BDWhite.  I hope you don’t mean to imply that when Prager insists on a black and white rule morality (do this; don’t do that) that he is referring to the application of The Golden Rule principle in moral evaluation.  It appears to me that he wants moral universals that everyone can abide by all the time, isn’t that what you were comprehending from the reading?

As far as The Golden Rule goes, the christian version is a corruption of an earlier (600 years earlier) pronouncement by Confucius.  That original Golden Rule says, “That which you would not want done to yourself, do not do unto others.”  It may seem, at first glance, that the negative, Confucian version is no different from the one Jesus reiterated.  However, on closer inspection, to examine what is bad/wrong/hurtful in human relations is a lot different than relying on what is good. The Confucian version instructs you to not do anything that you know is harmful to you to another person, but it says nothing about deciding what is good for everyone.  THose kinds of decisions can only come from interaction, conversation and consent between people, but it’s only reasonable to not do anything harmful to another.

THe Jesus version, on the other hand, says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  So, in other words, you get to decide what is good for everyone simply by deciding what is good for you. But that’s just crazy!  According to Jesus, YOU are the center of the moral universe . . .If YOU like it, then everyone else should like it.  This positive version of The Golden Rule is prone to immoral abuse depending on who is using it - it is a provocation to disaster (and it makes each person the center of his moral universe, which is a bit too ego-centric to be adopted universally).

One more point, Confucius (Kung Fu Tze) was not a deist or a religious man, he was a humanist who wrote and taught social and political theory. His interest was primarily ethics and human organization.

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2006 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2006-01-22

CanZen,

Perhaps I am inferring part of my understanding of Mr. Prager from my experience as an infrequent listener to his radio show online, but my read is that Mr. Prager believes the Judeo-Christian template works for both those that follow it without question as well as those that have explored other systems and have returned to it on its merits. When it comes down to intellectual and philosophical honesty, most issues are indeed black and white.

I do not agree that Mr. Prager was disruptive in his questioning. Time for radio interviews is short and it’s his job to keep the conversation on topic and interesting. For example on the subject of abortion, it was Mr. Harris that tried to redirect the conversation to his pet peeve about stem cell research instead of addressing what is largely a questionably moral right to terminate a pregnancy that is inconvenient. As they both agreed, the health of the mother is not in contention in this dialogue, but Mr. Harris could not bring himself to pass judgment on the decision to abort a healthy pregnancy in the first and second term, instead pondering about the moment when an unborn child transitions from a clump of cells to something worthwhile. How many scientists are arrogant enough to expect that such a measure will ever be discovered? On the contrary, to Mr. Prager, biblical morality has proven itself right.

As regards to your comparison of Confuscious and Jesus, personally, I am suspicious of biblical translation and context. Jesus is likely to have taught in Aramaic, but the earliest extant versions of the Gospels are in Greek, so we have to contend with 50-100 years of oral tradition before recording many have occurred. Many scholars suspect that Jesus was influenced by many eastern teachings and propose that perhaps the missing 18 years of his life included travels and study in the east.  My point is, perhaps Jesus’ teachings were more closely aligned with Confuscious than the bible provides; that Jesus and Confusius, learned from a common tradiiton. What we do know is that Jesus was ascetic, so in the understanding of that context, I truly doubt that he was allowing for such a personally relative interpretation to the teaching.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2006 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1076
Joined  2005-12-22

[quote author=“BDWhite”] As a Christian, I have often been frustrated and angered by fundamentalist Christian and Jewish responses to some of the world’s problems. I believe that the bible is taken out of context and God is used as a crutch allowing some to divorce themselves from thoughtfulness and introspection in favor of cherry picked bits of biblical reference that support their dogmas. However, this is the limit of my agreement with Mr. Harris.

And you are specifically the intended audience for his work—a religious “moderate”.  Namely, you have to ignore just about the whole thing except for 11 words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” in order to have a rational outlook on the modern world.

Like animists who divine the will of the universe from chicken guts—you disagreement with the fundies is that they interpret the chicken guts differently than you do.  But you’re still playing with chicken guts.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2006 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2006-01-22

Well, I can see how labeling myself as a Christian may have given you the wrong impression. I am not a Christian in the common sense of the word, in that I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. I do not believe that God has a gender, nor a human personality. I do not expect divine intercession in any form nor do I believe in prophecy. I am a Christian because I adhere to the morals and ethics of Jesus’ teaching. I am not moderate in any of this.

Let’s stay on my point. This forum lists the Bible as being responsible for inspiring the worst human holocausts in history. I rebut this by restoring credit to it as the key inspiration of Western civilization. There are a lot of secular whiners out there bemoaning the atrocities of Christians. Christian organizations have committed atrocities I’ll concede, however laying responsibility of all the worlds ills to the Bible and Christians is a shallow, PC outlook, something Mr. Harris implicitly criticizes in the debate with Mr. Prager.

I encourage someone to provide a believable thesis of how the world today would have been better off without the Bible and Judeo-Christian morality and still have achieved the scienfic and societal advances that we enjoy and take for granted. I ahven’t read Mr. Harris’ book yet, but I’ve inferred that he does not credit this appropriately.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2006 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  635
Joined  2005-02-06

I encourage someone to provide a believable thesis of how the world today would have been better off without the Bible and Judeo-Christian morality and still have achieved the scienfic and societal advances that we enjoy and take for granted.

BDWhite, welcome to the gang.
Agreed, it is impossible to state with certainty that the world would have been better off if we had adopted atheistc or even secular principles persistantly at an earlier time. Who knows what procession of tyrants and kings we might have been subjected to before anything like the Enlightenment occurred, though we might rightfully mourn that a Greek-like ideal of democracy/secularism/science didn’t take a firmer hold on societies of the past. It’s a shame though that it took another 1500 years for anything like that to inspire reform again. It’s also wrong to give christianity the credit for this inspiration, since church authorities have resisted almost every move toward modernity that you can name. It is more likely that the Greek/Roman traditions are responsible for our eventual idealizing of freedom and democracy. I’m thankful for our western roots, not our Judeo-Christian roots. Mostly though, I’m thankful to a few forward looking secularists from the 1770’s, who finally saw the chance to really free us from religious oppression.

Rod

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2006 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2006-01-22

Thanks for the Welcome Rod,

Are you referring to the US Founders as secularists? My reading describes them as Deists and Freemasons, who revered the Bible. I’d like to understand your point better.

For my part, I do not equate Christianity and the Church as interchangable. Jesus was a man of reason ahead of his time in many ways. As a Jew, he welcomed and taught non-Jews and women, something accepted by scholars of 1st century Palestine as unusual, even radical.

Sam Harris is a proponent of reason and dialogue. Where is the reason evident in discount Jesus’ and the Bible’s contributions because of the Christian churches association with him and it?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 January 2006 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  635
Joined  2005-02-06

Hi again BD,

Are you referring to the US Founders as secularists?

I’m using the term only in the sense that they wanted a secular Constitution…and got one. Their religious convictions, if you look at the Constitutional Convention, were obviously all over the chart.

For my part, I do not equate Christianity and the Church as interchangable. Jesus was a man of reason ahead of his time in many ways. As a Jew, he welcomed and taught non-Jews and women, something accepted by scholars of 1st century Palestine as unusual, even radical.

I suppose so, but we’re not really blaming the average good guy on the street for anything here are we? It’s the negative effect of church authorities on progress that is pertinant to your initial assertions.  And I find some of the greek philosopher’s views on ethics, happiness, moderation, etc. ahead of their time as well. The fact that none of them, or Jesus, ever spoke against slavery has always left me a little puzzled.

Sam Harris is a proponent of reason and dialogue. Where is the reason evident in discount Jesus’ and the Bible’s contributions because of the Christian churches association with him and it?

Your question is a little confusing, BD.  Are you saying… why blame Jesus and the Bible for actions of the believers? Well, Jesus is a creation of the Bible, so there is no real difference to me….you don’t get one without the other. That said, sure, there is some saintly behavior from special people out there…. but the world’s holy books are definitely also engines of fundamentalism and all the negative effects. You can’t claim only the good for the Bible’s Jesus and not the other. Religions come with a whole lot of baggage besides “love thy neighbor”, otherwise atheists, gays, abortionists, etc. wouldn’t feel so uneasy.  And that said, do you think we would somehow not have kind and generous people if there never was a Bible? So what is the real usefulness of the holy books if we can’t get away from the associated violence they will always inspire when we claim only “one true God”?

Rod

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed