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Debate on God between Sam Harris and Rick Warren Monday, April 2, 2007

Posted by Henry in atheism, Christianity, faith, God, rationality, religion, Rick Warren, Sam Harris.

This article, titled “The God Debate”, is a transcript of civilised discussion between one of the most famous atheists Sam Harris, and one of the most influential evangelical pastor, Rick Warren. The discussion covers atheism vs. religion, the Bible, morality, and of course, God itself. A discussion such as this is always too short, but it does contain pretty much the typical arguments you would expect from both sides.

Rick Warren Rick Warren

Warren starts off by saying:

“I see the fingerprints of God everywhere. I see them in culture. I see them in law. I see them in literature. I see them in nature. I see them in my own life. Trying to understand where God came from is like an ant trying to understand the Internet. Even the most brilliant scientist would agree that we only know a fraction of a percent of the knowledge of the universe.”

I think this summarises well the mindset of a God-believer – he or she believes in God simply because it is a personal experience, not because of evidence, reason and logic. A discussion on God, as many atheists have conceded, is a waste of time, because there can be no rationale and logic. The atheist and theist are talking about the same topic, but from completely different perspectives.

Warren does not believe in evolution, and as you would read further down the discussion, he seems to think that evolution is a theory of chance. This is very unfortunate reflection of the failure of the scientific education, because as any informed person on this subject knows, evolution is a blind and non-random algorithmic process – known as natural selection – in which chance and randomness is only part of it.

Moving on. Warren gives an example of how an answered prayer makes him feels like he is having a conversation with God, to which Harris predictably bites back and in effect saying what about thousands and millions of other unanswered and failed prayers? Warren doesn’t seem to have much to say except for offering a one-liner “That’s a misstatement there.” It is a shame that this particular thread of discussion is not continued further.

Sam Harris Sam Harris

Now, the discussion turns into morality. I am actually offended by this statement Warren made:

“Thousands died in the Inquisition; millions died under Mao, and under Stalin and Pol Pot. There is a home for atheists in the world today—it’s called North Korea.

Please delight me, what does North Korea have to do with atheism?