Harris & Russell Make a big Mistake

Atheism is Dead has an excellent post about a mistake being passed around by Sam Harris. In The End of Faith, Harris writes that Bertrand Russell:

had it right when he made the following observation: ‘The Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants and then immediately dash their brains out: by this means they secured these infants went to Heaven.

‘No orthodox Christian can find any logical reason for condemning their action, although all nowadays do so. In countless ways the doctrine of personal immortality in its Christian form has had disastrous effects upon morals….’

I find it amazing that “No orthodox Christian can find any logical reason for condemning their action.” I would like to know, first, what Harris’s definition of “orthodox” is, then I would like to know what definition of “logical” that he is working from.

Without that knowledge, Mariano provides the answer in Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.” Now, this is kind of dangerous. First, he doesn’t know what definitions of the terms “orthodox” and “logical” that Harris was working from. Second, he leaves himself open to the usual suspect charges of genocide in the Bible. Now don’t worry, Mariano, I’ve provided commentary on God-ordered genocide in the Bible right here.

Mariano then has a lengthy commentary on the Great Commision, which I agree with wholeheartedly. The purpose of the Christian is to baptize and then teach, not to baptize and then kill. That just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Great post, as usual, from the good folks over at Atheism is Dead. I highly reccomend reading it, as my summary doesn’t do it any justice. The post touches on themes that I’ve been blogging about over here for the last couple of weeks–that atheism has no grounds for morals. That’s not to say that atheists themselves are immoral, but that atheism itself provides no grounds for an absolute or universal moral law. We all know that one exists, there’s no point in denying it. The existence of such a law points to the existence of a Lawgiver: God.

Which makes me wonder: why are atheists always complaining that there is no evidence for God? If they mean empirical, scientific evidence, then I would say that there is plenty. Namely, the universe itself. Atheism has no answer for the ultimate philosophical dilemma: Why is there something rather than nothing? The apostle Paul said that men are without excuse for not knowing about God, because nature provides all the evidence that you need.

On the other hand, there is also much philosophical evidence for God. The moral argument, the ontological argument, and the teleological argument (which, contrary to popular opinion, has not been refuted completely).

Yet, point any of this out, and the atheist rationalizes it all away, still complaining that there is no evidence for God.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on April 5, 2009, in Apologetics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. “If they mean empirical, scientific evidence, then I would say that there is plenty.”

    Oh really? Could you please cite your supposed scientific evidence (that means citing PEER REVIEWED scientific literature and not just saying “gees people just look around”)?

    Why, oh why are fundies so illogical?

    • ps philosophical arguments don’t count as evidence. They count as arguments. That’s why they’re called arguments.


      • Ooooohhhh. Please do explain:
        How are logical arguments not evidence?

        After you explain that, can you give me evidence for that argument?

      • Because, Craig, arguments are only as good as their premises. You can construct a valid argument with false premises and therefore get a false conclusion. Logic 101.

        Evidence (as defined by the OED… the Oxford English Dictionary:

        ” I. 1. The quality or condition of being evident; clearness, evidentness.”
        b. in evidence [after F. en évidence]: actually present; prominent, conspicuous.
        2. Manifestation; display. Obs.
        II. That which manifests or makes evident.
        3. An appearance from which inferences may be drawn; an indication, mark, sign, token, trace. Also to take evidence: to prognosticate. to bear, give evidence: to afford indications.
        4. Ground for belief; testimony or facts tending to prove or disprove any conclusion. Const. for, of (the thing to be proved), from, of (the source of testimony). to have evidence to say, etc.: to have good grounds for saying, etc. (For external, internal, moral, probable evidence, see these adjs.)”

        Notice that evidence is grounded in instances and fact. These are EMPIRICAL ideas. Just as I pointed out above.

      • I’m sorry LRA, but you provided me with no evidence to accept what you’re asserting.

  2. I’m sorry LRA, but you provided me with no evidence to accept what you’re asserting.

    • Craig– You are so clever, aren’t you?

      Let me recap the argument:

      “If they mean empirical, scientific evidence, then I would say that there is plenty.”

      I countered this argument by explaining what evidence actually is (and it is NOT speculation or philosophical arguments).

      Craig makes logical fallacy to say that there is no evidence for my assertion. Craig clearly doesn’t understand the difference between scientific evidence and philosophical arguments:


      Craig further doesn’t understand universalism versus nominalism:


      Nor does Craig understand science versus pseudoscience:


      Hence, Craig is a merely a clanging gong.

    • Oh, and I’m still waiting for your scientific (meaning empirical and peer reviewed) evidence.

      • Apparently, you’re not understanding what I’m saying.

        You seem to think empirically-based evidence is the only kind of evidence…you said as much by rejecting deductive arguments.

        If that is your standard for evidence (must be testable, measureable, available to be tested in some way physically), then how do you verify that standard for evidence? That is, how do you know the truth of that standard?

        Can you in any way “test” the truth that all evidence must be empirically based? In case you are still catching up…your assertion is *self-refuting*.

      • Craig- I did respond to that, but that comment is sitting in moderation (I don’t know why). There I referenced several links to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. One of the links was directly on evidence.

      • I already gave you all the evidence I’m going to give you in the next sentence after the one you quote. The universe, and everything in it. Since you can see, touch, taste, and smell the earth, I assume that it qualifies as empirical evidence–though I wouldn’t actually recommend that you taste the earth.

        If you want to impress me, use your atheism to answer the ultimate philosophical question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

  3. Why is my comment in moderation?

  4. I don’t think he means that orthodox Christians can’t condemn the Spaniards for murder but instead he means that you will have to admit (based on your beliefs, either in infant baptism saving children or in infant innocence altogether) that the Spaniards sacrificed their own salvation to save those children. That the Spaniards are roasting in hell is a given.

  5. And if you say “infants are guilty before God” then you will come roast in hell with me and my buddies the Spaniards.

    • How nice! I have a new troll on my hands. Well, I’ll entertain you so long as you don’t flip out and call all atheists a derogatory name for homosexuals, or go to another blog and call me a “liberal, pro-homosexual ‘Christian'”.

      Why I am feeding the troll I have no idea, but here it goes:

      That all infants go straight up (so to speak) is a given to me. Infants are indeed guilty before God, as we all are, but as an infant said child cannot be held accountable for his or her sins since he or she has no idea what it means to sin. Until said child reaches the age of accountability (different for everyone, but usually between the ages of 5 and 7), that child will not sit under God’s judgment, despite said child’s guilt. I hope that clears things up for you.

  6. Thanks very much for sharing this interesting post. I am just starting up my own blog and this has given me inspiration to what I can achieve.

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