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Minnesota Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › Sam Harris debate with Rabbi David Wolpe at the American Jewish University

Sam Harris debate with Rabbi David Wolpe at the American Jewish University

A former member
Post #: 2
This is a debate between Sam Harris and a better then normal debater David Wolpe.


The debate is very good. But I have some pet peeves with Sam Harris, and the other 3 horsemen about there apparent lack ability to substantiate the claim that religion is making scientific claims.

Sam in this debate repeats himself I think 3 time saying that it is amazing how religion has the gall to make certain claims about consciousness, emotions, relationships, interconnectedness and other supposedly only metaphysical concepts which are really scientific questions. But neither He or any of the other outspoken atheists ever support this claim, that these are scientific questions with any eloquence or data.

I have a psychology background and I have made a independent study of such concepts so I have a taste of the huge amount of information he could have used to smash the rabbi's assertions, so it always pains me to see these great guys always having a weakness within their understanding of the psychology of religion, and the scientific nature of the "metaphysical" questions.

Another interesting book which gives a lot of great newish information on the subject is Social Intelligence by Danial Goleman. Much of this stuff is so new and profound that when taking with a evolutionary prospective they completely blow out of the water that emotional concepts are out of the realms of science.
Jack C.
user 3043821
Minneapolis, MN
Post #: 26
Thanks for the link. I'll have to do some searching to find out whether and where Harris and Dennett have specifically refuted religious claims about consciousness, relationships, etc. Both Harris (as a Ph.D. in neuroscience) and Dennett (as head of the cognitive science dept. at Tufts) are certainly capable, and even as an interested layperson on the subject I don't find it very hard to do (so many problems with the concept of an unchanging immortal soul, for instance). I've read The End of Faith and Breaking the Spell, and as I recall both touch on such subjects, but Dennett's Consciousness Explained would be a fairly thorough rebuttal (although the point of the book is not to compare psychology and neuroscience with religious claims). The problem could be that in the debate format it is difficult to give the kind of detailed evidence and citation of sources necessary without losing the audience's attention.
A former member
Post #: 3
Correct. It is just in the debate where I see the Athiest rebuttal to the religious claims to be weak.

They are so many really cutting and informative talking points atheists could make about the religious claim that matters of emotions/beliefs, and science are mutually exclusive realms of understanding.

It is this debate where I really sense that weakness.

I have yet to read Sam Harris or Dannetts book. I would like to read a more psychosocial theme.

I was going to by the book Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer.­

The description suggests it goes into a more psychoevolutionarily direction, which I am sure to enjoy.
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