Is Zoolander.. I mean Sam Harris Strawmanning The CA? — Yes He is.

Sam Zoolander Harris

 

Greg, a passerby, expresses bewilderment and requests an explanation:

If you believe that Sam Harris’s portrayal of the cosmological argument [for God’s existence] is a straw man, then I would be curious to hear your own interpretation of the argument.

As you wish, Greg.

But first let’s quote Sam for everyone else to see what his version (if it can even be called as such) of the argument actually is:

“The argument runs more or less like this: everything has a cause; space and time exist; space and time must, therefore, have been caused by something that stands outside of space and time; and the only thing that trascends space and time, and yet retains the power to create, is God… As many critics of religion have pointed out , the notion of a creator poses an inmediate problem of an infinite regress. If God created the universe, what caused God? To say that God, by definition, is uncreated simply begs the question”

For starters, the readily confirmable fact of the matter is that no respected theologian in the history of Christendom has ever concocted such an idiotic argument such as that. Not Craig, not Leibniz, not Aquinas, not Maimonides, not Avicenna, not Swinburne, not Plantinga, not anyone. Nobody in the history of the cosmological argument has ever begun the cosmological argument with the statement “everything has a cause.”

And the answer to that is actually quite simple. It is because none of them are, how shall we put it, dumb enough to ever argue anything so stupid. You’ll never be able to point to me one famous theologian who started off his cosmological argument in such a puerile manner.

What defenders of the cosmological argument actually defend is that what comes into existence has a cause, or that whatever is contingent has a cause, and not, as Sam likes to think, that everything has a cause. The difference between what actual defenders of the cosmological argument say and what Sam says they say is almost exactly like the difference between these 2 statements: 1, everything in the fridge is edible, and 2, everything is edible. If the differences between the 2 aren’t obvious still, then perhaps we could meet, as I’ve got this wonderful bridge to sell you which you can even pay in installments.

Defenders of the cosmological argument are not interested in showing that the cause of everything just somehow happens to be uncaused, leaving them open to being accused of special pleading. Rather, what they are (or were) interested in showing was that if there was to be an ultimate explanation of how everything came to be, then that explanation must be in principle uncaused. They argue, and don’t arbitrarily posit, for why this ultimate explanation must in principle be uncaused.

It is clear that Sam Harris, for his book, chose to consult infidel websites rather than the vast philosophical literature pertaining to the cosmological argument that exists.

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Posted on April 8, 2014, in apologetics, philosophy, Religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Miguel, with all due respect, you’re talking out of your ass.

    Aquinas:
    “Besides, there is naturally present in all men the desire to know the causes of whatever things are observed. Hence, because of wondering about things that were seen but whose causes were hidden, men first began to think philosophically; when they found the cause, they were satisfied. But the search did not stop until it reached the first cause, for ‘then do we think that we know perfectly, when we know the first cause.’ Therefore, man naturally desires, as his ultimate end, to know the first cause. But the first cause of all things is God. Therefore, the ultimate end of man is to know God.

    Moreover, for each effect that he knows, man naturally desires to know the cause. Now, the human intellect knows universal being. So, he naturally desires to know its cause, which is God alone, as we proved in Book Two. Now, a person has not attained his ultimate end until natural desire comes to rest. Therefore, for human happiness which is the ultimate end it is not enough to have merely any kind of intelligible knowledge; there must be divine knowledge, as an ultimate end, to terminate the natural desire. So, the ultimate end of man is the knowledge of God.”

    Nice Zoolander joke though.

    • Passerby, with all due respect, no, I am not.

      None of what you quoted from Aquinas shows that what he was arguing was that “everything has a cause.”

      Aquinas’ version of the cosmological argument can be found in his ‘5 ways’. I suggest you read it — the whole of it, and not a summary of it by some gnu atheist over at some infidel website.

      Then look in the mirror to see who’s talking out of his ass.

  1. Pingback: I Am “Talking Out Of My Ass”, Apparently. | The Apologist

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