Friday, April 27, 2012

No, Reason is Not a Religion: More Excellent Dissent

You generally don't see open dissenting discourse between well-known public figures in religion or even in politics on central matters, yet we see exactly that between the leading secularist thinkers:
I think Sam [Harris] is just a child when it comes addressing morality. I think he hasn't got a clue. And I think part of the reason that he kind of ran amuck on all this is that, as you and I well know, trashing religion is like shooting fish in a barrel. If Chris Hitchens can just sort of slap it off in an afternoon then any moderately sensible person can do the same. He wrote that book in a very clear way although there were lots of very disturbing things in it. I think he thought that, heck, it's not that hard to figure these things out. Morality: how hard can that be? Religion was dead easy. And it's just many orders of magnitude more difficult.
- Patricia Churchland, Professor Emeritus of (Neuro)Philosophy at UCSD.

Full interview here, although it's mostly about moral philosophy in general.  Note that Churchland is not slamming a secular viewpoint on morality (she spoke at Beyond Belief, Enlightenment 2.0), she's just stating that Harris's approach is simplistic.  Previous dissent (again involving Harris) between two of the Four Horsemen here.

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