Sam Harris and lies of omission

by Don Hartness

All this talk about dogmatism is a great time to introduce one Mr. Sam Harris.

I have to admit, when I first read Letter to a Christian Nation, I was taken aback. In a short and concise book that reads like a long essay, Mr. Harris seems to singularly refute Christianity with a fencer’s adeptness. However, after taking a day or two away from the book before returning, I realized that most of his arguments were addressed at the same subject as his cohorts: the Christian religion. Refuting Christianity as a religion is child’s play. It says nothing about the spiritual discipline.

A point-by-point critique of Harris’s argument is beyond the scope of this series (or a blog, IMO, although there are a few books that do just that – see Amazon). I can, however, summarize Harris and many of the “new” atheists with one quote and one article. From the book:

“If our worldview were put to a vote, notions of “intelligent design” would defeat the science of biology by nearly three to one. This is troubling, as nature offers no compelling evidence for an intelligent designer and countless examples of unintelligent design.”

Note the two phrases “compelling evidence” and “countless examples”. As for the later, when one uses scientific methodology for phenomenon that resists empirical research, I’m sure one comes up with “countless examples” to disprove theism in general, and Christianity in particular. As noted and discussed in previous posts, the evidence is found lacking because of the tools utilized, not because of a lack of evidence.

As for the former, “compelling evidence” is easy when one filters out anything that might detract from one’s hypothesis. When one purposely fails to look at counterexamples (Harris is far too intelligent to miss them), one is committing a lie by omission.  These types of lies are the source behind dogmatism.

Which brings me to the article. Instead of demonstrating how Harris routinely engages in lies of omission, I am going to allow Robin Marie over at An American Atheist to make the point for me.

Sam Harris is wrong.