Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Today in Goodness

Sam Harris proposed that morality is an undeveloped branch of science and set off a firestorm. Harris writes:
If nothing else, the response to my TED talk proves that many smart people believe that something in the last few centuries of intellectual progress prevents us from making cross-cultural moral judgments -- or moral judgments at all. Thousands of highly educated men and women have now written to inform me that morality is a myth, that statements about human values are without truth conditions and, therefore, nonsensical, and that concepts like "well-being" and "misery" are so poorly defined, or so susceptible to personal whim and cultural influence, that it is impossible to know anything about them.
Matt Steinglass replies:
I am a big believer in science. That’s why I think it shouldn’t attempt to generate knowledge in fields where it can’t generate knowledge.
Kathleen Parker takes on the Rev. Franklin Graham, the National Day of Prayer and the notion that some prayers are more equal than others. (Graham apparently believes that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and those who follow any religion except his need not apply because God won't listen to them.) Money quote:
Centuries of blood have been shed for the sake of religious certitude. But transcending the notion that only some prayers are the right ones might get us closer to the enlightenment we purportedly seek.

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