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The God Debate by Sam Harris, Rick Warren, And Newsweek

The God Debate by Sam Harris, Rick Warren, And Newsweek



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Published by Jessica Chiang
On a cloudy California day, the atheist Sam Harris and the Christian pastor Rick Warren sat down to hash out Life's Biggest Questions: is God real? A NEWSWEEK exclusive.
On a cloudy California day, the atheist Sam Harris and the Christian pastor Rick Warren sat down to hash out Life's Biggest Questions: is God real? A NEWSWEEK exclusive.

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Published by: Jessica Chiang on Sep 08, 2009
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Sunday, April 1, 2007
Science of Religion
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The God Debate
 by Sam Harris, Rick Warren, Newsweek 
Reposted from:
AUDIO: A New God DebateNewsweek: 'Religion: Is God Real?' by Jon MeachamAt the Summit: On a cloudy California day, the atheist Sam Harris sat down with the Christianpastor Rick Warren to hash out Life's Biggest Question—Is God real? A NEWSWEEK exclusive.
9/8/2009Printer Friendly Version - Richard http://richarddawkins.net/print.ph1/11
The Great Divide: Atheist Sam Harris (right) and evangelist Rick Warren (left) meet to discuss religionand faith in America at Warren's Saddleback Church in California
April 9, 2007 issue - Rick Warren is as big as a bear, with a booming voice and easygoing charm. SamHarris is compact, reserved and, despite the polemical tone of his books, friendly and mild. Warren, oneof the best-known pastors in the world, started Saddleback in 1980; now 25,000 people attend thechurch each Sunday. Harris is softer-spoken; paragraphs pour out of him, complex and fact-filled—asbefits a Ph.D. student in neuroscience. At NEWSWEEK's invitation, they met in Warren's office recentlyand chatted, mostly amiably, for four hours. Jon Meacham moderated. Excerpts follow.
Rick, since you're the home team, we'll start with Sam. Sam, is there a God in thesense that most Americans think of him?
There's no evidence for such a God, and it's instructive to notice that we're all atheistswith respect to Zeus and the thousands of other dead gods whom now nobody worships.Rick, what is the evidence of the existence of the God of Abraham?
I see the fingerprints of God everywhere. I see them in culture. I see them in law. I seethem in literature. I see them in nature. I see them in my own life. Trying to understand where God camefrom is like an ant trying to understand the Internet. Even the most brilliant scientist would agree that weonly know a fraction of a percent of the knowledge of the universe.
Any scientist must concede that we don't fully understand the universe. But neither the Biblenor the Qur'an represents our best understanding of the universe. That is exquisitely clear.
To you.
There is so much about us that is not in the Bible. Every specific science from cosmology topsychology to economics has surpassed and superseded what the Bible tells us is true about our world.Sam, does the Christian you address in your books have to believe thatGod wrote the Bible and that it is literally true?
Well, there's clearly a spectrum of confidence in the text. Imean, there's the "This is literally true, nothing even gets figurativelyinterpreted," and then there's the "This is just the best book we have,written by the smartest people who have ever lived, and it's still legitimateto organize our lives around it to the exclusion of other books." Anywhereon that spectrum I have a problem, because in my mind the Bible and theQur'an are just books, written by human beings. There are sections of theBible that I think are absolutely brilliant and poetically unrivaled, and thereare sections of the Bible which are the sheerest barbarism, yet profess toprescribe a divinely mandated morality—where do I start? Books likeLeviticus and Deuteronomy and Exodus and First and Second Kings and
9/8/2009Printer Friendly Version - Richard http://richarddawkins.net/print.ph2/11
Second Samuel—half of the kings and prophets of Israel would be taken to The Hague and prosecutedfor crimes against humanity if these events took place in our own time.[To Warren] Is the Bible inerrant?
I believe it's inerrant in what it claims to be. The Bible does not claim to be a scientific bookin many areas.
Do you believe Creation happened in the way Genesis describes it?WARREN:
If you're asking me do I believe in evolution, the answer is no, I don't. I believe that God, at amoment, created man. I do believe Genesis is literal, but I do also know metaphorical terms are used.Did God come down and blow in man's nose? If you believe in God, you don't have a problem acceptingmiracles. So if God wants to do it that way, it's fine with me.
I'm doing my Ph.D. in neuroscience; I'm very close to the literature on evolutionary biology.And the basic point is that evolution by natural selection is random genetic mutation over millions of years in the context of environmental pressure that selects for fitness.
Who's doing the selecting?
The environment. You don't have to invoke an intelligent designer to explain the complexity wesee.
Sam makes all kinds of assertions based on his presuppositions. I'm willing to admit mypresuppositions: there are clues to God. I talk to God every day. He talks to me.
What does that actually mean?
One of the great evidences of God is answered prayer. I have a friend, a Canadian friend, whohas an immigration issue. He's an intern at this church, and so I said, "God, I need you to help me withthis," as I went out for my evening walk. As I was walking I met a woman. She said, "I'm an immigrationattorney; I'd be happy to take this case." Now, if that happened once in my life I'd say, "That is acoincidence." If it happened tens of thousands of times, that is not a coincidence.
There must have been times in your ministry when you've prayedfor someone to be delivered from disease who is not—say, a littlegirl with cancer.WARREN:
Oh, absolutely.
So, parse that. God gave you an immigration attorney, but Godkilled a little girl.WARREN:
Well, I do believe in the goodness of God, and I do believe thathe knows better than I do. God sometimes says yes, God sometimes
9/8/2009Printer Friendly Version - Richard http://richarddawkins.net/print.ph3/11

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