Dear Young Apologist,

by Clark Bates

Several years ago, I was standing in front of an audience discussing the nature of morality.  I had just finished pontificating about the moral argument for God and the objective nature of morality as evidence for God and decided to throw a jab in at then current, new atheist author Sam Harris.  I stated, “and this is why the new atheist known as Sam Harris is so off-base with his current book.  In The Moral Landscape he simply states that the highest morality is clearly whatever promotes the best for humanity, but he doesn’t give any reason why that should be the highest moral value.”  Now, for the sake of transparency, I said this because I wanted my audience to trust in my abilities and my knowledge.  I wanted them to think, “Wow, this guy even reads atheists.  He must know what he’s talking about.”

But then the unexpected happened.  A person in the audience asked a question.  “Mr. Bates,” they said, “How did Sam Harris defend his position in the book?  What was his reasoning?”  This was a problem for me, because I hadn’t actually read the book!  My only knowledge of Mr. Harris’ work at that point had been to read another apologist’s review of the book.  I froze.  I had no idea what reasoning was used.  There was no way to answer this question honestly!  I’m not proud of myself for this, but in order to save face, I fumbled my way through some generically condescending remark about Harris’ inability to really explain it.  I walked away from that experience with an important insight that I had never honestly thought about.  An insight that might seem common sense to some, but that I feel needs to be shared.  Simply put, the insight is this…

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