Over the past three posts we have been offering a review and critique of Sam Harris’ book “The Moral Landscape”. Today’s post will draw this series to a close. We will first summarize and evaluate Sam Harris’ arguments. Then we will briefly offer an alternative to Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape, namely that because God exists, objective moral values and duties exist.
Summarizing and evaluating Sam Harris’ arguments in “The Moral Landscape”
We have seen the despite a couple valid points, Harris’ book doesn’t provide a basis for objective moral values and duties rooted in science apart from God. We have considered six main weaknesses in Sam Harris’ book:
1. Circular reasoning
2. The inability to escape moral relativism
3. Unreasonable Dismissal of God and religion as the proper grounding for objective morality.
4. Harris’ commits the fallacy of “false cause” by attributing societal progress to secularism and societal decline to religion.
5. Harris’ denial of “free-will”.
6. Harris’ mishandling of scripture and misrepresentation of Christian theism
I would encourage readers to go back through the last three posts to see in detail how the above conclusions were reached. Here is a link to the previous post, which includes within it links to the other posts in this series:
In as much as this reviewer applauds Harris’ opposition to moral relativism, the end result of “the moral landscape” is its own inability to escape the very idea it opposes. Additionally, Harris’ offers no reasonable grounds for his repeated dismissal of God being the proper ground for morality – only emotional assertions that no such grounding is reasonable.
An argument for God being the source of objective moral values and duties
It is only proper when criticizing a worldview to offer an alternative that is superior and reasonable. A reasonable argument for God being the grounding for objective moral values and duties has been proposed by Dr. William Lane Craig:
Premise#1 – If God doesn’t exist, objective moral values and duties don’t exist
Premise #2 – Objective moral values and duties exist
Therefore: God exists
Unless there is a Divine Law-giver, there can be no objective standards of right and wrong. The absence of any substantive interaction with Divine command ethics by Harris shows that his “moral landscape” is just another atheistic assertion against Christian theism. Hence, this reviewer finds Harris’ overall project unconvincing, incoherent and incomplete at best.
By the grace of God I was converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10 and called into the Gospel ministry by age 17. Through the Lord's grace I completed a Bachelors in Bible at Lancaster Bible College in 1996 and have been married to my beautiful wife since that same year. We have been blessed with four children, ranging from 7-18 years of age. In 2002 the Lord enabled me to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA. For nearly 25 years I have been preaching and teaching God's Word and have been studying the original languages since 1994. In 2016 God called my family and me to move to begin a pastorate at a wonderful Southern Baptist Congregation here in Northern New York.