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God Debate: Sam Harris vs. Rick Warren

Newsweek setup a sit-down debate between Sam Harris, outspoken atheist and author of Letter to a Christian Nation, and Rick Warren, evangelist and pastor at the Saddleback Church. As Bruce Godfrey pointed out, Harris can be quite a jerk sometimes, but there’s little of that in evidence here.


JON MEACHAM: Rick, since you’re the home team, we’ll start with Sam. Sam, is there a God in the sense that most Americans think of him?
SAM HARRIS: There’s no evidence for such a God, and it’s instructive to notice that we’re all atheists with 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?
RICK WARREN: I see the fingerprints of God everywhere. I see them in culture. I see them in law. I see them in literature. I see them in nature. I see them in my own life. Trying to understand where God came from is like an ant trying to understand the Internet. Even the most brilliant scientist would agree that we only know a fraction of a percent of the knowledge of the universe.

HARRIS: Any scientist must concede that we don’t fully understand the universe. But neither the Bible nor the Qur’an represents our best understanding of the universe. That is exquisitely clear.

WARREN: To you.

HARRIS: There is so much about us that is not in the Bible. Every specific science from cosmology to psychology to economics has surpassed and superseded what the Bible tells us is true about our world.

Read the whole thing and feel free to opine as to who won in the comments.


  1. It occurs to me that the existence of variety in this world makes polytheism more likely intuitively than monotheism, along the inductive argument, if actually an argument, proposed by Warren.

    If we think of beauty as the result of an artist, then the types of beauty reflect different styles of of different artists. So the hypothetical god who makes beautiful sunsets is different from the one that thought dog droppings or catfish were beautiful, etc.

    Harris comes off pretty well here. BTW if you would like to see an advocate of America as a Christian Nation (TM) in action, check out David Kyle’s The Candid Truth.

  2. Greetings. This comment has nothing to do with the above post (or does it?). I did not see a “contact” link (etc.), but I would like to extend an invitation to you (Mr. X) to contribute to Think Moderate at your leisure. Simply contact if you are at all interested.

  3. It’s flattering, Nick. Maybe you can be a rabble-rouser with a bunch of moderate thinkers. Fuck it…it worked with me.


    I’m not speaking to you for 1 whole week.

    Mull it over while listening to this.

  4. Publius,
    Thanks for the invite, but I’m not particularly moderate in my opinions.

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

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