Why you need to be a Philosopher
by Carl Baydala
by Carl Baydala
This was an absolutely tremendous debate on religion, maybe the best that I have seen so far in fact. If you have read any of my previous posts on these pages then you will know that this is where I want to be in terms of intellectual awareness; watching and listening to these religious and philosophical debates.
The real beauty of this debate lies in the fact that there was no outright hostility between the combatants or debaters. And, the lack of hostility or animosity allowed the observer to learn from the interplay of opposing views. The debaters were of course on the opposite sides of the spectrum as concerns the existence of a god. Let us just say that both participants acted as gentlemen even though you may appreciate that both debaters were confirmed in their positions; they defended their positions well and were up to the challenge when anything that was controversial in nature was introduced; it was challenged professionally. It is not necessary to provide details of this fact because in watching the video this feature is readily identifiable. This is an important detail because I have watched many of these kinds of debates in the past. Personalities, politics, and prejudices easily emerge in these kinds of debates, but because of the education, and personalities of the debaters perhaps, the debate becomes highly educational and a challenge to the imagination.
You need to become a philosopher friends, and this debate here will help you get there. Intellectual education is one of the most valuable tools that you can own. You cannot go to a store and buy education. You have to earn the right to be educated, and you can only acquire education the old fashioned way, you have to earn it. And, this debate will help you get to where you want to be.
What is education? Well, how about an original response just to show you that I learned something from this video that I just watched? Would that do? In the simplest of terms education is gaining knowledge from information. With education comes the introduction of ideas. And, ideas are the catalyst that will get your mind racing. Ideas are the things that you frame arguments around; they become your facts and you ammunition in debate. Education should be new information for you, and hence, the tool that will provide a new idea and new way of looking at the world or some subject that is of interest to you. For me, in this video, I was particularly impressed with the rabbi. His professionalism garnered my attention. I am not calling him a winner necessarily, but his ways and means of going about defending Judaism and the idea of God allowed me to gain a new respect for the adherents of God. This is not to say that I accept their notion of, or even their idea of a God, but the rabbi lets you know that you need to be on your intellectual best in order to compete with his kind. Rationalism is the name of the game when you are dealing with the notion of a god and the existence of that god. Idea refinement is a great tool to have in your intellectual toolbox. Enough said of course.
The debate tonight was about religion and the existence of God. How do you do a successful debate about the existence of God? You are either the rabbi or you are the atheist. You have to defend your position. In this particular video and debate the rabbi took the position that scientific evidence and God were two separate things. Right out the gate the rabbi says: " science is powerful, but it's narrow. " " life is not a scientific question, but a philosophic and religious question. " ..." just like you can't explain what an idea is in scientific terms, it is intangible..." He states that some people now believe that since science has become so powerful that it has replaced religion. And, of course he is not buying that position. There was no reason to be scientific about the whole thing because God is just of a different sphere and he is not scientifically provable; it is not necessary to prove God. The atheist challenges this idea with his own argument suggesting that science is still developing and will even be able to understand the nature of ideas and emotions themselves. That is how powerful science is - and will be. In terms of assessing their positions, the rabbi is suggesting more religion is the answer to our problems and not less, while the atheist suggests that more science is the remedy needed to make life more meaningful and understandable. And, that is why this is such a strong debate, because of the kinds of ideas that were put on the table right at the beginning of the debate.
Sam Harris is the atheist in this debate. He doesn't really like to call himself an atheist though; he still maintains that he doesn't really know if God exists or not and holds the philosophical position that it is OK to be a non-believer and carry on a successful life. He even states that he is " open-minded " about life after death. I guess that makes him more of an agnostic then, rather than being a pure atheist. This debate really is about science versus philosophy. And, " intuitions " seem to be at the core of that debate says Mr. Harris. He says something about " contemplative and spiritual intuitions. " Simply put, both debaters use intuition to their advantage and to enhance their scientific and philosophical positions. If you can understand what these debaters mean by these terms and how they employ them, then you will be well on the way to having a great intellectual and idea-filled experience. And, these notions are introduced fairly early on into the debate, so you can keep these ideas in the back of your mind as you listen to and watch the video. Sam Harris carried himself very well in this debate and you could do no less than to admire his wittiness and body language performances. And, I would offer the same praise for the rabbi as well. They both knew how to use their personalities, their humor and their wit, when and where required.
This is a tremendous debate friends, and I encourage you to watch it. If you have never seen these kinds of debates before then just sit back and become EDUCATED in the ways and means of philosophy. That is what this debate does - it educates you; it provides you with arguments from both sides of a discussion about the existence of God. There is a constant stream of ideas to think about. I have to tell you what was going through my mind while I was watching and listening to this debate. In terms of modern day politics you cannot get away from the idea of Muslim terrorism. Politically of course the modern day rabbi would like to emphasize this type of terrorist threat. This Muslim terrorism idea popped up frequently in the debate. I listened to these ideas with a grain of salt however, because I do not believe in the Official Conspiracy Theory as regards 9/11 and the idea that 19 Muslims carried out the attack, but, that might not be here nor there because there are many other stimulating ideas in this video.
The rabbi's job is to defend Judaism. and he does this well. He is for religion and the idea that God exists. For him, religion is something that you are allowed to believe in. You are not scientifically obligated to prove the existence of God. Science will advance just as human civilization does. We will learn and we will adjust. But, beyond human comprehension and knowledge is the unknown. And, of course that is the domain of religion and mysticism. God lives beyond this world and is therefore not knowable. That doesn't mean that He does not exist, but it certainly allows for the continuation of something like religion and a God; a type of god that anyone can create in fact.
I have always tended to side with atheists or those prone to atheism because I am not convinced that God as we know Him in western society exists. but, that is not really the point is it, when we are dealing with philosophy, religion, and education, I mean? Friends, you can take any position you want regarding religion and the existence or non-existence of God. But, when you have education on your side then the whole thing becomes rather meaningless. Once you acquire an education you graduate yourself to the right to debate. Your tools are ideas and the power of persuasion based on knowledge. If you listen to the debate closely you will see what a powerful tool philosophy and education can be. You need to be a philosopher friends because once you do you will be able to enter the world of debate and hold your own - or even win those debates by virtue of the power of your arguments based on ideas. The rabbi is the individual that is under pressure to perform here and you can sense that from the beginning of the debate; secular society has made that so, and that is in spite of the fact that there are apparently more believers in God than non-believers. He ( the rabbi ) needs to construct a legitimate argument to compete with the atheist; he needs to defend his religious and God-believing stance. And, he does that fairly well. Like most God adherents he admits that you cannot prove the existence of God. Nobody can prove the existence or non-existence of God. So, that is hardly a position worth relying on if you want to win a debate about God. You need to take the next step and prove yourself as a worthy philosopher; you need new information and new ideas to support your position. You need to take a philosophical position in fact, and defend it with those ideas; ideas that the masses can understand, and hopefully, accept. That is the nature of this debate friends and it is one of the best. Wittiness and education abounds here in its entirety. There is no apparent animosity and that is what makes it a clean debate. Here is the debate again: