Monday, August 24, 2009

Robert Wright seems to have come up with an idea to have the religious and the atheists agree that either of their positions could be correct providing the religious concede that X is a product of natural selection and the atheists concede that Y could be explained by God.

To illuminate this he strangely gives an example, that seems to me to have originated with Kant, that there are true statements of morality that exist independently of both divine sanction and contingent evolutionary pathways. I fail to see how any atheist is going to accept this "grand bargain" as it will either simply postpone the day of reckoning or it may require accepting that the nature of morality is "cognitively closed".

As Mr. Pinker once put it in conversation with me: “There may be a sense in which some moral statements aren’t just ... artifacts of a particular brain wiring but are part of the reality of the universe, even if you can’t touch them and weigh them.” Comparing these moral truths to mathematical truths, he said that perhaps “they’re really true independent of our existence. I mean, they’re out there and in some sense — it’s very difficult to grasp — but we discover them, we don’t hallucinate them.”

Robert Wright is clearly trying to be diplomatic but what purpose does it serve to simply humour both sides?

The New York Times

Tuesday, August 18, 2009