Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gert Korthof reviews Francis Collins

An interesting review of Francis Collins and a critique of Collins' Lewis-style moral argument. The witch-burning stuff is interesting. Lewis had argued that we don't believe that there are witches, but if we did think there were witches, and could prove who they were, they would have to be regarded as the worst of criminals, deserving the worst punishment that state could dish out. If we mean by "witches" not practicioners of some nature religion, but rather persons who used powers derived from Satan to do harm to others, I would have to agree. Of course we no longer practice methods of execution that inflict as much pain as burning, and I believe Lewis would agree that that is an improvement, but his and (I take it) Collins's point stands--that witches in the sense above defined would have to be treated as the worst criminals, assuming we had real ones on our hands and knew it.

3 comments:

JD Walters said...

I actually think that Lewis' version of the moral argument is a bit more sophisticated than many critics give him credit for, and there is even an inkling of a response to the challenge of sociobiology in "Mere Christianity", when Lewis insists on making a distinction between the gamut of instincts which are instilled in us by biological nature and the specific patterns of usage of those instincts which the Moral Law enjoins us to. Nevertheless Lewis was not a sociobiologist and neither is Collins apparently, and certainly a bit more engagement with the literature would have been nice. One good anthology is the recent "Evolution and ethics: human morality in religious and biological perspective" edited by Phil Clayton and Jeffrey Schloss. Some of the religious authors in that collection make essentially the same argument as Collins, but with a much more extensive engagement with the sociobiological literature.

Steven Carr said...

It would be a very short trial.

Prosecuting Counsel 'I put it to you that you do sorcery.'

Defense 'Objection. m'Lud. For all we know my client's sorcery could lead to a greater good'.

Judge 'Agreed. Who are we to judge whether such evils are gratuitious? Case dismissed.'

Ben Z said...

"Objection. m'Lud. For all we know my client's sorcery could lead to a greater good'."

Counter-objection: Your clients stated intent reflect his evil motives. Regardless of the possibility of a greater good, your client is being judged on his motives and the effects he is immediatly responsible for.