I don’t think I should be too severe in these reviews of Sam Harris’ most recent book. When one of the country’s leading atheists, the author of The End of Faith, trumpets the end of atheism, this is actually something that Christians should welcome and celebrate. Right? The fact that he doesn’t (as of yet) know that he has done this thing is a bagatelle, a trifle. The logic is going to catch up with him soon enough.
“But from a deeper perspective (speaking both objectively and subjectively), thoughts simply arise unauthored and yet author our actions” (p. 32).
“Human choice, therefore, is as important as fanciers of free will believe. But the next choice you make will come out of the darkness of prior causes that you, the conscious witness of your experience, did not bring into being” (p. 34).
“I do not choose to choose what I choose. There is a regress here that always ends in darkness. I must take a first step, or a last one, for reasons that are bound to remain inscrutable” (p. 39).
And so it is that atheism as a world and life view lies in shambles. The whole substructure of his argument has gone galley-west. Got it? Our thoughts (including the atheistic ones) arise unauthored. Where did Sam Harris’ choice to become an atheist come from? It came “out of the darkness,” no accounting for it. So stop trying to account for it already! Harris is an atheist for the same reasons that I am a Christian — the cosmos of antecedent and very dark causes is making us.
Please note the precise nature of what I am saying. Harris is making sure that we know that if there is in fact no God, then of necessity it follows that there can be no atheists. An atheist, in case you are just joining us, is someone who affirms that there is no God because there isn’t one, and not a person dealing with atheistical brain farts for no other reason than that they came to him out of the darkness of antecedent and inscrutable causes. Perfectly ingenious, and I follow his reasoning (if you can call it that, which you can’t, but work with me here) exactly. I look forward to the time when Harris follows his reasoning too.
Harris tries to evade the inexorable force of these implications by saying that our choices are not free, but are still an important link in the causal chain leading up to our actions.
“And the fact that our choices depend on prior causes does not mean that they don’t matter. If I had not decided to write this book, it wouldn’t have written itself. My choice to write it was unquestionably the primary cause of its coming into being” (p. 34).
Nice try! But I really have to differ. The next to last rock in the avalanche is not the primary cause of the avalanche. On Harris’ argument (if you can call it that, etc.), our choices are merely the penultimate event right before the action taken, but this is nowhere close to being “primary,” in any sense of that word.
“I am king of the WOOOORRRRLLLLDDD . . .”
“And why is that? Who are you? What is your name?”
“I am the next to last domino. My role here is key. My name is Percival.”
“Percival? Why Percival?”
“No idea. Just came out of the darkness. Like everything else.”