Who is he?
Sam Harris is an American author, a podcast creator, and is know around the world for his criticisms of religion. He earned a Ph.D in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is interested in all sorts of ideas from things like religion, meditation, spirituality, ethics, morality, philosophy, to terrorism, AI (artificial intelligence), and politics.
Alongside Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris makes the fourth of the "Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse".
Waking Up Podcast
Sam has participated in many intense debates and great discussions, and seems to always maintain a relatively calm and eased manner. He has a meditation app, and lots of resources at wakingup.com and Waking Up podcast.
Sam Harris' Books
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
Sam Harris has an incredibly engaging book called The End of Faith. He starts it with an in depth story of a terrorist attack. The attention to detail that goes into it immediately grabs your attention. When thinking about religion you usually are not considering things like terrorist attacks, you're probably thinking about everyday church-goers. But Harris starts by focusing on an extremely serious event. Check it out and see for yourself.
Letter to a Christian Nation
Another one of his books, Letter to a Christian Nation, considers the ethics and morality of Christianity. It digs into the idea of a blood sacrifice, and why things like Christ's crucifixion doesn't seem to have any connection to a 'loving' god.
The Moral Landscape
Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue
Self described as a liberal, Sam Harris supports ideas like: increasing taxes for very wealthy people; same-sex marriage; the decriminalization of certain drugs.
However, many liberals attack Harris for his critical views on Islam. Harris has engaged in many religious debates and discussions (find some on our debates page), for example with Ben Affleck and Cenk Uygur, who have both criticized him.
He released a response regarding his controversial views on Islam. Part it of writes,
Is it really true that the sins for which I hold Islam accountable are "committed at least to an equal extent by many other groups, especially [my] own"? ... The freedom to poke fun at Mormonism is guaranteed [not by the First Amendment but] by the fact that Mormons do not dispatch assassins to silence their critics or summon murderous hordes in response to satire. ... Can any reader of this page imagine the staging of a similar play [to The Book of Mormon] about Islam in the United States, or anywhere else, in the year 2013? ... At this moment in history, there is only one religion that systematically stifles free expression with credible threats of violence. The truth is, we have already lost our First Amendment rights with respect to Islam—and because they brand any observation of this fact a symptom of Islamophobia, Muslim apologists like Greenwald are largely to blame.
Best Sam Harris Quotes
“We must not overlook the fact that a significant percentage of the world's Muslims believe that the men who brought down the World Trade Center are now seated at the right hand of God, amin 'rivers of purest water, and rivers of milk forever fresh; rivers of wine delectable to those that drink it, and rivers of clearest honey' (47:15). These men—who slit the throats of stewardesses and delivered young couples with their children to their deaths at five hundred miles per hour—are at present being 'attended by boys graced with eternal youth' in a 'kingdom blissful and glorious.'”
— The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (127)
“Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”
— The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
“If you think that it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Once again, we need look no further than the Jains: Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: 'Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.' Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible.”
— Letter to a Christian Nation
“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”
— Letter to a Christian Nation
Read one of our other articles about the September 11, 2001 attacks.