Sam Harris quotes

  • Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person's thoughts.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Loneliness #Thinking #Purpose

  • In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #People #Alchemist

  • Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or that specific software was coded by him. Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98. Could anything -- anything -- be more ridiculous? And yet, this would be no more ridiculous than the world we are living in.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Stars #War

  • 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?
    -- Sam Harris

    #Loss #Suffering #Family And Friends

  • We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Civilization #Religion

  • While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers. Anyone caught worshipping Poseidon, even at sea, will be thought insane.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Believe #Sea

  • The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not "cowards," as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith—perfect faith, as it turns out—and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Men #Media #Perfect

  • When the stakes are this high- when calling God by the right name can make the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, it is impossible to respect the beliefs of others who don't believe as you do.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Believe #Names

  • 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.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Talking #Religion

  • It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Believe #Giving

  • Everyone who has eyes to see can see that if the God of Abraham exists, He is an utter psychopath--and the God of Nature too. If you can't see these things just by looking, you have simply closed your eyes to the realities of our world.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Eye #Reality #Our World

  • We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #War #Two

  • 120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Beer #Years #Religion

  • If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide that proves they should value evidence. If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument would you invoke to prove they should value logic?
    -- Sam Harris

    #Logic #Argument #Should

  • It is taboo in our society to criticize a persons religious faith... these taboos are offensive, deeply unreasonable, but worse than that, they are getting people killed. This is really my concern. My concern is that our religions, the diversity of our religious doctrines, is going to get us killed. I'm worried that our religious discourse- our religious beliefs are ultimately incompatible with civilization.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Atheist #Civilization

  • Theology is ignorance with wings.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Ignorance #Wings

  • In the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Believe #Years #Two

  • The problem with religion, because it's been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Believe #People #Religion

  • Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Atheist #Ignorance

  • It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Rain #Believe

  • Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain -- from cosmology to psychology to economics -- has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture. Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Book #Our World #Self

  • We have Christians against Muslims against Jews, and no matter how liberal your theology, merely identifying yourself as a Christian or a Jew lends tacit validity to this status quo. People have morally identified with a subset of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Christian #People #Humanity

  • The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention—distinguished, as it is, both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence—is really too great a monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory. Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Ideas #Mind

  • I'm the Ted Bundy of string theory.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Ted Bundy #Strings #Theory

  • We know enough at this moment to say that the God of Abraham is not only unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Faith #Science #Men

  • Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Science #Men #Names

  • When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn't. Religion is one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Integrity #People #Intellectual

  • The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Christian #Thinking #Worry

  • We can either have a twenty-first-century conversation about morality and the human well-being - a conversation in which we avail ourselves of all scientific insights and philosophical arguments that have accumulated in the last two thousand years of human discourse - or we can confine ourselves to a first-century conversation as it is preserved in the Bible.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Philosophical #Years #Two

  • A kernel of truth lurks at the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior, and strong communities are essential for human happiness. And yet our religious traditions are intellectually defunct and politically ruinous. While spiritual experience is clearly a natural propensity of the human mind, we need not believe anything on insufficient evidence to actualize it.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Spiritual #Religious #Strong

  • What I'm asking you to entertain is that there is nothing we need to believe on insufficient evidence in order to have deeply ethical and spiritual lives.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Spiritual #Atheist #Believe

  • Religious moderation is the direct result of taking scripture less and less seriously. So why not take it less seriously still? Why not admit the the Bible is merely a collection of imperfect books written by highly fallible human beings.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Book #Scripture

  • I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Faith #People #Support

  • Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral - that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year. (25)
    -- Sam Harris

    #Christian #Fighting #Cells

  • Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence what so ever.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Christian #Cheating #Atheist

  • Human well-being is not a random phenomenon. It depends on many factors - ranging from genetics and neurobiology to sociology and economics. But, clearly, there are scientific truths to be known about how we can flourish in this world. Wherever we can have an impact on the well-being of others, questions of morality apply.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Impact #World #Morality

  • You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Storm #Lost

  • False encouragement is a kind of theft: it steals time, energy, and motivation a person could put toward some other purpose.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Encouragement #Motivation #Purpose

  • Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Philosophy #Views #Atheism

  • The problem of vindicating an omnipotent and omniscient God in the face of evil is insurmountable. Those who claim to have surmounted it, by recourse to notions of free will and other incoherencies, have merely heaped bad philosophy onto bad ethics.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Philosophy #Evil #Faces

  • Unlike statements of fact, which require no further work on our part, lies must be continually protected from collisions with reality.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Lying #Reality #Facts

  • It is difficult to think of anything more important than providing the best education possible for our children. They will develop the next technologies, medical cures, and global industries, while mitigating their unintended effects, or they will fail to do these things and consign us all to oblivion.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Children #Technology #Thinking

  • Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education.
    -- Sam Harris

    #School #Men #Our World

  • A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Long #Puppets #Strings

  • Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Atheist #People

  • Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Religious #Ignorance #Possibility

  • How can we be “free” as conscious agents if everything that we consciously intend is caused by events in our brain that we do not intend and of which we are entirely unaware? We can’t.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Brain #Agents #Events

  • You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Free Will

  • Almost all our suffering is the product of our thoughts. We spend nearly every moment of our lives lost in thought, and hostage to the character of those thoughts. You can break this spell, but it takes training just like it takes training to defend yourself against a physical assault.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Character #Training #Suffering

  • The problem I want to talk to you about tonight is the problem of belief. What does it mean to believe? We use this word all the time, and I think behind it lurk some really extraordinary taboos and confusions. What I want to argue tonight is that how we talk about belief- how we fail to criticize or criticize the beliefs of others, has more importance to us personally, more consequence to us personally and to civilization than perhaps anything else that is in our power to influence.
    -- Sam Harris

    #Atheist #Believe #Mean