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Sam Harris Quotes

Although many things can be said in criticism of religious faith, there is no discounting its power. Millions among us, even now, are quite willing to die for our unjustified beliefs, and millions more, it seems, are willing to kill for them.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
Faith enables many of us to endure life's difficulties with an equanimity that would be scarcely conceivable in a world lit only by reason.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
While each individual's search for happiness may not be compatible in every instance with our efforts to build a just society, we should not lose sight of the fact that societies do not suffer, people do.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Chapter 2: Good and Evil, 2010)
Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.
Sam Harris
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 (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
The problem with faith, is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason, why you do not have to give reasons, for what you believe.
Sam Harris
Jesus Christ - who, as it turns out, was born of a virgin, cheated death, and rose bodily into the heavens - can now be eaten in the form of a cracker.
Sam Harris
It is time we recognized that belief is not a private matter; it has never been merely private. In fact, beliefs are scarcely more private than actions are, for every belief is a fount of action in potential.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
That religion may have served some necessary function for us in the past does not preclude the possibility that it is now the greatest impediment to our building a global civilization.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
Spirituality can be, indeed and must be.. deeply rational.
Sam Harris
Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of the earth, more than half of our neighbors believe that the entire cosmos was created six thousand years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
While each of us is selfish, we are not merely so. Our own happiness requires that we extend the circle of our self-interest to others - to family, friends, and even to perfect strangers whose pleasures and pains matter to us.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Chapter 2: Good and Evil, 2010)
If you think that Christianity is the most direct and undefiled expression of love and compassion the world has ever seen, you do not know much about the world's other religions. Take the religion of Jainism as one example. The Jains preach a doctrine of utter non-violence. While the Jains believe many improbable things about the universe, they do not believe the sorts of things that lit the fires of the Inquisition. You probably think the Inquisition was a perversion of the "true" spirit of Christianity. Perhaps it was. The problem, however, is that the teachings of the Bible are so muddled and self-contradictory that it was possible for Christians to happily burn heretics alive for five long centuries. It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches. You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently - though isn't it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
Clearly, it must be possible to bring reason, spirituality, and ethics together in our thinking about the world. This would be the beginning of a rational approach to our deepest personal concerns. It would also be the end of faith..
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
Anyone who wants to understand the world should be open to new facts and new arguments, even on subjects where his or her views are very well established.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Introduction, 2010)
The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
The difference between science and religion is the difference between a willingness to dispassionately consider new evidence and new arguments, and a passionate unwillingness to do so.
Sam Harris
It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion - to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions and religious diversions of scarce resources - is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
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 (The End of Faith, 2004)
We have Christians against Muslims against Jews. They're making incompatible claims on real estate in the Middle East as though God were some kind of omniscient real estate broker parsing out parcels of land to his chosen flock. People are literally dying over ancient literature.
Sam Harris (Debate with Reza Aslan, 2007)
Many people imagine that the theory of evolution entails selfishness as a biological imperative. This popular misconception has been very harmful to the reputation of science. In truth, human cooperation and its attendant moral emotions are fully compatible with biological evolution.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Chapter 2: Good and Evil, 2010)
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 (The End of Faith, 2004)
Our minds do not merely conform to the logic of natural selection. In fact, anyone who wears eyeglasses or uses sunscreen has confessed his disinclination to live the life that his genes have made for him.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Introduction, 2010)
We will under no circumstances have a problem with Jain suicide bombers no matter how we mistreat the Jains, the Jain religion really is a religion of nonviolence and the more deranged you get as a Jain you become less and less violent.
Sam Harris (Beyond Belief Conference, 2006)
"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 (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
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. Every waking moment—and even in our dreams—we struggle to direct the flow of sensation, emotion, and cognition toward states of consciousness that we value.
Sam Harris (Drugs and the Meaning of Life - Article, 2011)
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.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
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 (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
Questions about values – about meaning, morality, and life’s larger purpose – are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. Values, therefore, translate into facts that can be scientifically understood: regarding positive and negative social emotions, retributive impulses, the effects of specific laws and social institutions on human relationships, the neurophysiology of happiness and suffering, etc.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape, 2010)
One of the great responsibilities we have as a society is to educate ourselves, along with the next generation, about which substances are worth ingesting, and for what purpose, and which are not. The problem, however, is that we refer to all biologically active compounds by a single term—“drugs”—and this makes it nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion about the psychological, medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding their use. The poverty of our language has been only slightly eased by the introduction of terms like “psychedelics” to differentiate certain visionary compounds, which can produce extraordinary states of ecstasy and insight, from “narcotics” and other classic agents of stupefaction and abuse.
Sam Harris (Drugs and the Meaning of Life - Article, 2011)
Nothing is more sacred than the facts.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds - and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.  Conscious minds and their states are natural phenomena, of course, fully constrained by the laws of Nature (whatever these turn out to be in the end).  Therefore, there must be right and wrong answers to questions of morality and values that potentially fall within the purview of science.  On this view, some people and cultures will be right (to a greater or lesser degree), and some will be wrong, with respect to what they deem important in life.
Sam Harris (Synopsis of the Moral Landscape)
There is clearly a sacred dimension to our existence, and coming to terms with it could well be the highest purpose of human life.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
A person who believes that Elvis is still alive is very unlikely to get promoted to a position of great power and responsibility in our society. Neither will a person who believes that the holocaust was a hoax. But people who believe equally irrational things about God and the bible are now running our country. This is genuinely terrifying.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
Words like 'God' and 'Allah' must go the way of 'Apollo' and 'Baal' or they will unmake our world.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
What would our world be like if we ceased to worry about "right" and "wrong," or "good" and "evil," and simply acted so as to maximize well-being, our own and that of others? Would we lose anything important?
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Chapter 2: Good and Evil, 2010)
The only angels we need invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devil's masterpiece.
Sam Harris
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 (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
While meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, they are reached far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying—and there are people who probably shouldn’t spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one’s own skin, and suffering less, rather than more there.
Sam Harris (Drugs and the Meaning of Life - Article, 2011)
Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they? Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom do not accept the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confident that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population. And yet, athiests are the most reviled minority in the United States.
Sam Harris (Letters to a Christian Nation, 2006)
We must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
Understanding ourselves and using this knowledge to improve human life, will be among the most important challenges to science in the decades to come.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape - Chapter 2: Good and Evil, 2010)
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
As a man believes, so he will act.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith, 2004)
Sam Harris Biography

Born: 1967

Sam Harris is an American writer, philosopher and neuroscientist. He is best known for his books and his criticism of organized religion. His most notable works are "The End of Faith" and "The Moral Landscape"

Notable Works
The End of Faith (2004)
Letters to a Christian Nation (2006)
Project Reason, a foundation (2007)
The Moral Landscape (2010)
Lying (2011)
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