- Sam Harris (author)
For other people named Sam Harris, see Sam Harris (disambiguation).
Harris pictured c. 2007
Born 1967 (age 43–44)
Occupation Author, CEO Nationality United States Alma mater Stanford University, UCLA Genres Non-fiction Subjects Religion, philosophy, neuroscience Notable work(s) The End of Faith
Letter to a Christian Nation
The Moral Landscape
Notable award(s) PEN/Martha Albrand Award Spouse(s) Annaka Harris
Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA (2009). He is a proponent of scientific skepticism and is the author of The End of Faith (2004), which won the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award, Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), a rejoinder to criticism of his first book, The Moral Landscape (2010), and Lying (2011).
He is a well-known contemporary critic of religion and a member of the New Atheism movement. Harris calls for separation of church and state, civil rights for the non-religious as well as freedom to criticize religion. Harris has also written numerous articles in Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsweek as well as in scientific journals such as Nature. He has written articles on Islam, Christianity, and religion in general.
In his 2010 book, The Moral Landscape, he posits that science can shed light on questions regarding moral values and facilitate human well-being. After the release of his books, he continued to give numerous talks at institutions such as University of Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Caltech, UCSD, Stanford University, Tufts University as well as TED, where he proposed an expansion of the scientific method and the possible implications of its contribution to human morality. Harris has also made an appearance in the 2005 film The God Who Wasn't There, as well as numerous television appearances for Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Worldview
- 3 The Moral Landscape
- 4 Criticism
- 5 Neuroscience
- 6 Writings and media appearances
- 7 Books
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Although always interested in religion, Harris grew up in a secular home with parents who rarely discussed God. Harris was married in 2004. His wife, Annaka Harris, is Co-Founder of Project Reason and an editor of scientific, nonfiction books.
Harris attended Stanford University as an English major, but dropped out of school. Harris has admitted experimenting with the drug ecstasy as a student and the powerful insights he felt it gave him into spirituality and psychology. Harris found himself interested in spiritual and philosophical questions when he was at Stanford and the notion that he might be able to achieve spiritual insights without the help of drugs. After leaving Stanford, he traveled to Asia, where he studied meditation with Hindu and Buddhist teachers. Eleven years later, he returned to Stanford and completed a B.A. degree in philosophy. In 2009 he earned a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience at University of California, Los Angeles, using functional magnetic resonance imaging to conduct research into the neural basis of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty.
Harris's basic message is that the time has come to freely question the idea of religious faith.p. 13–15 He feels that the survival of civilization is in danger because of a taboo against questioning religious beliefs. Harris specifically attacks Islam and Christianity, characterizing them as much more dangerous than, for example, Jainism. He also believes that a "conversational taboo" exists against criticizing religion, and that this taboo impedes progress toward more enlightened approaches to spirituality and ethics.
While often defined as an atheist, Harris asserts that the term is not necessary. His position is that "atheism" is not a worldview or a philosophy, but the "destruction of bad ideas." He states that religion is especially rife with bad ideas, calling it "one of the most perverse misuses of intelligence we have ever devised." He compares modern religious beliefs to the myths of the Ancient Greeks, which were once accepted as fact but which are obsolete today. In a January 2007 interview with PBS, Harris said, "We don't have a word for not believing in Zeus, which is to say we are all atheists in respect to Zeus. And we don't have a word for not being an astrologer." He goes on to say that the term will be retired only when "we all just achieve a level of intellectual honesty where we are no longer going to pretend to be certain about things we are not certain about."
He also rejects the claim that the Bible was inspired by an omniscient God. He insists that if that were the case, the book could "make specific, falsifiable predictions about human events." Instead, he notes, the Bible "does not contain a single sentence that could not have been written by a man or woman living in the first century."
In The End of Faith, Harris suggests that all beliefs, except those emanating from religious dogma, are based on evidence and experience. He maintains that religion allows views that would otherwise be a sign of "madness" to become accepted or, in some cases, revered as "holy," citing as an example the doctrine of transubstantiation. Harris contends that if a lone individual developed this belief, he or she would be considered "mad," and that 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."p. 72.
Religion as failed science
Harris postulates that religion is essentially a failed science. He states that "religion was the discourse we had when all causes in the universe were opaque" such that religion developed as a consequence of humans' "cognitive imperative" to seek explanations coupled with an earlier obliviousness to the natural order of the environment.
As a cognitive and behavioral imperative, we form descriptions of the world and we try to figure out what's going on. We tell ourselves stories about our origins, about where we are going and about causes in the world. Given our pervasive ignorance and our disposition to see agency in the world, these stories entail relationships with invisible friends and enemies.
Harris believes that religion is "losing the argument" with science, given the escalating popularity of science within the past hundred years on almost all fronts. As an example he states that, given our knowledge of epilepsy, most parents today do not send their epileptic children to exorcists. Harris also predicts that science will one day truly be capable of understanding spirituality and feelings of otherworldliness commonly associated with religion.
Harris suggests that he advocates a benign, noncoercive, corrective form of intolerance, distinguishing it from historic religious persecution. He promotes a conversational intolerance, in which personal convictions are scaled against evidence, and where intellectual honesty is demanded equally in religious views and non-religious views. He suggests that, just as a person declaring a belief that Elvis is still alive would immediately make his every statement suspect in the eyes of those he was conversing with, asserting a similarly non-evidentiary point on a religious doctrine ought to meet with similar disrespect. He also believes there is a need to counter inhibitions that prevent the open critique of religious ideas, beliefs, and practices under the auspices of "tolerance."
Harris maintains that such conversation and investigation are essential to progress in every other field of knowledge. As one example, he suggests that few would require "respect" for radically differing views on physics or history; instead, he notes, societies expect and demand logical reasons and valid evidence for such claims, while those who fail to provide valid support are quickly marginalized on those topics. Thus, Harris suggests that the routine deference accorded to religious ideologies constitutes a double standard, which, following the events of September 11, 2001 attacks, has become too great a risk.
In the 2007 PBS interview, Harris said, "The usefulness of religion, the fact that it gives life meaning, that it makes people feel good is not an argument for the truth of any religious doctrine. It's not an argument that it's reasonable to believe that Jesus really was born of a virgin or that the Bible is the perfect word of the creator of the universe. You can only believe those things or you should only be able to believe those things if you think there are good reasons to believe those things."
Harris focuses much of his critique on the state of contemporary religious affairs in the United States. Harris worries that many areas of American culture are harmed by beliefs that are driven by religious dogma. For instance, he cites polls showing that 44% of Americans believe it is either "certain" or "probable" that Jesus will return to Earth within the next fifty years, and suggests that the same percentage believe that creationism should be taught in public schools and that God has literally promised the land of Israel to the modern-day Jews. Harris has reportedly traveled with bodyguards due to fear that Christians and Muslims may try to kill him.
When then-President George W. Bush publicly invoked God in speeches regarding either domestic or foreign affairs, Harris questioned how people might react if the President were to mention Zeus or Apollo in a similar vein.
Islam and Muslims
Part of a series on Criticism of Islam Issues Antisemitism · Domestic violence · Eurabia · Islam · Muhammad · Quran People Anders Behring Breivik · Irshad Manji · Ayaan Hirsi Ali · Maryam Namazie · Tarek Fatah · Daniel Pipes · Ibn Warraq · Geert Wilders · Oriana Fallaci · Pamela Geller · Robert Spencer · Theo van Gogh · Afshin Ellian · Salman Rushdie · Turan Dursun · Wafa Sultan · Magdi Allam · Anwar Shaikh · Walid Shoebat · Taslima Nasrin · Mark A. Gabriel · Brigitte Gabriel · Pat Condell · Nonie Darwish · Mosab Hassan Yousef · Bruce Bawer · Bat Ye'or · Necla Kelek · Debbie Schlussel · Srđa Trifković · Pastor Terry Jones · Fjordman · Pim Fortuyn · Efraim Karsh · Ehsan Jami · David Wood · Martin Bosma
While Harris is "extremely critical of all religious faiths," he asserts that the doctrines of Islam are uniquely dangerous to civilization, stating that unlike Jainism, Islam "is not even remotely a religion of peace." Harris denounced New York mayor Bloomberg's and President Obama's support of allowing the Park51 Islamic center to be built. In an opinion piece to The Washington Post, Harris claims that allowing the Islamic center to be built would be seen as liberal "cowardice," arguing that "Islam simply is different from other faiths" and should be changed "for the better." In the same piece, Harris states that there is no legal basis for stopping the mosque from being built, nor should there be one.
Harris criticizes the general response in the West to terrorist atrocities such as the 9/11 attacks: to Harris the "war on 'terrorism'" is meaningless.p. 31, p. 28. Harris said in 2004:
It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam.
Harris claims that Western civilization is at war with Islam. Alleging that the Qur'an and the hadith incite Muslims to kill or subjugate infidels, and reward such actions with paradise (including 72 virgins), Harris believes Islam is a religion of violence and political subjugation. He asserts that the liberal argument of stating that the phenomenon of religious extremism is a consequence of fundamentalism in and of itself is false, and that many other religions such as Jainism have not experienced the same trends Islam and Christianity have. Harris considers jihad, which he calls "metaphysics of martyrdom", as taking the "sting out of death" and a source of peril. He rejects arguments that suggest such behavior is a result of extremist Muslims, not mainstream ones. He argues that the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy erupted not because the cartoons were derogatory but because "most Muslims believe that it is a sacrilege to depict Muhammad at all." Harris maintains that the West is at war with "precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran, and further elaborated in the literature of the hadith."pp. 109–110.
Harris acknowledges that religions other than Islam can inspire, and have inspired, atrocities. In The End of Faith, he discusses examples such as the Inquisition and witch hunts. However, Harris believes that Islam is the most evil.
Harris argues there is no such thing as Islamophobia, but criticizes "prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, purely because of the accident of their birth."
Harris has called upon Muslim communities to criticize their faith, and assist Western governments in incarcerating any religious extremists among them. He demands that Muslims "must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling" in the fight against terrorism.
Harris was raised by a secular Jewish mother and a Quaker father, but has never publicly stated how much his mother's ethnic background or father's religious affiliation have influenced his own identity and worldview. Writer and friend Christopher Hitchens once referred to Harris as a "Jewish warrior against theocracy and bigotry of all stripes", though it remains unclear whether Harris approves of such a comment.
In The End of Faith, Harris criticizes the Jewish faith and its followers:
"The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth. [...] the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day. [...] Jews, insofar as they are religious, believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God. As a consequence, they have spent the last two thousand years collaborating with those who see them as different by seeing themselves as irretrievably so. Judaism is as intrinsically divisive, as ridiculous in its literalism, and as at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity as any other religion. Jewish settlers, by exercising their "freedom of belief" on contested land, are now one of the principal obstacles to peace in the Middle East."
Harris defended Israeli government military actions in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:
"For instance, [liberals] ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the Israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so. Muslims routinely use human shields, and this accounts for much of the collateral damage we and the Israelis cause; the political discourse throughout much of the Muslim world, especially with respect to Jews, is explicitly and unabashedly genocidal. ... Given these distinctions, there is no question that the Israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah."
Sam Harris claims that "evidence for our religious doctrines is either terrible or nonexistent" and denies miracles as being logically or evidentially conceivable. When assessing the miracles of Jesus Christ in relation to contemporary miraculous allegations Harris states:
The truth is even if we had multiple contemporaneous eye witness accounts of the miracles of Jesus, this still would not provide sufficient basis to believe that these events actually occurred, or why not? Well the problem is that first hand reports of miracles are quite common, even in the 21st century.
Harris also stated that he has "met literally hundreds at this point, western educated men and women who think that their favorite Hindu or Buddhist guru has magic powers".
Though Harris accepts that replacing religious extremism with religious moderation would be a positive step, he criticizes moderate theists. Harris argues that religious moderation gives cover to religious fundamentalism. He suggests that under the banner of moderation, respect and tolerance are sacred, thus preventing credible assaults upon extremism. Harris states:
To speak plainly and truthfully about the state of our world—to say, for instance, that the Bible and the Koran both contain mountains of life-destroying gibberish—is antithetical to tolerance as moderates currently conceive it. But we can no longer afford the luxury of such political correctness. We must finally recognize the price we are paying to maintain the iconography of our ignorance.
Furthermore, Harris believes that it is absurd to continue to expect equal respect for all conflicting religious beliefs, as the claim to absolute truth is inherent in nearly all belief systems at some level. Any religion that claims that all other belief systems are false and heretical cannot foster genuine acceptance or tolerance of religious diversity. Harris concludes that religious moderation stands on weak intellectual ground, as well as a poor understanding of theological issues.
Harris also says that moderation is bad theology because the extremists are, in a sense, right: he thinks that, if one reads the texts literally, God wants to put homosexuals to death or destroy infidels. Harris claims that religious moderates appear to be blinded to the reality of what fundamentalists truly believe. Moderates tend to argue that suicide attacks can be attributed to a range of social, political, and economic factors. Harris counters by noting that many suicide bombers come not from poverty but from mainstream Muslim society. He points to the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were "college-educated" and "middle-class" and suffered "no discernible experience of political oppression." Harris thus asserts that religion is a significant cause of terrorism.
How many more architects and mechanical engineers must hit the wall at 400 miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that jihadist violence is not merely a matter of education, poverty, or politics? The truth, astonishingly enough, is that 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 72 virgins in Paradise. Western secularists, liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The cause of their confusion is simple: They don't know what it is like to really believe in God.
Harris discounts the idea that Jesus' teachings, and the New Testament in general, serve to moderate the more extreme laws set forth in the Old Testament. He points out that the Old Testament prescribes death as the punishment for—among other things—breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including heresy against Yahweh and the act of adultery. He asserts that Jesus and his followers never repudiated such teachings in the New Testament. In Letter to a Christian Nation, Harris cites several quotations in the New Testament attributed to Jesus himself that clearly do uphold adherence to the Old Testament prophets. Speaking at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 2005, Harris said, "I've got news for you—I've read the books. God is not a moderate.... There's no place in the books where God says, 'You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books."
Morality and ethics
In regard to morality, Harris considers the time long overdue to reclaim the concept for rational secular humanism. Harris describes the supposed link between religious faith and morality as a myth, unsupported by statistical evidence. He notes, for instance, that the highly secular Scandinavian countries are among the most generous in helping the developing world.
Harris goes further and posits that, far from being the source of our moral intuition, religion can yield highly problematic ethical positions. He cites several examples, including the Catholic prohibition against condom use aggravating the global AIDS epidemic, the attempts made by the American religious lobby to impede funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and the punitive nature of the American "war on drugs." He sees in these examples the tendency of religion to decouple moral judgments from focus on real human suffering. Harris also sees the influence of religion in most of America's "vice" laws. He writes that most of the laws outlawing pornography, sodomy, and prostitution are actually intended to combat "sin" rather than "crime."[page needed]
Harris suggests that morality and ethics can be studied, and improved, without "presupposing anything on insufficient evidence." He states that humans "decide what is good in the Good Books," rather than deriving our moral code from scriptures. He praises the Golden Rule as one moral teaching that is "great, wise and compassionate." He contrasts this with biblical edicts directing that acts such as premarital sex, disobedience of one's parents, and the worship of "other gods" should be punished by death. Harris states that we have evolved in our thinking such that we understand that the Golden Rule is worth following while some commandments in other sections of the Bible are not. He also points out that even the Golden Rule is not unique to any one religion and was taught by such figures as Confucius and the Buddha centuries before the New Testament was written.
More controversially, Harris has put forward an argument questioning the relative morality of collateral damage and judicial torture during war. He reasons that, if we accept collateral damage when bombs are used in warfare, we have no reason to reject the use of torture. Indeed, Harris argues that the former, involving the killing of innocent civilians, should be much more troubling to us than the torture of, for instance, a terrorist suspect. He claims that it is merely a function of our biological intuitions that suffering appears disproportionately unimportant when enacted impersonally. Harris notes that the deaths of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan were both foreseeable and inevitable consequences of bombing the countries. However, the civilian casualties were seen as unfortunate but not so unacceptable as to prevent the attacks. Any suffering caused by the torture of people such as Al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Osama bin Laden, Harris argues, should pale in comparison to the deaths and injuries of comparatively innocent citizens. In a response to the controversy caused by this argument, Harris stated, "[I]f you think it is ever justifiable to drop bombs in an attempt to kill a man like Osama bin Laden (and thereby risk killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children), you should think it may sometimes be justifiable to "water-board" a man like Osama bin Laden." Ultimately, Harris maintains that torture should remain illegal, and that comparing torture with collateral damage does not cause him to see torture as "acceptable." However, he believes that discussion is needed on the coherence of our beliefs regarding the two.[page needed]
More recently, Harris has argued in favor of a science of morality, as in his 2010 book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.
Harris wishes to incorporate spirituality in the domain of human reason. He draws inspiration from the practices of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation, as described principally by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners. By paying close attention to moment-to-moment conscious experience, Harris suggests, it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby uncover a new state of personal well-being. Moreover, Harris argues that such states of mind should be subjected to formal scientific investigation, without incorporating the myth and superstition that often accompanies meditation in the religious context. "There is clearly no greater obstacle to a truly empirical approach to spiritual experience than our current beliefs about God," he writes.p. 214.
Despite his anti-religious sentiments, Sam Harris also claims that there is "nothing irrational about seeking the states of mind that lie at the core of many religions. Compassion, awe, devotion and feelings of oneness are surely among the most valuable experiences a person can have."
In 2007 Sam and Annaka Harris founded Project Reason, a charitable foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobbying organization representing the interests of nontheistic Americans.
The Moral Landscape
In his third book, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, Harris argues that "Human well-being is not a random phenomenon. It depends on many factors—ranging from genetics and neurobiology to sociology and economics." He contends that humanity has reached a point in time when, due to scientific flourishing and inquiry, many sciences can "have an impact on the well-being of others". Harris argues that it is time to promote a scientific approach to normative morality, rejecting the idea that religion determines what is good. He believes that once scientists begin proposing moral norms in papers, supernatural moral systems will join "astrology, witchcraft and Greek mythology on the scrapheap".
Harris's arguments in The Moral Landscape were widely criticized by reviewers. Soon after the book's release, Harris responded to some of the criticisms in an article for The Huffington Post.
Harris has been criticized by some of his fellow contributors at The Huffington Post. In particular, R. J. Eskow has accused him of fostering an intolerance toward faith, potentially as damaging as the religious fanaticism that he opposes. Margaret Wertheim, herself an atheist, also weighed in, contending that liberals should view Harris's account of religious faith "with considerable skepticism." On the other hand, Harris has received backing from Nina Burleigh and Richard Dawkins. In May 2006, Harris came under sustained attack in a featured article by Meera Nanda for New Humanist, in which she claimed that his analysis of religious extremism was flawed, and suggested that he was criticizing religion "for what seems to be his real goal: a defense, nay, a celebration of Harris' own Dzogchen Buddhist and Advaita Vedantic Hindu spirituality." Nanda stated that Harris failed to apply the same critical analysis to the eastern traditions as he applied to western religions, and she argues that the detachment from the self in Dharmic spirituality is part of the recipe for authoritarianism.
Anthropologist Scott Atran has criticized Harris for using what Atran considers to be an unscientific approach towards highlighting the role of belief in the psychology of suicide bombers. In the 2006 conference Beyond Belief, Atran confronted Harris for portraying a "caricature of Islam." Atran later followed up his comments in an online discussion for Edge.org, in which he criticized Harris and others for using methods of combating religious dogmatism and faith that Atran believes are "scientifically baseless, psychologically uninformed, politically naïve, and counterproductive for goals we share." In The National Interest Atran later argued that contrary to Harris’s claims, in his book The Moral Landscape, that science can determine moral values. Atran adds that abolishing religion will do nothing to rid mankind of its ills.
In January 2007, Harris received criticism from John Gorenfeld, writing for AlterNet. Gorenfeld took Harris to task for defending some of the findings of paranormal investigations into areas such as reincarnation and xenoglossy. He also strongly criticized Harris for his defense of judicial torture. Gorenfeld's critique was subsequently reflected by Robert Todd Carroll, writing in the Skeptic's Dictionary. In response, Harris clarified his stance on his own website, denying that he had defended these views to the extent that Gorenfeld suggested. Shortly afterward, Harris engaged in a lengthy debate with Andrew Sullivan on the internet forum Beliefnet. In April 2007, Harris debated with the evangelical pastor Rick Warren for Newsweek magazine.
Madeleine Bunting quotes Harris in saying "some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them," and states "[t]his sounds like exactly the kind of argument put forward by those who ran the Inquisition." Quoting the same passage, theologian Catherine Keller asks, "[c]ould there be a more dangerous proposition than that?" and argues that the "anti-tolerance" it represents would "dismantle" the Jeffersonian wall between church and state. Writer Theodore Dalrymple described the passage as "quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist". Harris has said, in response, that the passage has been misconstrued. Specifically, he says that "Some critics have interpreted the second sentence of this passage to mean that I advocate simply killing religious people for their beliefs. . . . but such a reading remains a frank distortion of my views." Harris goes on to argue that beliefs are only dangerous to the extent that they can influence a person's behaviour, and to the extent that the behaviour is violent. He believes that pre-emptively attacking known dangerous fanatics (i.e. Osama Bin Laden) is justified. Harris also claims, however, that "Whenever we can capture and imprison jihadists, we should. But in most cases this is impossible."
Building on Harris's interests in belief and religion, he has completed a PhD in neuroscience at UCLA. He has used fMRI to explore whether the brain responses differ between sentences that subjects judged as true, false or undecidable, across a wide range of categories including autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual statements. Statements that were judged as "true" (belief) led to greater activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex than did statements that were judged as "false" (disbelief) both when examined across all categories, and when examined for mathematical judgments alone and for ethical judgments alone. Conversely, disbelief led to greater activation of left inferior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and bilateral anterior insular cortex.
When certainty (belief and disbelief) was compared against uncertainty, a widespread network of sub-cortical regions, including the head and tail of the caudate were activated. Uncertainty activated anterior cingulate cortex and superior frontal gyrus more than certainty did.
In another study, Harris and colleagues examined the neural basis of religious and non-religious belief using fMRI. Fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers were scanned as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions. For both groups, statements of belief (sentences judged as either true or false) were associated with increased activation of ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in emotional judgment, processing uncertainty, assessing rewards and thinking about oneself.
Writings and media appearances
Harris's writing focuses on neuroscience and criticism of religion, for which he is best known. He blogs for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and formerly for Truthdig, and his articles have appeared in such publications as Newsweek, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the British national newspaper The Times.
Harris has made numerous TV and radio appearances, including on The O'Reilly Factor, ABC News, Tucker, Book TV, NPR, Real Time, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show. In 2005, Harris appeared in the documentary film The God Who Wasn't There. Harris was a featured speaker at the 2006 conference Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival. He made two presentations and participated in the ensuing panel discussions. Harris has also appeared a number of times on the Point of Inquiry radio podcast.
In September of 2011 Harris' essay Lying was published as a Kindle single.
- The End of Faith (2004). ISBN 0-393-03515-8
- Letter to a Christian Nation (2006). ISBN 0-307-26577-3
- The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (2010). ISBN 978-1-4391-7121-9
- Lying (2011).
- ^ "About Sam Harris :: Sam Harris". 5 July 2010. http://www.samharris.org/site/about/. Retrieved 5 July 2010. "Mr. Harris is a Co–Founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. He began and eventually received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA."
- ^ Harris, Sam (May 7, 2010). "A Science of Morality". The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post Media Group. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/a-science-of-morality_b_567185.html. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- ^ PEN American Center, 2005. "The PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction."
- ^ a b http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/10/17/sam_harris_interview/
- ^ http://www.samharris.org/site/articles/
- ^ http://www.jewishtvnetwork.com/?bcpid=533363107&bctid=1329234778
- ^ http://www.synchronium.net/2009/03/22/sam-harris-religion-drugs/
- ^ http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1817047955646441009&hl=en
- ^ "MDMA Caution with Sam Harris". 28 June 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgUd0Xv5skk. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- ^ a b c http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/18/atheist-sam-harris-steps-into-the-light.html
- ^ Greenberg, Brad A. Making Belief UCLA Magazine. Published Apr 1, 2008, accessed October 28, 2009.
- ^ a b c Segal, David. "Atheist Evangelist", The Washington Post, October 26, 2006.
- ^ a b c d Melissa Healy Religion: The heart believes what it will, but the brain behaves the same either way. Los Angeles Times. Published September 30, 2009. Accessed October 17, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Harris, Sam (2004). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W.W. Norton & Company.
- ^ "The Problem with Atheism". Sam Harris at washingtonpost.com. September 28, 2007. http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/sam_harris/2007/10/the_problem_with_atheism.html. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
- ^ Sam Harris, 2005. "Interview: Sam Harris." PBS.org.
- ^ Sam Harris "Reply to a Christian." Council for Secular Humanism.
- ^ a b http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkTTCgECCoc
- ^ Sam Harris. Does God Exist? A debate between bestselling authors Rabbi David Wolpe and Sam Harris. Jewish Television Network. Event occurs at 1:00:00. http://www.jewishtvnetwork.com/?bcpid=533363107&bctid=1329234778. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- ^ a b Brian Flemming & Sam Harris, 2005. The God Who Wasn't There, extended interviews. Beyond Belief Media.
- ^ a b "The Politics of Ignorance." The Huffington Post.
- ^ Pew Research Center – Religion and Politics The Pew Research Center.
- ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (October 15, 2010). "Atheists and Humanists Meet in Los Angeles and Debate Future". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/16beliefs.html?_r=2.
- ^ a b c "Sam Harris: Bombing Our Illusions". 2005. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/bombing-our-illusions_b_8615.html. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- ^ a b Harris, Sam (August 13, 2010). "What Obama Got Wrong About the Mosque". The Daily Beast. The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/13/ground-zero-mosque.html. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- ^ "Major survey challenges Western perceptions of Islam". Agence France-Presse. 2008-02-27. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5i5ajtNJ0qTTRMBSFpYngMOjrmDbQ.
- ^ Sam Harris Who Are the Moderate Muslims? HuffingtonPost.com, February 16, 2006.
- ^ http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/martin-amis-is-no-racist/
- ^ http://www.rationalresponders.com/head_in_the_sand_liberals_by_sam_harris
- ^ a b http://fora.tv/2007/07/04/Clash_Between_Faith_and_Reason#fullprogram
- ^ Golson, Blair. "Sam Harris: the Truthdig Interview", Truthdig, April 3, 2006.
- ^ "Jewcy's Big Question: Why Are Atheists So Angry?". Sam Harris at The Huffington Post. November 29, 2006. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/jewcys-big-question-why_b_35180.html. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
- ^ See external links "Lecture at New York Society for Ethical Culture – November 16, 2005".
- ^ "Why Religion Must End." .org.
- ^ Sam Harris. "Response to Controversy".
- ^ Sam Harris, 2005. "In Defense of Torture." The Huffington Post.
- ^ Project Reason.
- ^ Secular Coalition for America Advisory Board Biography
- ^ http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/the-moral-landscape-q-a-with-sam-harris/
- ^ a b http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827822.100-morality-we-can-send-religion-to-the-scrapheap.html
- ^ T. Jollimore, Barnes & Noble Review, Oct. 22, 2010.
- ^ K.A. Appiah, "Science Knows Best", The New York Times, Oct. 1, 2010
- ^ M. Robinson, "What Unitarians Know (and Sam Harris Doesn't)", The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2, 2010
- ^ J. Horgan, "Be wary of the righteous rationalist: We should reject Sam Harris's claim that science can be a moral guidepost", Scientific American blog, Oct. 11, 2010.
- ^ D. Chopra, "Beyond belief: Sam Harris imagines a 'moral landscape'", SFGate.com, Oct. 18, 2010
- ^ P.Foster, "Sam Harris’s Brave New World", National Post, Oct. 9, 2010
- ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/a-response-to-critics_b_815742.html
- ^ RJ Eskow, 2005. "Blind Faith: Sam Harris Attacks Islam." The Huffington Post.
- ^ RJ Eskow, 2006. "Reject Arguments For Intolerance – Even From Atheists." The Huffington Post.
- ^ Margaret Wertheim, 2006. "The End of Faith?." The Huffington Post.
- ^ Nina Burleigh, 2005. "Forget About Christ, Get God out of Christmas First." The Huffington Post.
- ^ Dawkins, Richard. "Coming Out Against Religious Mania", The Huffington Post, August 4, 2005.
- ^ Meera Nanda, 2006. "Spirited away." New Humanist, volume 121 number 3.
- ^ The Reality Club, 2006. "An Edge Discussion of Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival." Edge.org.
- ^ Sam Harris's Guide to Nearly Everything. March/April 2011." everything-4893."
- ^ John Gorenfeld, 2007. "Sam Harris's Faith in Eastern Spirituality and Muslim Torture." AlterNet.
- ^ Robert Todd Carroll, 2007. "Sam Harris: A Man of Faith?." Skeptic's Dictionary, Newsletter 74.
- ^ Sam Harris, 2007. "Response to Controversy." Official website.
- ^ Sam Harris & Andrew Sullivan, 2007. "Is Religion 'Built Upon Lies'?." Beliefnet.
- ^ Sam Harris & Rick Warren, 2007. "The God Debate." Newsweek.
- ^ Madeleine Bunting, "The New Atheists loathe religion far too much to plausibly challenge it," The Guardian, May 7, 2007.
- ^ Catherine Keller, page 5, On the Mystery: Discerning Divinity in Process, Fortress Press (January 1, 2008), ISBN 978-0-8006-6276-9, 160 pages; italics in the original.
- ^ Theodore Dalrymple (7 October 2007). "What the New Atheists Don't See". City Journal. http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_4_oh_to_be.html. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
- ^ a b Sam Harris' Blog, "Response to Controversy", "Response to Controversy", Version 1.7 (July 27, 2008),  (accessed January 25, 2009).
- ^ Harris S, Sheth SA, Cohen MS. Functional neuroimaging of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty. Ann Neurol. 2008 Feb;63(2):141–147. pmid = 18072236.
- ^ Harris, S., Kaplan, J. T., Curiel, A., Bookheimer, S. Y., Iacoboni, M., Cohen, M. S. The neural correlates of religious and nonreligious belief. PLoS One. 2009 Oct 1;4(10):e0007272. pmid = 19794914.
- ^ "About Sam Harris", samharris.org.
- ^ "Coming in September". Sam Harris - The Blog. SamHarris.org. 15 August 2011. http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/coming-in-september/. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
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