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As a man believes, so he will act.

SAM HARRIS, The End of Faith

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

There are sections of the Bible that I think are absolutely brilliant and poetically unrivaled, and there are sections of the Bible which are the sheerest barbarism, yet profess to prescribe a divinely mandated morality—where do I start? Books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Exodus and First and Second Kings and Second Samuel—half of the kings and prophets of Israel would be taken to The Hague and prosecuted for crimes against humanity if these events took place in our own time.

SAM HARRIS, debate with Rick Warren, April, 2007

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, Letter to a Christian Nation

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

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, Letter to a Christian Nation

I am terrified of what seems to me to be a bottleneck that civilization is passing through. On the one hand we have 21st-century disruptive technology proliferating, and on the other we have first-century superstition. A civilization is going to either pass through this bottleneck more or less intact or it won't. And perhaps that fear sounds grandiose, but civilizations end. On any number of occasions, some generation has witnessed the ruination of everything they and their ancestors had built. What especially terrifies me about religious thinking is the expectation on the part of many that civilization is bound to end based on prophecy and its ending is going to be glorious.

SAM HARRIS, debate with Rick Warren, April, 2007

A man's faith is just a subset of his beliefs about the world: beliefs about matters of ultimate concern that we, as a culture, have told him he need not justify in the present. It is time we recognized just how maladaptive this Balkanization of our discourse has become. All pretensions to theological knowledge should now be seen from the perspective of a man who was just beginning his day on the one hundredth floor of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, only to find his meandering thoughts--of family and friends, of errands run and unrun, of coffee in need of sweetener--inexplicably usurped by a choice of terrible starkness and simplicity: between being burned alive by jet fuel or leaping one thousand feet to the concrete below. In fact, we should take the perspective of thousands of such men, women, and children who were robbed of life, far sooner than they imagined possible, in absolute terror and confusion. 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, The End of Faith

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, Letter to a Christian Nation

An argument can be logically valid, but unsound in that it contains a false premise and, therefore, leads to a false conclusion (e.g., Scientists are smart; smart people do not make mistakes; therefore, scientists do not make mistakes).

SAM HARRIS, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

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 potentia.

SAM HARRIS, The End of Faith


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