What is your outlook?

Neuroscientist, Philosopher, and Author
Too much attachment to myth worries Sam Harris.
  • Transcript


Question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the way the world is headed?

Sam Harris:  Well I can’t say that I’m an optimist.  I see that this … Our emotional attachment to these myths is so well subscribed and so deep.  And the belief …  Even people who are not religious believe that everyone else needs to be religious.  It’s like, “I don’t need it” – it’s the ultimate condescending attitude – “but everyone else does.”  This is a myth that is also widely subscribed even among atheists.  So the inertia in the system around really just having an honest conversation about what it’s reasonable to believe, and what religion is doing in the world is profound.  So I’m certainly not optimistic, but I don’t know what else to do.  And I see how … how tissue-thin these beliefs actually are.  I mean it would be so easy to just unburden ourselves of all of this mythology.  It would be an accomplishment of a single generation if we just taught our children reasonably about the Bible’s place in literature.  You know the Bible is not science, and it’s not particularly good philosophy; but it is literature.  Let’s read the Bible, and then let’s read all these other books about dead gods like … “Metamorphoses.”  If we taught the Bible and the Koran in that way, in a single generation, the God of Abraham would take his place alongside Zeus, and Poseidon, and Apollo and the other dead gods, and none of this would be a problem.  But that … Is that likely to happen?  I think not.

Recorded on: Jul 4 2007