David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Sam Harris Considers a Creator

Question: Is there a possibility of a creator?

Sam Harris: Well there are many problems with this idea that . . .  I mean first of all, that’s an unfalsifiable thesis.  And there are infinite numbers of unfalsifiable theses that you’re not tempted to believe.  And we could believe that we’re in the matrix.  I mean you could go down that path.  And there’s a lot that could be asserted by people who are sure we’re in the matrix, and some alien civilization is simulating us on their hard drive.  One problem is that we have many holy books authored by the creator of the universe and they’re in conflict.  You know, they’re not . . .  The New Testament makes it perfectly clear that Jesus is the Son of God – really the Son of God – and you have to believe this.  Otherwise you’re gonna spend eternity in hell.  The Koran says twice that Jesus was not the Son of God.  And anyone who believes he’s the Son of God will spend eternity in hell.  I mean this leaves as much room or compromise as a coin toss.  So let’s say we just knew that one of those claims was right.  You know, we have a universe . . . Now we’ve eliminated all the other possibilities.  We’re living in this challenging universe where God has given us a highly imperfect book and asked us to grapple with it.  But now we have the biblical claim – the New Testament claim to the divinity of Jesus – the necessity of believing in that.  And the Koranic claim that belief in Jesus’ identity leads to damnation.  Now which is more likely?  That one of those is right and the other is wrong?  Or that we have these competing tribes that were toiling in the context of just abysmal ignorance about the world, and the birth of the cosmos, and the destiny of any individual soul after death.  You know I would put my lot in with a wider view of the circumstance.  But even if we granted your premise that, “No, no.  There’s a good reason to believe that one of these books is perfect,” we’re still with a coin toss situation.  We don’t know whether to be a Christian or a Muslim.  And we’re noticing that people are . . . are choosing basically on the basis of accidents of birth.  I mean you’re just accidentally born in Afghanistan and you choose to be a Muslim.  And likewise with Christianity elsewhere.  It is a . . . it’s a very strange sort of loving God who would have created these circumstances.  By mere accident of birth, you are raised to believe that a certain book was . . .  And let’s say rightly raised to believe that this book was the perfect book.  But if you happen to be born in China, you know, you go for centuries without hearing about this.  It’s a strange . . . a . . . for I think obvious reasons, a totally provincial and implausible scenario.  And yet it’s the scenario that most people believe in the 21st century.

Recorded on: Jul 4 2007 

Sam Harris refutes the notion of an intelligent creator.

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Self-driving cars to race for $1.5 million at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ​

So far, 30 student teams have entered the Indy Autonomous Challenge, scheduled for October 2021.

Indy Autonomous Challenge
Technology & Innovation
  • The Indy Autonomous Challenge will task student teams with developing self-driving software for race cars.
  • The competition requires cars to complete 20 laps within 25 minutes, meaning cars would need to average about 110 mph.
  • The organizers say they hope to advance the field of driverless cars and "inspire the next generation of STEM talent."
Keep reading Show less

The dangers of the chemical imbalance theory of depression

A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.

Image: solarseven / Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A study at Harvard's McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
  • Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system."
  • Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
Keep reading Show less

NASA's idea for making food from thin air just became a reality — it could feed billions

Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.

Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
  • Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
  • The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Keep reading Show less

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Keep reading Show less