What inspires you?

Question:What motivates your work?

Sam Harris:  Well it seems to be a moral and intellectual necessity for me to call a spade a spade.  I mean, to argue against . . . ignorance.  I mean there’s a certain species of ignorance that we call religion, that we call faith, that is just given a free ride in our society.  And it’s not that it just thrives in a benign way.  You know, it’s not like astrology where millions of people are into it, but nothing really matters.  Nothing really turns on their astrological beliefs.  This is really . . .  I mean you could not get elected to high office in this country without pretending to believe that one of your books was authored by the creator of the universe.  That, it seems to me, is a problem.  And it’s a problem . . .  Even if we didn’t have to worry about the conflict that we have in the Muslim world, which is explicitly theological . . .  Even if our only problem was the role that religion is playing in our society; the way in which it’s blocking medical research; the way in which it’s causing us to debate things like gay marriage as if it’s the greatest moral issue of the time.  Meanwhile we have huge problems like global warming, and a variety of merging conflicts, and nuclear proliferation.  I mean we’re not spending . . .  We don’t spend the same kind of emotional energy on nuclear proliferation that we spend on abortion and gay marriage.  That is a . . .  It really is a psychotically strange subversion of our better interest.  I mean, you know, we have some real problems in this world that we could creatively solve.  And yet we’re debating things like gay marriage.  That is a legacy of faith . . . that is a legacy of Christian religion, in this case.  And so it’s something that I feel that public intellectuals really have to be moved to speak honestly about.

Recorded on: July 4 2007 

Fighting ignorance.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.