What is your outlook?
Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction.
Mr. Harris' writing has been published in over ten languages. He and his work have been discussed in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, Scientific American, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His writing has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Nature, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.
Mr. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, where he studied the neural basis of belief with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). He is also a Co-Founder and CEO of Project Reason.
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
Too much attachment to myth worries Sam Harris.
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- One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
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