Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sam's Greatest Hits

Sam Harris is an author,neuroscientist,and co-founder and CEO of Project Reason. He has a Bachelor of Arts of philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He is a proponent of scientific skepticism and is the author of "The End of Faith"(2004),"Letter to a Christian Nation"(2006),"The Moral Landscape"(2010),and"Lying" (2011). He has written numerous articles concerning the criticism of religion for the Huffington Post,Los Angeles Times,The Washington Post,The New York Times,Newsweek,as well as scientific journals such as Nature.

Many of the blog posts that I have written are concerning my disbelief in the supernatural. More so the disbelief in religions and gods. I will admit that most of the ideas are not original or new to anyone but by all means I have made every effort to reference and quote when necessary. I have also added my personal experiences into my blogs as well as my on ideas. Sam Harris is by far my favorite influence and I love to quote him as much as possible. He,among many other free thinkers have really shifted my way of thinking in the last several years and I wanted to give an collage of quotes this week to highlight some of my favorite Sam Harris quotations. Some of which may have been used to previous blog entries but is worth re-reading. I have yet to hear a more rational,reasonable,articulate,well-mannered voice in the world of atheism. If you have the time he is well worth a youtube adventure.
Ladies and gentlemen.....Dr Sam Harris:

"All of our scriptures were written by people who, by virtue of their placement in history had less access to scientific knowledge and to what is now basic common sense than any person in this room. In fact, there's not a person in this room,who's ever MET a person,who's world view is as narrow as the world view of Abraham,Moses,Jesus or Muhammad. These people knew to nothing of the facts that are now reverent to us in the 21st century. They knew nothing about the origins of life,the relationship between the mind and brain.They didn't know that mental illness was even a category of human suffering. They knew nothing about DNA,or viruses,or computation,or electricity.None of this is in scripture.They had no idea why people got sick and died.Unless you saw someone stabbed with a had no idea why they died."

"Our situation is this:most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the Universe has written a book.We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand,each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility."----The End of Faith

"Science is not in principle committed to the idea that there is no afterlife or the mind is identical to the brain. Or that materialism is true. Science is completely open to whatever in fact is true. And if its true that conscienceness is being run like software on the brain and by virtue of ectoplasum or something else we don't understand can be disociated from the brain at death. That would be part of our growing scientific understanding of the world if we could discover it.There are ways we could in fact discover that if it were true.,the problem is there are very good reasons to think that it is not true. And we know this now from now 150 years of neurology where you damage areas of the brain,and faculties are lost and its not that everyone with brain damage has their soul perfectly intact...they just can't get the words out. Everything about your mind can be damaged by damaging the brain. You can cease to recognize faces,you can cease to know the names of animals but you still know the names of tools.The fragmentation in the way in which our mind is parcellated  at the level of the brain is not at all intuitive and there is a lot known about it,but what we are being asked to consider is: You damage one part of the brain and the mind and subjectivity is lost,you damage another and yet more is lost...and yet if you damage the whole thing at death! We can rise off the brain...with all our faculties intact recognizing grandma and speaking English!"---debating the afterlife

"Religion as we speak of it. Islam, Christianity,Judaism is based on the claim that God dictates certain books.  He doesn't code software,He doesn't produce films,He doesn't score symphonies...He is an author. And this claim has achieved credibility because these books are deemed so profound they could not have possibly been written by human authors. Please consider for a moment how differently we treat scientific claims,texts and discoveries."

"Consider: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian. And yet you do not find their reasons compelling.The Koran repeatedly declares that it is the perfect word of the creator of the universe. Muslims believe this as fully as you believe the Bible's account of itself.There is a vast literature describing the life of Muhammad that,from the point of view of Islam,proves that he was the most recent Prophet of God. Muhammad also assured his followers that Jesus was NOT divine. (Koran 5:71-75;19:30-38) and that anyone who believes otherwise will spend eternity in Hell.Muslims are certain that Muhammad's opinion on this subject,as on all others,is infallible.
 Why don't you lose any sleep over whether to convert to Islam?Can you prove that Allah is not the one,true God? Can you prove that the archangel Gabriel did not visit Muhammad in his cave? Of course not.But you need not prove any of these things to reject the beliefs of Muslims as absurd. The burden is upon them to prove that their beliefs about God and Muhammad are valid. They have not done this.They can not do this. Muslims are simply not making claims about reality that can be corroborated. This is perfectly apparent to anyone who has not anesthetized himself with the dogma of Islam.
 The truth is,you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with the respect of the beliefs of Muslims. Isn't it obvious that Muslims are fooling themselves? Isn't it obvious that anyone who thinks that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe has not read the book critically? Isn't it obvious that the doctrine of Islam represents a near-perfect barrier to honest inquiry? Yes, these things are obvious. Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity.And it is the way I view all religions." ---Letter to a Christian Nation

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