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Any Sam Harris fans? I've read Awakening and will be attending an event this week.

IMO he's one of the most rational and effective critics of religion.

I like the fact one of the Four Horsemen dislikes the term "atheist" too. πŸ™‚

Any suggestions on other philosophical books?

educatedredneck 7 May 13
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Letter to a Christian Nation is good to read. Written as an open letter to america in response to feedback he received over his first book The End of Faith.

Catch his debates on Youtube . He is so patient and an thoughtful in the way he responds.

I rate him up there with the greats like Hitchins.

@lotusflower He does. I love watching him debate people on youtube. He is always so calm.

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Best one yet from sam harris>>>>the end of faith

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My biggest problem with Harris is his insistence that morality has an empirical and scientific basis, but in all of his debates and lectures on the matter he provides zero science. Instead, he relies on a rather convoluted argument that doesn't appear to have any basis.

That isn't to say that his arguments against religion aren't good, because they certainly are, but I think it is important to understand that just because someone is a good thinker on one issue does not necessarily make him a good thinker on others.

I'm also not a fan of the way he consistently decries the violent passages of the Koran while studiously ignoring the violent passages of the Bible. His bias in this regard is clear, and I think possibly a little politically (or at least socially) motivated.

As to morality, I personally believe that it is entirely a social construction. Society decides, and tells us, and teaches its children what is "right" and what is "wrong", and then reinforces those conceptions through a system of positive and negative social reinforcement (praising "heroes" who do the right thing, and ostricizing or punishing those who do the "wrong" thing). This needs no religious or spiritual source of authority, nor does it need a scientific source of authority. Society itself is the source of authority for morality. And that being the case, it is important that we, as a society, do not inflict religously-based moral conceptions on those of us who are non-believers, but instead we should build our social morality systems (and out legal systems that rely on our understanding of right and wrong -- morality) in such a way that only that which has been effectively shown to be damaging to society itself ought to be regarded as "wrong" or made illegal. Unfortunately, our current society is a far cry from this position, and still has an outsized influence on our social and legal systems of reward and punishment.

I disagree with is Harris does condemn the violent parts of the Torah and the Bible, I'm pretty sure I can find a few youtube videos on that if you want? He does focus more on violence in Islam, I'm pretty sure that's because there are a lot more people alive today who take those parts of their unholy scriptures seriously v people who take the whole Bible literally. His first book and Letter to a Christian Nation definitely don't coddle Xtianity.

Also, I think his assertions on morality being scientific are a kinda squishy, but he doesn't claim great thinkers in one area are necassarily great thinkers in other areas or even moral.

I mostly agree morality is a social construct. Homosexuality was evil when societies were a decade from extinction so not wanting to help make babies was evil. Similarly in the Bible, the guy who pulled out was killed by god. I don't think socieites that were more secure evolved a similar attitude towards not procreating, they also didn't have a mandate to be fruitful and multiply.

Some things are universally "moral", like the golden rule or some protections for weaker people or groups. I think it's likely those standards evolved. A soceity where the strong totally dominate are going to have less innovation or even critical thinking bc weaker people who are smarter won't have the respect or energy to be creative. That's just my pet theory, I've never heard it and it hasn't been critiqued either.

Do you know Paul Kurtz?

@educatedredneck

I feel I should clarify a little bit...

Yes, Harris does condemn the violence in the Torah and the Bible, but he does so less frequently and less harshly than he condemns the violence of the Koran. Additionally, he is given to condemn Muslims and the Muslim faith based on the violence in the Koran, but while he condemns the violence in the Torah and the Bible, he doesn't condemn Christians or Jews on the basis of that violence. In point of fact, he has repeatedly argued that Muslims are violent because of the violence in the Koran while refusing to even address the fact that most Jews and Christians are not violent even despite the violence in the Torah and the Bible. He is not, as near as I can tell, an absolutist, but he is definitely biased.

Secondly, I didn't mean to suggest or imply that Harris himself has said or believes that a great thinker in one area is a great thinker in others. But rather, what I meant was that the fact that he makes great arguments against religion in general doesn't mean that his theories regarding morality are just as good. In my opinion they are considerably inferior.

All of that aside, I agree that at least some morality has been established more strongly as a result of evolution, but I think that evolution is a contributing factor, not a driving factor. And you aren't the only person to suggest the theory, but it certainly isn't widespread... yet.

No, I don't know Paul Kurtz. I mean, I know who he is and am marginally familiar with what he is known for, but I'm not personally familiar with any of his work or theories.

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Much less of a fan after he tangled with Chomsky.

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I read his 'End of Faith' and liked a lot of it, but he goes off-piste a bit at the en, getting a bit obsessed with mysticism and meditation. Also I disagree with his view that there should be no censorship of pornography and that watching it is a victimless crime. On religion and free thought, I think Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are better.

Hitch seems less thoughtful for me, but Dawkins is probably a better academic than Harris. I like meditation and do some Harris waking up stuff every few weeks

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C hitchens

I like all the Horsemen, but like Harris best bc he seems more factual IMO and I love meditating.

Hitch had a lot more humor and was better at debating though

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I think Sam is one of the best intellects on the planet.

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I read his book Waking Up a couple of years ago and reading chapter 4 began my interest in meditation. A little while later I listened to his podcast interview with Yuval Noah Harrari and that futhered my interest in meditation. Not long after, I contacted Transcendental Meditation (TM) and learned their method. Sorry to get off topic, but I have found meditating daily to be helpful in managing how I think. I continue to appreciate Sam Harris and listen to his Waking Up podcasts and other YouTubes. I read the FastRead book Summary of Sapiens: by Yuval Noah Harrari early last year and found it interesting how he explains humanity's ability to cooperate around certain stories has enabled us to become the dominate species we are today. Religious stories being one kind of story.

I got into Harris more than the other Horsemen bc he's so into meditation. Meditation is definitely an addiction for me

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Sam Harris' book, Waking Up is an improved, revised version of his first rational viewpoint.
I don't agree with everything, for instance I know from experience that there's reincarnation, but at least he's starting to think now.

Why not reincarnation?
Einstein showed us that all matter is a form of energy, so since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, we have always existed and will always exist in some energy form.

"For physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." -Einstein

Also, we are co-creators of our own universe..contributing to making our own reality;

β€œConsciousness is fundamental and matter is derived from consciousness." – Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics

I agree when Harris says there just needs to be proof on reincarnation, I'm willing to hear anything reasonable but so far haven't taken the time to research reincarnation yet.

I figure I'll be reincarnated or not regardless in my belief, unbelief and apathy...

@educatedredneck But there IS proof of reincarnation. I have stacks of books about reincarnation research done worldwide on children 2-6 who remember past lives. These memories typically fade at 6 years old.
Details the children remember are carefully verified, and cross-checked so there is no possibility they could have known.

Some children even speak in languages and behave in cultural manners not of their current families, even though the children are very young.
Many have birth marks that match the wound locations of the events of their last death.

These are the past life research books I currently have on Kindle:

True Real Life Stories of Reincarnation: Amazing Past Life Memories, Richard Bullivant,

The Laughing Cherub Guide to Past Life Regression: A Handbook for Real People, by Mary Elizabeth Raines

Reincarnation: Exceptional Cases of Past Life Memories, by Eirik Leivsson

Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation, revised edition, by Ian Stevenson, M.D.

12 Real Life Reincarnation Stories : Global Evidence of Reincarnation and Past Lives, edited by Richard Bullivant

@birdingnut I'm not making a claim there is or is not proof for reincarnation. My only claim on reincarnation is that I've never taken the time to look into it.

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I'm a Harris fan, too. I also like Dawkins. His book, The Selfish Gene has had a strong influence on my world view.

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I have heard many of his debates and lectures on You Tube. He is a Brave critic of Islam and other less totalitarian but equally flawed religions of every stripe.

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Sam harris stokes small minded muslim hate

Harris gives specific stats on some countries and freely acknowledges the vast majority of Muslims aren't radicalized.

Idiots will misintrepret anything to reinforce their idiocy. We can't be responsible for what stupid people do.

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