Sam Harris

Sam HarrisIn hmolscience, Sam Harris (1967-) (CR:24) is an American pro-atheism (see: Jewish atheism) writer, characterized as one of the most “rational voices on the center left” (Ѻ), noted for his 2004 The End of Faith, which he began writing the day after 9/11, the vehemence of which initiated the so-called “new atheism” movement (see: atheism timeline). [1]

In 2010, Harris published The Moral Landscape, wherein he attempted to expand on utilitarianism, to argue that morality should be based on seeking the greatest amount of happiness among the total number of sentient beings, or something along these lines. [2]

In atheism discussions, Harris is frequently cited as one of the main new atheists, along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett, and or four horsemen of atheism.

Difficulties on theory
The difficulty with Harris is that the brand of atheism he is trying sell is "spiritual atheism", and thereby aiming to supplant one metaphysical belief with another, i.e. to supplant belief in God with belief in spirit; Eastern spirituality in particular admixtured with some type of drug-induced states of being logic. Harris cited this as objection #4 of his The End of Faith detractors: [5]

“The End of Faith is not a truly atheistic book. It is really a stalking horse for Buddhism, new-age mysticism, or some other form of irrationality.”

A second salient difficulty with his theory is that his "moral landscape" theory, while amenable, is baseless, in regards to foundational structure.

Book | Recommendations
In 2006, Harris, at the end of his Letter to a Christian Nation, listed ten atheism-themed books he recommends:

1. The God Delusion (2006) | Richard Dawkins
2. Breaking the Spell (2006) | Daniel Dennett
3. Misquoting Jesus: The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why (2005) (Ѻ) | Bart Ehrman
4. Kingdom Coming: the Rise of Christian Nationalism (2006) | Michelle Goldberg
5. The End of Days (2000) | Gershom Gorenberg
6. Freethinkers: a History of American Secularism (2004) (Ѻ) | Susan Jacoby
7. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841) (Ѻ) | Charles Mackay
8. Why I Am Not a Christian (1927) | Bertrand Russell
9. God, the Devil, and Darwin (2004) (Ѻ) | Niall Shanks
10. Atheism: the Case Against God (1974) | George Smith

Harris, at, lists (Ѻ) books he recommends by category.

The following are employed and or relevant quotes:

“A belief is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything else in a person’s life. Are you a scientist? A liberal? A racist? These are merely species of belief in action. Your beliefs define your vision of the world; they dictate your behavior; they determine your emotional responses to other human beings.”
— Sam Harris (2004), The End of Faith (pg. 12)

“Questions of morality are questions about happiness and suffering. This is why you and I do not have moral obligations towards rocks. To the degree that our actions can affect the experience of other creatures positively or negatively, questions of morality apply.”
— Sam Harris (2006), Letter to a Christian Nation [6]

“Just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim Algebra, we will see that there is no such thing as Christian or Muslim morality.”
— Sam Harris (2010), The Moral Landscape (Ѻ)

Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says: ‘Well, that's not how I choose to think about water.?’ All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn't share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn't value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”
— Sam Harris (c.2010) (Ѻ) (compare: Francois Massieu)

“A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.”
— Sam Harris (2012), Free Will, a favorite "free will" quote of Jeff Tuhtan (Ѻ) [3]

Faith is the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.”
— Sam Harris (c.2012) [4]

1. (a) Harris, Sam. (2004). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (stalking horse, pg. 234). W.W. Norton & Co.
(b) Haught, John F. (2008). God and the New Atheism: a Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Westminster John Knox Press.
2. Harris, Sam. (2010). The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. Free Press.
3. Harris, Sam. (2012). Free Will (strings, pg. 20). Simon & Schuster.
4. Meis, Morgan. (2013). “The First New Atheist”, The Smart Set, May 8.
5. Harris, Sam. (2004). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (stalking horse, pg. 234). W.W. Norton & Co.
6. Harris, Sam. (2006). Letter to a Christian Nation (pg. 8). Alfred A. Knopf.

Further reading
● Harris, Annaka. (2013). I Wonder (Amz). Four Elephants Press.
● Harris, Sam. (2014). Waking Up: a Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Simon & Schuster.

External links
Sam Harris (author) – Wikipedia.
Harris, Sam – WorldCat Identities.

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