In this highly anticipated, explosive new book, the author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation calls for an end to religion's monopoly on morality and human values. In The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values to dismantle the most common justification for religious faith -- that a moral system cannot be based on science.
The End of Faith ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In its aftermath, Harris discovered that most people, from secular scientists to religious fundamentalists, agree on one point: Science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Even among religious fundamentalists, the defense one most often hears for belief in God is not that there is compelling evidence that God exists, but that faith in Him provides the only guidance for living a good life. Controversies about human values are controversies about which science has officially had no opinion. Until now.
Morality, Harris argues, is actually an undeveloped branch of neuroscience, and answers to questions of human value can be visualized on a "moral landscape" -- a space of real and potential outcomes whose peaks and valleys correspond to human states of greater or lesser wellbeing. Different ways of thinking and behaving -- different cultural practices, ethical codes, modes of government, etc. -- translate into movements across this landscape. Such changes can be analyzed objectively on many levels, ranging from biochemistry to economics, but they have their crucial realization as experiences in the human brain.
Bringing a fresh, secular perspective to age-old questions of right and wrong, and good and evil, Harris shows that we know enough about the human brain and its relationship to events in the world to say that there are right and wrong answers to the most pressing questions of human life. Because such answers exist, cultural relativism is simply false -- and comes at increasing cost to humanity. And just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality. Using his expertise in philosophy and neuroscience, along with his experience on the front lines of our "culture wars," Sam Harris delivers a game-changing argument about the future of science and about the real basis of human cooperation.
Sam Harris is an American non-fiction author, and CEO of Project Reason. He received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, and is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University. He has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. He is a proponent of scientific skepticism and is the author of The End of Faith (2004), which won the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award, Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), a rejoinder to criticism of his first book, and The Moral Landscape (2010).
Author Sam Harris argues that Islam is not simply a peaceful religion that has been corrupted by extremists like Osama bin Laden. "The only problem with Islamic fundamentalism are the fundamentals of Islam," says Harris. "To call Islam a religion of peace ... is completely delusional."
Philosophical view that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances, or social situation. Rather than claiming that an action's rightness or wrongness can depend on the circumstances, or that people's beliefs about right and wrong are relative to their social conditioning, it claims (in one common form) that what is truly right depends solely on what the individual or the society thinks is right. Because what people think will vary with time and place, what is right will also vary. If, however, changing and even conflicting moral principles are equally valid, there is apparently no objective way of justifying any principle as valid for all people and all societies. This conclusion is rejected by consequentialists (seeconsequentialism) and deontologists (seedeontological ethics) alike.
@altareq, Thanks for giving us the perspective of a conspiracy theorist which is also a Muslim fundamentalist. Also illustrating what he mentions that some people do have mental illness, and without first accepting that evidence is necessary for knowledge any discussion is pointless. You can't convince someone through evidence that evidence is necessary. Religions always set up wars. Your own Quran spells out battles at the beginning of your very religion. The crusades were nothing but one religion attacking another. These refute your claim that religions have never set up wars. The very backwardness of your argument means nobody of any sanity will ever join your cause. My condolences. Thanks all the same for being a good example though.
I find it pathetical that the Speaker who I doubt his motives behind this lecture, is talking about Islam however, showing pictures of Bin Laden who is a CIA agent working for the economical benefits of the People who consider themselves wanting the World Order, the One government, who has successfully ruined Christianity and try to destroy Islam for decades. They are the people who are behind the scene the source of all Evil, Wars in all their scenes. Bin Laden is just an example of a guy who The US government( Illuminati Controlled) assigned a war against him and Islam. Did they find him? Or They really were hiding him? It is a matter of fact that 9.11 was a whole ACT of them, Bin Laden is just an Agent who will never be able to do anything except assigned to him. They showed him on the scene and they still want to convince the world that "He is a ideal Muslim".
Indeed, the speaker did not refer to Mohammed the Prophet p.b.u.h who is the ideal Muslim figure, who changed the world, and millions of people now follow him. Islam is the last religion of God and who ever does not believe in God can say anything about him. People like this speaker are absolutely misled or paid from the institutes who employed bin laden. Wake up people, who ever wants to talk about Islam, and God's religions should study the holy books and see the truth. Religions have never set up wars, but the people who believe in the NEW WORLD ORDER did.
Originally Posted by Mohamed ElKabbash
Please read this comment because Mr Sam has been ahistorical and provided personal opinions that has no basis what so ever:
4- so women in Islam ,just so i don't bore you with the status of women before Islam and how it was dramatically changed, just i am saying what prophet Mohamed said " women are the equivalent of men" and said that " whoever had two daughters and educates , disciplines and has mercy upon them he will enter heaven"
The dishonesty of your post has become apparent, not by what you have said, but what you have left out. Sorry to bore you with a dose of reality but I recommend turning to Bukhari 6:301 to shed a little light as to something that is being overlooked-
Mohammed said, " Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man? " They replied in the affirmative. He said, " This is the deficiency in her intelligence . Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
Originally Posted by Mohamed ElKabbash
6- The word infidel doesn't exist in Islam, it is a word coined by the Catholic church, and Muslims were the ones called by it. Infidel means not only non believer , it also means that this person is untrustworthy. The funny thing is that Muslims call Christians and Jews and any one with a code of morality, Themmy. Themmy means a trust worthy person. what is used in Islam is Kafir which means the one who covers the truth referring to a non Muslim, and it is prohibited on Muslims to call someone with that.
Of course the word infidel does not exist in Islam, its the English translation for the word Kafir because the context of its use is the same. In case anyone wants to research the word for themselves, here it is in arabic: كافر. I am fairly comfortable in Arabic and personally learned this particular word from talk in a mosque in North Africa, referring to non-Muslims - it is NOT a warm fuzzy by any means. Forms of this "prohibited" word are used in the Koran more than 400 times, and is used to demonize people of other beliefs.
Themmy, on the other hand, I have never heard in my life. It does not even search on Google. The closest thing I can think of would be the word Dhimmi which definitely does not mean a trustworthy person but is a term for non-muslims who have been conquered and subjugated. It means people who are allowed to live in a "less-than" status in return for paying tribute and giving authority to Islam, that they are barred from equal positions in the government and the military, and are required to live under limits to freedoms of speech and religion among many other things. Being called a "dhimmi" is not a compliment but is a word of discrimination and inequality for people of other religions. Non-muslims in Islamic countries have struggled for hundreds of years against such discrimination in the Islamic world and trying to candy-coat that is gruesome at best.
The majority of Arabs in America are non-muslims who escaped such ideology when they immigrated to the United States. They would be the people to ask if they appreciate being called a "dhimmi", one will likely discover that it has more to do with the reason that they left.
You are right - tons of scientific facts. Let me just give one good example.
Question: Does the Sun revolve around the earth? YES!
It is apparent from the Islamic evidences that they confirm that it is
the sun which revolves around the earth, and by its revolving the
alternation of night and day takes place on the surface of the earth.
It is not for us to exceed the apparent meaning of these evidences
without some evidence stronger than that, which permits us to explain
them differently from their apparent meaning. (Meaning we can t
Among the proofs that the sun revolves around the earth in a manner
which causes the alternation of the night and day are the following:
Allah, the Most High says, that when Ibrahim, peace be upon him,
disputed with the one who argued with him concerning his Lord:
Verily, Allah bring the sun from the east; then bring it you from the
west. Al-Baqarah 2:259
He also tells us that Ibrahim, peace be upon him said:
When he saw the sun rising up, he said: This is my lord. This is
greater. But when it set, he said: O my people! I am indeed free
from all that you join as partner (in worship with Allah). Al-An am
Allah the most High says:
And you might have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right
from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left.
Allah, the Most High says:
And He it is Who has created the night and the day, and the sun and
the moon, each in an orbit floating. Al-Anbiya 21:33
And Allah, the Most High says:
He brings the nigh as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly. Al-A raf 7:54
Allah the Most high says:
he has created the heavens and the earth with truth. He makes the
night to go in the day and makes the day to go in the night. And he
has subjected the sun and the moon. Each running (on a fixed course)
for an appointed term. Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the
Oft Forgiving. Az-Zumar 39:5
And His Words: "He makes the night to go in the day.
That is it turns around it, as a turban is wrapped around, which
proves the revolving of the night and the day around the eary. If it
were the earth which revolved around them, He would have said: He
cause the earth to revolve around the night and day. And in His Words:
the sun and the moon, each running (on a fixed course).
It is clear from what precedes is that it is a proof that the sun and
the moon move in a perceptible orbit, because subjecting something
which moves to its movement is more apparent than subjecting something
stationary which does not move.
Allah, the Most High says:
By the sun and its brightness. By the moon as it follows it (the
sun). Ash-Shams 91:1-2
And the meaning of follows it.
Is that it comes after it and this is a proof of their moving and
revolving around the earth, for if it were the earth which revolved
around them, the moon would not be following the sun; rather it would
sometimes be following it and sometimes it would be followed by it
because the sun is higher than it. And deduction from this Verse
requires study and reflection.
Allah the most High says: And the sun runs on its fixed course for a
term (appointed). That is the decree of the All-Mighty, the
All-Knowing. And the moon, We have measured for it mansions (to
traverse) till it returns like the old drid curved date statlk. It is
not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the
day. They all float, each in an orbit. Ya-Seen 36:38 -40
So, attributing the movement to the sun and describing it as a Decree
from the Almighty, Most Wise proves that it is a real movement with a
far-reaching Decree, since the consequence of it is the alternation of
the night and day and the seasons.
The Measures of the moon s mansion (i.e. stations) is a proof that it
traverses them, for if it was the earth which revolves, the measuring
of the mansions would be for the earth s movement around the moon and
not for the moon s movement around it.
And negating the sun s ability to overtake the moon, and the night s
ability to outstrip the day are evidence of the rushing movement on
the part of the sun and the moon, and the night and the day.
The Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alyhe wa Sallam) said to Abu Tharr, May
Allah be please with him, when the sun had just set:
Do you know where it goes?
He said, Allah and His Messenger know best. He said:
Verily, it goes (i.e. travels) and it prostrates beneath the Throne
and seeks permission to rise, and permission is granted to it. Then (a
time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its
prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on
its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered:
Return from whence you came, and so it will rise in the west.
[Reported in Al-Bukhari in the Book of the Beginning of Creation, in
the Chapter: Description of the Sun and Moon (3199) and by Muslim in
the Book of Faith, in the Chapter: Explanation of the Time When Faith
Will not be Accepted (150).]
So and it is extremely clear from his words: Return from whence you
came that it revolves around the earth and through its revolving the
sunrise and sunset occur.
It is clear from the many Ahadith which attribute rising, setting, and
declining from its zenith to the sun, that it is the sun which does so
and not the earth.
Hey, so back to the throwing acid on the child's face. If this is something that goes against the Koran, then Muslims doing it must be infidels or blasphemers. If you're an infidel or blasphemer, you gotta get whacked. Therefore, the Taliban should suicide bomb themselves so that they can get into heaven by killing infidels (themselves) to wipe out their sin of being an infidel.
If this is something that goes with the Koran, then you can't say it's a religion of peace.
Thats not the point he never says christianity is worse than islam he is merely pointing out the fact that the fundamentals of islam allow for such violence. He makes this point extremely clear when he brings in the comparison of jainism
To compare different cultural influences on moral judgment, like religion, to false math displays a profound lack of insight in the dynamics of morality.
What scientific principle would for example say a Jainist respect life to much? I guess there are numerous dimensions to moral judgment that can be given different weight. I would expect it to be possible to scientifically prove the futility of trying to find a correct moral scale.
@PandoraDK : I agree with a lot of what you say. And even though you think our paths might separate on respecting others' beliefs, our paths don't separate there. As a responsible and (I hope) honnest atheist, I recognize that my take on religion is a matter of belief (though my arguments for atheism are, I feel, more reasonably anchored in science and factual history than any religion). Having lived with a Buddhist woman for 7 years, I also have to mention that I have always respected her beliefs and always accepted in my discussions with my loved one that she may have past lives and future reincarnations while I claimed that, being an atheist, I only have 1 life. That is my somewhat crazy and funny way of respecting others' beliefs while requesting equivalent respect of my beliefs from them.
I do feel, however, that some religious groups refuse the secular (or maybe it's typically French) view that religion and politics should be separate. I already met Christian militants distributing leaflets against gay marriage and I believe the anti-gay stances are deeply rooted in religion (be it Christian, Jewish or Muslim). And even though I, myself, used to have a naive view of homosexuality as "unnatural", more study on the subject had me making up my mind on this issue and I feel that the religious positions are really not helping mankind evolving towards more happiness.
I don't think Harris sees religion as the root of all evil, but more as a root of some evil. And I agree on that: religion is a source of suffering, with no equivalent source of suffering in secular culture, while it can also be a source of joy(s), which could be studied so that its joyful effects could be reproduced within secular contexts.
Your final sentence is very true and I want to quote it:
the moral judgments differ among different people even within the same culture, with variations in both time and place.
I agree with it and yet I feel that it's inexact because the concept of "within the same culture" encompasses the culture of 1 country in 1 specific era and it's misleading... At any one time, the population of 1 country cannot be seen as 1 unit. Groups of faith, ethnicity, nationality, cultural heritage, moral values are not strictly identical and not strictly distinct. They overlap... somewhat... and somewhat not. Which brings me to the classical atheist view on morality, which I take as the only valid one, that every individual makes up his own set of moral values based on a host of different factors, and morality is actually a subjective and cultural choice rather than an absolute universal set defined in a book and attributed to a supernatural being, whose existence is unproven and unfalsifiable.
So, the atheist view (and Sam Harris' view) is that we have to build our values and morality on top of concepts that are universal, objective, or at least measurable, because measure is real and objective whereas belief is subjective and not trustworthy.