All posts tagged: Sam Harris

Sam Harris

Sam Harris is known for many things, from being one of the leading figures of the New Atheist movement to a controversial critic of Islam. he is also known for arguing that science can provide answers to questions regarding morality. For him, morality is within the domain of science. How is this possible, exactly? After all, science deals with facts, not values. Harris proposes that the term science is far more inclusive than we normally understand. There is no fundamental distinction, for instance, between a scientist working in a laboratory and a plumber identifying problems in a plumbing system. The distinction between them is merely conventional, because what really counts is that doing science means using reason and observation. As long as a given domain can be the subject of reasoned inquiry and observation, it belongs to the broader domain of science. Here is how Harris himself puts it in his essay responding to Ryan Born’s critique: “For practical reasons, it is often necessary to draw boundaries between academic disciplines, but physicists, chemists, biologists, and …

Skepticsociety Magazine Blog

The conflict between religion and science 1

Many, both theists and atheists, acknowledge the conflict between religion and science. This includes New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and also academic philosophers such as John Worall, who argue that one cannot be both purely scientifically minded and religious. Others disagree. Stephen Jay Gould, an agnostic, famously defended the NOMA thesis — that science and religion cannot be in conflict because they are about non-overlapping magesteria. His sentiments have been echoed by some academic philosophers, such as Del Ratzsch, who argues that the conflict between science and religion is greatly exaggerated. Most recently this thesis was reiterated by Alvin Plantinga in Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism. If there is a conflict, it is supposedly only about minor ideas that are usually found in small movements — like creationism, which is (they say) only popular in certain Christian fundamentalist segments of America. I disagree. Contrary to Gould, Ratzsch and Plantinga’s arguments, religion conflicts with science, especially regarding religious issues, doctrines, beliefs and thought processes of major significance. I will demonstrate why. For brevity, …

Skeptic Society Magazine Sam Harris and the Collapse of the Counter-Jihad Left

Sam Harris and the Collapse of the Counter-Jihad Left

A failure of nerve. A few years ago, atheist writer Sam Harris became one of the very few high-profile figures on the Left to break ranks with the Left’s general denial of the jihad threat and willingness to ignore or even excuse the most inhumane Sharia oppression. His calling Islam “the mother lode of bad ideas” on a famous appearance on Bill Maher’s show with Ben Affleck was only the most notorious of many criticisms he made of Islam and jihad, to the fury of many of those who had previously admired his work. Indeed, the reaction was furious from what his friend and coauthor Maajid Nawaz dubbed “the regressive Left”: Glenn Greenwald and others skewered Harris as an “Islamophobe,” and Reza Aslan, with his typical dishonesty, misrepresented statements Harris had made in order to portray him as a racist, genocidal maniac. Harris held out, but he was clearly stung by the tidal wave of negativity he received from people whom he had previously counted as friends and allies. He went out of his way …

Skeptic Society Magazine Thoughts on the “Muslim Ban” by Sam Harris

Thoughts on the “Muslim Ban” by Sam Harris

President Trump has had a busy first week in office, displaying the anarchic grandiosity, callousness, and ineptitude of which he seems uniquely capable. He is every inch what we knew him to be: a malignant Chauncey Gardiner. And now our…Many readers have asked me to comment on the president’s executive order suspending immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries. I believe I’ve stated my positions on the relevant topics fairly clearly. But perhaps a brief summary is in order.