If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide that proves they should value evidence. If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument would you invoke to prove they should value logic?

— Sam Harris

The most special Sam Harris quotes you will be delighted to read

Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn't care to, or he doesn't exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.

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A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.

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We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.

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The moral truth here is obvious: anyone who feels that the interests of a blastocyst just might supersede the interests of a child with a spinal cord injury has had his moral sense blinded by religious metaphysics.

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The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn't, we will kill you.

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The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were certainly not "cowards," as they were repeatedly described in the Western media, nor were they lunatics in any ordinary sense. They were men of faith—perfect faith, as it turns out—and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.

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When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn't. Religion is one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies.

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It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.

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We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.

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People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power.

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Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being. Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept.

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What we do in every other area of our lives (other than religion), is, rather than respect somebody's beliefs, we evaluate their reasons.

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About Sam Harris

Quotes 187 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday October 16

The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.

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Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others.

It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.

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When the stakes are this high- when calling God by the right name can make the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, it is impossible to respect the beliefs of others who don't believe as you do.

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Unlike statements of fact, which require no further work on our part, lies must be continually protected from collisions with reality.

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In the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise.

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About 120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. If our polls are to be trusted, nearly 230 million Americans believe that a book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency was authored by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent deity.

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One of the worst things about breaking the law is that it puts one at odds with an indeterminate number of other people. This is among the many corrosive effects of having unjust laws: They tempt peaceful and (otherwise) honest people to lie so as to avoid being punished for behavior that is ethically blameless.

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Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education.

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George Bush says he speaks to god every day, & Christians love him for it.

If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.

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It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window.

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The core of science is not a mathematical modeling--it is intellectual honesty.

It is a willingness to have our certainties about the world constrained by good evidence and good argument.

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Religious faith obscures uncertainty where uncertainty .

. . exists, allowing the unknown, the implausible, and the . . . false to achieve primacy over the facts.

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Unfortunately, failure enjoys a natural advantage.

Wrong answers to any problem outnumber right ones by a wide margin, and it seems that it will always be easier to break things than to fix them.

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Although many things can be said in criticism of religious faith, there is no discounting its power. Millions among us, even now, are quite willing to die for our unjustified beliefs, and millions more, it seems, are willing to kill for them.

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We are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal.

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We do not respect people's beliefs, we evaluate their reasons.

If my reasons are good enough for believing what I believe, you will helplessly believe what I believe. I will give you my reasons and reasons are contagious. That is what it is to be a rational human being.

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The science of morality is about maximizing psychological and social health.

It's really no more inflammatory than that.

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The habit of spending nearly every waking moment lost in thought leaves us at the mercy of whatever our thoughts happen to be. Meditation is a way of breaking this spell.

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Theology is ignorance with wings.

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We are all prisoners of our thoughts.

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[I]t is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions.

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You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books.

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False encouragement is a kind of theft: it steals time, energy, and motivation a person could put toward some other purpose.

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What I'm asking you to entertain is that there is nothing we need to believe on insufficient evidence in order to have deeply ethical and spiritual lives.

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We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.

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Values reduce to facts about the well-being of conscious creatures.

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Faith enables many of us to endure life's difficulties with an equanimity that would be scarcely conceivable in a world lit only by reason.

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The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.

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I'm the Ted Bundy of string theory.

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Reason is nothing less than the guardian of love

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What are the chances that we will one day discover that DNA has absolutely nothing to do with inheritance? They are effectively zero.

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The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming.

Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences, neither logically nor behaviorally.

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The most transformative experiences people have - bliss, devotion, self transcendence - are currently anchored to the worst parts of culture and to ways of thinking that merely amplify superstition, self-deception, and conflict.

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Recently , crowds of thousands gathered throughout the Muslim world - burning European embassies, issuing threats, taking hostages, even killing people - in protest over twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in a Danish newspaper. When was the last atheist riot?

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The truth that we must finally confront is that Islam contains specific notions of martyrdom and jihad that fully explain the character of Muslim violence.

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Let me assure you that my intent is not to offend or merely be provocative. I'm simply worried.

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Nonbelievers like myself stand beside you, dumbstruck by the Muslim hordes who chant death to whole nations of the living. But we stand dumbstruck by you as well--by your denial of tangible reality, by the suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God.

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