Week Six: Lecture Two
- Philosopher and neuroscientist
- Wrote, “The End of Faith,” and “The Moral Landscape”
- Critical of religion
- An atheist (doesn’t like that term)
- Studied Hindu and Buddhist meditation in Asia
- Unapologetic: about to ask very bold questions
‘Why we have exaggerated respect for religion? Why do we give religion
special privileges?” – thinks it’s irrational
Irrational to rely on such old text without scrutiny and critique.
Tells story of suicide bomber on bus and hears a couple saying they are about
to buy their first refrigerator and hits the button. He blows himself up and his
neighbors and parents feel pride because he sacrificed himself for a great
Wants to see what can be done to stop this
Identifies relationship between beliefs and behavior.
Religious moderates have learned to respect unjustified beliefs of others.
Calls laws of religious freedom and tolerance into question
Says modern knowledge is essentially incompatible with scripture
Religious moderates select passages from scripture that we can reconcile
with modernity. And many of the ‘good’ passages that are kept pertain
primarily to ‘ethics and morality’. Thus the role that religion in modernity
plays – is guide and moral compass.
Harris argues if we ‘understood the workings of the human brain better’, we
would learn that ethics and morality are not ‘God-given;