Philosopher Sam Harris has produced some of the most prominent writings on atheism in recent years. He spoke with Paula about how his views have evolved, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of organized religion.
Paula Faris is an Emmy Award-winning anchor and senior national correspondent at ABC News. Previously, she was the co-anchor of "Good Morning America" on the weekends and ABC's "The View."
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"Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris" is produced by ABC Radio. More information: http://www.abcnewspodcasts.com
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00:00:00Hey there it's Paula Faris and this is journeys of faith where we talk to people about how faith guided them through the best and worst of times my guest this week is Sam Harris he's a philosopher he's got a PhD in neuroscience and he's an atheist that's right
00:00:19Sam's journey is all about the absence of faith the reason why atheists get impatient that's because we are living in a world where people are dying essentially over rival interpretations of literature now as you may know I'm a Christian and my faith is incredibly important to me but
00:00:41one of the things I'm trying to do with this podcast is to challenge myself and hopefully you let's learn from the journeys and experiences of others and Sam has had quite the journey psychedelic drugs we price starting when I was eighteen the first one was MDMA that really
00:00:59had a profound effect on me this episode Sam Harris talks secularism and you guessed it psychedelics so if they have a lot of people are going to be surprised when they learn that I'm having one of the preeminent ATS on this podcast it is a faith podcast but
00:01:18it's a podcast on our personal faith journeys and there are no two journeys that are like so Sam Harris thank you for appearing on the podcast our thanks as a pleasure so you've debated the likes of Jordan Peterson I listen to a little bit about of that debate
00:01:34and watch a little bit and Ben Shapiro you are referred to as one of the four horsemen of atheism you are a neuroscientist a philosopher a critic of religion basically the smartest guy in the room am I right in the at the crest I forgot about that %HESITATION
00:01:53I am I am none of those things including the anti Christ I'm not a scholar I'm not a theologian I'm not a philosopher I'm not a neuroscientist but most of what I want to talk to you about today the impetus it's going to come from as a journalist
00:02:08I am going to inquire is going to be inquisition and not accusation and I do like to challenge the norm so that's why I'm having you on the show and %HESITATION so my first question for you and do you believe that atheism is a faith system no I
00:02:25don't I I think it's a %HESITATION it's often cast as that by people of faith but this is just a kind of play on words this is where I think that the bright line between what I'm recommending and what most people are doing and can be found is
00:02:43that there's a distinction I think that that virtually everyone whether they have a faith or not will recognize which is that between Holden believes for good reasons and holding them for bad reasons and this is a a distinction that we read only make in every area of our
00:03:01lives were encouraged to do so %HESITATION by other people we're %HESITATION were forced to do so by our collisions with reality so you know if if the bridge falls down and %HESITATION we want to know why so many people died were based on something we've built to keep
00:03:18them safe we look for good answers and when people don't make sense you know order are they purport to to know things that they clearly don't know or for reasons that don't don't chat past past the normal tests of justification we stop listening to them and we we
00:03:40we we put pressure on one another and ourselves to make sense and it have co coherent arguments to pay attention to empirical data and to to make honest observations about how we come to know what we think we know and we we we've gotten very good at this
00:03:59and and we we we've gotten past added in science %HESITATION were were noticeably war sat it in our other areas of our lives or worse in journalism and we when we are in science frankly %HESITATION we're worse still in politics and we are terrible at it in religion
00:04:15a reliably so dogmatically so in fact religion is the only language came with the word dogma is a good word right not a bad one and as it is and Catholicism Antarctica is that those are the principles yeah yeah I'm and and and what dogmatism is is to
00:04:33believe something strongly not only on bad evidence not only without evidence but very often in defiance of mountains of evidence right and so this is this is what some this what a critic of religion like myself is criticizing this this double standard in with respect to how we
00:04:53judge the validity of ideas so it's it's not to say that atheism is a faith just just gets the the the logic wrong at the outset me you don't have to embrace a rival faith not to be a Scientologist or not to be an astrologer or not to
00:05:12not to worship Zeus right and and so this is the move that the atheist Manx with respect to the god of Abraham or with respect to a claim like the Bible was dictated by the creator of the universe or the current or the Koran was %HESITATION it's the
00:05:28same move that that every Christian makes with respect to Islam or Zeus or or or any other thousands of dead gods who have because consigned to this scrap heap we call mythology which they used to be worshipped private people believed they exist they existed so that's that's the
00:05:48situation so that it's just not it's not a it's not the same game is is just a and e's and it is also not a a pretend apprehension to know that god doesn't exist it's not like it's not that %HESITATION an atheist believes he has proven the absence
00:06:06of ya away no more so than he's proven the absence of Zeus miss is that that's not something we can do is just the just the issues there's no good reason to believe in zoos it's not a claim that we know god doesn't exist is a claim that
00:06:21the evidence put forward the reasons for for believe put forward are insufficient rise you're not persuaded in the same way that I got it if you're Christian or not persuaded by by what the Muslims are up to right the Muslims are telling you every day of your life
00:06:36that you are wrong not to believe that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe and not not only that you're wrong that you'll be going to hell for your unbelief ready you've got the wrong religion and you know I I would point out
00:06:50to you that I think you're right you know what we don't know each other but I I'm I'm confident that you're not losing much sleep over the prospect that the Muslims are actually right about that now I stand in exactly the same relationship to Islam that you do
00:07:06I just also stand in the same relationship to Christianity none there and and and there's no further move required you just haven't been convinced by the language game of Islam and you hear if you've read the Koran you haven't been convinced that the claims it makes about itself
00:07:22are possible and that's that's just all you need to be so I need to do to be an atheist with respect to any other religion okay that that makes it I want to go back to your answer when I asked you do you consider atheism to be of
00:07:36faith system in and you said no but but I I still feel like you have to have faith you still that you still do believe in something so how is it not a faith system because you believe that the evidence is not sufficient that's still a belief system
00:07:51is and not what some believe is a there's a larger operation and then then faith MS us this is you know I I use the word believe in a way that is very common among academics and in particular philosophers perhaps not so common %HESITATION colloquially so is so
00:08:14you know that there is no distinction between believe and knowledge she you know if I say it's time now it's eighty five degrees in Los Angeles right now you know that that gets past your sensors if I said it was a thousand degrees here you would think okay
00:08:34with that that doesn't make it doesn't square with what you know about that the nature of your terrestrial reality you know this you know I'm a I must've misspoke I must be confused about the the metric system miss out something is wrong or I would just need your
00:08:48account research that generator yeah I could be a CO right so so there's there's some is so we we do this all the time and we we tend to only notice the glitches %HESITATION but we're constantly representing reality in our thoughts and in our in our utterances and
00:09:05in our books and we have some old books right and and and some of these books have been canonized as special books that could not have possibly been written by human beings right at this is that this is the founding error from my point of view this is
00:09:19why this way you don't have to believe anything about god really %HESITATION or or claim to know anything about %HESITATION invisible beans anywhere or that that the origin of the universe to dismiss %HESITATION Abraham Mike religion because all you have to do is is deal with the claims
00:09:39about the books and the books claim to be the Koran and the Bible correct yeah yeah I know that and I just heard reading your book at the end of faith is how do we know that our holy books are free from error and that really is the
00:09:51crux of your argument correct right I'm simply saying that we should we should subject every human conversation certainly when it really matters to the same kinds of reasonable tests we hold ourselves in the year twenty eighteen you know and those tests have changed right so it's there's just
00:10:10there's no way you would read the Bible now if it were written by a modern person and form the opinion that this was the product of omniscience nine there's there's just no way right it's just a and this is obvious it should be obvious to everyone and so
00:10:28%HESITATION that's a bug not a feature right I mean so what what we need to we need to be in a position where we can edit these books essential and we we have every every Christian and Jew and Muslim has effectively edited these books by ignoring their bad
00:10:44parts rights to you nor the bad parts in Deuteronomy and Leviticus and so that's a problem because it's it's all the word of god right there's no place in the Bible where god says you know I I was just I was having a bad day there and you
00:10:58know let's you know this but I just pass it has an expiration right I I think a lot of it too and and I like what you say the point is that most of what we currently hold sacred is not secret for any reason other than it was
00:11:10thought sacred yesterday we're not challenging we're not holding it to the same that to the same levels that we would anything else in our life up as as for like Deuteronomy and Leviticus I I I I do believe that you know the Bible is the word of god
00:11:27and I think a lot of it is just a snapshot of what was going on in history at that time it can be it's a historical document it's not necessarily %HESITATION it's not that it's not relevant for today but it's just a snapshot just as you would fast
00:11:39forward you know ten thousand years from now is just a snapshot of if you take a snapshot of what was happening today and and how angry just things are happening how egregious isis is and what's going on in Afghanistan and Syria is just a snapshot of history but
00:11:55%HESITATION let's just rewind a in terms of your childhood how you raise your rates by a quicker and the secular geo how do how do you involved to the point of where you are now were you raised in and was it a religious home growing up for now
00:12:12I know it was it a totally secular home and by that I mean that there's just no consideration of con or or revelation or any of these questions were talking about it was not an atheist home there was no antipathy to religion I just don't remember religion coming
00:12:30up at all and I don't remember coming up among my friends and I'm sure some of them believe in god or their or their parents did but it was a it was just a kind of relentlessly secular culture where I grew up and you know large largely at
00:12:45a Jewish one %HESITATION you know I I kind of think half the people I knew as a kid were Jews something close to that so is not now representative of American society generally but it was representative of the state of Judaism for the most part in Judaism online
00:13:02Christianity and Islam is a religion that is well on its way toward losing it's superstition and other world investments it was it's been that way for quite some time but I mean it's it's it's not it's the only religion where you can say truly the audio one of
00:13:20the only after the three major western religions or you can say you know I I don't believe I don't believe in god I don't believe the Bible is the word of god but I you know my my Judaism is very important to me right like that suggests that's
00:13:34just a non sequitur if you're Christian or a Muslim but among shoes is very common so I was in I was surrounded by people like that soap so you grew up in in in a secular home %HESITATION for the most part and how your particular journey how do
00:13:51you land here where you are today how do you grow to believe what it is that you believe right now yeah well there are really two sides to that so I was I was always very interested %HESITATION in always from the age of thirteen or so very interested
00:14:07in in religion and in the quote spiritual experience and enjoy the in in the game existential questions you know what what happens after death and %HESITATION you know if nothing happens you know it will what does that mean for how we live here so I was I was
00:14:24entertaining those questions very earlier action my my best friend died when I was thirteen so that that jumpstarted me as a as a philosopher essentially %HESITATION so I I was the questions around which every faith is is organized were were questions that I I was deeply interested in
00:14:45from a young age and once I became a young teenager I really seventeen eighteen I I began to to explore these things are experimentally side took psychedelic drugs William spry starting when I was eighteen the first one was MDMA that really had a profound effect on me %HESITATION
00:15:08but what what the experiences with drugs XP revealed was not that drugs were the answer but that there was a landscape of mind that had been close to me and it was it was possible to have a very different experience of the world than I had realized and
00:15:26that and this is the kind of experience attested to in every religious tradition as is is possible to to feel rather like Jesus right here or it is possible to feel like the saints and sages would spend years in caves and hermitages and monasteries praying or meditating and
00:15:49not you know and so then when I when I encountered this literature of the contemplative life and and traditional spirituality is that east and west right sorry but you know both in the in the Christian and Jewish and Muslim tradition but also in Buddhism and and %HESITATION the
00:16:08religion of Indiana's nominally in misleadingly called Hinduism and most of these conversations %HESITATION it's it spoke to me about the possibility of traversing in this landscape you're more systematically and bye bye methods other than than bombarding your brain with with that various illegal compounds so are you know
00:16:32then I practiced meditation %HESITATION you know rather a lot in my twenties I spent you know something close to two years on silent meditation retreats sounds painful I have to be honest %HESITATION but I know we have a lien lightning I guess what it is painful for very
00:16:48interesting reasons because it's it's the only pain is a is really a product of your thoughts right in the you're just you're left alone with your mind which is really always the case but you're left without the usual resorts too distracting yourself from what it's like to be
00:17:04you and and the minute the crucial he's here and really the foundation for everything not just religion it is the fact that we are conscious we have this this well this confrontation with reality in each moment we have experience and we don't really understand that we don't know
00:17:28why we're here we don't know what we are %HESITATION we have %HESITATION we trust our experience though and I know that that's that is %HESITATION one of the flaws some people will say with atheism is that is the way that humans experience existence is that really the only
00:17:44way to measure reality how can we trust our experience when we are random well we we can't we know we can't trust our experience in any naive sense and we we there are certain things that are that we can't out and there's certain things that we should doubt
00:18:01and must out and but the minute this basic fact about us that we are conscious it's something that I would argue we can't out amid this is something I've said many times before but what consciousness is the one thing in this universe that can't be an allusion African
00:18:18consciousness is just the fact that there's something that is like to be you or just to be my whether or not there's yet whether or not the self exists is is certainly open to doubt but the fact that something seems to be happening the fact the lights are
00:18:33on in this moment note in and as whatever it is you are right as a conscious being that can't be doubted and that's that would be true even if you know we're running on a simulation as a simulation on some alien supercomputer or this is just a dream
00:18:49or your brain in a vat in a back or I mean you could be radically misled as to what's going on here we could be in the matrix right but the fact that something seems to be happening that's the fact of consciousness and and that that really can't
00:19:03be doubt it this is an objective claim about the nature of reality consciousness is a is a natural property of this universe whatever it is and it's a rising in N. as us at this moment but there's certain things we can't notice directly in that way so we
00:19:18know our experience is a limited window on to the nature of things because of course you can't even notice that you have a brain much less that is involved in but in your mind but my question is if we're also random how can we trust anything it's not
00:19:34that were random by miss it but the starting point we we don't know we don't know why anything is the way it is right on all we have is our experience in the present to work with but the problem with religion here is that all it is based
00:19:48on really with all of its doctrines are the result of being handed a book by your parents and by their parents and by the parents before them which claims to be unlike any other book right we don't do this with Shakespeare we don't do this with with Plato
00:20:06right we don't do this with with with contemporary but books that were contemporary to the Bible and the Koran which were better than they were on many crucial points ethically right so it's like when you said that the Bible is just a concert let the Bible off the
00:20:22hook by saying it's just a snapshot of human history that I I don't I don't think you let off the hook but I think you have to contextualize where we were historically at that time I don't believe in the postrema women but you know the New Testament Dino
00:20:36talks about women you can't be elders in the church I don't I don't believe that I just think it was a snapshot of what the culture was going through at that particular time yes I do think that there are some things that we hold to be so true
00:20:49that we're not going to deviate from unit that the ten commandments you know and love one another %HESITATION but I I also think we have to take things %HESITATION we have to interpret the time and interpret the context of the situation what was happening at that particular moment
00:21:02yeah but the the reason why I say you're letting it off the hook is that one not everyone was stuck in and just that place even back then right so it was possible in the fifth century BC to be quite a bit wiser and more ethical than anything
00:21:19you find in the Old Testament pregnancy even the Buddha was doing it right right impeccably right there's no the Buddha was not advocating slavery right and %HESITATION many Greek philosophers were doing it you know so it that there's there's more wisdom to be found in human literature then
00:21:36you can find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy by people who were alive at the same time right word or thereabouts right %HESITATION and and certainly true me just take the Koran right that may get you at a thousand years to the human conversation and you know the the genius
00:21:52who wrote the Koran is still stuck with slavery right it was possible to route to realize that slavery was abhorrent here in seven hundred and eighty %HESITATION so it's just possible to come out with with different answers here and and and what what I'm recommending and what we
00:22:11naturally do one every other question of content of of consequence is just have a just privileging modern fact based conversation over an ancient one make a given given the all we have so you don't have a day bye you don't think you could hold either the Koran or
00:22:33the Bible up to to science to anthropology to philosophy to psychology you don't think it would stand if you if you held up to those which I will and I'm sure parts of it what we have parts of it do it and and so there's no reason to
00:22:49ignore the good parts right again so the golden rule there's there's very little to improve upon their ends and it's important to recognize is not unique to Christianity and right exactly also in the Old Testament but it's you know and it's it's in Greek philosophy in various forms
00:23:06and it's %HESITATION it's in eastern philosophy in various forms so it's but it's it's very well put in in the Bible and %HESITATION so there many things they would be if you go if you do what you know essentially Jefferson did to the Bible and just uses cold
00:23:23corona highlight that the words of Jesus and then especially highlight the ones that that %HESITATION are actually directly why not just weird %HESITATION you know there there's no reason not to do that but we can and we do do that with every other product of the ancient world
00:23:43that we love and continue to find useful I I do it with Plato and we do it with with the Aristotle and we do it with them with with literature missing this the thing about like me to to take the just to give you a snapshot of the
00:23:58quote atheist perspective here the reason why atheists get impatient is because we are living in a world where people are dying in essentially over rival interpretations of literature in that there isn't that the greatest wars are have always been over religion well not all of them but yeah
00:24:22but it but many of them see I mean you mentioned isis and and I mean like that that is isis is a is is a pure product of religious dogma doesn't mean that this is this is what is people were recruited to ISIS %HESITATION were motivated for a
00:24:41based on a an interpretation of Islam that is all too possible you know and when they took sex slaves and raped them they did it and to continue to do it your somewhere as a sacrament right this is not just bad people who do bad things anyway lies
00:24:59are but there are also people there are always radicals of every religion that are going to take it to the nth degree that are misinterpreting and mistaken so they're not working but they're not made their only misinterpret in these doctrines by the light of modern insights and modern
00:25:17norms right is that it's just you're not misinterpreting Leviticus or Deuteronomy if you focus on the bad parts and say Hey wait a minute no god said that working on the Sabbath is a killing offense I see what my neighbor's doing over there right he's mowing his lawn
00:25:36why should I just go kill him if I actually believe the word of god I mean here you have to be in order ultra orthodox Jew to take this path because I've known him Christians have a reason why they you know don't have to do this but but
00:25:48there is no good argument against us the the argument is what I am what I once of of of conviction you right up and last but you could also say that the later I am the the Bible does evolve from the Old Testament the New Testament and even
00:26:01if you're not if you're not sure what I'm saying not if you're geo but then you do have the ten commandments and that commandment is hotter the staff come out of the Sabbath and keep it holy in that commandment it doesn't say honor the Sabbath and merge preaching
00:26:13day rescues mowing the lawn on the Sabbath and but but simplified is implied to me that it's at the ten commandments are are not New Testament Old Testament right and most are are are their eggs they're spoken in a context where these are these are killing offenses in
00:26:30right this is this is not your talking back to your parents is a killing offense right certainly worshipping in any foreign god is a killing offense and so these are not SO you you say be here someone can always take a doctrine to the nth degree or or
00:26:51perverted or misunderstand it but the problem with these books is that a an all too plausible honest direct reading of them leads you to be a religious maniac right but but the problem is historical it's a his littlest oracle snapshot yeah but it's it's it's value is that
00:27:11we have what we have here is an all seen and all knowing and all love in a god who can give us guidance what's on offer here it's imagined his some direction right what you need to believe about your circumstance and what you need to do so as
00:27:29to live the best life possible and after you die not go to hell fire for eternity writing you if you believe but these particular faith so when you're a Christian or Muslim you believe you have a book it offers guidance the significance of which is for all time
00:27:47rise to beyond this life and we feel it's the living breathing word of god and do you think yes and when you when you think about the how good a book could be if it were written really written by an omniscient being how wise it could be right
00:28:09that none of these books meet that test in the fact that you went on I could improve the Bible with thirty seconds thought is a problem for the claim that this book was written by anything other than P. how could you prove it thirty second spot you just
00:28:25make it clear that slavery is wrong right and should be out grown immediately right slavery is an abomination what all human beings are are are are of equal value yeah he said in a in the New Testament we see Paul declare the Innkreis we're all equal he says
00:28:42that there's no either for free or slave male or female Jew nor gentile at the help but he also but he's not but there's no clear repudiation of slavery in the New Testament in fact he he urges slaves to serve their masters well and to serve their Christian
00:28:57masters especially well what can you tell me because historical slavery in the Hebrew culture wasn't it more like indentured servitude it's not like I'm it was unlike American or injection slavery so just from a historical perspective when we're talking about slavery in the Old Testament slavery in the
00:29:14universe is the New Testament the it's it's different than what we interpret to be slavery in the twenty first century is a novel well I I don't know I've I've certainly heard that claim that minute that that this is the sort of game you get into a rather
00:29:28often when when so when you when you say the sorts of things I have said about your challenging the the ethics of the tax you get the the the the search for a loop holes on the part of the theologians %HESITATION all of this is a way of
00:29:46not facing the crucial point the crucial point is that we know we could come up with better ten commandments right now you in may we don't even need what your ten commandments we want need help right we just you can just tweak thought you can just with the
00:30:01ones that are there and right okay said so in your ten commandments I'm curious well was so so %HESITATION you know abolish slavery right or or or rule it out %HESITATION to talk about the the the equal value of of men and women right moral lane and politically
00:30:18right miss spell that out honesty privilege honesty as a fundamental value and yet you don't don't you know stigmatize and dehumanize normal human sexuality to the degree that it has you know has been I've been the the religious norm in these faiths Mississippi but we will look at
00:30:38all of the suffering in under Christianity and Islam in particular around taboos around out of wedlock births and %HESITATION fornication homosexuality masturbation all of it right this like a whole Freudian %HESITATION the crisis that is is reliably may up more painful by religious notions of of the significance
00:31:16of of human sexuality I'm not I'm not saying human sexuality isn't a very significant feature of our lives that it's easy to get confused about and and to the problem of time so it's not this not that religion is the only thing that screws this up but religion
00:31:33has not helped human sexuality right with just the big picture here if we won societies where it is as easy as possible for the maximum number of people to live could infer filling lines run to have families to find this as EM it's it's it's always hard to
00:31:50have kids but to make it is as easy and it's fun and it's for filling as possible right we want psychologically healthy creative happy people everywhere that's the goal right so how best to do that well is it to is it best to tell people that homosexuality is
00:32:09a sin worthy of death is that a good piece of software to have running on our brains in the year twenty eighteen will know right Wilson and why I think that a book that tells us that was written by the creator of the universe and can never be
00:32:24added right and that's that's the problem right after this short break I ask Sam whether he's ever doubted his atheism and what he did about it so you just woke up your phone is lighting up with headlines and push notifications in a text from your mom saying how
00:32:43do I click this okay maybe that's just me but if you want to get up to speed check out the new podcast from ABC news start here literally the ground was shaking I'm bread milk and every morning we're going to take you to the stories that matter with
00:32:57fast fresh in silo Robert Muller Michael Cohen calling only twenty minutes start here listen for free on apple podcast or your favorite podcast app I I do think that if you don't give god a naff credit at least when it comes to sexual sin you look in the
00:33:15Old Testament yes women were stoned if fate were adulterers and then look what happens in the New Testament outward Jesus met a woman at the well who's been married four times she was quote unquote living in sexual sin and they wanted to stone her and he said to
00:33:33those that were surrounding her he who is without sin cast the first stone so I do think that you are you do see an evolution of the way that %HESITATION that that particular situation is treated so I I understand what you're saying about not letting the Bible of
00:33:49talk I think that there are a lot of answers for it but you know I've come to my conclusions and and you've come to yours clearly %HESITATION and and I see what you where you're where you're coming from a lot of it but it was well first for
00:34:01some assessment Jesus in half as moods is fantastic yeah and it is finally able well yeah right well even though I I like the flipping tables part as well right but it you know miss some of the some of what Jesus said can get you it least he
00:34:21is in contact with some of the the worst %HESITATION parts of Christianity but much of what he said in the reason why he celebrated as a figure is that much of what he said is beautiful and wise and necessary wouldn't think about him what do you think about
00:34:37Jesus also it I I think there is I mean I think it was one I I think and what I think what I'm saying now is not %HESITATION especially controversial among the mainstream scholars of Christianity I think he was a a Jew who never imagined starting another religion
00:34:57right he was a Jew among Jews telling people how he thought Judaism had to be practiced right here so he was he was a Iraq charismatic rabbi essentially who was gathering followers and telling them or you know or what was what and and there's a and there's too
00:35:17much and that the flip side again to come back to you know you letting these books off the hook which is again it just think of how good the books could be a you know a single page in there you know in in in in either testamentary in
00:35:31the Koran that would would the soap Prashant with respect to humanity's needs right now an ensign and come in scientific insights that it would prove that there's no way a mere mortal of the time wrote the book and there's a lot in the books they suggest that they
00:35:53were written by a person of the time who was convinced of the rightness of social norms which we now recognize to be a **** and that's that's where atheism come from what I would say I would I would venture to say to that I think you have you
00:36:09it has to pass the sniff test you you right on page seventeen of your your block %HESITATION the end of faith how is it that in this one area of our lives we convinced ourselves that our beliefs about the world can float entirely free of reason and evidence
00:36:23I agree with you I think we have to hold it to the fire and I think at if we're not doing that then we need to question why we believe what what we do believe I'm in that same sense though I don't I don't think science answers every
00:36:40you not everything can be solved in a laboratory science doesn't answer every single question any trial I mean it's not just the DNA evidence it's circumstantial evidence it's direct evidence it is science so I think science plays a part of it but if we're looking to science to
00:36:56explain every single thing if I asked scientifically why do you love your wife I mean there would be some scientific reasons but there's also direct evidence there circumstantial evidence that we have to factor into the equation and so yes we have to challenge what we believe and why
00:37:13we believe in the area and %HESITATION does it hold doesn't pass the sniff test what is the scientific proof I think we have to take other factors into consideration at the same time am I totally off base well you just use in science and I'm in a more
00:37:26narrow sense than than nine nine cents then you need to was just no it's just that it's when when I talk about the opposition between religion and science or between reason and faith it's not the this narrow %HESITATION sense of science that you know what can be immediately
00:37:43studied in a lab today by somebody wearing a white coat rises is it's more minute the let's talk about evidence and a fact based discussion and good arguments and good data all I'm saying is that faith as a as a cognitive and emotional operation right %HESITATION is on
00:38:07the wrong end of that spectrum I mean it is it is what it's like to believe something because you want it to be true right we have this notion of wishful thinking confirmation bias or is it just the evidence of things not seen as it just like Martin
00:38:22Luther king said faith is taking that step when you can see the rest of the staircase it's just believe in it will be things unseen but what can we do that but they're they're rational ways to do that and they're irrational way and to me that is just
00:38:39the the thing that that every atheist notice notice is very quickly about religions that the kind of thing you hear very often here from from a religious person is like this and when you if if you press hard on the the lack of evidence for let's say that
00:38:56the the divine origin of the Bible more than any of the truths of ancient miracles %HESITATION act you get other answers like well you know it's I believe because it it time improves my life so much man this is this is you know me my family and I
00:39:16draw so much meaning from the this these these beliefs or that is people saying things like you know I wouldn't want to live in a universe where there wasn't a cot right now if you translate we take god out of those statements %HESITATION eat these these become crazy
00:39:35statements do you believe that there's a do you know that there's an inherent difference between right and wrong well of course but where does that come where does that moral compass come from well it doesn't come from the Bible because the Bible tells you to keep slaves and
00:39:51stone I'm just curious so but no but like no but I mean what is it a strange but it's such a strange question because your in order to pick and choose the good parts of the Bible right you at midnight no one gets their morality from the Bible
00:40:06maze like so the idea is to them implied in your question is if you don't get this stuff from religion where can you get it right well you can't get it from religion because every religion is chock full of needless barbarism and you have to edit these things
00:40:20by at at minimum by ignoring the bad part so what is and you do that what what is the basis for morality well so we have so we have what we're you know biologically disposed to find morally sailing right so we have were at work or social primates
00:40:38and we we for for hundreds of thousands of years as people and for millions of years as as primates we had to get along together now unfortunately evolution has not prepared us to get along together with seven billion strangers all interconnected with social media and many of us
00:41:02armed with nuclear and biological and chemical weapons ram is we we are in our efforts to build a civilization that works we are fitted to a false capacities that just have not been designed to scale so late in a phobia and tribalism and selfishness it those are hard
00:41:25wired into us but in even eat in that circumstance some basic moral properties are there and actually the golden rule get Sam very early right if if I were to ask you give me one word to describe your belief system just one word well it may what is
00:41:46not a it doesn't describe my belief system describes that the how I would arrive at how I how I arrived at my belief system now and in the future %HESITATION it may not sound sanctimonious but it's honestly I like it an honest answer may have have you ever
00:42:08thought Sam and this is been very thought provoking for me and I want to thank you sure but have you ever thought what if I'm wrong about all this I've thought that have you ever entertain that thought what if I'm wrong all about all of this %HESITATION of
00:42:23course but see if if I am wrong about any of it him out I'm living in in such a way as to maximize the likelihood that I will notice those errors and correct for them as quickly as possible so I'm constantly putting myself in dialogue with people who
00:42:41disagree with me who know more about certain things that I do I'm constantly debating people constantly reading books that that that challenge my views or or take me deeper in one direction or another and the I mean it it it would be trivially easy if any of these
00:43:04things were true right can be trivially easy to prove that their true you know if if if Jesus is the son of god the messiah and destined to come back and raise the living and the dead or judge the living and the dead %HESITATION he need only do
00:43:24that right come back and prove it then we'll all be Christians right now it's either that's strangely cada set up the universe where you don't get to be Christian at that point that's when you get hurled into like a fire because into need to place your bet before
00:43:39there is enough evidence but the truth is it would be trivially easy to prove any of these things %HESITATION is just you know I mean a sufficient miracle would be who would do it again it would be easy to find if if the books were written by the
00:43:57creator of the universe they would be better books you know they wouldn't ever this is a a quick you've probably and in my book you know it or at some point I say with it was strange of god to make Shakespeare a better writer than himself right it's
00:44:13a problem H. Shakespeare is is a better writer than most of the authors of the Bible rights not to say there aren't brilliant passages double though but I also think it's a totally different style I mean you're looking at it is totally different but but he's you know
00:44:30it when you look at the wealth of the the wealth of metaphor and the insight into human psychology right you know there's a reason why Shakespeare is venerated to the degree that he is as a writer and or you could just give god credit for creating someone with
00:44:49such incredible talent what will they are creative made in the image of god and he and he created three hundred thousand species of beetles right I mean it it it doesn't make any sense I don't know why we have to have mosquitoes what is that one day we
00:45:07might not know I mean that's a that's a %HESITATION you know what let's let's %HESITATION were waiting for science to figure that out %HESITATION because god is has not been helpful my brother in law is a former atheist he's a physician and I he and I go back
00:45:22and forth because I have so many questions and he said if I get answered every single question my god would be too small you have I he's like I'd have just had to accept that there are some things I'm not going to be able to wrap my mind
00:45:35around and if I did then god wouldn't be god god be who he is well the problem with that is that so many people's faith is is quite a bit more explicit than that it's not that it's all a big mystery and and and who who might understand
00:45:51how this really works it's no if you're unlucky enough to be born to the wrong parents and never hear the good word you will go to hell right and I don't and if the Miskito well I understand you don't want to believe that because it's it's it doesn't
00:46:07feel good but in you know for for the longest time most Christians believe that in fact for their actions I think there are some questions about that but there are many that don't because you can't reject something that you've never been exposed to an if you've never been
00:46:25taught to you've never heard the name of Jesus I never heard god yes you can see immigration now but for like you know you're not done it but you're not rejecting god even if the if the if you don't believe that you take someone like me I've I've
00:46:38had I've had a a a good long while to consider the matter right and you know I I have here fairly incorrigible right here you know I've I've read the Bible beyond repair rather and and and and I would say that you are in the same position as
00:46:56cut and come back to where we started you are in precisely this position with respect Islam you know everything that the most doctrinaire Christian would say about me the most doctrinaire Muslim would say about both of us right you you had a chance to recognize that Islam is
00:47:16the one true faith right and it at the Koran is perfect this is been this is been sufficiently advertise to you and you have rejected this and you're gonna go to hell because of it right this is what most Muslims who who really are Muslims have to believe
00:47:35because that is the doctor now you are going to end this podcast and go about our day and not spend a minute Warren about that right not a minute that is exactly how I think everyone should feel about every one of these religions including Christianity and nothing important
00:48:01is lost you can still have unconditional love as your highest ideal you can still be in on it the mystery of existence you can still be interested in learning all that you can learn and realizing that there's a fundamental mystery at the back of everything you can find
00:48:23it to be a corrective to all of the all the all the same you finding yourself right all the all the ways in which you missed the mark all the ways in which your your view can be a bad parent or a bad friend or bad friend yourself
00:48:39met all I'm arguing for is we use the best tools in the past conversations in the past ideas we have and if some of those come from Christianity great if some of those come from his long great but again we don't have to be a attached to religious
00:48:57provincialism in a much less tribalism to to to value that right this is been selling lightning and its challenge me I hope it has challenged at is going to challenge everyone else that that listens to I think it's important have these conversations outside of our own bubble and
00:49:15two at the end of the day we are all on our own journey to but to figure out why it is we believe what we believe and now I just want to thank you for for pushing me and challenging me well it's been a pleasure and thank you
00:49:29Sam I appreciate it not been a good sport thank you so much next week on journeys of faith I was converted to Islam by Catholic priests that's what I'm trying to say we'll talk to religious scholars and Muslims read the Oslo and about the twists and turns that
00:49:45led him to where he is today thank you for listening to journeys of faith if you like this and don't forget to subscribe and give us a rating and make sure to come back next Wednesday for our latest episode and if you think there's someone that we should
00:49:57have on the podcast let me know tweet me at Paula Faris and a big thanks to the team at ABC radio using low my capacity Louis Milman Josh co hand and your cal and Steve Jones I'll talk to you next week

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