Sam Harris on why he is an atheist
In a new episode of “Journeys of Faith with Paula Faris,” a podcast featuring conversations on how faith has helped guide newsmakers and celebrities through their best and worst times, ABC News’ Paula Faris sits down with atheist Sam Harris.
Listen now — new episodes available every Wednesday.
Here is Paula, in her own words, about the new episode.
Am I letting the Bible off the hook?
Sam Harris thinks I am.
If you’ve ever felt completely and utterly outmatched, that should give you an idea of what it was like speaking with Sam — a philosopher, neuroscientist and one of the pre-eminent atheists of our time. Yes, an atheist.
Sam has gone toe-to-toe debating with some of today’s brightest minds: Jordan Peterson, Ezra Klein, Ben Shapiro and Reza Aslan, who will be our guest on next week’s “Journeys of Faith.”
But this week, I wasn’t there to debate Harris. Let’s be honest: That would be similar to watching a lamb getting thrown into a den of lions. I was there to inquire. To hear how his faith journey formed. And to learn more about atheism.
You see, I want to sit down with people from many different faiths. Yes, that means listening, and respecting, people I disagree with. It challenges me. And it challenges my faith.
As a critic of religion, Sam says he is criticizing the “double standard with respect to how we judge the validity of ideas.” And he even goes on to say that “it’s a problem that Shakespeare is a better writer than most of the authors in the Bible.”
On this particular episode, we discuss why he thinks I’m letting the Bible off the hook, his early experience with psychedelic drugs and whether atheism is even a faith system at all. Plus, you’ll hear his answer when I ask if he’s considered that he may be wrong about all of this. Find out on this week’s episode of “Journeys Of Faith.”
How does he describe atheism?
“It’s not a claim that we know God doesn’t exist. It’s a claim that the evidence put forward — the reasons for belief are not sufficient,” he said.
How did his experience with psychedelic drugs tie into his beliefs?
“The questions around which every faith is organized were questions that I was deeply interested in from a young age. And once I became a teenager, I began to explore these things. So I took psychedelic drugs. What the experiences with drugs revealed was not that drugs were the answer, but that there was a landscape of mind that had been closed to me.”
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