Sam Harris Quotations

-The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense. This is what the United States attempted in Afghanistan, and it is what we and other Western powers are bound to attempt, at an even greater cost to ourselves and to innocents abroad, elsewhere in the Muslim world. We will continue to spill blood in what is, at bottom, a war of ideas.

-You are happily being misunderstood in your use of the word god.

-Reason is nothing less than the guardian of love.

-It is time that scientists and other public intellectuals observed that the contest between faith and reason is zero-sum.

-Nothing is more sacred than the facts.

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

-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.

-It 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.

-Most religions have merely canonized a few products of ancient ignorance and derangement and passed them down to us as though they were primordial truths.

-The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy.

-A belief is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything else in a person’s life.

-Beliefs are scarcely more private than actions are, for every belief is a fount of action in potentia.

-To believe that God exists is to believe that I stand in some relation to his existence such that his existence is itself the reason for my belief.

-We are no more free to believe whatever we want about God than we are free to adopt unjustified beliefs about science or history, or free to mean whatever we want when using words like “poison” or “north” or “zero.”

-The problem with faith, is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason, why you do not have to give reasons, for what you believe.

-Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another.

-Religious faith is the only area of discourse where immunity through conversation is considered noble. It’s the only area of our lives where someone can win points for saying, “there’s nothing that you can do to change my mind and I’m taking no state of the world ultimately into account in believing what I believe. “there’s nothing to change about the world that would cause me to revise my beliefs.”

-Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse.

-The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention