§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

I liked this one even though I think I'd really have to read it again to follow all of the scientific arguments he makes. Harris' thesis is that, contrary of a popular belief, morality can and does exist in the absence of adherence to a religion and, in fact, perhaps as a side benefit, one avoids outdated moral pronouncements (like maybe "women should keep quiet in the churches" as well as injunctions to kill nonbelievers). Harris is a neuroscientists and wants to put forward the nation that science has much to contribute to morality. I don't disagree with that at all, but I have to say that the functional MRI studies he sites (and which he seems to be involved in conducting) were the least interesting material in this book.

I suppose I am somewhere between atheist and agnostic these days, and while I appreciate many of the arguments against religion made by Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens (I haven't read the latter's book but there's some of his argument in Hitch 22), I'm most interested in facilitating an environment where one can talk about religion in something other than hushed tones and where current opinion doesn't force one to take seriously anything anyone says in the name of religion. It may be wise in many circumstances to abjure discussion of religion and politics, still with politics most of us feel pretty free expressing our opinions. I may have turned off the TV this morning when Christiane Amanpour was interviewing four new tea party Congress men and women, but I don't hesitate to disagree loudly and publicly and I don't fear the PC police telling me I can't disparage their politics.


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