Sam Harris

  • Aired:  10/04/10
  •  | Views: 175,610

Sam Harris wants to begin talking about morality and human values in the context of our growing scientific understanding of the world. (7:11)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT A BEST SELLING

AUTHOR.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED THE MORAL

LANDSCAPE HOW SCIENCE CAN

DETERMINE HUMAN VALUES.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

SAM HARRIS.

SIR.

[ APPLAUSE ]

HOW ARE YOU?

>> GOOD.

I'M THROEULD BE HERE.

I'M -- THRILLED TO BE HERE.

I'M A HUGE FAN OF THE SHOW.

>> Jon: THANK YOU, SIR.

THE MORAL LANDSCAPE HOW SCIENCE

CAN DETERMINE HUMAN VALUES.

IS THE IDEA -- YOU ARE NOT TALK

TALKING ABOUT GENE THERAPY, YOU

ARE TALKING ABOUT QUANTIFYING

MORAL VALUES SOMEHOW?

>> YES, FIRST LET ME TELL YOU I

THINK THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE

WE'RE FACING IS FINDING SOME WAY

TO CREATE A GLOBAL CIVILIZATION

BASED ON SHARED VALUES.

WE HAVE TO WORK ON THE SAME

GOALS AT SOME POINT.

WE HAVE TO BEGIN GIVING SIMILAR

ANSWERS TO THE MOST IMPORTANT

QUESTIONS IN HUMAN LIFE.

I ONLY WAY FORWARD I SEE TO DO

THAT IS TO BEGIN TO TALK ABOUT

MORALITY AND HUMAN VALUES IN THE

GROWING CONTEXT OF SCIENTIFIC

PART OF THE WORLD.

THE ONLY PEOPLE ON THE PLANET AT

THE MOMENT WHO THINK THERE ARE

TRULY RIGHT ANSWERS ARE

RELIGIOUS DEMAGOGUES WHO THINK

THE UNIVERSE IS 6,000 YEARS OLD.

EVERYONE ELSE THINKS THERE'S

SOMETHING SUSPECT OF THE CONCEPT

OF MORAL TRUTH.

>> Jon: DO THEY THINK IT'S

SUPERINTENDENT OR A COST BENEFIT

ANALYSIS BUT NOT SUSPECT BUT

COMPLEX IN.

>> GRANTED IT'S COMPLEX.

WHAT -- MORALITY AND VALUE

CLEARLY RELATES TO HUMAN AND

ANIMAL WELL BEING.

OUR WELL-BEING EMERGES OUT OF

THE LAWS OF NATURE.

IT DEPENDS ON THE WAY THE

UNIVERSE IS.

HUMAN WELL-BEING RELATES TO

GENETICS AND NEUROBIOLOGY AND

PSYCHOLOGY AND ECONOMICS,

EVERYTHING THAT CAN INFLUENCE

STATES OF HUMAN BEING BUT ALL

FALL WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF

SCIENCE.

THESE ARE NOT -- THERE'S THIS

IDEA THAT YOU HAVE THE IMPORTANT

QUESTIONS IN HUMAN LIFE OVER

HERE THAT ARE -- BASED ON VALUES

THAT COME FROM RELIGION BUT

THERE'S THIS DOMAIN OF FACTS

OVER HERE THAT SCIENCE CAN TREAT

AND THERE'S A GULF BETWEEN THEM.

>> Jon: ARE YOU SAYING THAT

MORALITY CANNOT COME FROM

RELIGION OR THAT IT'S MATH

MATTICLY INFERIOR TO OTHER

MORALITY THAT COMES FROM, LET'S

SAY LONG DIVISION.

[LAUGHTER]

BY THE WAY, I'M NOT SURE I

UNDERSTOOD THAT.

[LAUGHTER]

FEEL FREE TO TURN YOUR HEAD LIKE

A COLLIE LOOKS AT A FAN

QUIZICLY.

[LAUGHTER]

>> I THINK IN THE BEST CASE

RELIGION GIVES PEOPLE BAD

REASONS TO BE GOOD WHERE GOOD

REASONS ARE ACTUALLY AVAILABLE.

IN THE WORST CASE IT SEPARATES

MORAL THINKING FROM THE ACTUAL

DETAILS OF HUMAN AND ANIMAL

SUFFERING.

YOU HAVE AN INSTITUTION LIKE THE

CATHOLIC CHURCH.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS MORE

CONCERNED ABOUT PREVENTING

CONTRACEPTION THAN PREVENTING

CHILD RAPE.

IT'S MORE CONCERNED ABOUT

PREVENTING GAY MARRIAGE THAN

GENOCIDE.

IT'S NOT MY OPINION OF THE

CATHOLIC IT'S JUST BASED ON ITS

DOCTRINE AND ACTIONS IN THE

WORLD.

>> Jon: THAT IS NOT -- THAT

SAY HUMAN INTERPRETATION OF

SCRIPTURE NOT --

>> SCRIPTURE IS A REAL MIXED

BAG.

IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT

GETTING OUR WISDOM FROM

SCRIPTURE, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM

GETS SLAVERY WRONG.

SLAVERY IS THE EASIEST MORAL

QUESTION WE'VE EVER HAD TO FACE.

IF THIS IS WRITTEN BY A DEITY IT

SHOULD AT LEAST GET THIS

QUESTION RIGHT.

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM CLEARLY

EXPECTS US TO KEEP SLAVES.

THAT'S A PROBLEM.

>> Jon: THAT'S A NONSTARTER

FOR YOU, AS IT WERE.

THE SLAVERY THING.

WHEN HE SAYS WE FEED THE POOR IN

YOUR MIND THE SLAVERY THING

NEGATES --

>> ANYONE IN THIS ROOM COULD

IMPROVE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN

FIVE SECONDS.

>> Jon: WOULD YOU MAKE THEM

EASIER TO CARRY AROUND.

>> TRUE.

>> Jon: AN OMNISCIENT GOD

WOULD BE LIKE THIS PHOES KWREZ

IS AN OLD JEW LET'S HELP THIS

GUY OUT.

YOU ARE GIVING HIM ROCKS COMING

DOWN A MOUNTAIN WHO KNOWS WHAT

HE IS GOING TO BREAK.

>> HE BROKE THEM.

>> Jon: THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

HOW DO YOU MATH MATTICLY

QUANTIFY THE TALIBAN.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: CAN I OBJECTIVELY LOOK

AT THEIR MORALITY IN TERMS OF

WHAT THEY DO TO WOMEN AND SAY

THAT IS WRONG.

BUT WHERE DO YOU -- HOW DO I

MATH MATTICLY MAKE THAT

STKPHAEUS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT

QUANTIFYING SOMETHING.

>> THE PROBLEM IS THAT MOST

PEOPLE IN SCIENCE SEEM TO THINK

THERE'S NO PLACE TO STAND WITHIN

SCIENCE TO SAY THAT'S WRONG.

THERE'S INTUITION THAT SOMETHING

HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST 200

YEARS OF INTELLECTUAL PROGRESS

WHICH HAS MADE IT DIFFICULT TO

SAY THAT THE TALIBAN VEALY WRONG

IN THEIR TREATMENT OF WOMEN.

THE MOMENT YOU REALIZE THAT THE

ONLY WAY TO ASK WHETHER IT'S

GOOD FOR WOMEN TO BE FORCED TO

WEAR BURQAS IS TO WONDER WHETHER

IT'S GOOD FOR HUMAN FLOURISHING

ON ANY LEVEL.

DOES IT MAKE MORE COMPASSATE MEN

Z. IT IMPROVE RELATIONSHIPS

BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.

WE KNOW AT THIS MOMENT IN HUMAN

HISTORY THAT THE ANSWER TO THAT

QUESTION IS NO.

TO DOUBT IT IS TO PRETEND WE

KNOW NOTHING.

>> Jon: ISN'T THE DIFFICULTY

OF THAT DON'T WE SEE THESE

SITUATION AS RAISING IN FAILED

STATES WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE

SUFFERING TERRIBLY TO BEGIN

WITH.

THEY MAKE A FAUST IAN BARGAIN TO

SOME SENSE THEY ARE AGGRESSIVE

BUT THEY ARE BRINGING ORDER TO

US.

FOR THAT ORDER AREN'T THEY

MAKING A COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS

FOR THEMSELVES AS WELL?

>> THERE ARE SITUATIONS WHERE,

YEAH -- WHEN STATES FAIL, THE

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS TO

GET SOME SECURITY.

THERE'S SO MANY WAYS TO DO THAT

ARE OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE.

TERRIBLE IN THE SENSE THAT

PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING NEEDLESSLY.

WE CAN UNDERSTAND THAT IN THE

LEVEL OF BRAIN AND THE LEVEL OF

SOCIETY.

THIS IS NOT A NO GOOD AREA FOR

SCIENCE.

A SCIENCE OF THE HUMAN MIND WILL

UNDERSTAND HOW HUMAN COMMUNITIES

FLOURISH.

IT'S A MYTH THAT WE CAN'T GET

THROUGH SCIENCE.

>> Jon: IT'S REALLY

INTERESTING.

THE REAL MESSAGE FROM THIS BOOK

IS GET OFF YOUR ASS SCIENTISTS?

WOULD THAT BE A WORKING TITLE

PERHAPS?

>> IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD

SUBTITLE, YES.

[LAUGHTER]

>> Jon: "THE MORAL LANDSCAPE"

IT'S A GREAT READ.

A LOT OF INTERESTING QUESTIONS

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