Atheist Sam Harris changed my perception of him forever when he said this

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81 thoughts on “Atheist Sam Harris changed my perception of him forever when he said this

  1. Great video. Thanks!

    Atheists are God’s children too, even if they don’t believe it.

    I don’t think God is too worried about whether or not we believe in him/her/it. God is not vain.

    God is concerned with the quality of our life here and now, and in the future. And the quality of our life has to do with whether or not we are living from love, light, compassion, and concern both for our fellow human beings and for ourselves.

    Atheists can live from love and light just as can people who believe in God. Those good present moments will continue for them just as for everyone else if that is their focus in life. For them, the love and light that they believe in is God. Because that’s how God touches them.

  2. Thanks for following my blog! I’m extremely intrigued with yours and with this. I am very interested in religion – from a ‘pluck me out of it and let me observe’ point of view. I have yet to figure out what I do and don’t believe. All I know is I feel and there are signs – like this, as I was only thinking today that I want to explore it much further.

    • Well thank you very much! Glad to follow you and have you aboard on this journey. Hopefully we will present stuff to consider along your path. We’ll touch at times upon all religions/spiritual practices so hopefully we will all learn a few things! And be inspired.

  3. I would like to thank you for sharing this video. The message is the embodiment of what I have been hoping to accomplish, the accompanying visual content is beautiful, too. I’m glad I stopped by and I thank you for following my blog today as well. Happy new year!

  4. The great thing about Sam Harris is that he is a very “spiritual” atheist. He believes that even in atheism and materialism, we can experience the transcendent, and it doesn’t deminish our experience. It doesn’t take belief to love life or people, or be overtaken by the beauty of our universe.

  5. Oooh, reminds me of this:

    “The bliss of the animals lies in this, that, on their lower level, they shadow the bliss of those – few at any moment on the earth-who do not ‘look before and after, and pine for what is not’ but live in the holy carelessness of the eternal now.”
    ~George MacDonald

  6. Thank you, Spiritbath, for following my posts. We live on a magnificent planet defined as much by savagery and upheaval as it is by harmony and splendor–and this itself is the context in which we must place our own inherited and arguably insoluble paradox as rational, future-oriented beings. As Harris says, we all “know” that our existence on this world is finite, and yet we waste what we call “our” time shamefully, complicit with our Western (and increasingly global) culture’s demands for pettiness, competitiveness, vanity, selfishness, fearfulness, rapaciousness, impatience, etc. Even atheists recognize this, though they cannot admit that it is the very materialism they espouse that is its undeniable cause. To call oneself an atheist is to confess that you cannot stand to exist in the presence of a mystery–to insist perpetually that everything must be explained to your own satisfaction; and if it cannot be, to insist that everything could be explained to your satisfaction if only there were scientists enough to attend to it. But life itself–which is only, after all, the experience of dying–is the mystery whose presence the atheist cannot abide. All of the attempts we may make to be more “aware,” or more “present,” or to “live in the moment” can only serve to make us more conscious of our own mortality, our own estrangement from life as an abstract principle, our continuous leaning into the impossible reality of non-being. Faced with this sublime horror, the common person cannot help but recoil and retreat into the soporific mundane, which is, alas, only another, narrower channel through which to express the terror of cessation that is life’s primary characteristic. Authenticity–from the Greek, “to act upon oneself”–can only be achieved, in the midst of life, by a conscious and studious imitation of death. To cease; to halt; to go silent; to do nothing and be nothing and want nothing–even to abjure the last refuge of sensation–is the only worthwhile pursuit; because as long as we are in time, we are wasting time, and time is wasting us.

    • Wow wow wow. That was a tour de force. Outstanding explanation. Often we bury our heads in the mundane – ambition, achievement, competition – to forget the great mystery. Then only a great jarring can awake us, if we listen to the call. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” When it does get in, you run to it. Run to the great questions again. To the certainty of death even. And we agree that stillness, wanting nothing, brings the highest bliss. Ain’t it funny.

    • Like Thunder, Dttoman. This reminds me very much of a book that I love: Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker. Becker says that each of us, by virtue of having a brain and a nervous system, has a nascent awareness of death. It protects us, shifting into high gear when we detect danger and most living creatures have some variant defense. It remembers pain, stores it so that we may avoid it in the future. But we have the added complexity of abstracting death, its a force, like gravity, that presses down upon us. But if we were to allow that awareness to be conscious all the time it would create such chaos for us the fabric of our society would disintegrate. Therefore, we develop armor. How we manage our idea of death is to immortalize ourselves, whether its being a good husband and father or writing a great novel or being a pop star, we are subjugating our future nonexistence by leaving a mark.
      The problem is that the knowledge of death bubbles up for us in unpredictable and compounding ways. There is a undercurrent of self destruction, the chaos makes it’s way into the world no matter what.
      I heard a radio show recently that interviewed climate scientists about rising sea levels. They estimate that the planet could heat up 2 degrees Celsius and become unstable in as little as 15 years. It sent me into a panic. I imagined my daughter swimming forever, like the polar bears.
      But I also realized that I had that same panic after nine eleven. I had that panic when I watched Iraq for Sale or when I go to LA. I have that panic inside of me at all times. It’s nothing new. And it doesn’t drive me to be more present, or get more done.
      This an eloquent statement, Dttoman. But then what? We have in us these capacities, these elaborate veils of definition, these impulses. Like me, sitting here at the computer, writing to you, who might not even read this, when I should be cleaning the house.
      I love Sam Harris. His words are potently spiritual, whether he would define it that way or not. I am not an atheist but I also don’t attach to the word God. It’s just a useful tool that allows me to interface with a very unknowable universe.

      • Mimimona, I’m grateful for your gracious and thoughtful response. Though I find nothing at all of value in the majority of his theories, I believe Sigmund Freud to have been a formidable genius, and have considered his half-developed notion of the death-drive in some detail. I haven’t yet read Becker’s book–though it would behoove me to do so–but it sounds as if it is based upon the same concepts that Freud had worked out: i.e., the unconscious, unable to make rational sense of its eventual eradication, assumes itself to be immortal, while projecting its terror of death into external acts of aggression or self-destructiveness. Thus we, as ostensibly self-conscious organisms, fear death absolutely, while continually seeking amelioration of this fear by either endeavoring to assure ourselves of a spiritual futurity (through religion), or of a terrestrial posterity (through art or child-rearing), or by addressing it indirectly by engaging in pleasurable, fear-based activities (seeing horror movies, riding roller-coasters, climbing mountains, picking fist-fights, etc.). But as little as we associate these things with the death that they are meant to acknowledge, assuage, or defy, being prohibited from such a conscious association by a society that has made the subject of death both ubiquitous and taboo, I think that it is elemental to the human consciousness and the human constitution to be always in death’s presence, watching for it as an explorer mounts his crow’s nest in search of an unknown shore. The experience of being a pilgrim is nullified if one forgets one’s destination. To understand one’s life as a pilgrimage to the incomparable and over-awing shrine of Death, and to be ever mindful of this destination and its inestimable significance, is the only way that I know to make something holy of this brief biological interlude that most creatures pass in unrelenting terror or senseless oblivion.

  7. Thanks for following my blog. Sam’s one of the best and holds my own view that who we are shows in how we act towards others and treat then, not on labels. Take me for example. don’t let the fact that I’m a cannibal who worships Satan give you the wrong impression. I’m very nice when you get to know me, though, I do tend to exaggerate sometimes, just to get a laugh. Well, no ones perfect.

    • Ha – well done. Couldn’t agree more that labels don’t matter. In fact they get in the way often. Ideologies too. We’re into not judging, not labeling. Trying to observe, grow, love and continue our path. And to give thanks. On that note – thanks for the comment love!

  8. Thanks to you appearing on my blog I’ve discovered yours – and what a find…so inspiring, thought provoking and open-hearted. I’m so looking forward to exploring the rest of your posts, and following you in the future.. thank you so much

    • Gosh, well thank you so much for the loving comments! Love the term “open-hearted”. So glad you like what we’re doing and we like you as well. Very best to you!

  9. Beautiful! It seems that the very young live in the now…and then the older we get, the closer to now we become again. I’m trying to get there…(how ironic is that?…trying to “get” to “now”). Perhaps a better approach would be, I’m trying to practice being in the now. Anyway…thanks for the amazing video, and thanks so much for following my blog.

  10. I think I missed the boat. Here’s a (hoick … SPIT~!) damned atheist—just like me—who’s making a bundle for saying what I’ve been saying all along: CARPE DIEM

  11. I needed this. I needed to stop and appreciate now instead of always lamenting the past or pining for a better future. GREAT video, great commentary. Thanks for sharing!!

  12. Good post. In late 2004, I experienced a couple of strokes and a heart-attack. The doctors told me that I could expect to have another, life-ending stroke within three months.

    A lot of meds and therapy later, I’m still here, but the lesson remained. Not sure that I needed the reminder though, my father had died at age thirty-nine, just days before my seventeenth birthday, so I already had this sensibility.

    Reminds me of the Matrix…

    • Wow – inspiring story. Awakenings and transformations always seem to come from our darkest moments don’t they? They sure have for me. “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Thanks for your comment.

  13. As I mention on my blog, there is Religion and there is Faith, I believe this video embraces the equation that is Faith, a belief in the Joy of experiencing the NOW, of not waiting for a promise of tomorrow, because none of us can know if it will ever come. Too many people tell others to expect great riches if you follow their religion, but what can be greater than experiencing life? First time I have even heard of this man but I will definately be doing some more looking on him!

    • Yes the now is key. Staying in the present has been a part of eradicating pain recommended by most major religions. Check out Eckhart Tolle’s classic “The Power of Now”. Excellent. Thanks for joining the conversation and welcome!

  14. It’s the old saw, “The faithful prayed for the poor, the hungry and the homeless. The good clothed the poor, fed the hungry and gave shelter to the homeless.”

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  15. I would only trust an Atheist to teach Comparative Religion. Unfortunately, the term “Atheist” suggests such an aggressive posture. Frankly, I am rather indifferent as Religion is meaningless, but its history is interesting and significant.

  16. Pingback: Rule #6- Be present | Prison News

  17. My sister just left the world and I believe, just as one of my closest friends had, that they actually spiritually said goodbye to me. Can’t explain it and it may not have been them, but something spiritual contacted me in a very real way before I even knew they were gone so I know that this is not all there is, and I know I didn’t imagine it either time because both incidents happened before I knew they had passed. I believe that everything Jesus told us was the truth.

  18. What a blessing this has been for me tonight. I see love, searching for truth and a cohesiveness to exude oneness for all. The sun shines on the just as well as the unjust scripture “Truth” the gospel. I am thankful for all of you who have afforded me encouragement to continue my trek with God until I get my glorified body which will be fully without confusion, uncertainty, pain and corruption. I thank God for GRACE!!!!

  19. I am a Christian too, and I agree with this atheist. the rain falls on the wicked and the righteous. jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, and the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself he said all the laws and all the profits hang on these two commandments. love is the Great Commandment the God gives to us from Genesis to Revelation

  20. i was raised christian, baptized, saved, the whole 9 yards. i no longer believe in christ or any organized religion. i believe in a universal oneness of man and nature. i am a honest individual and i am not a people pleaser. i have a long list of things that revolt me. atheists just happen to be at the top of the bottom of that list. passive-aggressives are a close second.

  21. Thank you for this. Perfect place for it. Love of God and love of your neighbor is a pretty darn good starting point and some would argue ending point for spirituality and religion. At least given all the blood that has been shed by faithful and non-faithful alike. I agree completely with Sam Harris in this video. Well stated.

  22. About that, please read James 2:14-26. Belief means nothing if it does not lead to good deeds.

    In Romans 2:1-16 Paul explains how both Jews and Gentiles will live or perish eternally according to whether their actions are righteous or wicked, as determined by the law and their conscience, “for God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11).

    And in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus is very clear that those who care for their fellow human beings who are in need will go to eternal life, while those who do not will go to “the other place.”

    The Bible is very clear that it is not just what we believe, but also how we live that determines where we spend eternity.

  23. Hi Scott,

    I’m simply quoting what James, Paul, and Jesus all say about how we are saved, and who goes to heaven. Please read the passages. The idea that faith alone saves us is itself a perversion of the Gospel. In the one place where faith alone is mentioned in the Bible, it is specifically denied. James 2:24: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

    The idea that faith alone saves was originated by Martin Luther over 1,400 years after the Bible was written, and then developed further by various Protestant theologians such as John Calvin and Philipp Melanchthon. It is not a Biblical teaching.

    Paul has been badly misunderstood about faith and works, especially among Protestants and Evangelicals.

    Paul was not saying that we don’t need to do good works in order to be saved. If he were, he could not possibly have written what he did in Romans 2:1-16.

    Paul was saying that we do not need to do the “works” prescribed by Jewish ritual law in order to be saved. That’s why, in connection with his statement about being “justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law” (Romans 3:28), he goes on to talk about “circumcision” (Romans 3:30), which is a reference to following the ancient Jewish rituals and practices prescribed by the “Law,” or Torah–which is the first five books of the Bible.

    In Paul’s letters, “works” is a reference to “the works of the Law,” meaning the Jewish ritual laws of circumcision, animal sacrifice, ritual cleansings, and so on. These are no longer required for Christians. Even Jews no longer follow most of these old ritual laws. Observing them does not save us, as Paul taught.

    However, doing good works is still required for salvation, as Jesus and all of the Apostles teach so clearly in so many places in the Bible. Please read the passages in my previous comment. These are only a few of many places where we are taught that if we wish to go to heaven, we must love God and love our neighbor by actively doing good deeds for our fellow human beings.

    This is the plain, direct teaching of the entire Bible. It could not be stated any more clearly than Jesus Christ himself states it in Matthew 25:31-46.

  24. Lee, I didn’t say it doesn’t matter what we do.

    But the Bible clearly says we’re saved by grace through, NOT BY WORKS. Therefore, how do we reconcile that with the verses you listed? The answer is our works are the evidence of our faith…which is really the point of the verses you quoted in James. But it’s not the works that save us; the works simply show we are saved. You’re taking all those verses out of context (and perverting the Gospel) if you’re saying we’re saved by our works.


  25. So long as “faith” is the criteria for heaven, facts are irrelevant, as is a definition of “Good” or “Evil,” or “Bad”. All one need do is say the have faith that what they are doing is good, and off the heaven they go.

  26. Hi poet816,

    I think intention and conscience have to be brought into the equation. Those who truly do intend to help and serve their fellow human beings will be accepted even if they may be mistaken or misled on some facts or points of faith. However, if they are merely using “faith” as a cover for a self-centered and self-righteous life, their “faith” won’t save them.

  27. Unfortunately, intention and conscience are subjective concepts as well. We are also beset with a plethora of sociopathic individuals and groups that actually have no conscience at all. They may be cognitively aware of societal norms, whatever they may be from society to society, but simply do not care — they consider them irrelevant. We also have corporations who LEGALLTY are obliged to act only with the monomaniacal purpose of making money for shareholders and absolutely no consideration of ethics or morality is allowed them. Otherwise, they are in violation of federal law. You can argue the notion of a “higher law,” perhaps, but acting on it will land you in jail or, if you are lucky, in a federal prison. In our present political environment … well, I’ll leave it there. :)