Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Sam Harris talk in Oxford 12/4/2011

I was very fortunate to be able to see Sam Harris talk last night in Oxford about his new book, The Moral Landscape. It was really interesting and thought-provoking. I've yet to read the book (it'll be dropping through my letter box any day now) but basically his contention is that the widely held idea that science can say nothing about moral issues is an illusion. His arguments are very persuasive and also make perfect sense to me.

The Pod Delusion has the talk here.

Sam is well known to be one of the 'Four Horsemen' who for the last few years have been writing books and giving talks and generally being very vocal with their criticisms of religion (the others are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens). I don't know how much of this new book continues that attack on religion, certainly his talk (and recent debate with William Lane Craig) points out very effectively how our morality does not come from a deity. But he's been getting as much criticism about his ideas from philosophers as from religious apologists. I'm not versed in philosophy to any degree so I'm looking forward to trying to grasp his arguments and the arguments of those who find fault in his reasoning.

I think the first time Sam gave a talk on these new ideas was at TED 2010 - you can watch that talk here:


  1. The term (scientific law) is a misnomer. Scientific laws, as such, do not exist. Science neither develops nor enforces these laws. Science has only discovered what God has created. For an example Newton only discovered the Law of Gravitation, he or any other scientist has neither created nor enforces these laws. So called scientific laws are based on the statistical assumption that the universe, which operates according to fixed norm, will continue to do so. Science can observe, classify, describe, and apply these normative operations but is powerless to control them. Scientific laws should be named for greater accuracy, a Divine law.

  2. Hehe, that's hilarious :)