Sam Harris’ diversified career has run the gamut from singer and songwriter to actor on Broadway, film and television to writer, director and producer. Sam's now legendary performances on TV's Star Search led to a multi-million selling recording career. He has 9 studio cds to his credit and has toured the world in concert, played at The White House, Carnegie Hall, with the Boston Pops and with Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour. Sam is also a Tony nominated Broadway star, (The Life, Grease, The Producers) and starred in numerous off-Broadway productions including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Hair, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, The Jazz Singer and The First Wives Club. Sam was a series regular on the CBS series, The Class, and has appeared on numerous television shows as an actor and also as popular talk show guest on everything from Leno to Oprah to Fallon. Behind the scenes, he created and co-wrote the television series, Down to Earth (TBS, 4 years), the musical Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood, and Liza's Back at the Palace, which won the Tony Award, co-produced the television special Love Letter to New York, and wrote and directed the concert event New York's Finest. He now adds "author" to his long list of accomplishments with the release of his first book: "Ham: Slices of a Life," a collection of essays and stories published by Simon & Schuster due in January of 2014. Sam lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Danny and their child, Cooper.
Was the winner of the first seasons $100,000 Grand Prize on televisions "Star Search" , hosted by Ed McMahon in the early 1980s.
Was nominated for Broadways 1997 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Musical) for "The Life."
Columnist Liz Smith called his portrayal of "Perry Pearl" on "The Class" : "the breakout hit comedy character of the season".
In addition to being an award winning actor, Sam is a multi-million selling recording artist.
Liza Minnelli , was quoted as saying "Some things are difficult to explain. A few rare things are easy. Sam Harris is the best damn singer Ive ever heard in my whole life. Its that simple.".
His Carnegie Hall debut sold out in 5 hours.
He was the first person to sing "Over the Rainbow" on the television show, "Star Search" (before the song became popularly sung on the show throughout the years), and won with this song.
He and Danny Jacobsen, who is a director and presentation coach for numerous Blue Chip companies and also film producer, have been a couple since 1994, and married since 2008. They adopted a son, Cooper Atticus Harris-Jacobsen, in April 2008, seven months before their November 2008 wedding ceremony.
Cousin of Angie Harmon.
He appeared in five Best Picture Academy Award winners: You Cant Take It with You , All the Kings Men , Around the World in 80 Days , My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music .
Mrs. Kathleen Watson had formerly been married to director Marcel De Sano and the late Victor M. Watson, a newspaper editor. George Brent was her brother.
Graduate of Stanford, where he majored in philosophy. Now pursuing doctorate in neuroscience (using fMRI to investigate the neurological basis of belief) at UCLA after writing a successful book on Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, which won the 2004 PEN Award for First Nonfiction.
Made his National Rugby League debut for Manly in 2003. Moved to the Wests Tigers in 2006.
Frontman of the band X Ambassadors.
I fear that my karmic lesson in this lifetime is humility - and I think,that lesson is beneath me.
Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic—in fact, it has increased my feelings of freedom. My hopes, fears, and neuroses seem less personal and indelible. There is no telling how much I might change in the future. Just as one wouldn’t draw a lasting conclusion about oneself on the basis of a brief experience of indigestion, one needn’t do so on the basis of how one has thought or behaved for vast stretches of time in the past. A creative change of inputs to the system—learning new skills, forming new relationships, adopting new habits of attention—may radically transform one’s life.
The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.
We read the Golden Rule and judge it to be a brilliant distillation of many of our ethical impulses. And then we come across another of God’s teachings on morality: if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).
According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U. S. government believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.
In the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise.
Could there be any doubt that the Jews would seek to harm the Son of God again, knowing that his body was now readily accessible in the form of defenseless crackers?,The problem of vindicating an omnipotent and omniscient God in the face of evil is insurmountable. Those who claim to have surmounted it, by recourse to notions of free will and other incoherencies, have merely heaped bad philosophy onto bad ethics.
If we cannot find our way to a time when most of us are willing to admit that, at the very least, we are not sure whether or not God wrote some of our books, then we need only count the days to Armageddon—because God has given us far many more reasons to kill one another than to turn the other cheek.
Habitual identification with discursive thought is the source of human suffering,Our habitual failure to recognise thought as thought, our habitual identification with discursive thought, is the primary source of human suffering.
I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.
Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name.
While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society. Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers. Anyone caught worshipping Poseidon, even at sea, will be thought insane.
The only thing that guarantees an open-ended collaboration among human beings, the only thing that guarantees that this project is truly open-ended, is a willingness to have our beliefs and behaviors modified by the power of conversation.
[I]t 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.
There is no doubt that the United States has much to atone for, both domestically and abroad. . . To produce this horrible confection at home, start with our genocidal treatment of the Native Americans, add a couple hundred years of slavery, along with our denial of entry to Jewish refugees fleeing the death camps of the Third Reich, stir in our collusion with a long list of modern despots and our subsequent disregard for their appalling human rights records, add our bombing of Cambodia and the Pentagon Papers to taste, and then top with our recent refusals to sign the Kyoto protocol for greenhouse emissions, to support any ban on land mines, and to submit ourselves to the rulings of the International Criminal Court. The result should smell of death, hypocrisy, and fresh brimstone.
Faith is the mortar that fills the cracks in the evidence and the gaps in the logic, and thus it is faith that keeps the whole terrible edifice of religious certainty still looming dangerously over our world.
Faith is like a pickpocket who loans a person his own money on generous terms.
Faith is like a pockpocket who loans a person his own money on generous terms.
Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.
Theology is ignorance with wings.
The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.
It is also worth noting that one can obtain a Ph. D. in any branch of science for no other purpose than to make cynical use of scientific language in an effort to rationalize the glaring inadequacies of tbe Bible. A handful of Christians appear to have done this; some have even obtained their degrees from reputable universities. No doubt, others will follow in their footsteps. While such people are technically "scientists," they are not behaving like scientists. They simply are not engaged in an honest inquiry into the nature of the universe. And their proclamations about God and the failures of Darwinism do not in the least signify that there is a legitimate scientific controversy about evolution.
The faith of religion is belief on insufficient evidence.
We rely on faith only in the context of claims for which there is no sufficient sensory or logical evidence.
The problem I want to talk to you about tonight is the problem of belief. What does it mean to believe? We use this word all the time, and I think behind it lurk some really extraordinary taboos and confusions. What I want to argue tonight is that how we talk about belief- how we fail to criticize or criticize the beliefs of others, has more importance to us personally, more consequence to us personally and to civilization than perhaps anything else that is in our power to influence.
Faith does not offer a strong link between our beliefs and actual states of the world.
There is a sense in which all cognition can be said to be motivated. One is motivated to understand the world, to be in touch with reality, to remove doubt, etc. Alternately one might say that motivation is an aspect of cognition itself. Nevertheless, motives like wanting to find the truth, not wanting to be mistaken, etc.
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.
All I’m arguing for really is that we should have a conversation where the best ideas really thrive, where there’s no taboo against criticizing bad ideas, and where everyone who shows up, in order to get their ideas entertained, has to meet some obvious burdens of intellectual rigor and self-criticism and honesty—and when people fail to do that, we are free to stop listening to them. What religion has had up until this moment is a different set of rules that apply only to it, which is you have to respect my religious certainty even though I’m telling you I arrived at it irrationally.
What are the chances that we will one day discover that DNA has absolutely nothing to do with inheritance? They are effectively zero.
Needless to say, there are people who hate Arabs, Somalis, and other immigrants from predominantly Muslim societies for racist reasons. But if you can’t distinguish that sort of blind bigotry from a hatred and concern for dangerous, divisive, and irrational ideas—like a belief in martyrdom, or a notion of male “honor” that entails the virtual enslavement of women and girls—you are doing real harm to our public conversation. Everything I have ever said about Islam refers to the content and consequences of its doctrine. And, again, I have always emphasized that its primary victims are innocent Muslims—especially women and girls.
The realistic goal to be attained through spiritual practice is not some permanent state of enlightenment that admits of no further efforts, but a capacity to be free in this moment, in the midst of whatever is happening. If you can do that, you have already solved most of the problems you will encounter in life.
Twenty percent of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious. ” Although the claim seems to annoy believers and atheists equally, separating spirituality from religion is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It is to assert two important truths simultaneously: Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn, and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit. One purpose of this book is to give both these convictions intellectual and empirical support. Before going any further, I should address the animosity that many readers feel toward the term spiritual. Whenever I use the word, as in referring to meditation as a “spiritual practice,” I hear from fellow skeptics and atheists who think that I have committed a grievous error. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, which is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning “breath. ” Around the thirteenth century, the term became entangled with beliefs about immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, and so forth. It acquired other meanings as well: We speak of the spirit of a thing as its most essential principle or of certain volatile substances and liquors as spirits. Nevertheless, many nonbelievers now consider all things “spiritual” to be contaminated by medieval superstition. I do not share their semantic concerns.  Yes, to walk the aisles of any “spiritual” bookstore is to confront the yearning and credulity of our species by the yard, but there is no other term—apart from the even more problematic mystical or the more restrictive contemplative—with which to discuss the efforts people make, through meditation, psychedelics, or other means, to fully bring their minds into the present or to induce nonordinary states of consciousness. And no other word links this spectrum of experience to our ethical lives.
You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.
There is never a moment where I find Trump persuasive. When I look at him I see a man without any inner life. I see the most superficial person on Earth. This is a guy who has been totally hollowed out by greed and self regard and delusion. If I caught some sort of brain virus and I started talking about myself the way Trump talks about himself, I would throw myself out a fucking window. That barely overstates it. Do you remember that scene at the end of The Exorcist where the priest is driving out the devil from Linda Blair and the devil comes into him and he just hurls himself out the window to end all the madness? Well, it would be like that.
There is never a moment where I find Trump persuasive. When I look at him I see a man without any inner life. I see the most superficial person on Earth. This is a guy who has been totally hollowed out by greed and self regard and delusion. The way he talks about himself; if I caught some sort of brain virus and I started talking about myself the way Trump talks about himself, I would throw myself out a fucking window. That barely overstates it. Do you remember that scene at the end of the in The Exorcist where the priest is driving out the devil from Linda Blair and the devil comes into him and he just hurls himself out the window to end all the madness? Well, it would be like that.
Just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim Algebra, we will see tht there is no such thing as Christian or Muslim morality.
I have no doubt that your acceptance of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in your life. Perhaps you now love other people in a way that you never imagined possible. You may even experience feelings of bliss while praying. I don’t wish to denigrate any of these experiences. I would point out, however, that billions of other human beings, in every time and place, have had similar experiences - but they had them while thinking about Krishna, or Allah, or the Buddha, while making art or music, or while contemplating the beauty of Nature. There is no question that it is possible for people to have profoundly transformative experiences. And there is no question that it is possible for them to misinterpret these experiences, and to further delude themselves about the nature of reality. You are, of course, right to believe that there is more to life than simply understanding the structure and contents of the universe. But this does not make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about its structure and contents any more respectable.
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.
To point out nonepistemic motives in another’s view of the world, therefore, is always a criticism, as it serves to cast doubt upon a person’s connection to the world as it is.
Choosing beliefs freely is not what rational minds do.
If your golf instructor were to insist that you shave your head, sleep no more than four hours each night, renounce sex, and subsist on a diet of raw vegetables, you would find a new golf instructor. However, when gurus make demands of this kind, many of their students simply do as directed.
Honesty can force any dysfunction in your life to the surface. Are you in an abusive relationship? A refusal to lie to others – How did you get that bruise? – would oblige you to come to grips with this situation very quickly. Do you have a problem with drugs or alcohol? Lying is the lifeblood of addiction. If we have no recourse to lies, our lives can unravel only so far without others noticing. Telling the truth can also reveal ways in which we want to grow but haven’t.
The only differences between a cult and a religion are the numbers of adherents and the degree to which they are marginalized by the rest of society.
There is nothing passive about mindfulness. One might even say that it expresses a specific kind of passion—a passion for discerning what is subjectively real in every moment. It is a mode of cognition that is, above all, undistracted, accepting, and (ultimately) nonconceptual. Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves. Mindfulness is a vivid awareness of whatever is appearing in one’s mind or body—thoughts, sensations, moods—without grasping at the pleasant or recoiling from the unpleasant.
Ideas matter—and philosophy is the art of thinking about them rigorously. In my view, that should be done in as public a forum as possible.
If our well-being depends upon the interaction between events in our brains and events in the world, and there are better and worse ways to secure it, then some cultures will tend to produce lives that are more worth living than others; some political persuasions will be more enlightened than others; and some world views will be mistaken in ways that cause needless human misery.
We will embarrass our descendants, just as our ancestors embarrass us. This is moral progress.
One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not--that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral--that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings.
Christians. . . . . expend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide.
What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose on earth? These are some of the great, false questions of religion. We need not answer them, for they are badly posed, but we can live our answers all the same. At a minimum, we can create the conditions for human flourishing in this life--the only life of which any of us can be certain. That means we should not terrify our children with thoughts of hell or poison them with hatred for infidels. We should not teach our sons to consider women their future property or convince our daughters that they are property even now. And we must decline to tell our children that human history began with bloody magic and will end with bloody magic in a glorious war between the righteous and the rest.
It is time we admitted, from kings and presidents on down, that there is no evidence that any of our books was authored by the Creator of the universe. The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology. To rely on such a document as the basis for our worldview-however heroic the efforts of redactors- is to repudiate two thousand years of civilizing insights that the human mind has only just begun to inscribe upon itself through secular politics and scientific culture. We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist.
People have been murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis.
Certainty about the next life is simply incompatible with tolerance in this one.
By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally.
Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or that specific software was coded by him. Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98. Could anything—anything—be more ridiculous? And yet, this would be no more ridiculous than the world we are living in.
There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.
We must continually remind ourselves that there is a difference between what is natural and what is actually good for us.
As many critics of religion have pointed out, the notion of a creator poses an immediate problem of an infinite regress. If God created the universe, what created God? To say that God, by definition, is uncreated simply begs the question. Any being capable of creating a complex world promises to be very complex himself. As the biologist Richard Dawkins has observed repeatedly, the only natural process we know of that could produce a being capable of designing things is evolution.
In Islam, it is the "moderate" who is left to split hairs,because the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, sub-jugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world.
The truth, however, is that most Muslims appear to be "fundamental-ist" in the Western sense of the word—in that even "moderate"approaches to Islam generally consider the Koran to be the literal andinerrant word of the one true God. The difference between funda-mentalists and moderates—and certainly the difference between all"extremists" and moderates—is the degree to which they see politicaland military action to be intrinsic to the practice of their faith. In anycase, people who believe that Islam must inform every dimension ofhuman existence, including politics and law, are now generally callednot "fundamentalists" or "extremists" but, rather, "Islamists.
even if Noam Chomsky were right about everything, the Islamic doctrines related to martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, the rights of women and homosexuals, etc. would still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society (and these are problems quite unlike those presented by similar tenets in other faiths, for reasons that I have explained at length elsewhere and touch on only briefly here). And any way in which I might be biased or blinded by “the religion of the state,” or any other form of cultural indoctrination, has absolutely no relevance to the plight of Shiites who have their mosques, weddings, and funerals bombed by Sunni extremists, or to victims of rape who are beaten, imprisoned, or even killed as “adulteresses” throughout the Muslim world. I hope it goes without saying that the Afghan girls who even now are risking their lives by merely learning to read would not be best compensated for their struggles by being handed copies of Chomsky’s books enumerating the sins of the West,Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence what so ever.
When we consider that so few generations had passed since thechurch left off disemboweling innocent men before the eyes of theirfamilies, burning old women alive in public squares, and torturingscholars to the point of madness for merely speculating about thenature of the stars, it is perhaps little wonder that it failed to thinkanything had gone terribly amiss in Germany during the war years.
Liberals tend to understand that a person can be lucky or unlucky in all matters relevant to his success. Conservatives, however, often make a religious fetish of individualism. Many seem to have absolutely no awareness of how fortunate one must be to succeed at anything in life, no matter how hard one works. One must be lucky to be able to work. One must be lucky to be intelligent, physically healthy, and not bankrupted in middle age by the illness of a spouse.
We are not self-caused little gods.
What evidence could possibly be put forward to show that one could have acted differently in the past?,The opportunity to decieve others is ever present and often tempting, and each instance of deception casts us onto some of the steepest ethical terrain we ever cross.
Of course, the liar often imagines that he does no harm as long as his lies go undetected.
False encouragement is a kind of theft: it steals time, energy, and motivation a person could put toward some other purpose.
While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its liabilities. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us incapable of criticizing ideas that are now patently absurd and increasingly maladaptive.
Muslim moderates, wherever they are, must be given every tool necessary to win a war of ideas with their co-religionists. Otherwise, we will have to win some very terrible wars in the future.
Science does not limit itself merely to what is currently verifiable. But it is interested in questions that are potentially verifiable (or, rather, falsifiable).
The problem is that religion tends to give people bad reasons to be good.
It is difficult to think of anything more important than providing the best education possible for our children. They will develop the next technologies, medical cures, and global industries, while mitigating their unintended effects, or they will fail to do these things and consign us all to oblivion.
Nothing guarantees that reasonable people will agree about everything, of course, but the unreasonable are certain to be divided by their dogmas. It is time we recognized that this spirit of mutual inquiry, which is the foundation of all real science, is the very antithesis of religious faith.
Strange bonds of trust and self-deception tend to grow between journalists and their subjects.
One could surely argue that the Buddhist tradition, taken as a whole, represents the richest source of contemplative wisdom that any civilization has produced.
As an atheist, I am angry that we live in a society in which the plain truth cannot be spoken without offending 90% of the population. .