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Sam Harris on the Science of Good and Evil

Sam Harris argues that amidst all the competing arguments about how we should lead our lives, science can show us that there are right and wrong answers.

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Where do our ideas about morality and meaning come from? Most people – from religious extremists to secular scientists – would agree on one point: that science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, science’s failure to explain meaning and morality has become the primary justification for religious faith and the reason why even many non-believers feel obliged to accord respect to the beliefs of the devout.

Sam Harris, the American philosopher and neuroscientist, argues that these views are mistaken – that amidst all the competing arguments about how we should lead our lives, science can show us that there are right and wrong answers. This means that moral relativism is mistaken and that there can be neither a Christian nor a Muslim morality – and that ultimately science can and should determine how best to live our lives.

Revd Dr Giles Fraser, former-canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, joins Harris in conversation. The event was chaired by Jeremy O’Grady.


Speakers

Chair

Jeremy O'Grady

Editor-in-Chief of The Week


Co-founder of Intelligence Squared and Editor-in-Chief of The Week, one of the most influential subscription and newsstand weeklies to emerge in the UK media for a decade. Jeremy worked as a researcher in local government before working for ten years as a senior examiner at the British Board of Film Classification. He launched the Week in 1995 along with Jolyon Connell, and has helped to pioneer its unique style and content.
Featuring

Sam Harris

Philosopher and neuroscientist


Philosopher and neuroscientist. He is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Letter to a Christian Nation and The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.

Giles Fraser

Priest and broadcaster


Parish priest at St Mary’s Newington in south London. He was canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral until he resigned in 2011 over the treatment of the Occupy protesters camped outside the cathedral. He writes the Loose Canon column for the Guardian and is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4.