Investigating the Moral Landscape: Knowledge systems, authority and a better way forward?

Watch the above TED Talk by Sam Harris titled, “Science can answer moral questions” and consider the following: 

  1. Summarize his thesis in 1-3 sentences
  2. What are the strengths of Harris’ argument?
  3. What are the weaknesses of Harris’ argument?
  4. Ok, so lets say you agree with all he has to say, where does that leave us? What are next steps?

Sleepwalking towards Armageddon: An examination of tolerance, religious knowledge systems and a way forward

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Read the short essay penned by Author Sam Harris titled, Sleep Walking Toward Armageddon.”   

When finished, reflect on the following questions:

  1. Harris writes, “Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder?” What are your thoughts on this statement? There is no doubt beliefs guide behavior, but do the beliefs stated lead to the behavior cited?
  2. To what extent should beliefs that lead to bad behavior be tolerated?
  3. What are the individual and societal benefits of religious knowledge systems? If they were to be eliminated, what would take their place and fulfill the benefits you stated?
  4. Harris puts forth the thesis that acknowledging and critiquing of the “dangerous beliefs” which he states are inherent in Islam would be a start to solving the problems that he believes stem from islam. Do you agree? How would it and how wouldn’t it?
  5. What is the way forward? Education? Censorship?