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?

ISIS, ISLAM and Atheism … How to nurture tolerance in the face of Intolerable Ideas?

James Foley, beheaded by ISIS militants

ISIS is horrible. The Islamic State is horribly intolerant, violent, and oppressive. There is no doubting this unless you are a fellow Islamic extremist.

Read this EXCELLENT primer on ISIS by Graeme Wood from The Atlantic (world’s greatest magazine) below:

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

Further Interesting and relevant information is linked below for your intellectual development:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/12/347711170/isis-isil-or-islamic-state-whats-in-a-name

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/world/middleeast/horror-before-the-beheadings-what-isis-hostages-endured-in-syria.html?&_r=0

The question is then, what is the responsibility of non-extremist Muslims in regard to combating this ideology?  What is the responsibility of non Muslims in combating this ideology? 

Recently, a massive debate has been sparked on this very issue by comedian and political pundit Bill Maher, Actor/Director Ben Affleck, Intellectual and famous Atheist Sam Harris, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

See the links below to get up to speed:

University professor and Muslim Resa Aslan on what the “new atheists” get wrong about Islam:

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/10/reza-aslan-on-what-the-new-atheists-get-wrong.html

Mr. Kristof’s response to the drama:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/09/opinion/nicholas-kristof-the-diversity-of-islam.html

Sam Harris Response to the Drama:

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/can-liberalism-be-saved-from-itself

This brings up innumerable ideas, questions, comments and musings…however here are a few to focus our discussion: 

  1. If a knowledge system leads to extreme violence and oppression, is that knowledge system wrong? 
  2. Was Bill Maher Wrong?  Was Bill Maher Right? 
  3. What’s the difference between belief systems and religion?
  4. Are there violent religions or just violent people? 
  5. What is the logical relationship between ideas and behavior?