Samuel B. Harris is an American author, neuroscientist and philosopher renowned for his advocacy of rational skepticism and New Atheism.
Born on April 9, 1967, in Los Angeles, Harris was raised in a secular household.
He left Stanford University midway through his English major to study meditation with Hindu Buddhist teachers in Asia, later returning to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and attaining a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of California.
Following the 9/11 attacks on Twin Towers, Harris started writing his debut book “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason,” published in 2004.
Despite his spiritual learning, Harris challenges the validity of religious beliefs, arguing for scientific skepticism and evidence-based reasoning.
Related: Hannah Arendt Quotes from the Political Philosopher and Umberto Eco Quotes from the Italian Philosopher & Novelist
Despite being an atheist Harris is reluctant to label himself as such as he believes it doesn’t accurately reflect his position.
He continues to write on a broad range of subjects and lectures at notable American and English universities.
Let’s jump into some of the best quotes by Sam Harris.
Table of Contents
Best Sam Harris Quotes
A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings. ~ Sam Harris.
As a man believes, so he will act. ~ Sam Harris.
We are all prisoners of our thoughts. ~ Sam Harris.
This is how you play tennis without the net. ~ Sam Harris.
Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance. ~ Sam Harris.
The problem is that religion tends to give people bad reasons to be good. ~ Sam Harris.
To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden. ~ Sam Harris.
Of course, the liar often imagines that he does no harm as long as his lies go undetected. ~ Sam Harris.
The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors. ~ Sam Harris.
It is important to realize that our inability to answer a question says nothing about whether the question itself has an answer. ~ Sam Harris.
Science, in the broadest sense, includes all reasonable claims to knowledge about ourselves and the world. ~ Sam Harris.
If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it won’t matter how successful you become or who is in your life – you won’t enjoy any of it. ~ Sam Harris.
People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power. ~ Sam Harris.
Famous Sam Harris Quotes
Compatibilism amounts to nothing more than an assertion of the following creed: A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings. ~ Sam Harris.
What are the chances that we will one day discover that DNA has absolutely nothing to do with inheritance? They are effectively zero. ~ Sam Harris.
The moral landscape is the framework I use for thinking about questions of morality and human values in universal terms. ~ Sam Harris.
The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. ~ Sam Harris.
The truth that we must finally confront is that Islam contains specific notions of martyrdom and jihad that fully explain the character of Muslim violence. ~ Sam Harris.
Reason is nothing less than the guardian of love. ~ Sam Harris.
What would our world be like if we ceased to worry about ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ or ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and simply acted so as to maximize well-being, our own and that of others? Would we lose anything important? ~ Sam Harris.
All civilized nations must unite in condemnation of a theology that now threatens to destabilize much of the earth. ~ Sam Harris.
The core of science is not a mathematical modeling – it is intellectual honesty. It is a willingness to have our certainties about the world constrained by good evidence and good argument. ~ Sam Harris.
Anyone familiar with my work knows that I am extremely critical of all religious faiths. ~ Sam Harris.
People often regret the things they cared about. Their attention was bound up in petty concerns when life was normal. ~ Sam Harris.
Top Sam Harris Quotes
You don’t get anything worth getting, by pretending to know things you don’t know. ~ Sam Harris.
Jesus Christ – who, as it turns out, was born of a virgin, cheated death, and rose bodily into the heavens – can now be eaten in the form of a cracker. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
Avoid dangerous people and dangerous places. ~ Sam Harris.
To not believe in God is to know that it falls to us to make the world a better place. ~ Sam Harris.
You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible – and then, in the next moment, you assert that we human beings cannot possibly rely upon our own intuitions to rightly guide us in the world. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
The second commandment is Thou shall not construct any graven images. ~ Sam Harris. Is this really the pinnacle of what we can achieve morally? The second most important moral principle for all the generations of humanity? ~ Sam Harris.
Popular Sam Harris Quotes
The principal tenet of Jainism is non-harming. Observant Jains will literally not harm a fly. Fundamentalist Jainism and fundamentalist Islam do not have the same consequences, neither logically nor behaviorally. ~ Sam Harris.
Theology is ignorance with wings. ~ Sam Harris.
Science is the most durable and non divisive way of thinking about the human circumstance. It transcends cultural, national, and political boundaries. You don’t have American science versus Canadian science versus Japanese science. ~ Sam Harris.
You almost never get the pleasure of seeing that you won the argument in real time. People just don’t like to publicly change their minds. They change their minds in private. ~ Sam Harris.
How we pay attention to the present moment determines the character of our experience and the quality of our lives. ~ Sam Harris.
Unfortunately, failure enjoys a natural advantage. Wrong answers to any problem outnumber right ones by a wide margin, and it seems that it will always be easier to break things than to fix them. ~ Sam Harris.
Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship. ~ Sam Harris.
It is time we recognized that belief is not a private matter; it has never been merely private. In fact, beliefs are scarcely more private than actions are, for every belief is a fount of action in potential. ~ Sam Harris.
Atheism is just a way of clearing the space for better conversations. ~ Sam Harris.
Faith enables many of us to endure life’s difficulties with an equanimity that would be scarcely conceivable in a world lit only by reason. ~ Sam Harris.
This is the true horror of religion. It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own. ~ Sam Harris.
Great Sam Harris Quotes
The difference between science and religion is the difference between a willingness to dispassionately consider new evidence and new arguments, and a passionate unwillingness to do so. ~ Sam Harris.
We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper. ~ Sam Harris.
Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. ~ Sam Harris.
The most transformative experiences people have – bliss, devotion, self transcendence – are currently anchored to the worst parts of culture and to ways of thinking that merely amplify superstition, self-deception, and conflict. ~ Sam Harris.
The point is that most of what we currently hold sacred is not sacred for any reason other than that it was thought sacred yesterday. ~ Sam Harris.
If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide that proves they should value evidence. If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument would you invoke to prove they should value logic? ~ Sam Harris.
We must continually remind ourselves that there is a difference between what is natural and what is actually good for us. ~ Sam Harris.
Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime? ~ Sam Harris.
You can do what you decide to do – but you cannot decide what you will decide to do. ~ Sam Harris.
It is as though a portal in time has opened, and the Christians of the 14th century are pouring into our world. ~ Sam Harris.
Ultimate Sam Harris Quotes
Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds – and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
It’s not so much religion per se, it’s false certainty that worries me, and religion just has more than its fair share of false certainty or dogmatism. I’m really concerned when I see people pretending to know things they clearly cannot know. ~ Sam Harris.
Everyone who has eyes to see can see that if the God of Abraham exists, He is an utter psychopath – and the God of Nature too. If you can’t see these things just by looking, you have simply closed your eyes to the realities of our world. ~ Sam Harris.
Bad ideas, however sacred, cannot survive the company of good ones forever. ~ Sam Harris.
Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma. ~ Sam Harris.
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely. ~ Sam Harris.
You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm. ~ Sam Harris.
The science of morality is about maximizing psychological and social health. It’s really no more inflammatory than that. ~ Sam Harris.
Our world is fast succumbing to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs that should not survive an elementary school education. ~ Sam Harris.
The habit of spending nearly every waking moment lost in thought leaves us at the mercy of whatever our thoughts happen to be. Meditation is a way of breaking this spell. ~ Sam Harris.
It is utterly astonishing how ordinary a book can be and still be thought the product of omniscience. ~ Sam Harris.
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. ~ Sam Harris.
Islam, at the moment, is the motherlode of bad ideas. ~ Sam Harris.
So these were the 77 top Sam Harris quotes and sayings about philosophy, meditation, religion and science.
If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Andy Stanley quotes and Thomas Wolfe quotes.