Point of Inquiry

Center for Inquiry

Religion & Spirituality, Science & Medicine, Social Sciences, Society & Culture, Philosophy

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Science & Medicine 48
Social Sciences 9

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.


Sam Harris: Seeking Transcendence Without Religion

September 2nd, 2014

Episode 431 of 538 episodes

It’s been ten years since the publication of Sam Harris’s bookThe End of Faithkicked off the cultural phenomenon of “new atheism,” bringing frank criticism of religion into mainstream conversation. In the decade since, Harris has emerged as something of a maverick among nonbelievers and progressives, frequently at the center of controversy with his opinions on Islam and extremism, science’s role in morality, and his embrace of a kind of “spiritualism” grounded in science. It is this last item that is the subject of his latest book,Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, in which he seeks a rational approach to transcendence; one that puts the supernatural aside in favor of an honest, scientific exploration of the mind, altered states of consciousness, and other (as he puts it) “spooky phenomena.” On this special episode ofPoint of Inquiry, Harris talks to host Josh Zepps about his foray into the mystical. In this fascinating interview, Harris asserts that experiences such as bliss and transcendence must be removed from the realm of sectarianism, but that “one of the great holes in secularism” is that “we don’t have a ready answer for someone who wakes uptomorrowmorning with an extraordinary change in their conscious life which they deem positive.” Harris talks about the search for this answer, as well as the illusion of the self, expanding our moral circle to include other creatures, and an evaluation of the progress secularism has made since the time “new atheism” was still new.

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