We've done a lot in this class so far. We've heard about your various what you've been told to believe about the soul and its afterlife. You interviewed people about what they, what they believe about the soul and afterlife, pretty much inundated in this topic. I've read a number of the papers and most people believe something about the soul. There, there are some people who kind of dismiss it or, or it's so confusing that they, they don't even want to talk about it. So we've done the interviews, we've, we've had three lectures on the history of soul and afterlife beliefs. So there's, we've, we've, we've been inundated with this material. Today, I want to observe even though in the, in the context of most people believing some version of the soul and some version of the afterlife of the soul, there are some people who do not believe any of it. Okay, so, we're going to hear some of the, the, the, the so-called the, the other side. And some spokesmen for the, the quote other side are, are are forceful. They're committed to atheism. They're committed to non-belief. So this might be little hard for some of you to, to listen to. But I think it's important that, that, that, we, stir the pot a little bit here, because there is a huge controversy about this topic not only in this nation but elsewhere as well. So there are some non believers. Here, here is a famous non believer. The, the old atheist, I am going to be talking mostly about the new atheists. And, and we're going to have, I'm going to have a number of videos today, where, where, where the new atheist are, are stating their, their point. And, and, and let me say that they, they are very directive, they are very direct, they, they, they don't pull any punches. But that's somebody saying all religion is bunk, and that's Thomas Edison. There's, there's, a number of very famous atheists and you might be surprised, you might be surprised that Thomas Edison wa, wa, was an atheists but he is very clear about it. He says all this stuff is bunk, and we have Mark Twain. He wrote a book called let, Letters from Earth and it took a long time after his death for it being pub, published because of various executors of his estate. They thought it was a might be a little bit of an embarrassment to him, although he was dead. Or embarrassment to the family. Felt that perhaps it was not appropriate but eventually it was published under the title of Letters from Earth. Interesting, if you pick up a copy of, of Letters of Earth, read it. Because it's, it's, it's so Mark Twain, if you can put it that way. It here's a scenario. The, the letters are written by Saint Satan to his colleagues Saint Gabriel and Saint Michael. What the three of them had in common was they were all there when God created the universe. Up to that point, there was nothing, but then he went boom and the universe was created. And, and three archangels gave ruin and, and Satan and Micheal they, they were just whoa! Wow! That was a pretty amazing expression of the divine, of power. Saint Satan was, was not real happy with it because he thought it was neither when it was nothing. But he did reluctantly ad, admire a God's creation of, of the universe. The God also created something on the side and he called them animals. And, and, and they said what, what, what is all these I am going to call them those animals. What's an animal? Well, these are animals. Where are you going to put them? I, I'm, I'm going to put them on this small little planet, where I'm conducting experiment. And the experiment was on the, the God's law or he also called it the law of nature. Okay, so you, that's the setup for the story. Now one of the angels or several angels reported to God, was a tattletale on, on a Saint Satan. Because he, he had expressed some sarcasm. You know, Satan was like a sarcastic guy, eh, eh, or angel or I guess you'd call him a guy, let's call him a guy. And, and he, he, he made sort of side comments about God's creations and, and, you know, made fun of it but you know, not dangerously. But God, but got upset from time to time with Satan's shenanigans, and so when he heard that he was being sarcastic, he did what he typically did. He sent Satan out to to space for a, a year. It's actually a celestial year which is very long time. And, and Satan decided well this time his punishment he'll go some place interesting. So he, he decided to come to Earth and check out on God's experiment. With, with the, the law of, of, of nature, the law of God, just to find out what was happening in our no, on Earth, with, with the creatures he created, he's particularly interested in human beings. So he reported back on a series of, I don't know, there are 11 or 12 letters in this book, to, to, his, his cohorts saints Gabriel and Saint Michael. And here are excerpts of what he said. This is actually for the first letter. This is a strange place. The, the place is insane. I am going to get up and slowly move over here so I won't have to twist my, my neck around. In all sincerity, man calls himself the noblest work of God. This is how the evolution has taken place, this is what, the result for one of these species god created, it's just human beings. He thinks he's the creator's pet. He believes the creator sits up at night and admires him. God created him, admires him. He prays to him and thinks that God listens. I must put another strain on you. He thinks he's going to heaven. He has salaried teachers. Who tell him that. They also tell him, there's a hell of everlasting fire. And he will go to it if he doesn't keep the commandments. Whether the commandments, I will tell you about them by and by. [COUGH] Now tweens take on the commandments that are particularly hilarious, but we need not to go in today. That was only a prelude to the arrival present day arrival of a group of atheists that have been dubbed the Four Horsemen. These are these are currently the, the most, represent the most serious challenge to religion. Some people find them extremely annoying. Religious leaders can't stand, couldn't stand to even be in the same room as these people. Now I want you to become familiar with these, for these people. You have an assignment actually to watch two hours of, of their talk with each other. Don't, don't blow of that assignment. Because I ne, I want you to know a little bit about these people who are, who they are and, and their argument. The, the, they're out to undermine religious belief. They think it's hooey. They think it's bunk and they also think it's very, very dangerous. Now you recently wrote papers on that societies can't can't exist without religion. Well, these people's argument is societies are likely to destroy civilization, because of religion. So, it's not just that religion is necessary for, for a society. They're saying that religions are going to ultimately do us in. Ultimately, to destruction of civilization and destructive, destruction of human life on this planet. There is another issue here before I get to some of the specifics here. There is a, a separation that some people would argue [COUGH] and some notable will argue that religion should stay in one realm and science in another realm. And they should not intrude upon each other's space. Do you understand? That, that they have their separate territory. Some people call it separate magisteria. It's a, a, a realm and, and they should remain separate and, and, and not intermingle. And I've had some personal experience with that. I gave a paper in a sort of small academic scholarly group this last summer. And it's a paper that you'll read later on in the course. It's called the Internalization of, of The Anatomy of Internalized Beliefs. You know, how, how beliefs come our way and some are taken in and actually internalized and become part of our assumptions and, and support our wor, wor, world views. And, and I apply that in some respects to the, the internalization of religious beliefs. Beliefs about the soul and its afterlife. Well, I was shocked, because about half of the group, these people who I know pretty well were offended. I was unprepared for them to be offended, because they felt that I had violated the rule. I had intruded upon the sacred and it took me a little while to, to recover. That, that, that was their criticism. So, it's not just in, among you know, every day, although these are people who are everyday people. But these are scholars who, who seem to abide by the line that, that you can talk about science things and you can talk about religious things, but you shouldn't intermix them. I, I think that is a terrible mistake. It's either that or the paper I gave was a terrible paper. All right. So those are the Four Horsemen. As I said, courage you to, to listen to them. It gets a little tedious from time to time. I'll probably ask questions about it. I won't not ask how much do you think they drank? That, that they do a considerable [LAUGH] amount of drinking in it, but I see no evidence that they are getting clobbered. They sort of nurse the same drink for a couple of hours. [COUGH] The first on board was, is, Sam Harris. He's, he's, the one that gave the clarion call. Hey, we are coming. I, I don't think that they, that they had spoken with each other, hey, you write this book and then I'll follow. I think this sort of happened, it was in the air that, that it's about time to question religion. Questioning religion for a long time and, and it still is in some respects, it's taboo, you know? Don't ask me about my religion and I won't ask you about your religion. Be, because, let's, let's let's just agree that, that we probably disagree. So let's not get into it. I know whether you ran into that one when people talked about their, their soul and their beliefs about the soul. I think even that up to now that the soul, talk about the soul has been taboo. Lets not make that taboo. I mean, this is a really, really rich and interesting topic and I think its an important topic as well. So first on board was Sam Harris. Sam Harris he got his undergraduate degree in philosophy. Where he, he actually studied deeply religions, both Western and Eastern religion, religious philosophies. He was a philosophy student. Very articulate and, and writes really well and as you will see when you look at the Four Horsemen video, he's, he's very articulate. He is easy to listen to ask good questions. So his first book was the end of faith calling for The End of Faith. Because he saw the serious, what he considered to be very serious da, danger of people fighting over religious premises. We'll get it, this is not the first, this is not the only time this will be brought up in, in, in, class or in this course. He wrote a follow up book called the Letter To a Christian Nation, because he's got so many letters from Christians about who, who were objected to his book on The End of Faith. Is really calling for the end of faith. Here's some quotations, end of faith. The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a technological break through or a breakthrough example of emerging technology. They were written thousands of years ago, the Bible is written, pieced together over, several centuries some chapters remain, others were replaced. And it was a very long process but it was still written in pretty ancient times when various people had beliefs about how the world was. A, an, and they came up with these this this notion that first of all, God wrote it through them. Through the prophets, God, God was had composed it which, which of course Harris denies completely but, but it was written from the point of view or the worldview that was ancient and certainly far, far pre-science times. Children are instructed disregard the facts of this world out of deference to the God who lurks in his mother's and father's imaginations. Now you can ima, imagine how that came about and why that's important to him, we, we, we will tend to believe as children, what people tell us. Some, some, of these other people I'll mention the other three also make the same point that, that we, we are, are designed to believe as children what people who are adults or parents. Other people who have some stature in our life we believe what they're to, what tell us because perhaps our survival depends on it. You know, I, I have never stuck a fork in, into, an electrical outlet. Not because, you know, I, I, I didn't want to, I was told not to do that. You know, very clearly, you, your, you'll shock yourself in the heart and may even kill yourself. I, I, I trusted my, informant. Why are so many Muslims willing to turn themselves into a bomb these days there, it's a career opportunity. So, you know, is again the, these people are, are very forthright and here's a little bit of- >> [INAUDIBLE] >> Sam Harris. >> I think religion is the most divisive and dangerous ideology that we have ever produced. And once more it's the only ideology that is systematically protected from criticism both from within and without. It, it remains taboo, I mean, you can crit, you can criticize someones beliefs about, on really any subject. But it remains taboo to criticize their beliefs about God and I think we're paying an extraordinary price for maintaining this taboo. So, I'm going to break this taboo rather enthusiastically over the next hour. And I'll get, I will leave some time for questions and I'm, I'm happy to take your, your criticism. I also want to, to point out up front there's nothing that I'm about to say that should be construed as a denial of the possibilities of spiritual experience, and indeed of the, the importance of spiritual experience. And that's a subject I'll, I'll come back to at the end. Here's, here's my basic concern. Our ability to cause ourselves harm is now spreading within 21st Century efficiency and yet we are still, to a remarkable degree drawing our vision of how to live in this world from ancient literature. This, this marriage of modern technology, destructive technology and iron age philosophy is a bad one. For reasons that I think nobody should have to specify, much less argue for. And yet arguing for them has, has taken up most of my time since September 11, 2001. That day that 19 pious men showed our pious nation just how socially beneficial religious certainty can be. You know, as someone who has spent a few years publicly criticizing religion, I've become quite familiar with how people rise to the defense of God. As it turns out, there are not 100 ways of doing this. There appear to be just three. >> [LAUGH] >> Either a person argues that a specific religion is true or he argues that religion is useful and indeed so useful that it might be necessary or he argues that, that atheism is essentially another religion, dogmatic, intolerant or otherwise worthy of contempt. And I, I want to, I want to differentiate these three strands of argument because they're, they regularly run together and any conversation between a believer and non believers is, is liable to fall into one of these ruts. Let's, let's begin with the specific claim that a, a given religion is true. There are two problems with arguing this. The first is that, as Bertrand Russell pointed out over a century ago, they can't all be true. Given the sheer diversity of, of religions on offer even if we knew that one of them was absolutely true. I mean, even if we knew this was, this was God's multiple choice exam. Is it a Judaism, b Christianity, c Islam? Even if we knew we were in this situation every believer should expect to wind up in hell, purely as a matter of probability. >> [LAUGH]. >> It, it seems to me this, this, should give religious pause when they before they espouse their religious certainties. It never does, but it should. The second problem with arguing for the truth of religion. Is that the evidence for our religious doctrines is either terrible or non-existent. And this subsumes all claims about the existence of a personal God, the divine origin of certain books, the virgin birth of certain people, the veracity of ancient miracles, all of it. We consider Christianity, the entire doctrine is predicated on the idea that the, the gospel account of the miracles of Jesus is true. This is, this is why people believe Jesus was the son of God, divine, etc. This textual claim, this, this textual claim is problematic because everyone acknowledges that the gospels follow Jesus ministry by decades. And there's no extra-biblical account of his miracles. But, but the truth is quite a bit worse than that. The truth is even if we had multiple contemporaneous eyewitness accounts of miracles of Jesus. This still would not provide sufficient basis to believe that these events actually occurred. Well, why not? Well, the problem is that first hand reports of miracles are quite common, even in the 21st century. I have met, literal, literally hundreds at this point of western educated men and women who think that their favorite Hindu or Buddhist guru has magic powers. All the powers ascribed to these gurus are every bit as outlandish as those ascribed to Jesus. I actually remain open to evidence of such powers but, the, the fact is that people who tell these stories desperately want to believe them. All, to my knowledge, lack the kind of corroborating evidence we should require before believing that nature's laws have been abrogated in this way. >> And, and people who cho, who believe these stories show an uncanny reluctance to look for non-miraculous causes. But it remains a fact that Yogis and Mystics are said to be walking on water and raising the dead and flying without the aid of technology. Materializing objects, reading minds, foretelling the future ri, right now. In fact, all of these powers have been described to Sathya Sai Baba, the, the South Indian Guru by an uncountable number of eye witnesses. And he even claims to be born of a virgin, which is not all that uncommon a claim in his, in the history of religion or in history generally. Genghis Khan supposedly was born of a virgin as was, as was Alexander. Apparently, parthenogenesis doesn't guarantee that you're going to turn the other cheek. [LAUGH] But, Sa, Sathya Sai Baba is not a fringe figure. He's not the David Koresh of Hinduism. His followers through a birthday party for him recently and a million people showed up. So there, there are vast numbers of people who believe he is a living God. You can even watch his miracles on YouTube. Prepare to be underwhelmed. [LAUGH] I mean, it's true that he has an afro of sufficient diameter as to suggest a total detachment from the opinions of his fellow human beings. [LAUGH]. >> But I'm not sure this is reason enough to worship him in any case. So consider as though for the first time, the foundational claim of Christianity. The claim is this. That miracle stories of a sort that today surround a person like Sathya Sai Baba become especially compelling when you set them in the pre-scientific religious context of the first century Roman empire, decades after their supposed occurrence. We have Sathya Sai Baba's miracle stories attested to by 1000 upon 1000 of living eye witnesses. And they don't even merit an hour on the Discovery Channel. But you place a few miracle stories in some ancient books and half the people on this Earth think it a legitimate project to organize their lives around them. Does anyone else see a problem with that? [LAUGH] Speaking more generally, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are founded on the claim that the Bible and the Quran were dictated by the creator of the universe. There is a, there is a creator, there is a personal God and he occasionally writes books. [LAUGH] He doesn't, he doesn't code software. [LAUGH] He doesn't produce films. [LAUGH] Mel Gibson's claim to have been toiling all the while under the influence of the Holy Spirit, I think is probably an exception here. [LAUGH] [COUGH] but in any case, God is principally an author of books. And this idea has achieved credibility, because the, the contents of these books are deemed to be so profound that they could not possibly had been produced by the human mind. Please consider how implausible this is. Consider how differently we treat scientific text and discoveries. In the year 1665 it's the beginning in the summer of 1665 Isaac Newton went into isolation to dodge the outbreak of plague that was incidentally laying ways to the pious men and women of England. And when he, when he had emerged from his solitude. He had invented the integral and differential calculus. He had discovered the laws of universal gravitation and motion. He had set the field of optics on its foundation. Now many scientists think this is the most awe-inspiring display of human intelligence in the history of human intelligence. And yet, no one is tempted to ascribe this to divine agency. We know that, that these, these accomplishments were, were affected by a mortal and a, and a very unpleasant mortal at that. [LAUGH] And yet, literally billions of us deem the contents of the Bible and the Quran so profound as to rule out the possibility of, of terrestrial authorship. >> I failed to mention that, that he in addition to having a degree in philosophy, he has a degree, a PhD now in neuroscience. I don't know that he's using his PhD in neuroscience. This, what you just saw is pretty much his career. He, the, this is what he does. He goes across the nation and, and around the world asking questions about the validity and the usefulness of religion. The useful of some ideas that were set forth on paper a couple 1000 years ago and also perceives great danger and it's continued [COUGH] proliferation.