The controversies that trail religion is almost as old as mankind and the introduction of religion itself. Several scholars, in their bid to rationalize it, have referred to it as the opium of the people for lack of better words. Sam Harris is famous as a controversial author who has been quite vocal in his criticism of religion, especially Islam. He studied philosophy and cognitive neuroscience and is presently a bestselling author with several books to his name. He is also popular as an award-winning podcaster and one of the founding fathers of the New Atheism.
What is Sam Harris Famous For?
Born Samuel Benjamin Harris in Los Angeles, California on the 6th of April 1967, the brilliant author was raised by his TV producer mother- Susan Harris, following his parents’ divorce at age 2. Sam’s upbringing was liberal and secular. He got into Stanford University to study English but became intrigued by philosophy. After an eleven-year hiatus, he returned to graduate with a B.A in Philosophy in 2000. He also got his Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2009.
Sam Harris is famous for being an atheist. He is very critical of every kind of religion and believes that religion is fraught with bad ideas and refers to it as a great misuse of intelligence. He also doesn’t believe in the label “atheism” although he has been referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of Atheism” alongside Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins.
Harris argues that the term can lose its relevance if humans will allow themselves to achieve a level of intellectual honesty and stop pretending to be certain about the uncertainties in religion. He also advocates for an open critique of religious beliefs, practices, and ideas. More so, he is very vocal about his revolutionary views and reveals that he has received several death threats for his views. It appears that Sam is highly critical of Islam in particular which he believes preaches violence especially in defense of the faith.
As an author, Sam has written several books about his beliefs. His first book titled The End of Faith was published in 2004 and it won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the category of ‘First Nonfiction’. The book was on the “New York Times Best Seller list’ for thirty-three (33) weeks.
Sam highlights the difference between spirituality and religion and believes spirituality should be understood and explored in the light of scientific disciplines like psychology and neuroscience. He has criticized Christianity, Islam, Judaism and all forms of religion.
His works have been translated into more than twenty languages. Some of his published works includes Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (2010), Lying (2011), Free Will (2012), Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (2014), Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue (2015) and several articles.
Sam has also gained popularity with his podcast which was formally called Waking Up but now Waking Up to Making Sense where he interviews guest and generally discusses his opinion and responds to critics. He won the 2017 People’s Voice Webby Award in the category of Science & Education.
On meditation, Sam Harris is one of the most famous proponents of ‘secular meditation practices. According to him, meditation’s major aim is to help practitioners understand that the feeling of self is an illusion. He released his personal meditation app called ‘Waking Up with Sam Harris” in 2018.
To discuss his views and air his opinion, Sam has appeared on several radio and TV programs. Some of them include ABC News, The O’Reilly Factor, Tucker, Real-Time, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. He also appeared in a 2005 documentary The God Who Wasn’t There and has appeared in several debates about religion.
Additionally, Sam Harris founded a non-profit foundation called- Project Reason. The organization is dedicated to making society aware of scientific knowledge and secular values. Its advisory board members include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Maher. He presently serves on the advisory board of the ‘Secular Coalition for America.
Is Sam Harris Married, Does He Have Children?
The famous author Sam Harris is a happily married man. He married Annaka Harris (an author, consultant and editor to science writers) in 2004. The couple has two daughters (Emma and Violet). He has always been very cautious about mentioning his family and disclosing their home due to the several threats he has received because of his opinion and beliefs.