March 25th, 2010
03:45 PM ET

Atheist: Religion distracts from real problems

For the world to tackle truly important problems, people have to stop looking to religion to guide their moral compasses, the philosopher Sam Harris told CNN.

"We should be talking about real problems, like nuclear proliferation and genocide and poverty and the crisis in education," Harris said in a recent interview at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. TED is a nonprofit group dedicated to "ideas worth spreading."

"These are issues which tremendous swings in human well-being depend on. And it's not at the center of our moral concern."

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Opinion

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Zachary

    Hi everybody. I am writing to say that I do not understand why everyone is saying that Christains are sick minded and force people to believe what they believe. The golden rule is what all christians believe and he is also teaches relious tolerence. I am tired of people saying that christains are crazy and are mean. Everyone is not perfect and no one is perfect and I want to say that before you judge someone about what they belive in look at the golden rule.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  2. Truth2BKnown

    Since religion has come into the picture of life, it has destroy the world from the twisted way that Real Faith is to be lived.
    Faith is wonderful when it express the positive of life, not the religious fanatics, who only want to divide people. As one raised in a multi faith family, we have share bread with all different faiths and non faith people. Truth, was in the pudding, as we did not judge each other on how what our beliefs were, but who we were as a human being. Therefore, religious fanatics are in all religions and they divide, even their own kind. Groups like that preach hatred and division.

    June 2, 2010 at 11:55 am |
  3. geeta

    "Religion distracts from real problems" – that is the best case scenario. In actality, it is the cause of quite a few problems and in others interferes with the solution of a problem. There is nothing more dangerous and/or counter productive than a mass of brainwashed people that have lost all reasoning power by preachings from some age-old scriptures acting vidictive and hateful of anyone that disagrees with them.

    June 1, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  4. Owen

    I am happy that an atheist is highlighted here on CNN!

    I still don't think this is "News," though.

    May 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  5. cruciverbalist

    A religion is any sysyem of belief: theistic or atheistic, or anywhere in between.

    May 30, 2010 at 8:06 am |
    • geeta

      That's like saying "i cannot think rationally and take responsibilities for my actions, but (because of that) I cannot understand what you're saying, so you are stupid too".Religion is believing in and hiding behind what someone forced on you and non-religion is believing in something after putting it to test and invoking reasong power on it; the latter requires straining the brain a bit rather than shutting it off.

      June 1, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  6. Reality

    Christian Reality 101

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adulterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology

    May 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  7. Kevin

    I really couldn't care less what other people believe or do in their free time. But I think people would be a lot less antagonistic toward religion if religious people would keep it out of politics. Here's an idea: apply YOUR religious beliefs to YOUR own life, not other people's lives. It's really that simple. I think people are starting to get sick of the idea that one group of people is somehow more "American" than anybody else who lives here. Quite frankly, I don't care if you worship aliens from Mars. Just don't run around screaming that I'm going to burn in hell, and trying to make laws against me, just because I don't subscribe to your religion. Live and let live.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  8. WalterJ

    The world needs atheists to prove that God has given mankind free will. If all were forced to believe in God, then our free will would be taken away and humanity would be slaves of God. Even atheists wonder if there is a God, but without definitive proof they come to the conclusion that there is no God. God's gift of free will to humanity is probably His greatest achievement, because God could see the pain that free will can cause when it is used to do harm and take it away from us. Instead God gives others the choice to use their free will to help and console those that have been victimized by it. We will all meet God in the next life and the wondering will be over.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • qball

      Sorry WalterJ, but the existence of freewill is not unassailable evidence for the existence of a supreme being. In fact, quite the opposite, actually. The world needs IGnostics such as myself (not to be confused with AGnosotic, as I am no fence sitter) in order to prove that religionists such as yourself who promote freewill as indisputable proof of God have done a poor job of presenting any clear necessity, much less irrefutable evidence for the existence of God. You stated, "God gives others the choice to use their freewill to help and console those who have been victimized by it". So, in your assessment, this all powerful, all knowing being you vigilantly worship has permitted us to imperil ourselves, perhaps (gulp) even completely annihilate our species by enabling us to use the "gift" of determining our own fate, all to show that God is not a slave master bending us to his will. Not only is this inconceivably irresponsible, perhaps even sadistic by some accounts, but in actuality, it is wholly impossible that an omniscient being COULD do such a thing. If you know IN ADVANCE what choices someone will make, you haven't given them the freedom to choose in the strictest sense. YOU need God in order to explain the existence of freewill, because senseless acts of violence and depravity simply do not compute in your mind, whereas for me, it is all part and parcel of the evolutionary PROCESS. It is neither good nor bad, righteous or unrighteous.

      May 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  9. deepak

    kalki will arrive soon ....................................hindu

    May 25, 2010 at 9:22 am |
    • thes33k3r

      When Kalki gets here....give me a call. I have a few questions to propose. I know that i don't have to give you my number because Kalki will know it anyway.

      I'm still waiting to hear from Jesus who, as you might know ("Do you know Jesus?"), is running about 2000 years late.

      May 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.