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on 15 January 2015
Basically Harris exhausts his argument within the first 50 or so pages. It's very simple: we should make our decisions in utilitarian fashion (i.e. in such a way that maximises the happiness of society), and we will increasingly be able to use neuroscience to help us measure happiness. In this way, science can be used to answer moral questions.

I felt the rest of the book was simply padding. He gives examples and addresses counterarguments but it's not a particularly new way of thinking. Utilitarianism has been around for years - Harris is simply pointing out its practicability as science's capacity to quantify happiness improves.
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on 19 September 2014
Perhaps it is just that I am thick, but found this hard going, perhaps my lack of university education was an obstacle, but find Stenger, Dawkins, and Dennett much more straightforward; even Bertrand Russell got to the point of an argument quicker!
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on 23 June 2013
Sam makes a strong case that religious beliefs in morality must not be deemed above honest scientific investigation. The HUMAN BEINGS (Gods themselves being absent in the natural world) who enjoy power by being in the upper echelons of the religious elite dislike questioning exactly like other "unquestionable authorities" such as dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. It is clear that the improvement in ethical standards in modern times (and mainly in the West unfortunately) has little to do with godly edicts forever frozen in their time of revelation to us mortals. It has to do with honest and free discourse between peoples which has ONLY become permissible as fears of religion have weakened allowing unfettered human inquisitiveness on moral issues.

"GOD" gave us a questioning nature - big mistake on her part. So lets use it to ask her fans and representatives why they think thay have the copyright on morality.
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on 10 May 2014
Harris argues his points fantastically here. I'll grant that you need to be awake to actually understand everything he is putting across, but when you catch on, its truly fantastic.

I found the start quite difficult to grasp onto and found myself needing to re-read the odd page here and there. However, by the end of the first chapter you got the flow of it and his ideas and arguments for those ideas were revolutionary.

Harris has certainly done justice to his name with this one.
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on 6 July 2013
After centuries of nonsense, here is finally someone who gives us an objective mean to decide the definition of good and bad.
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All moral decisions relate at some level to the well being of conscious creatures. One can determine what types of things promote well being, and which don't. Science is how we do this. Science can answer moral questions.

The above is of course far too simple, but promotes I think the general feeling of this latest work by Harris. I love his clear logical manner in most of his work and this is similar. Humorous tone to much of the analogies and very easy to read and understand.

Essentially, I agree with pretty much all of what was said within. Much objection to what I see as pretty unobjectionable ideas seems to be from those who are reluctant to accept that what exists in terms of emotion and thought is "simply" reduced at some point to scientific reasons.

Not liking something is no reason to deny it.

Well worth reading.
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on 21 October 2014
This book to me is the best tool to equip one with the knowledge necessary to address the moral issue on a day-to-day basis. It demolishes the religious claimed ownership over morality showing with elegance and simplicity it's human nature. It's well constructed and Sam's impeccable narrative leaves no doubt about him as one of the best thinkers of our time.
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on 24 February 2015
An enlightening and thought provoking read arguing the point that science can improve our quality of life through human values, an important and engaging book that unfortunately I fear will not be read by the people who need to read it. (Good layout, lots of references in the back of the book explaining deeper into certain aspects).
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on 13 September 2012
Just reading through the comprehensive index [and references to authors on many sides of the debate ] in ' Moral Landscape ' is an education in itself, though I think Robert M. Price and John W. Loftus should have been on that list too. Sam Harris looks at how decisions about morality can be built up from first principles based on a scientific approach. This book is also a wide angled look at the variety of opinions about morality found on Earth.

There are two main aspects to religion
1 Debates about moral / ethical behaviour
2 Theories about a supernatural realm
Many religions try to claim their law codes are authorized by a God and maybe would collapse if that God didn't exist. Sam Harris points out that religious codes of behaviour have often been a muddle of good and bad ideas. He points to some examples of religious behaviour which impair quality of life and may also cause pain & suffering. How can books like the Bible which talk so much about the importance of love/care still harbour ideas that are so cruel or baseless?

As it says on the back cover, Sam concludes that morality can be defined in terms of human and animal well-being. He notes that it can be tricky to define well being in specific terms and to ' prove it ' relying only on science and reason.

p105 Sam notes that many religions contain a version of the Golden Rule ( Matt 7v12 )Perhaps Sam could be more positive about the ideas most helpful toward Earthly well being found in the Bible and focus attention on them.
Various authors of Bible passages attempt to put a focus on love / care, eg 1 Cor 13v1 & v13.
I think the author of Romans 13v10 missed their chance to assert [in the name of their imagined God] an exact definition of 'harm' in the idea " love does no harm to its neighbour ". My dictionary defines harm -hurt, injury, damage, detrimental. Romans 13v10 could have said, do not cause ill health or suffering, do not cause mental, physical or sexual abuse but i guess you would have to write loads of detail to define that further - this has been one in the 2011 U.K laws
The thing is that if you define God as love as 1 John 4v8 does then how can anyone think that a loving God would let most of humanity suffer for evermore. It would be a complete contradiction. Since there is so much suffering in the world it would be easy to conclude that a perfect loving God does not exist.
If there were some sort of real caring God then you would have islamic leaders updating and ammending old texts to for example advise women to get sunshine on their face for at least an hour each day so their skin can make enough vit D3. I think we all construct our own 'God concept'. Many religions are based on a malware virus infected BASIC operating system and it is time to upgrade to Norton+ Windows 7. The moral landscape by Sam Harris could help the world to do that.
But just say someone thought The End was nigh then what grounds would they have to oppose GM crops, since in their view a mistake wouldn't matter.
Just say someone thought all children go to heaven or God preordained who would go to heaven, then why would they oppose stem cell research or euthanasia of people who clearly had great suffering or no quality of life ? How about trusting the idea of Romans 8v38 "Nothing shall separate us from the love of God." Admittedly there are problems & risks involved & no one should do anything illegal.
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on 17 September 2015
How do you define morality? I have never studied philosophy but wish I had now.
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