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NOT TO BE MISSED: SHOULD SCIENCE BE THE AUTHORITY ON MORAL & ETHICAL ISSUES?

JULY 31, 2014  (THUR.)          6:30PM                                                                                    

NYC ATHEISTS MONTHLY MEETING


SPEAKER: SAM HARRIS (VIDEO)  FOLLOWED BY PANEL DISCUSSION AND Q&A

SUBJECT: SHOULD SCIENCE BE THE AUTHORITY ON MORAL & ETHICAL ISSUES? 

 

Some believe that religion is necessary as a guide to a moral life. This idea has been with us for nearly 2,000 years. Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

                          

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."                          

Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine, 1930


LOCATION: SLC Conference Center– 15 West 39th St.(3rd Floor)

            

COST: We ask for a donation of $10 to help cover the cost of room rental.

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  • Jane E.

    The panelists were superb! Tyson Gill: as usual, charming, fact-based, sensible, ever the gentle person. Susan Jacobsen: Smart, lovely, on her toes, quick with the ready answer. David Orenstein: Delightfully intelligent, he makes complex ideas understandable.
    ...And, oh, yes, Sam Harris was good, too.

    2 · August 1, 2014

    • Amy

      It was a pleasure to be there, looking forward for next meetup.

      August 1, 2014

    • David o.

      Dear Jane, Thank you as usual for being so flattering. You are wonderful. And it is a pleasure and delight to call you my friend.

      August 2, 2014

  • Katya

    A person cannot be religious and moral simultaneously, by definition. A person can believe in God and be moral or amoral, but religion and morality are incompatible. Since religion is "a set of beliefs and practices", the religious person is a follower or slave. A slave cannot do right or wrong, only the a free person can.

    2 · July 28, 2014

    • Jonathan T.

      What is moral given the fact that we can obtain a fairly good understanding of how the world around us works, we can't leave things chance to with things like "trials by ordeal." Every day a religious person chooses to believe and practice. Do they choose to be slaves?

      1 · July 31, 2014

    • Jane E.

      I love the Henley poem. I think he uses the word "soul" differently than religious people use it. I think he means his individuality, his personhood. And his last line is, "I am captain of my soul." If that doesn't refute any control over him by god, I don't know what does.

      July 31, 2014

  • Jane E.

    I didn't realize this was such a controversial topic! We've had more online discussion on morality than on any other topic, ever. I'm curious about what Sam Harris, one of the Four Atheist Horsemen of the Apocalypse, says about morality. I guess we'll find out tonight. I'm curious, too, about what our panel of top NYC Atheists (2 Ph.Ds!) will say tonight about Harris's view on morality. I know there will be at least one panelist there tonight who does not agree with Harris.

    July 31, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I wish I could make it, but I'll be away from the city

    July 31, 2014

  • William C.

    What is the evidence that "most" atheists are amoral?

    I would agree that "most" if not all atheist do not derive their morality from the Bible or Quran. I doubt that there are very many people who derive concepts of good and evil believe that Star Wars is a documentary. I think there are far more people who believe that books, like the Jewish and Christian bibles as well as the Quran are "documentaries. However there is a "Jedi Religion". It is a very, very, very small religion, but so were the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions when they started. I think that the natural, physical, material universe is amoral. I think that there are scientists, who are moral, immoral, and amoral. I do think that science can at least inform us about morality-ethics.

    July 28, 2014

    • Brian J

      If you have a scientific mind, then you're naturally an amoral person, since science is an amoral concept. So I've rarely met a moral atheists, since most atheists don't have a black and white way of viewing things, and have scientific thinking. And being amoral doesn't make you a bad person. It puts you above morality, and above religious thinking. I view people who indulge themselves in morality, as very religious people. At least in my experience.

      July 28, 2014

    • Sepia P.

      Oh, I wish I could join this conference tomorrow. This is an interesting topic. I must admit, even when I was a "Christian," I've always thought of the bible as a history book. I never went as far as viewing any holy book, be it the Quran, Tora, or KJV, as a documentary. I think there are way too many metaphors, folklore(s) intertwined with other folklore(s); combined with various cultures, and varying subcultures, practices all inter-weaved, to call these "holy books" documentaries (at least the books on their own).

      July 30, 2014

  • Jane E.

    Bill is rightfully making a distinction between moral, amoral and immoral. Moral, defined by the dictionary, is "what is considered right and good by most people." Amoral is defined as "having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong," and immoral is defined as "morally evil or wrong." That puts a different light on what Brian is saying below.

    July 28, 2014

    • Jane E.

      Religious morality is indeed boring, since it deals mainly with rites and rituals about sex, marriage and private property, but Atheist morality is NOT boring because it is pragmatic. I think of Atheist morality as doing what is best for the most people in the long run. Thus, preserving forests and working to prevent global warming is moral because it is what's best for all people in the long run.

      1 · July 28, 2014

    • Brian J

      I interpret that as "amoral." :)

      July 28, 2014

  • Brian J

    I'm of the opinion that most atheists are amoral by nature, and that science is a completely amoral concept. It's about evidence and facts. The concepts of good and evil appeal to people that think "Star Wars" is a documentary. Lol!

    At least in my opinion. I'm mostly an amoral person, and I find the concepts of morality and immorality to be absolutely boring. They appeal to people with a religious mind, and people with black and white thinking. It just doesn't appeal to me at all. I think amorality is the next stage in human evolution, and if history is an indicator, evolution will always win. :)

    July 15, 2014

    • Amy

      I agree with Jane. Morality is deeply rooted in evolution. People are born with compassion and empathy.

      July 16, 2014

    • Brian J

      I definitely agree with compassion and empathy. But an amoral person can feel compassion and empathy. :)

      July 16, 2014

  • Jane E.

    This is the latest, the cutting edge, the one and only. Few people have seen this , so we're excited asbout it.

    1 · July 8, 2014

  • Elaine

    Is this the discussion with Richard Dawkins introducing him or a different one?

    1 · July 8, 2014

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