I'm a big fan of Sam Harris, the noted atheist who richly deserves his reputation as a rational mystic. For Harris has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and also is deeply experienced in meditation, primarily the Dzogchen variety of Buddhism.
Whenever I read Harris' books, listen to his guided meditations and conversations with other people, or view his videos, I come away impressed with his ability to clearly reason about difficult issues concerning all sorts of subjects -- notably including consciousness, religion, mindfulness, and social issues.
It takes me about 10 minutes to do my weekly watering of two bonsai plants that I bought at the Salem World Beat Festival about five years ago and have managed to keep alive even though I've never changed the potting soil and never trimmed them. I do fertilize them. So I've mastered the art of growing bonsai through benign neglect.
While I could mindfully do the watering without distraction, I've gotten into the habit of using that time to watch You Tube videos on my iPhone. Lately I've been looking at videos of Sam Harris. I was drawn to view an 86 minute video of Harris being interviewed by Russell Brand even though it took much more time to watch than a single watering session.
Brand is an English comedian and actor. While he occasionally makes sense in his interview with Harris, mostly I found his attitude irritating and his arguments faulty. Of course, my worldview is much closer to that of Harris than of Brand, so that helps explain why I think Harris came away the winner in their lengthy conversation.
Which I've shared below. I've made the video start about 11 minutes from the end. The final part of the interview, which begins a ways before when this video starts, is where Harris and Brand talk about consciousness, meditation, and religion. I really like what Harris says about the Abrahamic religions -- Christianity, Judaism, and Islam -- here.
He cogently argues that there's absolutely no doubt that the holy scriptures of these religions are human made, not divinely inspired. However, Harris neglected to give specific examples of how an omniscient God could have included knowledge in those scriptures that would provide proof of a godly being.
One example that has been cited by other religious skeptics would have been for God to direct a writer of some holy scripture several thousand years ago to include a mention of a scientific fact that would have made no sense to people of that time, yet would be proven true by modern science. Extra credit would go to God if the fact were expressed mathematically.
Anyway, here's the video. Harris's argument about why religions are clearly human made comes a few minutes after where I've made the video start.