Atheist Sam Harris, a New “Mindfulness” Guru?

This blog post is focused on one goal: to refute claims that Christianity is some fool’s game and to knock down arguments that are set up against the knowledge of the only true God. (2 Cor. 10:5). In this day and age of divisiveness and skeptical accusations against anything traditional or conservative, Christians need to step it up and call out the falsities perpetuated in culture. 

As a Christian apologist, I find it terribly ironic that Atheist Philosopher/Neuroscientist, Sam Harris, the author of a book called The End of Faith, an angry critique of religion, is now in the “mindfulness business.” Harris is described as one of the “Four Horsemen of atheism,” with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. He’s recently developed an app called “Waking up” with Sam Harris, and takes concepts from prayer and meditation to use for his benefit, financially and otherwise. 

Being into a neuroscience, Harris feels meditation is worth it to train your mind and find peace with yourself. There are five, free sessions of the Waking Up app that you can download, and then, of course, you’ll have to pay for the ‘really good’ stuff once he gets you hooked on “Waking Up.” I downloaded the free app just to see what Harris is doing. 

In Day One, Harris gives a guided meditation of approximately eight minutes. He speaks of mindfulness, and undistracted thoughts designed to help train the mind to pay better attention. Like a guru, Harris hypnotically speaks to the listener about paying attention to the sensations of breathing while closing your eyes. He uses popular visualization techniques. Harris says this is all “simple but profound.” Then he goes on to say: “Unfortunately, there is no way I can prove this works to you.”

Hmmm… really? You can’t “prove” this to us? Then why should we believe you, Dr. Harris? Where is your proof, the same proof that you demand of Christians and the faith of literally millions of people on the planet on why they believe in God? Is this a double standard or what?

Rooted in Buddhism

Harris “believes” that what you do with your own mind can prevent needless suffering. This is a concept of Buddhism. It’s primarily about the ‘self.’ Buddhism is focused on attaining a peaceful state of existence that will, in the long run, not fully satisfy. Why not? It’s because we were not created by God for ourselves. We were created by God for Him, to be in a loving relationship. Mindfulness and meditation are good practices when they are focused on the person of Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls, a.k.a. God incarnate. Without that focus, you may end up feeling a little less stress and that’s about it.

People are not meant to be an ‘island unto themselves,’ which is what Buddhism ultimately leads to: nirvana is a non-personal state of consciousness, where the cycle of rebirth and bad karma finally cease. If you have lived a “good enough” life, then you are somehow allowed (who judges this?) to tap into this state of being, and in the process, lose yourself in nirvana. Christianity, on the other hand, maintains the individual, celebrating the uniqueness of every person because we are all created in the image of God. We get to be ourselves forever in a heavenly, loving existence with our Creator. That, to me, sounds way better than nirvana!

For a man who claims that anything supernatural is a figment of our imaginations, it is interesting that Harris borrows techniques from religious practices and then claims people of faith are fools for believing such “nonsense.” He goes onto to use ancient sources, like Plato and Buddha, in his meditation app. Does this smack of hypocrisy to you? 

What makes me angry about all of this is how Harris had made Christians out to be un-intelligent, gullible followers of antiquated traditions. He has a large, influential public platform and has repeatedly made Christians out to be be viewed as “cult followers.” He has called Christianity a “cult of human sacrifice” because, clearly, he is clueless about the atonement and what that means for humanity. 

What to do?

My prayer for a person like Harris is that he would let go of his biases against Christians and Christianity, to see the person of Jesus Christ for who He truly is, and to embrace his identity – a person made in the image of God. It’s time for Harris to “wake up.” Sadly, I have my doubts that this will happen because Harris seems bent on maintaining his view that there is no supernatural reality, and so, he continues to ‘sleep’ in disbelief… but Harris, ‘waking up’ is not hard to do!

As Christians, we are to use reason and logical arguments against lies that defy who Jesus Christ is and to set the record straight. To set the record straight on atonement (what Harris criticizes as a ‘cult of human sacrifice’), please read my blog on the topic here.

You may think I am being judgmental towards Harris in this blog post. This is not true, as I do not judge his eternal soul, nor anyone else’s for that matter (that is not my job but God’s job). I do, however, follow what Paul instructs in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Our thoughts and meditations are to be captive to Christ alone in practices and prayer. May God bless Harris to recognize the person of Jesus Christ for who He truly is, and may Harris finally “wake up” to meditate on these truths.


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