40 Sam Harris Quotes on Atheism, Meditation, and Life

Whatever religion you have, these Sam Harris quotes will open your eyes to the truth that lies beyond scripture. 

Sam Harris is one of the leading figures in the New Atheism movement. His influence reaches far and wide as he’s also an author, speaker, philosopher, and neuroscientist.

Even though he openly criticizes religion, he does so with a unique flair. And, if you’re open-minded enough, you’ll understand that he has valuable insights on other topics like rationality, free will, science, and even politics.

You may consider many of his teachings to be radical and controversial. But, there’s no denying how many lives have changed—for the better—with the help of his words.

Read through our complete list of Sam Harris quotes below and see things for yourself!

Continue to the entire collection below.

And don’t forget to check out these Jordan Peterson quotes and Mark Manson quotes.

Best Sam Harris Quotes

1. “Bad ideas, however sacred, cannot survive the company of good ones forever.”

2. “You don’t get anything worth getting by pretending to know things you don’t know.”

3. “It is important to realize that our inability to answer a question says nothing about whether the question itself has an answer.”

4. “Most people who believe they are meditating are merely thinking with their eyes closed.”

5. “A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.”

Sam Harris Quotes on Life

6. “How we pay attention to the present moment determines the character of our experience and the quality of our lives.”

7. “People often regret the things they cared about. Their attention was bound up in petty concerns when life was normal.”

8. “If you pay attention to your inner life, you will see that the emergence of choices, efforts, and intentions is a fundamentally mysterious process.”

9. “Every moment of the day—indeed, every moment throughout one’s life—offers an opportunity to be relaxed and responsive or to suffer unnecessarily.”

10. “We are all seeking fulfillment while living at the mercy of changing experiences. Whatever we acquire in life gets dispersed. Our bodies age. Our relationships fall away. Even the most intense pleasures last only a few moments. And every morning, we are chased out of bed by our thoughts.”

Sam Harris Quotes to Show the Power of Our Minds

11. “Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.”

12. “Your mind is the basis of everything you experience and of every contribution you make to the lives of others. Given this fact, it makes sense to train it.”

13. “If you are thinking without knowing you are thinking, you are confused about who and what you are.” 

14. “The habit of spending nearly every waking moment lost in thought leaves us at the mercy of whatever our thoughts happen to be. Meditation is a way of breaking this spell.”

15. “You are not in control of your mind because you, as a conscious agent, are only part of your mind, living at the mercy of other parts.”

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Meaningful Sam Harris Quotes That Will Motivate You

16. “You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.”

17. “You can do what you decide to do, but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.”

18. “Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s thoughts.”

Short Sam Harris Quotes to Think About

19. “To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden.”

20. “Theology is ignorance with wings.”

21. “As a man believes, so he will act.”

22. “We are all prisoners of our thoughts.”

23. “Death is, in some ways, unacceptable.”

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Sam Harris Quotes to See the World Through a New Lens

24. “There is no divine purpose, only a plurality of human purposes.”

25. “How can we be ‘free’ as conscious agents if everything that we consciously intend is caused by events in our brain that we do not intend and of which we are entirely unaware?”

26. “Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?”

27. “Honesty is a gift we can give to others. It is also a source of power and an engine of simplicity. Knowing that we will attempt to tell the truth, whatever the circumstances, leaves us with little to prepare for. We can simply be ourselves.”

28. “We do not respect people’s beliefs; we evaluate their reasons. If my reasons are good enough for believing what I believe, you will helplessly believe what I believe. I will give you my reasons, and reasons are contagious. That is what it is to be a rational human being.”

29. “Honest people are a refuge: You know they mean what they say; you know they will not say one thing to your face and another behind your back; you know they will tell you when they think you have failed—and for this reason, their praise cannot be mistaken for mere flattery.”

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Sam Harris Quotes That Zoom in on Faith and Atheism

30. “Atheism is just a way of clearing the space for better conversations.”

31. “Faith, if it is ever right about anything, is right by accident.”

32. “Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or He doesn’t care to, or He doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.”

33. “Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.”

34. “Faith enables many of us to endure life’s difficulties with an equanimity that would be scarcely conceivable in a world lit only by reason.”

35. “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.”

36. “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.”

37. “Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.” 

More Sam Harris Quotes That You Will Love

38. “By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make—and in ways, we cannot always predict. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.”

39. “You almost never get the pleasure of seeing that you won the argument in real-time. People just don’t like to publicly change their minds. They change their minds in private.”

40. “As an atheist, I am angry that we live in a society in which the plain truth cannot be spoken without offending 90% of the population.”

What Truths Did You Uncover From These Sam Harris Quotes?

Sam Harris may not focus on religion to give you advice on living life. Though that’s the case, we can all still relate to his words and experiences. 

For him, life is a matter of perspective and framing your mindset. If you think about how much worse things could go, you’re immediately snapped back into the present, and you become so much more grateful for what you currently have. He teaches us that our frame of mind dictates the trajectory of our lives.

Sam Harris also gives value to mindfulness. Being present in the now helps you see things for what they are, and in turn, it gives you the power to decide things for yourself. You don’t wait for an unknown being to turn your life around; instead, you grab your life by the horns and live it the way you want to.

There will always be two sides to every story, every belief, and every philosophy. No matter how different Sam Harris’s opinions might be from yours, don’t close yourself up. Be willing to learn and change for the better.

What do you think of Sam Harris’s philosophy? Which quotes were most relevant to you? Please, list them below!