Brandon Royal's photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sam Harris.
Brandon Royal's photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sam Harris.

The Illusion of Free Will, with Sam Harris

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sam Harris. Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

Are we in control? In control of ourselves? Our lives? Our destiny? Neil deGrasse Tyson welcomes neuroscientist, philosopher, and author Sam Harris, comic co-host Godfrey, neurotheologist Andrew Newberg, and author Robert Wright to uncover the mysteries of the human mind. We explore free will: is it an illusion? What are the ethical implications of free will? Will there ever be a cure for evil? Discover more about the science of morality and if we get our sense of morality from certain parts in our brain. Explore whether science and religion should work together and if neuroscience can offer any explanation for spiritual experience. Sam tells us about the origins of religion and why religion might have been the first attempt at science. We discuss the “God of the Gaps” theory and why religion still exists in the face of an increasing number of atheists in the world. You’ll hear about the practices of meditation. Ponder the similarities between using psychedelic drugs and practicing deep meditation. Robert, author of Why Buddhism Is True, explains to us why Buddhism is “true.” You’ll also hear about enlightenment, and Neil creates his own type of meditation that ends in all of our deaths at the hands of the Sun. We answer a fan-submitted Cosmic Query about the drug DMT and if there is any scientific evidence that it’s being released in the brain moments before death. You’ll also find out some surprising details about one of the most famous short stories in history, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. Dive into the mysteries of human consciousness as we investigate why consciousness will always be difficult to understand unless we find out how to view ourselves differently. You’ll also hear about the ethical dilemmas that await when we create conscious artificial intelligence. All that, plus, Neil shares why, for him, looking at the cosmos serves as a spiritual experience. Some would say you have no choice but to listen.

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