Russell Brand and Sam Harris battle it out in fiery podcast!

Tuesday 20th February 2018 | Jake

Destined to meet after their successful outings on Joe Rogan’s highly popular podcast ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, Russell Brand welcomes author, neuroscientist, philosopher and podcaster Sam Harris to Under the Skin to discuss some weighty issues.

Sam Harris is the co-founder and chief executive of Project Reason, a non-profit organisation promoting science and secularism, and the podcast quickly slips into a debate over these topics.

At first, they joust over the function of Mass in the Catholic religion, Harris argues that cracker-eating (which represents the body of Christ) is explained by the doctrine of Catholicism, according to Harris people are following a doctrine and would eat no crackers if Jesus had said so. He compares this indoctrination with a student leaving the London School of Economics to fight for ISIS, they are indoctrinated and devoted to Jihad, they would not behave badly without an absolute faith in Jihad.

Sam Harris

Brand, in turn, argues the consumption of a cracker is a metaphor for union and part of the Catholic ceremony, Harris replies that it is not taught as a metaphor according to the doctrine, people have simply lost faith in the original intention of the doctrine. This particular argument is never resolved but sets the tone for a heated podcast.

Brand swiftly links the question of absolute faith to violence, what constitutes justifiable violence? Politics? Religion? Harris argues there aren’t many crazy people in the clinical term when it comes to religious violence, extreme violence can actually be “perfectly rational behaviour given the requisite beliefs.”

It is an intriguing argument, Sam Harris has an undeniable knowledge of religion, an area in which Brand is comparatively weaker. Harris has been accused by other atheists of being racist and paranoid, and he is quick to dive into a prolonged, sustained attack on the Islamic doctrine.

Brand, to his credit, introduces a variety of valid counter-arguments, highlighting secular war crimes by the US. The conversation shifts from topic to topic, ranging from questioning who holds power, to discussing the failings of consumerism, via an argument over western intervention in the Middle East.

At its worst the pair shout over each other, shrouding each other’s arguments in noise. At its best this episode is an intriguing debate to listen to, informative and impassioned.

Watch and listen to the podcast here.