and secular values
Project Reason is a U.S. 501(c)(3) foundation whose main aims have been variously described as the promotion of scientific knowledge and secular values in society, and the encouragement of critical thinking and wise public policy through a variety of interrelated projects.
In 2007, Harris co-founded, alongside his wife, the (501(c)3) non-profit foundation called Project Reason. Harris is also chief executive of this organization. Its website describes itself in the following terms:
Project Reason is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. The project will draw on the talents of prominent and creative thinkers from a wide range of disciplines — science, law, literature, entertainment, information technology, etc. — to encourage critical thinking and wise public policy. It will convene conferences, produce films, sponsor scientific research and opinion polls, award grants to other non-profit organizations, and offer material support to religious dissidents and public intellectuals — with the purpose of eroding the influence of dogmatism, superstition and bigotry in the world.
Project Reason shut down near the end of 2014. The progress on its projects is currently unknown. The Project Reason website forums merged with the forums on co-founder and chief executive Sam Harris' website.
The organization maintains several projects, as well as an internet forum, that attempt to debunk religion using empirical and rational critiques.
The Scripture Project, undertaken under the mantle of Project Reason, stated the following as its goal:
Steve Wells, creator of the Skeptics Annotated Bible, Qur’an, and Book of Mormon has generously donated the full contents of his website to Project Reason. Using this as a foundation, we intend to make the Scripture Project the best source for scriptural criticism on the Internet.
Vatican Justice, another project undertaken by Project Reason, has the following as its mission statement:
I would like to announce that Project Reason has joined Hitchens and Dawkins (both of whom sit on our advisory board) in an effort to end the “diplomatic immunity” which the Vatican claims protects the Pope from any responsibility. We would greatly appreciate your support in this cause. All donations are tax-deductible in the United States.
The Secular Islam Sub-Project
One of the most active sub-projects in Project Reason is the Secular Islam sub-project, with several initiatives falling under it.
One project within Secular Islam is titled "Modern Developments in Koranic Criticism:Christmas in the Koran" with the following description:
This project is being run by foundation advisor Ibn Warraq and takes as its focus the pioneering work in Syriac and Arabic linguistics of Christof Luxenberg. Luxenberg is a native Arab speaker and linguist, living in the West and writing under a pseudonym. Luxenberg’s work has given new impetus to the discipline of Koranic studies, largely by revealing that many acknowledged obscurities in the Koran can be clarified by treating certain passages as a poor translations of Syriac into Arabic.
The Secular Islam sub-project supports other projects, such as The Institute for Research on Early Islamic History and the Koran, having funded their conferences in 2008, 2012, and 2014. It pledges collaboration with the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation, supports the Ex-Muslims of North America, and the Quilliam Foundation.
Trustees and Advisory board
The organization listed three trustees: Sam Harris, Annaka Harris, and Jai Lakshman.
- Clifford S Asness — Managing and Founding Principal of AQR Capital Management (quit the board June 2010)
- Peter Atkins — professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford
- Jerry Coyne — professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago
- Richard Dawkins — former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford
- Daniel C. Dennett — Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University
- Brent Forrester — Emmy Award-winning television writer
- Ricky Gervais — (Joined around June 2011)
- Rebecca Goldstein — philosopher and novelist
- Anthony Grayling — Professor of Philosophy at Birbeck College, University of London
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali — former member of the Dutch parliament; author of The Caged Virgin and the New York Times best selling memoir Infidel
- Christopher Hitchens — (now deceased) author, journalist, and literary critic; author of God Is Not Great
- Lawrence Krauss — Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Departments, Associate Director of the Beyond Center, Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University
- Harold Kroto — chairman of the board of the Vega Science Trust; Nobel laureate in chemistry, 1996
- Janna Levin — (Joined early 2011)
- Bill Maher — comedian, pundit, writer, and host of Real Time with Bill Maher
- Ian McEwan — award-winning novelist
- Dan Pallotta — nonprofit innovator and social entrepreneur. Founder of Pallotta TeamWorks.
- Steven Pinker — Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University
- Carolyn Porco — (Joined early 2011)
- Salman Rushdie — Man Booker Prize-winning author
- Lee M. Silver — professor at Princeton University in the Department of Molecular Biology
- J. Craig Venter — biologist and entrepreneur known for being one of the first to sequence the human genome and for creating the first cell with a synthetic genome.
- Ibn Warraq — senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism
- Steven Weinberg — Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin; Nobel laureate in physics, 1979
- University of California - Los Angeles (11 October 2010). "Where Religious Belief And Disbelief Meet". ScienceDaily.
- Cohen, Catman (30 August 2009). "How Atheists Bow Down to the God of Reason".
- Harris, Sam (10 May 2010). "Bringing the Vatican to Justice". Huffington Post.
- "Project Reason".