I think that this TED talk -- posted yesterday -- is worth watching and thinking and arguing about.
I don't want to pre-influence your thoughts, so I'll embed the video (be sure to watch through the end because he gets asked a few questions at the end) and I'll make further comments after the video.
I'm really interested to hear your own thoughts on the video, so leave a comments. I looked at a number of comments on the atheism sub-reddit, and the comments went in a number of directions.
Some people thought that Sam was flat out wrong. Others thought it was an amazing speech. Some thought that his arguments were addressed and dismissed by Hume hundreds of years ago.
My thoughts: To begin, I thought that every aspect of the delivery of the speech was amazing.
Second, I am a moral realist -- in the sense that I think there exist moral facts. (I am aware that this puts me at odds with many of my fellow atheists). As such, I think I agree with the majority of Sam's talk, although I'm not 100% sure on the specifics of what he means by human flourishing.
I think in almost all of the broad strokes, I'm sure we'd agree on what leads to human flourishing, but it gets trickier when you start saying things like brain states...
One interesting thing to me is that I often use analogies of nutrition to demonstrate a range of points in my day-to-day conversational atheism arguments.
I really liked the line about the Taliban's ignorance on physics -- and how their ignorance of human wellbeing being equally obvious.
Finally, did Sam have to use string theory? I think he should have picked something like General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics... string theory... ::eye roll::