Sam Harris: Donald Trump would be our first atheist president
Neuroscientist Sam Harris speaking at TED2010 (Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

Republican Donald Trump could become the first atheist president of the United States, according to neuroscience author Sam Harris.

“The one thing that is surprising and actually hopeful in Trump’s candidacy is the fact that he has dissected out the religious, social conservative component of the Republican Party,” Harris said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

“Evangelicals, for the most part, were going for Trump over Cruz when it was pretty clear to them that Trump was just pretending to be religious.”

Harris, who is associated with the "New Atheism" movement, mocked Trump for referring to “Second Corinthians” as “Corinthians Two” during a speech at the evangelical Liberty University.

“It is clear to them that he is just miming the language or impersonating a person of faith, but they don’t care really, as long as he does it," he explained. "And that -- if you look for a silver lining to this – it shows they just want a space where their religious convictions are not under attack. They don’t really care that the person in charge share them. If you pretend to share them, that’s good enough.”

That’s better than a candidate actually caring about “quite obviously crazy” ideas like the Rapture, Harris said.

"I don’t think any Christian who is voting for Trump thinks -- I mean, they’ll say ‘I’m not going to judge another man’s faith’ or ‘who I am to say what’s really in his heart’ but… if you pay attention to who he has been… I don’t think he is fooling any Christian. I think they are willing to vote for somebody now for other reasons that are fairly depressing in their own right, they’re willing to vote for someone who doesn’t really play the game the way they do."

Political candidates still had to at least pretend to believe in God, Harris said.

"But I think with Trump, I think the pretense is obvious enough -- I don’t think he is fooling the better part of the people who are voting for him, who would say they care about a person of faith being in the White House. If anything, one thing he might be breaking is the barrier on having an atheist president," Harris said.

"He might be our first atheist president."

Harris said during the podcast that he plans to vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, citing Trump’s disconnection from reality.

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