Ever wondered what an atheist and a rabbi would have in common in a discussion of morality? On Saturday, as part of the 92nd Street Y's Seven Days of Genius series , we found out – as it turns out, they agree on a lot. Michael Shermer, science writer and publisher of Skeptic magazine, discussed his new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom with Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, founder of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that aims to bridge the gap between scientifically grounded views and spiritual belief.
The two men engaged in a nuanced discussion about the nature of good and evil, what makes an “evil genius” like Hitler turn to genocide, and how society can encourage people toward moral behavior in daily life. Here are some edited highlights: