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End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [CD-ROM]

Sam Harris , Brian Emerson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 2006
An impassioned plea for reason in a world divided by faith. This important and timely work delivers a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in today's world.

Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, the world can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. Most controversially, he argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion—an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris also draws on new evidence from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based need. He calls on us to invoke that need in taking a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems of this world.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

In this sometimes simplistic and misguided book, Harris calls for the end of religious faith in the modern world. Not only does such faith lack a rational base, he argues, but even the urge for religious toleration allows a too-easy acceptance of the motives of religious fundamentalists. Religious faith, according to Harris, requires its adherents to cling irrationally to mythic stories of ideal paradisiacal worlds (heaven and hell) that provide alternatives to their own everyday worlds. Moreover, innumerable acts of violence, he argues, can be attributed to a religious faith that clings uncritically to one set of dogmas or another. Very simply, religion is a form of terrorism for Harris. Predictably, he argues that a rational and scientific view—one that relies on the power of empirical evidence to support knowledge and understanding—should replace religious faith. We no longer need gods to make laws for us when we can sensibly make them for ourselves. But Harris overstates his case by misunderstanding religious faith, as when he makes the audaciously naïve statement that "mysticism is a rational enterprise; religion is not." As William James ably demonstrated, mysticism is far from a rational enterprise, while religion might often require rationality in order to function properly. On balance, Harris's book generalizes so much about both religion and reason that it is ineffectual.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"While one might dispute some of the claims and arguments presented by Harris, the need for a wakeup call to religious liberals is right on the mark." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Triumph of Reason over Faith Dec 22 2006
By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER
At its heart, this book is about the difference between faith and reason. Faith is blind. It is not based on evidence or reason, and therefore offering evidence or reasons will not shake the faithful from their beliefs. Harris thinks that is very, very dangerous. It will come as no surprise to anyone that he began writing this book on September 12, 2001.

Harris argues that relying on faith instead of reason is a bad way to lead your life. It leads to all sorts of weird and dangerous beliefs, prevents important scientific discoveries, and stirs hatred between people who hold mutually inconsistent faith-based beliefs. Of course, people make mistakes when they rely on evidence and reason, but at least if we rely on reason and evidence, we are moving in the right direction and we are open to changing our minds when we are wrong. If our beliefs are based on faith, we are stuck forever.

This book will make religious people uncomfortable. Harris says exactly what he thinks, without making an attempt to spare the feelings of the religious. He does not, however, call anyone names or say anything in order to be mean or offensive. He simply states that facts as he sees them.

Some reviewers claim that Harris is "intolerant" or a "fundamentalist." They are wrong. Harris, unlike many religious leaders, fully supports the right to think, say and believe as you wish. He opposes any form of oppression. On other hand, Harris also reserves the right to think some beliefs are foolish. You probably do not respect the belief that Elvis is alive. Harris feels the same way about religious beliefs. He certainly would not want to see Elvis believers put in jail or denied rights, but he feels free to say that belief in Elvis is just plain wrong.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive, alarming and irrefutable Feb. 6 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Mum always insisted; "Don't discuss politics or religion!" These days the two are too thoroughly intertwined to avoid discussing one without the other. Sam Harris thinks so, and is emphatic that we need to recognise that. He doesn't like religion - there are too many illogical and inconsistent expressions of it. He's particularly concerned about how religions manifest themselves in politics. In this challenging and provocative book, he urges us all to be aware about what the "faithful" learn about their gods, and how they express that learning. He finds the situation dangerous, threatening enough that immediate action is overdue to correct the peril we face. This cry of alarm must be heeded, and Harris has done a thorough job of explaining why we must act.
In the West, he notes how religious tolerance, after a long struggle to gain acceptance, poses a conundrum. Tolerance means acceptance, but the faithful in the three extensive monotheistic religions, preclude tolerance. "The Book", accepted if not admired universally, demands the diminution, if not the destruction of "heresy". He's particularly scathing of Islam's own "Book", the Qur'an in its insistence on rooting out infidels. Thus, there is no "border" to the Islamic world short of the planet itself. This, he argues, is a tangible threat. We've experienced one of its most diabolically conceived acts in the destruction of the Twin Towers. This, he argues, is but the first of a series of acts that will grow increasingly severe with the passage of time. Those in the West stressing that the suicide bombers are "fanatics" and "fundamentalists" are deluding themselves. It is clear, Harris says, that Islam "must find a way to revise itself".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the cold war but without any checks and balances Sept. 15 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like most atheists, understanding how fundamentalists can possibly believe what they do is a constant mystery to me. As young children, or at the latest, as teens, freethinkers can see how silly most of the core beliefs of the major religions are. I've always assumed that at least for most christians there must be a lot of doubt involved in swallowing their religion and that deep down many know that it is indeed silly but choose to participate for various social reasons. One excellent line of evidence for this is often discussed in atheistic literature; the fact that if believers really believed they would have less fear of death than do unbelievers- while in reality the opposite often seems to be true. This book however has really shaken me up- Sam Harris has quite convinced me that they actually believe what they claim to believe- and this is truly terrifying at a visceral level. There is no hope for the a peaceful world if Sam is correct about this, reasoned logic and sensible approaches to getting along simply do not coexist with extremism, and extremist is the most accurate word to describe all of the major world religions. It is not that people of faith suspend their logic to accept a religion- maybe they actually suspend their religion to accept the world and deep deep down they really do believe that impossible nonsense. The concept of the baseline being nonsense and then this being cancelled on brief occasion (extremely brief in some examples) as opposed to the opposite, where the baseline is logic that is suspended when necessary, is terrible. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of original thinking and bravery.
Beautifully written, brave and mysteriously almost the only work to highlight perhaps the most important issue of our time. Brilliant.
Published 3 days ago by DP
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
Another great book by Sam Harris.
Published 1 month ago by John Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It will have its deserved acclaim when enough people realize the importance of its contents
Published 3 months ago by Rudy Krueger
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Love what he says not just because of what i do and don't Believe, but all of what he writes about makes logical sense. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Erik Star
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
This book says what many people feel. I think that this book should become a mandatory read in schools. Read more
Published 3 months ago by shadirocks
5.0 out of 5 stars A firm plea for sanity in a world gone mad with fundamentalism and...
Sam Harris is one of those one in a million writers who fully articulates the blunt and subtle evils of religion. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Humble Journeyman
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
You cannot put this book down. The clear concise manner that Sam Harris engages you in is like a discussion from a professor that opens your eyes to what is really happening in... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam hits it on the head
This is a very provoking book, Sam puts everything into a perspective that I can relate too. It's been a little bit since I've finished reading this book, but it has since inspired... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jonathan R Beardall
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and to the point!
A well written book that highlights and has insights into what happens with the collective thoughts/beliefs when these are constructed through religion
Published 16 months ago by karen scheifele
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe - or not to believe
Theologian - or just curious. Truth seeker - or doubting Thomas. Don't read this book, but have the book in 'your library'.
Published on Nov. 23 2011 by youngbd1
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