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End Of Faith [Paperback]

Sam Harris
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2005
Sam Harris offers a vivid, historical tour of our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs—even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities.

While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism to deliver a call for a truly modern foundation for ethics and spirituality that is both secular and humanistic.


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End Of Faith + God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything + The God Delusion
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Product Description

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.

Review

[Harris's] brief accounts of intuition, and of the notion of a 'moral community, ' are as good as anything I have read on these topics. --John Derbyshire"

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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
Format:Paperback
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
Format:Paperback
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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why should we have to respect nonsense? Oct. 27 2006
Format:Paperback
When someone claims something preposterous, unsupported by fact, out of wishful thinking and/or ignorance, we don't have to respect those claims. There is no reason religious faith should be an exception, argues the author. Faith is not worthy of respect in a conversation.

More importantly, Sam Harris makes the point that if we bend over backwards not to offend religious moderates, and the latter do the same not to offend religious fundamentalists (as you've noticed they inevitably do!), we're just freeing the way for the cancerous growth of fundamentalism, with the associated

suicide-bombings and other fun stuff.

This is an excellent book making the point that faith is positively harmful and could well spell the end of our world (think a bit about nuclear weapons in the hands of religious fanatics).

The only part that left me quizzed is the chapter about mysticism and meditation: Sam Harris may be onto something, but I really am at a loss figuring out what he's talking about.

Apart from that, the style of the author is crystal clear, brief, concise, admirably articulate.

Make sure you check out [...] it has very interesting print, audio, and video material.

And buy the book; and promote the cause!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Book Oct. 2 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The End of Faith is an important, challenging and courageous book which is well worth reading. Harris says many things which need saying about religion but which seldom receive adequate coverage.
The notion of restricting our spirituality to activities/beliefs for which there is actual evidence is highly attractive. But what seems to be missing in the book is adequate emphasis on the current existence of overwhelming evidence that runs counter to numerous existing religious beliefs. The unfounded rejection of evolution by many religious groups is a striking example.
Harris quite rightly says that "Nothing is more sacred than the facts." And the factual evidence, from the fossil record and DNA studies, for the occurrence of evolution is absolutely overwhelming. Those who recognize this have unfortunately allowed the disbelievers to muddy the waters by unfailingly speaking of "the theory of evolution" -- as if there is a single comprehensive and fully detailed explanation of how evolution actually took place.
It was known by Copernicus and Galileo - long before Newton's theory of gravity - that the earth was not the centre of the universe. And, Newton's theory of gravity was subsequently superseded by Einstein's theory of gravity which is itself incomplete if not actually defective. It is exactly the same with respect to evolution. Darwin's attempts to understand and explain evolution should not be regarded as the last word on the subject. But, what is incontrovertible is the occurrence of evolution. We know from DNA evidence that that all of us human beings are descended, on the paternal line, from a common male ancestor (dubbed the Y-chromosome Adam) who lived some 60,000 years ago.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It will have its deserved acclaim when enough people realize the importance of its contents
Published 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 6 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 13 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 13 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 14 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness and Hope
I have read about 50 pages into this book so far and it is well written, intelligent and presents many views. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2011 by L. Schinbein
5.0 out of 5 stars Reason shall set you free
Sam Harris delivers a stunningly hard blow to all style of religious beliefs thru sheer rational reasonning. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2010 by Martin Noel
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