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End Of Faith Paperback – Sep 27 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (Sept. 27 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393327655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393327656
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

"A genuinely frightening book... Read Sam Harris and wake up." -- Richard Dawkins "Sam Harris launches a sustained nuclear assault... A brave, pugilistic attempt to demolish the walls that currently insulate religious people from criticism... Badly needed." -- Johann Hari "This book will strike a chord with anyone who has ever pondered the irrationality of religious faith... Even Mr. Harris's critics will have to concede the force of an analysis which roams so far and wide, from the persecution of the Cathars to the composition of George Bush's cabinet." "A radical attack on the most sacred of liberal precepts-the notion of tolerance... An eminently sensible rallying cry for a more ruthless secularisation of society." -- Stephanie Merritt "Shows how the perfect tyranny of religious and secular totalitarianism demonizes imperfect democracies such as the United States and Israel. A must read for all rational people." -- Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard University and author of America on Trial "[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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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 22 2006
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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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 6 2006
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Vize on 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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