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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Paperback – Sep 27 2005
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A genuinely frightening book.... Read Sam Harris and wake up. — Richard Dawkins (The Guardian)
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 (The Independent)
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 (The Observer)
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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".Read more ›
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!
Most recent customer reviews
Very interesting read. Found the book to be thought provoking and factually accurate.Published 2 months ago by Andrew Critchley
5 stars in spite of a few points. Sam Harris gives me far more to think about than any one else re religion. Read morePublished 5 months ago by sandrab
Powerful argumentation refuting religious dogmas left and right. Highly enjoyable and brilliantly clever.Published 6 months ago by roderick pritchard
One of my favourite quotes is Eleanor Roosevelt’s observation that;
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Read more
"Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity, a vanishing point... Read more
I am still reading this book and find it quite interesting. Makes you think about your own religion as well as other religions. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jean Cochrane
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