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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the…
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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (2004)

by Sam Harris, Sam Harris

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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
Harris's cogent attack on religious belief would be more effective if his anger, especially his extreme post-9/11 Islamophobia, were not so constantly evident. For a book on this subject, he relies surprisingly little on theological or philosophical arguments and depends on informal logic and emotional response. The final chapters take a decidedly odd turn with their discussion of a kind of non-theistic metaphysics , which oddly includes a rather weird defense of the use of torture. If you are a non-believer you will find much to enjoy here. If you are a believer you will not be dissuaded from your belief. ( )
  sjnorquist | May 31, 2014 |
Sam Harris formulates brilliant arguments and completely encourages the reader to reconsider all that he or she had previously thought to be true. He makes readers really think about what they believe and why they believe. ( )
  AmyKite | Apr 2, 2014 |
One of the few books that I gave away because it is filled with hatred, intolerance, and fallacies. He exploits 9/11 blaming it on Islam, disregarding the fact that al-qaeda who did the terrorist attacks were trained and funded by the CIA. He picks lines out of context from holy books and explains them as he wishes to. And of course, he says nothing about how religious people were massacred by atheists because it doesn't serve his idea of how religions are dangerous, he is just pointing out how religious people kill other people. He is nonetheless open to mysticism, I wonder if that is because there's one hell of an industry franchise behind it... I don't remember communism being a religious political system, I took Philosophy 200 and Sociology 200, and they implied otherwise. but maybe we're all wrong, and Harris knows better...
these are the things I vaguely remember now about the book, some 5 years after I've initially read it but failed to finish it, naturally.
There was a time when I read Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennet, looking for something of substance, with some philosophical/factual/objective/scientific/mind-enlightening truths, but instead I found some fiction with an element of subjective pop-science with a twist of intolerance. I distinctively remember how Dawkins used in his 'the God delusion' some unreliable sources (blogs and websites) filled with fallacies and lies attributing them to monotheistic religions, and how he claimed that there are no historical evidence for Jesus's existence, then in an interview he admitted that all historical material prove that Jesus DID exist, but that he needed to dramatize the story line. All these trendy prominent militant atheism books that I have read have proved to be fiction books, and thus I stopped reading them. Well, I'm just glad I got rid of them, they have no place on my shelves.
( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |

Yikes- this may actually be the worst book I've ever finished. It's not totally crap: he's got a perfect argument against people who think torture is somehow a transcendent evil, while backing war in general. But other than that, it's preaching to the choir of the worst kind. To take just two obviously bad arguments:

* he rejects the idea that religion can cause good things by saying that since everyone throughout history has been religious, it's a truism to say that religion has caused some good things. But that argument is equally applicable to his own claim that religion is the cause of almost everything bad: it's not religion. It's people who claim to be religious that are behind the evil.

* he cites a survey which shows that support for suicide bombing varies significantly across a number of Islamic nations. His conclusion is that since none of these countries has *no* support for suicide bombing, the cause of suicide bombing must be Islam. But that's obviously not the message of the survey. Rather, the survey shows that a person's reaction to violence is likely to correlate with her *nationality* and culture more than with her religion.

Anyway, this is a great read if you're non-religious and want to find a way to blame all the problems in the world on people other than yourself. Stay turned for my upcoming polemic "The End of Yoghurt: Cultured dairy products, terror and the future of the West." It turns out that the dairy industry is responsible for all the evils perpetrated by Westerners since the 18th century, since Hitler drank milk. A guaranteed best-seller among the intolerant lactose-intolerant. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Finally, the a-theist (hyphen deliberate) crowd is responding to all the religious claptrap with a vengeance. I've read Dawkins, Dennett and now Harris (I think this book should also be read with [b:Letter to a Christian Nation|51299|Letter to a Christian Nation|Sam Harris|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170378426s/51299.jpg|563115] which was his response to all the hate mail he received.) Harris makes a very good case, perhaps less shrilly than Dawkins, for why religious belief perpetuates evil and hatred. I've seen him interviewed in debates on several occasions and find his responses to be quite well thought out and delivered calmly.

That being said, my only criticism of this book would be his over-emphasis, I think, on Islam. I think that lessens the impact of his general critique of faith in general. Clearly the faith-based foreign policy engaged in by the Bush administration is evidence enough of the moral bankruptcy of religious policy wonks.

I have to admit that I was one of those Harris castigates, i.e., those who fail to criticize religious moderates. He makes a strong case for not tolerating religious faiths, regardless of how moderate or fundamental they might be. I have come to adopt his rationale.

I think his book could have been stronger had he discussed in more depth that idea that atheists can commit evil acts just as can religious fanatics; that political ideologies can lead to atrocities just as much as can religious true believers. The point that must not be lost is that a rational, reasoned discussion of what constitutes good and evil based on factual evidence will result in a much sharper definition than one that simply relies on faith and a supernatural entity. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
It's not often that I see my florid strain of atheism expressed in any document this side of the Seine, but ''The End of Faith'' articulates the dangers and absurdities of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood. Sam Harris presents major religious systems like Judaism, Christianity and Islam as forms of socially sanctioned lunacy, their fundamental tenets and rituals irrational, archaic and, important when it comes to matters of humanity's long-term survival, mutually incompatible.
 

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Sam Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, Sammain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For my mother
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The young man boards the bus as it leaves the terminal.
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Our situation is this: most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book.
The very ideal of religious tolerance, born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about god, is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.
The idea of a victimless crime is nothing more than a judicial reprise of the Christian notion of sin…. Because we are a people of faith, taught to concern ourselves with the sinfulness of our neighbors, we have grown tolerant of irrational uses of state power.
Given the requisite beliefs about ‘honor,’ a man will be desperate to kill his daughter upon learning she was raped.
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This important and timely book delivers a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in the modern world. The End of Faith provides a harrowing glimpse of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities. Harris argues that in the presence of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Most controversially, he maintains that "moderation" in religion poses considerable dangers of its own: as the accommodation we have made to religious faith in our society now blinds us to the role that faith plays in perpetuating human conflict. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism in an attempt to provide a truly modern foundation for our ethics and our search for spiritual experience.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393327655, Paperback)

Sam Harris cranks out blunt, hard-hitting chapters to make his case for why faith itself is the most dangerous element of modern life. And if the devil's in the details, then you'll find Satan waiting at the back of the book in the very substantial notes section where Harris saves his more esoteric discussions to avoid sidetracking the urgency of his message.

Interestingly, Harris is not just focused on debunking religious faith, though he makes his compelling arguments with verve and intellectual clarity. The End of Faith is also a bit of a philosophical Swiss Army knife. Once he has presented his arguments on why, in an age of Weapons of Mass Destruction, belief is now a hazard of great proportions, he focuses on proposing alternate approaches to the mysteries of life. Harris recognizes the truth of the human condition, that we fear death, and we often crave "something more" we cannot easily define, and which is not met by accumulating more material possessions. But by attempting to provide the cure for the ills it defines, the book bites off a bit more than it can comfortably chew in its modest page count (however the rich Bibliography provides more than enough background for an intrigued reader to follow up for months on any particular strand of the author' musings.)

Harris' heart is not as much in the latter chapters, though, but in presenting his main premise. Simply stated, any belief system that speaks with assurance about the hereafter has the potential to place far less value on the here and now. And thus the corollary -- when death is simply a door translating us from one existence to another, it loses its sting and finality. Harris pointedly asks us to consider that those who do not fear death for themselves, and who also revere ancient scriptures instructing them to mete it out generously to others, may soon have these weapons in their own hands. If thoughts along the same line haunt you, this is your book.--Ed Dobeas

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in today's world, this historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify atrocities, asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, we can not expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Most controversially, argues that moderate lip service to religion only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism. Harris also draws on new evidence from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based need, and invokes that need in taking a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems of this world.… (more)

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