- Sam Harris discusses his controversial book in depth in our exclusive interview.
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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Paperback – September 17, 2005
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
More About the Author
Mr. Harris's writing has been published in more than 20 languages. His work has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Newsweek, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.
Mr. Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.
Top Customer Reviews
The problem is that with the more rabid varieties of religious fundamentalism we are no longer looking just at the ravings of those halfwit television evangelists who run the credit card icons across the bottom of the screen for the ensnaring of the gullible. Now, on the contrary, we have entered an age- nothing similar to which has been seen since the Spanish Inquisition- in which whole hordes of religious zealots view themselves as being commanded by the "will of God" (whatever in the world that means) to torture, multilate, and brutally kill the rest of us. It is this unreasoning willingness to commit acts of atrocity for "God" (under whatever name), based upon belief systems that are not only of undemonstrated validity but of absolutely undemonstrable validity, that bothers Sam Harris, and he does a truly eloquent job of explaining why, in terms of radical Islam, Christianity, and other belief systems.
While Mr. Harris takes on Islam with considerable fervor, he certainly does not neglect the sordid side of religion in the West. He argues, with regard to both the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, that it is only by selectively ignoring parts of the so-called sacred texts that many people, eschewing the more radical views of these belief systems, can function even as religious "moderates.Read more ›
What took me aback is the position that Harris is advocating - that it is okay to subject religion to careful scrutiny, in fact, it is desirable as religion is having such a negative impact on us all. He's talking about a change in social norms, attitudes, what is considered mannerly... he's saying that we can no longer afford to be respectful and tolerant of others' religious beliefs when those beliefs could do us all in. He suggests that we ask: What is the evidence for your God?
I learnt that a person's religious beliefs are his own private business - every person has to work out his own salvation - and it was not for me to question these beliefs. I learned that it is behavior that counts - how we treat others and the world we live in. But in America this has flipped. Now many people talk about their beliefs, the one-on-one they have with Christ, while they indulge in the most hateful and unchristian behavior. Worse, they think their beliefs call for such behavior. Harris suggests that it is time for us to grab this nettle and challenge religion's hold on so many people.
I have been researching a book on Middle East peace. I was startled to learn the role that Bible prophecy is playing in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.Read more ›
What is effective about this book is that it finally opens the door to this virtually taboo observation: Middle east or West, by being treated as infallible and unquestionable, religion quantifiably does more harm than good. Mr. Harris points out just how utterly antiquated and basically wrong so many religious tracts are by using the tracts themselves. Proof enough that religions no longer hold the key to human happiness is demonstrated by the convenient "editing" of some tenets of faith by none other than the faithful who, in our culture, get closer to god by picking and choosing those aspects of the word of god which best suits the starkly more secular and practical aspects of their lives. Is everybody comfy? Good.
It is even more important and highly effective to point out how faith continues to divert our society from coming to terms with the objective facts which define the issues facing us today in favor of consistently relying on belief.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written with easy to read style and the author views. Like his humor. Should be essential reading for all educators.Published 18 hours ago by John D. Stranack
Harris is ok, but he's really obsessed with Islam, and basically seems to simply give Christian fundamentalists a pass, when they're just as wacky and dangerous.Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
And time to start thinking, without religion getting in the way and turning everyone against each other. Religion separates people! Read morePublished 14 days ago by Rick Theis
This is one of the most mentally engaging books I have ever read. I was obsessed from the beginning.Published 15 days ago by CMcain
Amazing and enlightening read on one of the greatest challenges of our time, religious dogma. Thank you many times over Mr Harris!Published 21 days ago by Roger T. G. Patterson
It is sad that a "responsible" person like Mr. Harris pretend to understand religions and propagate all the wrong and misconceived ideas to spread more hatreds in the... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Casual Reader
I've read books by atheists before, like Dawkins and Hitchens, but none quite like this. At first, I was uneasy about how Harris singles out Islam specifically for criticism, but... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Robert Hayes
Sam Harris is a brilliant speaker and writer and this book reveals this brilliance. He is a master at crafting arguments that are supremely logical and elegant, yet beautifully... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Barry Kuban