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10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As a non-believer, I share most of the arguments made by Harris in this book. But having been brought up a catholic, the first thing that strikes me in this book is Harris' lack of knowledge about the subject he's attacking. If you wish to attack the catholic faith, you can ask a catholic about what is it they believe. For this reason, I can't take his assertions about Islam seriously either. His direct attacks on particular faiths seem more a matter of zealotry, and an indication that Mr. Harris seems to take atheism as a faith in itself. Will we be seeing a Church of Universal Atheism or the like sometime soon?

The book also shows a very ugly side of Atheism in Mr. Harris' justification of the Bush Doctrine, especially the "War on Terror". He seems to have drunk the Kool-aid: War on a tactic?. How can a rational thinker as Mr. Harris likes to present himself buy this propaganda, not much different from the religious irrationality he so fervently attacks in the book? Are we supposed to replace one faith with another one?

He twists a naturalist argument to oppose pacifism and to justify and at some moments, even applaud the use of torture. Certainly, Harris is preaching a new faith, just as intolerant as the other ones.

If you are a non-believer looking for great thinkers on the subject, you'll do better avoiding the likes of Harris and of Christopher Hitchens. Atheism does not ned to be a faith, and much less, a unified one.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book should be read not only by every American, but everyone able to read. It is so enlightening and realistic relative to what we're all up against, that it should be given away free by the governments of every country in the world.
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18 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
mr harris has written an important book. but he is simply preaching to the choir (i.e. humans who still use their brains). does he honestly think our population of zombies (or the zombies of any other country)can be reached with well articulated reason. dream on. humans turn to zombies at an early age, and once they're gone, they are gone, baby. it is a planet of zombies, mr. harris. humanity is spread thin. always has been, always will be, right up to the day when the zombies destroy life on earth as we know it. until then, let's us few humans listen to some music, read some good books, and watch the freak show with a sense of fun and amusement.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Devestating arguments that will give you something to say in a political conversation. If you're religious, you probably won't like it, as it's pretty harsh on everything religious. I thoroughly enjoyed it, except for all the spirituality hookam at the end.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
So far I am about half through this book and it quite a good read. I would highly recommend it for anyone willing to engage in opening their eyes about Islam, and how debilitating religion has been amongst man-kind in general.
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10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sam Harris leaves the religious with no ground upon which to stand. That's the truth. Religious people could not conceivably read this book, with an open mind, and not change their views about our world, which is currently steeped in religious dogma and resultant misery.

Also, one need only read the awkward, inarticulate reviews presented here by detractors of this book to understand the type of ignorance the rational few are up against.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Not very interesting for anyone who is trying to study religion from a scientific aspect. It doesn't make a claim to do so but it mainly filled with unconfirmed bias and conjecture. There is much science on religion out there that would serve as a more insightful tool into truly understanding religion and faith. As an atheist, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
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12 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Sam Harris' "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Furutre of Reason" is in many ways a solid philosophical work. However, several key weaknesses in the book overall make it an unfortunately less than rock-solid foundation on which to base too many conclusions. While I found that I did agree with the author on many points, his logic at times seemed forced at at the very least underexplained. While this might seem acceptable for a scholatic, academic work in which certain key concepts are mutually understood by all readers involved, for a work of popular nonfiction, these imprecisions are very damaging as Harris comes off as not following his thoughts to their full conclusion. A few central criticisms.

1) Harris tends towards uncritically accepting certain emotional concepts such as love, compassion and hate, as well as certain branches of discourse as ethnics as universal constructs shared by all humans. As such, while he makes a valiant effort to prove that, for example "honor killings" of muslim women are not acts of love but of hate, he fails to reasonably address the arguements raised by comparative anthropology and postmodernism. While the generalized "we" in the west would be far and large agree that honor killings are horrific acts of vengeance and not acts of love, that universally-shared concept of love is an assumption that simply cannot go unchallenged, yetHarris fails to mention it.

2) At times, Harris lacks precision and fails to establish baseline definitions. While he claims that moderate believers of religion are at least as dangerous to the safety of humanity as religious fanatics, he later in the book complains that the Muslim faith is "worse" for it lacks an outlet for moderation like the Christian sermon on the mount, which he sees as a convenient escape clause for many Christians. Furthermore, in failing to establish a truely baseline definition of what a religious moderate or fanatic is, he allows the edges to remain fuzzy and as such weakens his arguement by over relying on the idea that the readers will automatically share his definitions and leave it at that. (ex. We know that he thinks of Osama Bin Laden as a religious fanatic, but what about Billy Grahm? Is he better or worse? Or how about someone like Jesse Jackson?)

3) Harris has some very strange ideas concerning logic: in order to be logical, one can only be 100% consistent. If we are willing to inflict pain in war, Harris reasons, we must be willing to inflict pain in the form of torturing prisoners in order to be 100% logical. While it is entirely possible that Harris is just casting a line in an attempt to open the reader's mind to several different trains of thought, this is never made clear. While it is quite possible that Harris genuinely believes this, I am at a loss as to how a person as obviously intelligent and well-spoken as Harris could subscribe to this clearly flawed position (If I am willing to spank my baby to punish him, should I be willing to decapitate my adult son if he commits a capital crime?)

4) Finally, Harris is somewhat disingenous and academically dishonest with his sources. One item that caught my eye immediately was the way he at one point defends Israel as a model of restraint by citing a quotation as though it were an academic, unbased fact, when it in fact comes from Dershowitz's "The Case for Israel," hardly a non-polemical, unbiased source. Furthermore, he critisizes the war on drugs by using figures from [...] hardly an academically accredited, peer-reviewed repository of inromation. While neither of these citations are key to butressing Harris' claims, his willingness to use this academic sleight of hand causes him more damage than any weaknesses in the logic or writing themselves.

All in all, a decent book, but nothing spectacular. Harris is obviously a brilliant, well-educated, well-spoken man and I commend him on a valiant effort, but just the same I would only be able to give it a solid C due to some flawed arguementation and intellectual conjury.
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26 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an engrossing and thought-provoking book written with intelligence and passion. One is almost tempted to declare it first-rate historical entertainment but for the importance of its message and the sobering nature of its content. The book reads quickly, its like taking in a vivid historical mural, millennial in scope, splayed out before the reader, it's filled with action, broad-ranging insights, and focusing ideas. The narrative is well researched and masterfully punctuated with intimate scenes from period documents recounting the twisted rationales and chilling details of assorted barbarisms visited upon multitudes of unfortunate souls, tortured and exterminated by the religious fanatics of the time.

Mr. Harris' thesis is straightforward, in a nutshell: The fanatical faithful have historically been and continue to be given intellectual credibility and license by moderate leaders and adherents of the various religions. Who themselves put their faith in the same unaccountable supernatural deities and the latitudes of their scriptural directives. And while this may have only occasionally lead to mass hysterias and slaughter on a grand scale in the past, in today's world, with the growing list of methods of mass devastation manageable by a few neophytes, clearly the prospects for the growth in such horrific events will be magnified. The end of faith in baseless ignorant beliefs may not stop every act of misguided horror, but for those that it does, it'll be a well-appreciated triumph of objective knowledge and reason, over ignorance and superstition.

Can we, will we, continue to continence the wholesale teaching of backward baseless beliefs to the world's children? Mr. Harris has misgivings that we will. Nevertheless his book is a top-down call for a new direction in thinking, the beginning of a broad global dialog to understand the human condition, one that seeks to explore and find a common understanding that relies on evidence first, subjective impressions second, and on unaccountable supernatural deities never! `The End of Faith' is timely, vital, and important, not to read it, is to miss a turn in the road.
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
No, not that of the Jihadis or the Christian fundamentalists. I mean Sam Harris' extremism.

I do not mean anybody who doesn't believe in God is ipso facto an "radical atheist". I am speaking specifically of Harris. Take, for example, quotes like this from the book:

"We must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting."

So, not only is the religious-despising future preferred, it is the *only* future worth wanting. This is Stalin's "secular utopia", where "the masses" (i.e., everybody who disagrees with Sam Harris' insights) are shamed and disgraced into believing as he does.

How different from Christopher Hitchens, for example, who repeatedly says that--as much as he hates religion--he wouldn't want to ban it if he could, for such an attempt goes against human nature and is bound to end in genocidal prosecution, as did all other attempts to "elevate" man from his "fallen" state into some utopia on earth.

So, our only worthwhile goal is the creation of a religion-disgracing utopia. And what if some annoying people disagree? Well, says Harris:

"The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live."

Yes, yes, yes--Harris is only talking about killing people for thought crimes if they Jihadis or the like. But anybody who can support genociding those who merely *think* differently as "ethical" will soon enough support genociding those who think in only a *little bit* differently that his preferred orthodoxy, and then anybody who thinks of opposing him at any way. One can't reach the utopia of disgraced religion without some sacrifices (of other people's lives), after all.

Harris is no different in his views (though, of course, he is very different in his *actions*) than Hitler, Stalin, or the Iranian Mullahs. The difference is merely in the details of the promised utopia--which is impossible to reach in any case, going against human nature. That it is OK to genocide people to reach their perspective utopias is something they all agree on.
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