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Sam Harris And The End Of Faith: A Muslim's Critical Response Paperback – January 26, 2009
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About the Author
Bill Whitehouse obtained an Honors BA from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of Toronto. He is the author of 'Sufi Reflections', 'The Chaco Canyon Tapes', 'Shari'ah: A Muslim's Declaration of Independence', 'Reality Without a Name', 'The Sufi Lighthouse: Illuminating Spiritual Abuse', and 'Evolution and the Origin of Life'.
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From the title I expected an attack on Mr. Harris' principles, but although Mr. Whitehouse forms his text in a manner that suggest that he disagrees with Mr. Harris, reading the text actually shows that they agree on nearly all significant issues. The rest is mere bickering about relatively insignificant details.
To provide some examples, both are of the opinion that religious texts should not be interpreted literally. Mr. Whitehouse's solution is to live according to the general guidelines of religious articles, while Mr. Harris seems more apt to follow a wider range of philosophers and common sense. Both men acknowledge that the ancient scriptures have been edited by humans after their initial writing, and thus should not be taken as the word of a god. Both of them agree that we don't have to accept harmful behavior from anyone, no matter if they claim the reasons to be rooted in religion or not. They also seem to agree that people should be open to scientific evidence, even if it might contradict what is written in their scriptures.
One of the only things the writers seem to disagree on is the probability of the existence of a supernatural being. Mr. Whitehouse claims to believe in the existence, while Mr. Harris will only believe when conclusive, irrefutable evidence has been found. I find Mr. Whitehouse's demands for evidence on things like god's non-existence highly unreasonable. The burden of proof should be on the party that has a claim, rather than on the party that does not believe the claim. If I asserted that there is intelligent life on a certain planet 28 light-years from the Earth, it would be me who would have to provide the evidence, rather than the astronomers to disprove the claim. If science worked in this perverse manner, nothing would ever get done.
As a footnote, the reader should be advised that Mr. Whitehouse also questions the official story of 9-11 and feels that a rationalistic approach should consider the possibility that others, perhaps inside the US government, were involved in those mass murders. Many of the examples that he gives of evidence for this contention have already been disproven elsewhere but again, in Whitehouse's world, insisting on good evidence for truth claims is not a high priority and just another form of faith.
Many of the 1 star reviews below have already stated the myriad of issues with Whitehouses poor reasoning and argument style. One thing that I didn't see mentioned was the very format of the book itself. This book has no table of contents, and no chapter separation. its 177 pages of misrepresentation and apologetic rhetoric. This is not only unprofessional but seemed to run parallel to the apologetic argument style that Whitehouse chooses. I look forward to when there is time where there are more agnostic theists in this world. I know a few. Just more honesty about what is not known or irresolvable. I don't agree with everything in Harris' book but if someone is going to try to challenge him, at very least please, argue in an organized logical manner.
I do still recommend this book for those that are interested in the subject matter. I am big on avoiding confirmation bias and also big on brain exercise. No matter what your belief, since this book is short, I think its worth the time it will take to complete it.