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on August 10, 2006
This book resonated with me deeply, as I place organized religion at the forefront with most of what is insane with this world.Thousands of years of unrelenting bloodletting is the legacy of faith and the Crusades are happening all over again.

If we do not get a handle on the religious/political wars we are all doomed. This is a must read for any intelligent seeker of truth.
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on February 3, 2006
I've only read the first chapter, and my review is based upon it. Harris directly asks the question "What good is faith?", and answers it just as directly: "Worse than useless, positively destructive".

He makes two important points: (1) That blind faith is a certain recipe for the most stupid and destructive human behavior imagineable, in fact a recipe for disaster for the human race, and (2) that religious moderates provide "cover" for extremists/fundamentalists by refusing to criticize their right to believe whatever they want in the name of "faith".

On the first point Harris provides some great examples in just the first chapter, and no thinking person could disagree with his points, especially in light of recent world events. On the second point, more novel and controversial, he also has a case, but I will have to read the remainder of the book to see how well he makes it.

Harris is bold; he is unconcerned with what people will make of his message. That alone is impressive in our day, when everyone has to tip-toe around so as not to offend this or that segment of society, especially the religious moralizers.

Buy it, read it, and THINK about it.
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on February 4, 2007
A few months ago, I left the Congregational Church because I was having increasing difficulty accepting the basic tenets of Christian faith. Since then, I have read a number of books on faith - most recently "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris. From the beginning of this book, I was telling myself "Yes, that is how I feel."

After I finished the book, I reflected on the thoughts of Professor Robert Greg of Willamette University who addressed a seminar on the subject at the Congregational Church years ago. He said something to the effect that it is unclear whether God created man or man created God - but does it matter? His thesis was that perhaps man NEEDED faith in God.

In summary, this book is sure to stimulate thought but its conclusions are debatable.

Three stars because it wasn't, for me, an easy read.
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on September 7, 2004
Harris has penned a masterful look at his own inner workings, which in turn can translate to us all. He explores the relationships between superstition, myth, and religions, in ways I had not contemplated. I highly recommend this book to all people who want to think for themselves, but it might not be for someone who wants to be told what to think every Sunday.
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on January 4, 2010
So many peace-bloated hippies harping about the book not offering alternatives to religion, etc, etc, etc. Ugg,.. Oh Peace Train take this country. Please. The book is about us getting nuked,..not about your pathetic "alternative" to everlasting gobstoppers in Wankaworld.

Boohoo, where's my alternative to, sniff,..Death. ..Waaaaa, Sam's baaad for not making death go bye-bye, so he only gets 2 stars. He's not offering change I can believe in. Sniff.
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on October 31, 2004
I've long held thoughts about religion and it's negative effect on humanity as a whole. Now, finally, a book that gives structure to these thoughts. What a great book! It's's thought provoking...but most of all it's based on fact. When people ask me what I believe in, I can now give them 'The End Of Faith' and say 'This'. Thanks again Sam.
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on May 28, 2007
Our times have seen the rise of the radical religious agenda, with attempts both here and abroad by fundamentalists to gain undue political power. This combination of religion and politics in the past led to the Inquisition, the crusades, and the Salem witch trials. Our system of laws only gives us protection in as far as reason can triumph over blind faith and intolerance. Dr Harris presents a cogent analysis of the basis of faith and its shortcomings in our age of advancing science and technology. While the rigidly religious may find this book threatening, anyone who likes to think for themselves will find it a vital resource.
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on October 16, 2005
Sam Harris' book The End of Faith is, ostensibly, a book meant to dismantle the notion "faith" and "religion" in contemporary society. That is, he wishes to convince the reader to forego his belief in "ridiculous" religion and become a reasonable person. I concur with Harris primary thesis that this is a most important change which needs to catch on in 21st Century society. However, the book that Harris has written might as well be called "an introduction to contemporary philosophy" for he often distracts himself with other philosophic issues that he feels a need to expound on.

In "The End of Faith" Harris covers the topics of religion/atheism, epistemology, meta-ethics, the mind/body problem and the phenomenology of the spirit. Toss in a few non-philosophic chapters on the history of brutality in the Christian tradition as well as an analysis of contemporary Muslim and Christian faith and you get an idea of how far-reaching Harris' book attempts to be. Instead of this breadth being a testimony to the grandness of the books goals, it actually hinders it. As anyone who has read philosophy will know, arguments, to be truly convincing, most move slowly. The counter-argument must be presented with total conviction to be adequately refuted. Harris is not one to indulge in such a laborious methodology. Religion is written off from page one as obviously illogical and unreasonable. I agree totally with Harris that it is, but his deficit of counter-argument leaves me thinking that a true believer would have a hard time renouncing their faith in light of his writing. No mention is made about the many philosophic arguments for the existence of God, and the refusal to address these famous counter-examples leaves his own argument weak. Thomas Aquinas receives nary a word, nor does his ontological proof of God's Existence (considered the most well reasoned of all his "proofs"). Nor does Harris do much historical biblical scholarship--certainly learning about how the Bible was actually written, and it's historical place in Western Society could convince many readers of the Bible's invalidity. Harris doesn't bother. He is too busy.

Harris realizes that for many people, dare I say most, morality without religion is a total canard. Of course anyone who has ever studied ethical theory knows that this is most surely not the case. Indeed, one could even argue that if morality is a canard than it simply is so, religion or no. Harris sketches out a bare bones ethical theory in the book; a theory that seems, on the surface, to represent a utilitarian perspective. However, utilitarianism is never is directly discussed, nor is Kant and his categorical imperative, both of which are the basis for all contemporary ethical debate. He regulates his decision to avoid these terms to a footnote, "the linkage between happiness and ethics (in Harris' writing) is not a mere endorsement of utilitarianism...I have elected to bypass the categories of moral theory that usually frame any discussion of ethics--utilitarianism and deontology being the most common. I do not believe that these categories are as conceptually distinct, or as useful, as their omnipresence in the literature suggests." That is quite a claim about ethics he has made. Indeed, Harris is shrugging away 300 years (at least) of ethical theory with a mere footnote. Perhaps I am being a tad hyperbolic but, it is clear that, more than his brevity on the subject, it is Harris' cavalier attitude toward the rigor of Philosophic argument that makes him an ultimately unconvincing writer. If he, in the footnote, had explained that it was merely a matter of simplifying the subject for the reader, or keeping focused on his thesis that made him elect to bypass these traditional arguments about morality in the chapter the educated reader could move on. Instead, he makes a rather ambitious claim about ethical theory, and then feels no need to argue for it. This truly is philosophic chauvinism.

I was also saddened by the fact that Harris' often spoke of including animals in our moral sphere as sentient creatures but never even suggested to the reader, even in a footnote, how such a view of morality might force a person to change some of their habits, particularly in regards to how we use them for food. He does not even suggest further reading on the topic. I agree the book is not about such issues but, when Robert Nozick brought up the issue in "Anarchy, State, and Utopia," it was not entirely germane to that books over-arching arguments either. Nozick nevertheless gave the reader more to ponder about the way in which we treat non-humans sentient creatures. If you are going to bring it up, then...

The books last chapter deals with consciousness and problems with identity. Strangely, the chapter becomes an endorsement of Eastern philosophy and meditation. Forceful claims are made about consciousness itself and he attempts to argue them in light of thinkers ranging from Buddha to Sartre. Certainly Harris' is trying to offer the reader a rational spiritual alternative to dogmatic religious faith but the scope of this chapter is just too broad. Not only does he criticize all of Western Philosophy since the days of the Greeks, he does so for their inability to recognize what he sees as the faultiness of normal subjective experience, that is the experience of the "I" in existence. He endorses a Eastern view that through meditation one can experience consciousness without the "I" being present, that is to say, consciousness without the normal modalities of identity and subjectivity. This is all fascinating stuff and his arguments for it seem relatively sound, if sketchy. However, by the time a person reads this chapter the focus of the book has lost nearly all it's coherence. It would have served Harris better to write an entirely different book on this subject and keep "The End of Faith" about what it claims to be about.

Despite my tirade of criticisms above, "The End of Faith" is still to be recommended. In an age where theocracy is on the rise and books like the argument-free "Purpose Driven Life" sells millions (and "inspire" criminals to confess their sins), a book that endorses rationality and faithlessness is sorely needed. For a better look at some thorough arguments against religion I recommend George H. Smith's well-argued "Atheism, the case against God," or even Bertrand Russell's classic, "Why I am not a Christian." No doubt Harris' book is geared toward the masses and he would say that it is not a philosophy text. If that was his goal, he has failed. He has written a philosophy book whether he likes it or not. It's just not a very well argued one.
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on October 23, 2006
Basically what Harris is trying to say is that the only reason we have our religion is because it is what our parents believe, and if sum1 handed us a book full of stories and told us to believe everything it said, blindly, would we do it? Probably not. But he's not saying that religion is the cause of all our problems, just that we need to stop using faith that has not proof to justify anything. When making big decisions that affect other people, such as abortion or gay marrige, dont use "well in the bible it says...." to back up your cause because all thats doing is keeping you from truly thinking.

-Also, its just flat out ignorant to group this book with communism, if you are your just stupid and dont understand what communism is.

-Most of this book is just an analysis so its not gonna be black and white flat out truth, Harris wants you too think and take away what you believe is true from this novel. He uses a whole lot more proof then the bible when you really think about it.

-FYI buddhism is more of a lifestyle that can be incorperated into every religion, you can be buddhist and still be christain

-I belive that faith is an important part of every persons spiritual and personal life and it helps us feel a connection to something greater than ourselves, i'm a christain.

-But i do believe that being a christain isn't believeing everything the bible says about god and jesus, you should still use your own judgement, because if you never really thought and questioned you would still believe in santa clause, and the tooth fairy.

-you should be open and read this book, it really opens your mind and helps you understand the world better. Dont let fear of change keep you from knowledge.
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on July 30, 2014
I received it on time. Well packaged. It's clean, readable and good. Thanks
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