Every time I listen to it, I learn some thing I didn't catch the first time. He lays out many solid arguments that are worth listening to again and again.
Absolutely. After finishing it, I wanted to listen to more. I thought that maybe there was a mistake in the audio because it was quite short, but it turns out it really is a short yet enjoyable book.
Who could forget the devastation wreaked upon thousands of innocent people and a prime symbol of capitalism and modern achievement that took place on September 11, 2001? Certainly not I. What some people, religious moderates in particular, seem unable or unwilling to accept, is that acts of violence such as the cruel, unctuous and calculated murder of what were considered "oppressors" and "infidels" were motivated entirely by religious brainwashing. Education and intelligence are no guarantee of inoculation; many of the hijackers had a tertiary education.
Harris begins with a bold claim; that Christianity and its policies are murderous. It is a claim amply supported by the evidence (the Catholic's anti-condom policy in Africa being a prime example, to say nothing of the myriad religious wars being fought today). He concedes and shows great respect for Jainism, which is objectively more moral and compatible with peace in today's modern world. Jainism influenced Mahatma Gandhi (and MLK's non-violent protests by extension). The hypocrisies of Christianity are examined in detail, particularly the religious right's stance against the HPV vaccine (the virus was considered a deterrent against teenage and pre-marital intercourse by the most outlandish Republicans), abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Essentially, Christians worship a hypocritical tyrant who cares nothing for blastocysts, which are naturally aborted via miscarriages in the majority of pregnancies. Harris could have bolstered his case with Exodus 21:22, but his point is still substantial and yet to be refuted.
"Mother" Teresa is given a harsh yet fair beating. As Hitchens eloquently put it, she was allied with poverty itself, not the poor who had to endure it. Her opposition towards analgesics and contraception ensured that women in third-world countries remained oppressed and uneducated. Her primitive morality and blind acceptance of Church dogma in relation to abortion has left her emotionally stunted and quagmired in the first stage of moral development (rewards and punishments/blind obedience to authority). By considering fertilised eggs to be the moral equivalent of fully-developed children, her priorities are, by definition, backwards. Such paradigms prevent otherwise compassionate human beings from working towards solving true moral problems, such as poverty, genocide and "honour" killings (which Harris rightfully treats with trenchant scorn in this book).
Slavery is never condemned outright in the bible, and "Saint" Paul instructed slaves to be extra-nice to their Christian masters. This isn't morality. This is propaganda written by slave-owners who lived in the lap of luxury. Funnily enough, Ravi Zacharias does not even touch on the issue in The End of Reason (to the best of my recollection). If the blatant contradictions of the bible weren't enough, the admonishments and edicts of Jesus make something transparent - the atrocious laws and regulations of the old testament are not to be altered until all is fulfilled (and despite apologetic hand-wringing, there are no verses that support their claims that Jesus fulfilled all of the laws upon his return; obedience is a far cry from fulfillment). The glut of contradictions between the gospels, written decades after their supposed events, are enough by themselves to disprove the presence of a divine hand. Theologians have as yet been unable to explain why multiple gospels were required for the life of just one man. If he is as crucial to human history and salvation as his followers claim, the tomes could be expected to be wordier and less ambiguous, for starters.
Harris is rightly concerned at the NAS' capitulation and deference to religion (understandable given that a sizable proportion of the US public rejects the fact of evolution). Although unstated, a Christian Taliban is feared and would result in grievously abhorrent consequences. Harris echoes Bill Maher's sentiments in Religulous: as a society, we must grow up or perish at the hands of fundamentalists.
The way Harris leads step by step to the only possible solution to immorality in society today.
Read only if you dare.
Sam Harris does a great job of setting out the case for change while not eliciting an emotional outcry. The key to change is making it easy. Too many atheists try to beat people over the head with zingers. Sam slides in the intellect.
Its a good book but i couldn't really get into it considering almost everything in this book is already summed up in 'The God Delusion' by Richard dawkins. Ill only be recommending this if someone does not want to read a 14 hour long book such as Richards book.
This "letter" from Sam Harris is superficially directed at conservative Christians, particularly those who interpret the Bible literally. However, in reality, it is directed at everyone. For atheists, it is a defense of their view of the world. For those who have a belief in god or God, but who are not conservative Christians, Harris spends almost as much time chastising them as he does conservative Christians. Indeed, he spent as much time proclaiming the dangers of Islam as he does of Christianity.
Make no mistake about it, Harris is an atheist. His is also what I would call conservative atheism, showing as much disdain and perhaps even hatred of all religion as many conservative Christians or Muslims have for those of other faiths. If you accept his underlying assumption, which is that rational thought should be the deciding factor when evaluating everything in life -- including all religions, then his conclusions will follow logically and you will find yourself agreeing with them. But you may not find yourself agreeing with his strident tone, one that often seems intent on inciting conflict for the sake of conflict.
And what if you don't accept his underlying assumption? What if rational logic is not the only thing important when evaluating beliefs in this world? What if religion exists, not because it makes rational sense, but because people have a spiritual and/or emotional need that rational though cannot fulfill, but religion can and does? What if that is the point of religion? Then even as Harris undermines various rational arguments justifying religion, he misses the point. This is not to say that all his criticisms of various religions are without some merit, but perhaps those criticisms are justified because religions (like Harris) may miss the point of why people need them.
I am an M.D. and Ph.D. in science, the son of an atheist, who has ended up as a deist, believing in a "god" that is real, amorphous, and uninterest in us.
This is a fairly short audio book but I couldn't finish it. I basically grew tired of the unrelenting drum beat of the book's theme – atheism good, Christianity bad. The corollary also gets worn out – The Bible is vicious, contradictory, and uninspired. About the time that the author started a line of attack based upon the fact that the Bible didn’t accurately calculate the value of pi, I gave up. Sam Harris may have good reason to have a chip on his shoulder, but he attacks Christianity with a ferocity that is painful. This isn’t an attempt at dialog or education. It is a mugging and after a while, I just couldn’t take it any more.
I agree with much of what the author of the books says about Christianity, more specifically the Christian right. The book is written as a letter of arguments directed at Christians. The language is as if speaking to some one of the Christian right, but I do not think that audience will pick up this book or even listen past the first few paragraphs. It is more of a list of complaints to a Christian nation. It seems to come of as arrogant and condescending, the very elite language that so many on the right hate. From that perspective the book fails in trying to engage in a conversation with the Christian right, if that’s what its real purpose was. It certainly has excellent arguments against many Christian right political positions, but that’s not what those people will hear. You generally catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and this book is loaded with vinegar. This book is more for a secular person looking to reinforce his or her own position, to clarify their understanding of their own position.
The other problem I had with the book was some of the facts are questionable. For example, the survey that shows more than 50% of Americans believe in creationism. The author harps on this point constantly. I do not believe this is true. I think there was a survey with carefully crafted questions to get at that result for political purposes, who’s I am not sure. I didn’t dislike the book, and I agree with much of what the author says. However let’s be honest in that it’s not a letter to Christians.