Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, the world can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. Most controversially, he argues that the we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion - an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism.
While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris also draws on new evidence from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based need. He calls on us to invoke that need in taking a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems of this world.
©2007 Sam Harris; (P)2004 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
A brilliant discussion of why faith (belief in something you can’t prove) is incompatible with a world brimming with weapons of mass destruction. I'd stopped reading this after a couple of chapters when the book came out years ago because Harris said something that angered me. Since then, he’s found himself frequently explaining how people misinterpreted that part (allegedly saying Islam should be outlawed; he also has pointed out misinterpretations about the part involving a nuclear first strike on the Middle East). So I decided to try it again since I've enjoyed his subsequent books, especially “The Moral Landscape.” And, yep, I didn’t fully grasp what he was saying. This is a deeply thought-provoking book. I especially liked his takedown of Chomsky on moral equivalency.
The narrator is boring and robotic at first but either he becomes more invested in the text as it goes along or I got used to him so that about a third of the way through, his delivery didn't grate anymore.
Great book, good ideas. Wish Sam Harris had read it himself. The narrator doesn't seem to be able to inflect and give proper emphasis to Sam's words.
I really think that I would have enjoyed this book had the narrator been good or had I read it on paper. Sam Harris makes solid arguments and I like his writing style, but the narrator was atrocious. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I have yet to encounter a book so throughly ruined by bad reading: stilted affectation, odd emphases, and a cadence so strange that I could barely decipher sentence structures. Overall, this book was a chore to get through. Do yourself a favor and buy this book on paper.
I want to add a note about the Islam bashing mentioned by several other reviewers. This book is critical of Islam, but I don't think that it's unfairly critical. Sam Harris is making an appeal for sanity and, in today's world, Christianity and Islam are the two greatest sources of insanity. So, from my perspective, he could have fairly been more critical of Christianity, but that doesn't mean the book is filled with unfair Islam bashing.
A rather enjoyable, lucid, and coherent discussion on how and why religious beliefs have created so much suffering in the history of humankind. From why it is untenable to argue in favor of religion as the basis for our morality, to very cohesive arguments supporting morality as unrelated to, and indeed murkied by, religious dogma.
The narrator leads the listener through sometimes very complex reasoning in a clear and lively manner. I wish I could give this audiobook 4 and a half stars, but this rating is not available. The only reason for this is the somewhat oddly placed last chapter on meditation and spirituality. However, I must say the author recovers from this to some extent in the afterword, with his rationale for having included this topic in the book. His "Letter to a Christian Nation" further refines and clarifies many of the central arguments introduced in this book.
Overall a great read/listen. It nicely complements Dawkins' work. However, I have enjoyed more the latter's more unapologetic style.
One of my all time favorite books. It's too bad Sam is not the narrator because he is a superb speaker. However the guy they have does a decent job. I will say when I ordered the book it stated that Sam was the narrator so I was a little bummed about that. Audible has sinced fixed the error.
The reader didn't read the words as Harris wrote them. Emphasis was placed at the wrong points in sentences throughout the book. Thankfully I have the book in print as well, otherwise I would have been completely lost due to the readers recording. Great book, horrible audiobook.
From historical atrocities to modern atrocities, from Judaism to Christianity to Islam, from terror to charity, Harris makes the case that religion is not just wrong, it's dangerous. He offers an alternative: rational, phenomenological exploration of consciousness. Far from academically laborious, "The End of Faith" is a perfect introduction to the atheist movement or a great source for those already knowledgeable. Very compelling, but will it change any minds? Are religious people open to correction?
Sam Harris is a great writer and speaker, and this book highlights many of his best ideas. A strong and always reasonable voice in the secular community. I could have done with less of the chapter regarding torture, for although his points were valid, they felt out of context from the rest of the material. I found that Letter to a Christian Nation had a lot more bang for it's buck, and I've heard better points that he omitted here in his debates and lectures.
Can't wait for the next book.
The end of faith is an honest look at why some choose to break away from the indoctrination of Religion that seemingly formulates our lives for better in some instances and for worse in many instances. Sam Harris goes to the heart of the matter, exploring that our faith is unquestionably linked primarily to geograph. It is unapologetic in asking us directly, Why do we believe what we believe? If There is an intelligent designer does it really write books?
Given all the suffering, could we really call that designer intelligent?
If you find yourself questioning the indoctrination of your formative years whether it be Christian, Islamic, Buddhist or any other religious affiliation, this book is for you.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is not really about the end of faith, but the author’s post 9-11 justification for the preemptive destruction of those he fears.
I agree with much, if not most, (actually almost everything) of what is presented in The End of Faith, nevertheless I was uncomfortable with a few of the author’s blind spots, allowing him to seriously justify preemptive violence against his “enemies”.
This is not rationalism, not an author searching for truth, but instead a long rationalization for violence born of fear. The author’s fear is palpable on nearly every page. This may not be noticeable to many just now, as fear saturates much of west post 9-11. This book seems to be a visceral (and understandably human) reaction to 9-11. While it does address the obvious historical atrocities perpetrated by western religions, much of the book explains why we should fear Islam and might need to kill them for their dangerous beliefs.
The author seems to show no interest in understanding the nature of his enemy, merely repeatedly justifying his fear of them. Harris indicates he does not know how we might win the war on terrorism. The answer is simple to anyone who has studied military history, you win when your advisory loses the will to fight. Loses the will to fight. This seems to be the bases of his fear. That his enemy will never lose the will to fight.
The author fails address some key questions:
If religion is such a hindrance to human happiness, why is it ubiquitous in successful societies? I am not at all religious, but, without fully understanding the purpose of religion I hesitate to declare the end of faith.
The author spends much of the book pointing out the violence intrinsic to Islam, yet he clearly knows western religious underpinnings are every bit as violent. This raises another question; why have western religions recently become less overtly violent? The author seems to claim western societies are “ahead of” (more civilized than, more advanced than, better than) Islamic societies. But the author does not seem to seriously consider why this is the case.
This is not a bad book, but the best parts have been done better elsewhere, and the fear based parts are sad.
The narration is not at all bad, but the emphasis seemed a bit exaggerated for the material.
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