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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

by Sam Harris
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"The End of Faith articulates the dangers and absurdities of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated....Harris writes what a sizable number of us think, but few are willing to say."—Natalie Angier, New York Times

In The End of Faith, Sam Harris delivers a startling analysis of the clash between reason and religion in the modern world. He offers a vivid, historical tour of our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs—even when these beliefs inspire the worst human atrocities. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism to deliver a call for a truly modern foundation for ethics and spirituality that is both secular and humanistic. Winner of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393327656
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/10/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 88,687
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sam Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University.

Table of Contents

1Reason in Exile11
2The Nature of Belief50
3In the Shadow of God80
4The Problem with Islam108
5West of Eden153
6A Science of Good and Evil170
7Experiments in Consciousness204

What People are Saying About This

"While one might dispute some of the claims and arguments presented by Harris, the need for a wakeup call to religious liberals is right on the mark."
---Joseph C. Hough Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary, New York

"A must read for all rational people."
---Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard University

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End of Faith 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 199 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In short, 'The End of Faith' is a manuscript aimed at religion and its obovious flaws that humanity tends to overlook and/or disregard. Whether its the threat of religious tensions leading to nuclear holocaust or religion itself witholding us from getting closer to a more universal answer to life, humanity has constantly allowed religion to reign its 'necessary' wrongdoings in our world beacuse of its prejudice ways of life and greedy claims of 'the 'ONLY' answer to life.' Sam Harris has created something amazing, something epic and triumphant in the world of free-thinkers alike. I feel that this is one colossal, successful step towards TRUE freedom of religion. No longer will prejudice Christians or Cahtolics or Muslims and so forth restrain us from believing in what children are taught as blind, foolish beings who accept anything and grow under those influences. As Sam Harris says, 'Religions we consider sacred today are only sacred beacuse they were sacred yesterday.' What he means by this is that the only reason why religion is actually believeable in this modern world of ours is because day after day, generation after generation, one person's beliefs were passed down since the roots of humanity and religion. If any religion never existed in our lives or the lives of our forefathers then it can be guaranteed that if a religious belief were to suddenly be proposed in our age of society, it would quickly be dismissed as folly and ignorant. Only because we are taught such things as children or live around them throughout our lives explains why we even consider them real: because we are exposed to this fantastical, irrational state of mind when we're foolish enough to believe in such mindlessness. I am no atheist, or a Christian, or apart of any other religious cult. I believe in everything that makes sense in my mind. I DO NOT close my eyes to some beliefs and open them to others (as religion does repeatedly, only accepting scientific facts that support their beliefs while disregarding any that contradict them). I keep all senses keen to reality. I'm on a journey, like so many others, to find a peace of mind in which I can think of the day that I die and not be afraid of an eternity in hell simply for not believing in something that literally has not made one appearance on this planet, except in non-proven stories. I truly believe that humanity is simply learning another global lesson. As with racism and World Wars, among other mistakes humanity has commited, breaking from the shackles of religion and accepting all rational and fair( fair as in beliefs that don't hurt others) beliefs is another lesson we'll hopefully learn as soon as possible. Sadly, it seems that humans only learn their lesson when something horrible or significant happends. With racism it took the ignorance and prejudice beliefs of slave owners to finally, after hundreds of years, give african-americans the FAITH and strength needed to overcome the IGNORANT BELIEFS of racists. Same thing with the belief that women were lesser than men and deserved less rights. In World War II it took a nuclear explosion to Hiroshima to finally shock the faces of this world into regret and sudden realization of its errors. And now, as it seems so inevitable, the ignorant and closeminded beliefs of religious people who claim their beliefs as 'the one and only' are suffering the same mistakes that racists, those who oppose female equality, and the icons that shaped the major wars of our time endured. The only problem with this new lesson that humans are learning is that we may not survive the outcomes of such ignorant and rash ways of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When someone claims something preposterous, unsupported by fact, out of wishful thinking and/or ignorance, we don't have to respect those claims. There is no reason religious faith should be an exception, argues the author. Faith is not worthy of respect in a conversation. More importantly, Sam Harris makes the point that if we bend over backwards not to offend religious moderates, and the latter do the same not to offend religious fundamentalists (as you've noticed they inevitably do!), we're just freeing the way for the cancerous growth of fundamentalism, with the associated suicide-bombings and other fun stuff. This is an excellent book making the point that faith is positively harmful and could well spell the end of our world (think a bit about nuclear weapons in the hands of religious fanatics). The only part that left me quizzed is the chapter about mysticism and meditation: Sam Harris may be onto something, but I really am at a loss figuring out what he's talking about. Apart from that, the style of the author is crystal clear, brief, concise, admirably articulate. Make sure you check out Sam Harris's web site: it has very interesting print, audio, and video material. And buy the book and promote the cause!
Michael Westwood More than 1 year ago
i used to not advertise my atheism, because I figured other's beliefs did not matter to me. after reading this book, I realized it is my duty to the human race to help expose the harm of organized religion in the modern world. This book should be required reading for all people, especially teens before their brainwashing is complete.
ASTJ More than 1 year ago
This may offend those that choose to belive in tribal myths. The majority of the human race require the comfort provided by religious leaders that promise wonderful things at the end of life. This book shows that our civilization is still relatively primitive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sam Harris's book definitely shows that he has well thought out what to say on the topic of religion. He explains, in very descriptive terms, how religious fundamentalism, whether it's Chrisianity, Judaism or Islam, has everything to do with controlling people, as opposed to loving them. While I do disaree with him saying that all religious moderates are a threat (even though I think they're wrong as well) he provides a decent argument on why he thinks that way. I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody who is disheartened by religion's need to control people's everyday lives, including their own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Harris seems as if he is only concerned with reason, whereas I feel Richard Dawkins has a bias he hides behind. I reccomend this book to everyone because we all need to hear this in the world we live in today. The Christians and Hindus are just as mentally dead as the Muslims are and they all need to wake up and stop hating eachother with their "truth". Dont listen to any reader who gave this book a one star. If a person doesnt like the material they at least need to give it a 2 or 3 for how smart and well written it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It might make you mad, it might make you scared, it might make you frustrated. But it will definitely make you think. This book should be required reading for every American. The author has included a huge section of notes, so if you question any of his facts or sources, you can easily dig deeper and do your own research.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The End of Faith pried me out of a bad habit, which, in turn, will threaten the bad habit in others: that of accepting toxic social conditions. Really, the situation of atheists is rather like a non-smoker in the 50¿s. When asked, ¿Do you mind if I smoke,¿ we knee-jerked, ¿O no, of course not,¿ even though it always presented discomfort. In present social situations atheists are often confronted with the toxic statement ¿I have faith in¿¿ to which the speaker expects the usual genuflection of respect, even though we don¿t feel respect. This destroys the fabric of genuine social exchange. Tradition has demanded that we should acknowledge the speaker¿s fantasy, delusion, rigidity, and refusals to examine evidence as marvelous and desirable attributes. By refusing to challenge such a person, we become complicit. No longer! Thanks, Sam! A great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found in this book a well thought out and clearly presented argument. And although the author would hold all religious faith to be irrational and obsolete, the book demonstrates that the real danger is not so much that people have faith in a particular God or religion, but that many people view their faith as the only true path, and believe they have the right to attack and kill people who do not share that faith.
Benjamin220 More than 1 year ago
Sam delivers a precise and articulate blow to the foundations of religion. He touches not only on the erroneous nature of religious claims, but more importantly, he warns us of the dangers posed by religious obedience and of the ominous actuations on the horizon given the menacing amalgam of religious zeal and modern destructive technology. Sam Harris is the tip of the spear in the fight for reason. Read this book!
Jesse Godby More than 1 year ago
Sam Harris brilliantly and accessibly expresses a powerful and thoughtful argument against dogmatic faith and religion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Open-minded for an atheiet.
psikes More than 1 year ago
A great book by one of my favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is nothing like ending faith. It's as natural as the air we breathe. That said. What the book is trying to say or do is expose the harmful effects of religion due mainly to the resurgence of the Islamic fights in the west. This is good but the writer didn't go far enough to explain the origins of these religions. Rumors also abound that he favors buddhist philosophy which was a breakaway from hindu religion. But it's the letter to a christian nation that hit the nail on the head, without bias.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was particularly impressed with the 'problem of evil'. I did not understand the part about meditation because I dislike meditating. I would have liked to have him address the benefits of religion because religion has many powerful benefits. When people pray with faith, they thank God for their blessings, they ask God to look after others, and they seek guidance. After prayer believers feel blessed, benevolent toward others, clear-headed, and free of worldy cares. Indescribable job flows from prayer, but I no longer believe that it is the work of God. Understanding what happens to believers is important, however, if we hope to persuade believers to think more rationally.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I, too, believe that, by and large, organized religion is a scourge that has been more divisive than beneficial in the history of humankind, and I wanted to know what someone else had to say on the subject. Unfortunately, Sam Harris is as dogmatic and bombastic -- and often simplistic -- as many of the people he criticizes. His arguments, finally, are generally not persuasive because they are expressed in such concrete, absolute terms -- he is terribly convinced of his own 'rightness,' and he puts many questions to the reader that he then answers for him/her, without giving the reader a chance to come to his/her own conclusion. In short, he shoves his opinions -- often thinly disguised as facts -- down the reader's throat instead of taking the time and thought to present a full argument 'despite the many citations and the voluminous -- and often fascinating -- notes, which in the end are more about quantity than quality'. The prose is also laced through with a sarcasm that is funny but does not serve his argument well and that seems a substitute for greater intellectual rigor and objectivity. I wanted to admire this book, but it was impossible given his all-or- nothing stance. He also seems to use the words 'God' and 'religion' interchangeably. Whether one believes in God or not, the two terms represent very different things -- and the book's focus should have been the 'religion' of the title. Questions of 'God' are something different, as many who have spurned organized religion 'and violence' have maintained a belief in God -- the venerable and highly ethical George Eliot 'nee Maryann Evans' among them. Sam Harris is a good writer who knows how to keep his reader's attention. But this book, whose subject held so much promise, seems little more than a grad student's diatribe in the end -- prettily written, to be sure, but nowhere near as sophisticated as its author appears to believe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How many of you really know about the faithful reason necessary to survive?? Many individuals depend on religion for the absolute reason to continue to exist 'a sort of reverse existentialism'. Therefore, it is necessary to see both points of view on the situation. At the moment, I only see hypocrites stating, reciting, and acknowledging the views of the faithful. The spectrum needs to show the other side.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know some (Christians) who have enjoyed reading this book because it articulates a scathing criticism of the Islamic faith. The book also criticizes Christianity, but in milder tones that can be glossed over in most minds of Christians. The author criticizes moderate and liberal Christians with providing cover for religious extremist. In response to this I conjecture that removal of the moderate option could result in the unintended consequence in increasing the number of religious extremest....more I know some (Christians) who have enjoyed reading this book because it articulates a scathing criticism of the Islamic faith. The book also criticizes Christianity, but in milder tones that can be glossed over in most minds of Christians. The author criticizes moderate and liberal Christians with providing cover for religious extremist. In response to this I conjecture that removal of the moderate option could result in the unintended consequence in increasing the number of religious extremest. The more moderate religious groups can provide a refuge for the extremest who grow weary of their positions. I elaborate more on my beliefs in my review of Dawkin's The God Delusion. Read in July, 2007
schatzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I found this book to be interesting, Harris is a bit too heavy-handed with his criticism to resound with anyone except skeptics, agnostics, and atheists; I don't think this book would convince many (any?) people to become an atheist. Still, he makes some valid points, and he isn't afraid to say things that are very far from politically correct.
waitingtoderail on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, Sam, religion is bad for modern-day society. I agree. Do you have to be such a complete jerk about it though? Really, your style isn't going to win you any converts among the "faithful" now, is it? Generally if you openly call people stupid and evil, they aren't going to openly accept your overall thesis. Oh, and read some more Noam Chomsky before you spend several pages attacking him in your book, not one 118 page pamphlet. And if you think America's intentions in their foreign policies are nothing but good for everyone, you're incredibly naive. You're a good writer, I'll give you that, and you have some important points to make, but seriously, they're awash in such vitriol that they are basically moot.
CasualFriday on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't care for Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation, finding it simplistic and needlessly pugnacious. Well, this full-length work is considerably more sophisticated, of course. The primary argument is that religious faith -- and that includes religious moderates -- is a force for evil in the world. His most frightening scenarios involve Islam, but he certainly slams the predominantly Christian culture of the west, as well. I won't rehash the arguments here; I'm convinced, and the faithful will probably not be. Most interesting to me were the later chapters outlining the case for ethics without faith and even spirituality without faith. He presents the atheistic spirituality of Buddhism as something that is not predicated on faith and could be a valuable way for human beings to connect with something larger than themselves.
NotAZombie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent analysis of religious faith. For some insight on irrational belief, read most of the other reviews by LT users.
wordygirl39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
See my review for Letter to a Christian Nation.
bordercollie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Taking on our sacred cows, Harris shows how the three "religions of the book" (Abrahamic faiths) are the cause of most wars. Now that ever-smaller and more radical states have nuclear weapons, these faiths may cause the deadliest wars of all. Harris is not opposed to fundamentalists of any stripe; he says the storehouse of religious thought is the moderates, whom he accuses of not having read their own holy books. Fundamentalists have read and are following their god's orders. These imaginary beings and their followers need to be exposed, not catered to. Sentiment here is inappropriate. Richly footnoted, authoritative and well written.
bruneau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With arguably no topic in America more contentious and hotly debated than religion (oddly enough), it is important to ponder the rationality of stated and unstated religious wars (or just one-on-one killings for the same purposes). In absence of a compulsory high-school course on ¿comparative world religion and philosophy,¿ this book, as a minimum, provides a few interesting observations. Overall, an entertaining read, sure to fuel endless passionate debates (in which I have absolutely no intention to partake).