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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Hardcover – 7 Feb 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (7 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743268083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743268080
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 746,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A bold and exhilarating thesis . . . A brave, pugilistic attempt to demolish the walls that currently insulate religious people from criticism' -- Johann Hari, Independent

'A clever thesis by a clever man . . . Even Harris's critics will have to concede the force of [his] analysis' -- The Economist

'A genuinely frightening book . . . Read Sam Harris and wake up' -- Richard Dawkins, Guardian

'A tour de force' -- Alan Dershowitz

'I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood . . . This is an important book' -- Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review

'Radical . . . An eminently sensible rallying cry for a more ruthless secularisation of society' -- Stephanie Merritt, Observer

From the Publisher

WINNER OF THE 2005 PEN AWARD FOR FIRST NON-FICTION --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

252 of 267 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 April 2006
Format: Paperback
To call this book provocative is something of an understatement - it's an attack on ideals held very dear by many, from the sanctity of religious faith through to the desirability of religious tolerance. It's also highly persuasive, and a timely wake-up call to anyone who dislikes religion but believes that private beliefs should go unchallenged.

Harris's key concern is pragmatic: there are religious fundamentalists happy to kill both themselves and others on the basis of their faith in particular holy books, and we must find the best way of stopping them. Harris's view is that the way to do so is to undermine all religion, not just that of the fundamentalists.

He notes that "religious tolerance", the liberal consensus which minimises conflict between believers and non-believers, and between moderates and radicals, allows fundamentalism to flourish because it creates a climate where only actions can be challenged, not the beliefs that cause them. Harris (with some tendency to exaggeration) downplays the political causes of terrorism which other writers focus on, and concentrates on the central absurdity that makes acts like suicide bombing possible - belief in reward in the afterlife.

Harris rarely minces words. The book is filled with quotable invective, which depending on your perspective you'll either find inspiring or apalling. As a rant, it's highly articulate and very well-argued.

Harris pours scorn particularly on Islam and Christianity, enumerating the false beliefs to be found in their holy books and devoting a chapter each to their flaws. Judaism gets off more lightly, and he clearly has more sympathy for Israel than its neighbours.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The End of Faith: Religion, terror, and the future of reason, by Sam Harris, W.W. Norton, U.S.; The Free Press (Simon and Schuster), London, 2006; 336 ff.

The terror of religion
By Howard Jones

Religion is all about fear! For the meek, it's about the dreadful fate in eternal hellfire that awaits the non-believer. For the psychopathic fundamentalist, it's the perfect justification to slaughter those who are rational enough not to succumb to the terrible fantasies. This is what Sam Harris' book is all about - replacing rationalism with fear-based myth. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA. This book gives a graphic account of the evils wrought in the name of religion.

Like other recent, prominent and forcefully atheist authors, Harris fiercely and fearlessly, as the N.Y. Times reviewer said, attacks the rational absurdities of religion and their awful consequences to us all. Every religion claims that it alone represents truth, so all other faiths are `repositories of error . . . Intolerance is thus intrinsic to every creed.' The point he makes strongly in this book is that we must not abandon rationalism in favour of `faith' when we think of religion, for `this is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.'

The title `The End of Faith' is a little ambiguous, for we all have beliefs and faith - even belief in atheism! However it is religious faith that Harris is attacking and in his opening chapter he is criticizing our lack of rationalism when it comes to religion. His second chapter is about the nature of belief in the general sense. His focus is on faith-based religion - religions that are based on man-made scriptures.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. White TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
End of Faith is one of the most important books of the decade. Read this book and start thinking. And please don't stop thinking, otherwise you'll miss the point of it. For this is a book to inspire thought about how the world has come to have so many problems, so many of which are directly or indirectly attributable to religion. Even some laws which make no rational sense are in existence because of a moral tradition which is directly attributable to religious belief. Belief, in other words, which is not based on any scientific proof.

I must echo what another said, as it is totally right to say:

If you have an open, intelligent and enquiring mind - Read it.
If you want a better understanding of why the world is in such a mess - Read it
If you are interested in ethics, moral identity and politics - Read it.
If you are intrigued by the nature of belief - Read it

Harris makes a most brilliant and compelling treatise on why religion is so disturbingly destructive in so many ways; and is all the more so when it is followed with blind allegiance. He also demonstrates with the most logical fluidity and rational reasoning how its effects affect all of us - whether we are religious or not. And he develops, most compellingly, the argument that this is wrong. In short, read this book and wake up! And please give this book to others who are influential in this world, as this book is far too important to ignore. An unquestionable must read, which has divided many people and accordingly does not have the mark of greatness here on Amazon that is so thoroughly deserves.
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