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70 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read as a criticism of FAITH not religion, 4 Aug 2007
This review is from: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Paperback)
So many of the reviews here focus on specific aspects of Harris' work that present a particular religion, or sect, in a negative light. Certainly, the book does contain a large number of specific criticisms, but these are used to illustrate the central point of the book - that FAITH itself is the problem; FAITH in all its forms. Of course, for a great many of the global population this means the particular religion that they choose to subscribe to... but it is much more than this - it is the willingness to accept any doctrine at face value, without requiring evidence or accepting critical analysis.

The book makes an eloquant case for individuals challenging the beliefs which they carry, and those that they are asked to accept by any other individual or organisation - including those imposed by the state.

Too many Amazon reviewers seem to have been offended by statements that criticise part of their belief system. This is the point of the book!! Uncritical faith leads to blind acceptance of myths, press releases and all other forms of story. The resultant differences in opinion escalate into "denial of 'facts'" and lead eventually to the murderous and genocidal incidents described in the book.

Incidentally, those reading with an open mind will see a critique of unthinking in every form - including unthinking atheists who accept the word of any other atheist (e.g. Dawkins, who is repeatedly blamed for 'fundamental' atheism, despite his continued insistence on evidence and critical analysis!). Unthinking atheism is just another form of FAITH!

Read with an open mind, bearing in mind the core message that "uncritical faith is irrational, unthinking and unsound", and you will enjoy and benefit from this book.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Dec 2008 21:40:43 GMT
Mr. N. Cross says:
Thank God for this review, i was about to write something similar myself. Anouther term that harris likes to put himself opposition to is Dogmatism, in all its forms, whether that be Islamic fundamentalism or Stalinism

Posted on 5 Oct 2012 09:49:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Oct 2012 14:21:03 BDT
kinetic24 says:
"Unthinking atheism is just another form of FAITH"

I don't believe in unicorns. Is this faith on my part? Can I be described as 'having faith in the non-unicorn'?

No. I do not consider belief in unicorns to be necessary or rational, as there is no evidence for their existence. This is not faith on my part. There is a literally infinite list of things that don't and never have existed, and I don't need to declare my faith in the non-existence of all of them. No-one can ever prove the non-existence of something, because proof requires demonstration, and you can't demonstrate something that doesn't exist. The burden is with those who believe in it to present me with evidence. Until then, they have faith, and I don't.

This might seem like a trivial criticism, but I don't think it is. In large part I agree with the tenor of your review. However, it is not valid to draw an equivalence between religious faith and atheism. The former makes a large number of untestable claims about the universe, and then adheres to their truth either without evidence, or especially because there is no evidence. An atheist rejects these beliefs as irrationally founded, and that is all.

Ah, but you said 'unthinking' atheism... But what does that mean? Modern science is bewildering and complex, and no-one on earth can claim to understand every corner of it. This is partly due to the scale of the task, and partly due to the fact that scientific understanding continually evolves (and improves). Those who reject religion as above described cannot be condemned as hypocrites for having 'faith' in science, simply because they don't understand all of it. Nobody ever has understood all of it. Who can escape your 'unthinking atheism' label? Any sensible human being will step back from a precipice because the consequences of falling are provable (and frequently proved). You don't need to know the first thing about astrophysics or evolutionary biology to reject religious faith on rational grounds.

All of us, believers and non-believers, know that objects fall towards the ground, and the sun comes up every morning. We expect these things will continue to occur, and we expect it on the best grounds available - constant demonstration, and a sound theoretical basis of understanding. No religious adherent would claim that this is what they mean by faith. Faith is what you hold despite the evidence, not in accordance with it. There is no evidence for the existence of God, and assuming him doesn't explain anything. That is atheism, and it involves no faith at all. To be an atheist is to embrace evidence-based thinking, to be religious is to reject it. That is the real distinction - as atheists we don't need to give away the farm by conceding we have 'faith' in the sun coming up in the morning.

A religious apologist will happily play with the semantic distinction here, but it amounts only to so much logic-chopping. I don't have 'faith' in a religious sense at all, because I don't need it - and the 'faith' a believer might claim I have is shared implicitly by any and every six-month old baby, and allows me to function successfully in a universe with demonstrable regularities.
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