The End of Faith by Sam Harris

The End of Faith

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...

Details The End of Faith

TitleThe End of Faith
Release DateSep 17th, 2005
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
Number of pages348 pages
GenreReligion, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Atheism, Politics, Science

Reviews The End of Faith

  • Rob
    A greater mystery than human nature and its irrepressible theological imagination is how this book managed to impress so many people. After much consideration, I can only conclude its popularity (along with Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great) is because of the mass hysteria among secularists over religion after the 9/11 tragedy combined with increased politicalization...
  • Pete
    There are several currents running through The End of Faith, many of which I agree with enthusiastically, some of which I regard with caution, and one or two that I find so strange as to wonder whether Harris wrote the last few chapters while in too.. contemplative a state, as he might say.First, some easy floating down the river. Where does your support for the following graded series fall off? (1) Religious scriptures shouldn't be taken literal...
  • Folboteur
    I rate this a five in spite of some legitimate reservations, too well expressed by too many people to bear repeating here. The things I liked: 1. Brilliant writing style. Incisive, funny, powerful. (His followup to this book, a 94 page tract called "Letter to a Christian Nation" displays this skill to even better advantage.)2. Sam's recommended actions for the reader. Religion generally gets a free pass to make unsubstantiated truth claims. Stop ...
  • Nebuchadnezzar
    Harris can pen a clever turn of phrase. Unfortunately, that's most of what he has going for him. The old standby "What's good isn't new and what's new isn't good" very much applies here.It's funny how much Harris and I agree on the fundamental issues -- we are both atheists and we both believe that religion can and has done great harm -- yet I found little of value in this work of atheist apologetics. History, politics, and culture are grossly di...
  • Paul
    Another yawner from the "New" atheists. This is another book by a pretentious atheist who just can't believe that there are still theists. "Arrrgh! Don't you know we've beaten you theists fair and square. It is just obvious that theism is false. If you won't give up your theistic beliefs by our obviously superior rational arguments, then I'll shame you in to giving them up."Ho hum.Harris trots out the usual dusty canards of the New Atheists: reli...
  • Matthew
    So near the mark, but just off of center. This book makes many laudable points, not the least of which is the critique that allowing faith/religion into the political sphere on equal footing with science and reason will doom us all. My primary complaint with this work, and the reason I knocked off a couple stars, is due to Mr. Harris's illogical and inconsistent privileging of America and fundamentalist Christianity over the more "violent" Islam....
  • Emma Sea
    I absolutely reject Harris's key argument that Islam is essentially and inescapably a religion of violence and hate. That's like defining Christianity by the actions of the KKK. Given that, it's hard for me to do anything other than dislike the book, but I was equally disappointed in it for other reasons. e.g. compared to religion, "Mysticism is a rational enterprise" based on "empirical evidence." (p. 221). Um, really?Very disappointed in this r...
  • Greg
    What follows is not a review. It's more like some notes and thoughts I had while reading the book... a review will soon be written....This is from DFW's 2005 Kenyon Commencement Speech:"Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that co...
  • Jimmy
    While religious belief is an incredibly complex subject with ages of history behind it, the motivation for such belief can be roughly summarized as a preoccupation with, and fear of, what happens to us when we, as mortal human beings, die. Let's face it, it is a frightening and dreary concept; to think that when our time comes, that that's it, nothing more, our bodies decompose, and our minds no longer function. Of course this is the case for peo...
  • C.
    I was excited to read this book after seeing Sam Harris on the Colbert Report. It seemed like the Atheist argument that I had really been waiting for, and that finally I was going to find something that I wholeheartedly could get behind, without reservation.Well, if I could give this book negative five stars I would. Sure, he cites all of the times that the Koran mentions death and destruction, which takes up 4 pages of the book, and also mention...
  • Lena
    In this book, Harris makes the compelling argument that human beings can no longer afford the luxury of major religious belief systems. In a world in which we now have the capacity to kill millions of humans at one time, belief systems that are intolerant of non-believers and emphasize life in the hereafter over the present are simply too dangerous. Harris claims that even moderate members of a religion are to blame for extreme acts committed in ...
  • Trevor
    Harris does much to prove that there is nothing one can say about religion that will not get you into trouble. In Letter to a Christian Nation he is criticised for not dealing with moderates, but that is done here. I find the religious tend to want it all ways. If you criticise those who actually believe the word of god as if it was real and meant, then you are being as dogmatic as they are. Here Harris argues that moderate believers are as dange...
  • Steve
    I wouldn't start here if I were beginning to explore atheism. The book is rather ponderous, but it's worth reading as you make your way through the literature of the field. In places, I found it a little hard to follow, in terms of the progression and linkage of his ideas. Many individual sentences are quotable gems of pithy insight, and often humor. Take, for example, the following: "The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open fro...
  • Donald
    I found Sam Harris's book interesting and disturbing, but it should be classified as fiction. Nearly every argument he asserts is specious. Apparently, he reads only those who support his own position (philosophical suicide). He conveniently dismisses atheistic regimes as "religious" by assigning an ambiguous religious or mythological type of totalitarianism to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the rest of those who tortured and killed religious believers...
  • Shaun
    I have been a fan of Harris and his ideas for quite some time. In addition to reading his book Free Will and subscribing to his blog, I have watched numerous interviews/talks/debates, and I am very familiar with his ideas/works.That said, I still found this to be a worthwhile investment of my time. I particularly enjoyed the section in the back of my edition, where Harris addresses some of the major criticisms he's received since the book was fir...
  • John
    At its heart, the book is arguing against Faith. His starting point is Islamic terrorism, which he argues can only be understood in the context of faith--without the religious beliefs underpinning these people's lives, without the certainty they have in both the righteousness of their cause and the eternal reward they will earn, recruiting for suicide bombing missions would be awfully hard.Part of his argument, though, is that contrary to what we...
  • Jeanette
    The original purpose of the book,(as nearly as I can tell), was to show how all religions require belief in things that are basically insane, without providing one shred of evidence for these beliefs. He discusses various faiths: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and shows how all of their scriptures encourage violence and hatred/destruction of those who don't share their faith. Belief in an afterlife (NEVER provable) full of rewards leads people to irr...
  • Mike Puma
    While covering much the same ground as Christopher Hitchens in God Is Not Great, Harris does so with a voice less harsh, one sounding less like a diatribe. He scope is wider than Hitchens allowing him to make points that Hitchens doesn’t as well, e.g. that the tolerant religious are so at the expense of their belief in the dogma of their own faith(s). The 2005 paperback edition includes an Afterword in which the author speaks to some of the ear...
  • Eric_W
    updated 4/12. It has always been clear to me that faith-based belief systems eliminate the possibility of conversation and the alternative to conversation is violence. For example, if you want to discuss a policy issue that relates to a faith-based belief, the dialogue ceases when one says "I don't believe that." There can be no response.Sam Harris discusses the issue also, but much more articulately. He argues that current world conflicts relate...
  • Eric
    I've been reading this book forever now. I imagine I'll finish sometime.I'm sympathetic to Harris' arguments: I've been an atheist since I was a teenager. But Harris' book is hypocritical, shallow, and unpleasant. Religion is bad--unless it's his own brand of Buddhism, apparently. And his defense of torture could not have been easy to write with his head shoved so far up his own asshole. And the sad truth is that however much his general case mig...
  • Rick
    I started reading this book with high hopes for a scholarly, considered and balanced critique of organised religion. Unfortunately, as I read, I became more and more disappointed and irritated with the book and its author.There are several major failings: firstly there is little to no mention of Hinduism and Buddhism, two of the major religions of the world, primarily because they don't lend themselves easily to Harris's "analysis". He implies th...
  • Noah Stacy
    I am sympathetic, though perhaps not entirely convinced, of Harris's argument that faith--moderate or extreme--is always dangerous. However, religious beliefs should certainly be opened to criticism. As Harris suggests, religious beliefs should be made as open to criticism as any others, and people must become aware that the argument that "the Bible says so" is a non-argument. Would we accept someone's argument against, say, gay marriage, if they...
  • mike
    Wow, what an attack. When I picked up this book I knew I was going to be dealing with someone who blamed religion for pretty much everything from world war to salmonella in peanut butter, but what I didn't expect was how much of the blame he put on not the zealots, but the religious moderates as well. The title says "The End of Faith" and he means it -- the slightest bit of faith in anything is subject to withering attack.In his writing, the auth...
  • David
    In The End of Faith, Harris does what any number of enlightenment rationalists before him have done: attempt to undermine the authority of religion by showing how scientific rationality discredits the notion of a supernatural being. Harris seizes on the inherent contradictions that arise when a document composed of ancient texts and shaped by historical, political and institutional forces is said to be the inerrant word of a transcendent being. A...
  • Emily
    Contrary to my expectations after reading Letter to a Christian Nation, this book is actually much smarter and more readable. In large part, this is because he takes on all faiths, rather than just Christianity, which makes the project seem less mean-spirited (although he does reserve an entire chapter for the discussion of Islam, which he deems our most serious current threat).The overall point of the book is that religious people make bad neigh...
  • Eric_W
    Finally, the a-theist (hyphen deliberate) crowd is responding to all the religious claptrap with a vengeance. I've read Dawkins, Dennett and now Harris (I think this book should also be read with Letter to a Christian Nation which was his response to all the hate mail he received.) Harris makes a very good case, perhaps less shrilly than Dawkins, for why religious belief perpetuates evil and hatred. I've seen him interviewed in debates on several...
  • Justin Evans
    Yikes- this may actually be the worst book I've ever finished. It's not totally crap: he's got a perfect argument against people who think torture is somehow a transcendent evil, while backing war in general. But other than that, it's preaching to the choir of the worst kind. To take just two obviously bad arguments: * he rejects the idea that religion can cause good things by saying that since everyone throughout history has been religious, it's...
  • Alex Ristea
    I'll take a quote from the afterword to sum up the book:"It remains taboo to criticize religious faith in our society, or even observe that some religions are less compassionate and less tolerant than others. What is worst in us (outright delusion) has been elevated beyond the reach of criticism, while what is best (reason and intellectual honesty) must remain hidden, for fear of giving offence."People deserve dignity, but ideas do not.You should...
  • The Crimson Fucker
    We are at war with Islam. Sam Harris.There are no atheists in foxholes. William J. Clear.Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. Vegetius.Screw you guys I'm going home. Eric Cartman.
  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    BRILLIANT.Simply Brilliant!!!!If you have a choice to read this or God is Not Great by Hitchens, do yourself a favor and read this.