Martin Pribble's Reviews > The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

The End of Faith by Sam Harris
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's review
Oct 04, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

While I liked most of the content of this book, I can't really agree with Harris' ideas of spirituality.
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10/27/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Ladymidnight I sort of skimmed over the last part of this book - I think he was talking about meditation.

message 2: by Cary (new)

Cary Specifics, Marty? I'm curious. :-)

Martin Pribble well for me Cary, the use of the word "spiritual" is the wrong term. I've written about this on my blog at length here:

message 4: by Cary (new)

Cary It seems to me that you have only a semantic difference with Harris. You define spirituality differently, so it seems very odd to me to say that you disagree with someone's ideas about it when you are using a different definition. This is like me defining fruit to mean only citrus fruit and saying it's all too acidic for my tastes and claiming to have a point of contention with you since you claim that some fruit is not very acidic when you are using the more standard definition. After all, strawberries are less acidic than limes regardless of how we classify them.

Martin Pribble yeah I guess, but the semantics are everything in this regard. In any case, the book kinda petered out toward the end. I think his strongest points were in the chapters about Christianity and Islam.

message 6: by Cary (last edited Oct 08, 2011 06:14AM) (new)

Cary To elaborate a bit more on this: inasmuch as our current understanding of perceptions of connectedness to other people, to animals, etc. is that they are wholly artifices of the brain, Harris' definition of spirituality is inclusive of yours. Our minds concoct these connections, along with things like music, love, art, weird rituals that we engage in with others, weirder rituals we engage in when alone, and so on, as a way for us to attempt to fulfill and/or assuage the myriad of irrational fears, needs and wants and desires that we all have.

All those irrational needs are spiritual needs. All those strange ways we deal with them are spirituality. It all perfectly natural. It's also all in your head as the saying goes. ;-)

Religion then is just another we try to fulfill and assuage (it has other functions of course, just as many of the things I listed above can and do). The problem comes when I start claiming that because my methods for fulfilling my (unavoidably subjective) spiritual needs work so well for me, they should work for you as well. That's not what we would expect to be the case in general. And this is exactly why Harris says promulgating true understanding of spirituality is very good way to stick it to religion - it blows the whole idea of one-size-fits all spiritual fulfillment out of the water.

I agree it ended weakly - and I felt the same way about Moral Landscape as well (though in the case of it because he strayed from the discussion of neuroscience and morals to criticize religion for too long - I'm all for that as you well know, but it didn't seem to fit the book and for the most part he didn't say criticize it in any way he has already.)

message 7: by Tracy (new) - added it

Tracy I was going to get this book, but I just wasn't sure about it...

message 8: by Cary (new)

Cary If you've read Letter to a Christian Nation, I'd skip this and read Moral Landscape, or at least the first 2/3 or so of it.

message 9: by Tracy (new) - added it

Tracy I've not read that one yet either. Thanks for the tip though!

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