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The End of Faith

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  28,379 Ratings  ·  1,519 Reviews
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, Harri ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published 2005 by Free (first published 2004)
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Eric Your confusion comes from not understanding what the "theory" means in a scientific context. Specifically, you are implying that "theory" means…moreYour confusion comes from not understanding what the "theory" means in a scientific context. Specifically, you are implying that "theory" means "hypothesis." From wikipedia:

"In modern science, the term "theory" refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support ("verify") or empirically contradict ("falsify") it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge,[4] in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better characterized by the word 'hypothesis').[5] Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions."
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Rob
Jun 06, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: credulous misanthropes
Shelves: atheism
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 of religion in government and education. This is ...more
Pete
Apr 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All serious thinkers
Shelves: philosophy
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 literally. (2) No one knows if there's a god or not. (3)
...more
Luffy
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to be brief. The End of Faith by Sam Harris is a landmark book for me. It blew my mind when I first read it. Now, it doesn't feel as good as the short and sharp Letter To A Christian Nation, and has less great moments than the slow starting and uneven The Moral Landscape. The End Of Faith opened my eyes to reviews and reviewing possibilities. It gave me an insight into writing quickly, with as much original thought and fluidity of prose as I am able to muster.

It influenced my writing
...more
R.A. Schneider
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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 allowing that. Start questioning, and pushing back
...more
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 distorted in service of Harris' arguments. The prime
...more
Paul
Jan 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Village Atheists
Shelves: the-new-atheism
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: religion is evil, it's the cause of all the wars, it's
...more
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.

For example, he argues that we can rest assured th
...more
Emma Sea
Jun 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 read.

ETA: As many people have pointed out, this c
...more
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 comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist s
...more
Jimmy
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 people of the scientific, or materialist persuasion. ...more
Lena
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 the name of their faith, because the moderates hel
...more
Trevor
Dec 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 dangerous as fundamentalists as by stopping debate on f ...more
C.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 mentions how the Koran drives people to kill us, oh and y
...more
Steve
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 from the inside. The moderation we see among non-fund
...more
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. He cites Northern Ireland and the Israel/Palesti ...more
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 first published.

Though on the surface, one might inte
...more
John
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 typically say, the problem isn't just a few extre
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Jul 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a serious interest in the topic
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 irrational and dangerous behavior in THIS life---the ...more
Mike Puma
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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 earlier criticism of this title, whether the criticism ...more
Eric_W
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, philosophy
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 to incompatible religious doctrines; that even th
...more
Ram
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A book about the dangers of religion.

In a well-reasoned way, Sam Harris explains why religion and tolerance to religion is harmful to mankind.

The book starts with a description of the last day of a suicide bomber. Further in the first chapter he opposes respect and tolerance for all religions as they are all based on no evidence and on the other hand can lead to various harmful results (violence, ignorance, waste of lives for non violent reasons and more)

He challenges the issue of religious be
...more
Eric_W
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 occasions and find his responses to be quite well ...more
Catalin Negru
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Target audience: The book is addressed mainly to people interested in spirituality.

About the author: Sam Harris was born in 1967 in Los Angeles to a Quaker father and a Jewish mother. However, he described his home as a secular one where religion was not discussed. He is an American author, philosopher and a neuroscientist. He completed his bachelor degree in philosophy at Stanford University in 2000 and received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of California in 2009. He also went to
...more
Noah Stacy
May 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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 claimed that Zeus had told them so?

Harris goes a
...more
Justin Evans
Feb 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc

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 a truism to say that religion has caused some goo
...more
Eric
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 might apply to almost all religion (potentially even
...more
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.
Moshe Mikanovsky
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book, religion
The future is scary. Very scary. And there is no sight for it to become any better. I'm scared for my children.
Kristina
2017 Review:
I read Sam Harris’s The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason probably 10 years ago and remember disagreeing with his views on Islam. I decided to read it again because my views have changed over the years and I wanted to reacquaint myself with this book.

I’m not going to summarize all the points Harris makes regarding religion. Overall, his view is that religion is a negative, it’s not helpful to anyone, and in order for society to progress we need to abandon its a
...more
David
Nov 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 number of lines of attack open up as a result:
-Go
...more
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The Hitler button 11 124 Apr 01, 2016 07:04PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #44 The End of Faith by Sam Harris 1 4 Apr 14, 2014 10:18PM  
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
  • Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
  • Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up
  • Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All — and What We Can Do About It
  • The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails
  • God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer
  • The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
  • Atheism: A Very Short Introduction
  • The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism
  • Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless
  • Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
  • The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound
4,044 followers
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Sam Harris (born 1967) is an American non-fiction writer, philosopher and neuroscientist. He is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason (2004), which won the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), a rejoinder to the criticism his first book attrac
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“Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?” 348 likes
“Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence what so ever.” 237 likes
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