Reviews

All of Bob’s reviews are available here.

Reviews of The End of Faith:

The End of Faith by Sam Harris is a genuinely frightening book about terrorism, and the central role played by religion in justifying and rewarding it. Others blame “extremists” who “distort” the “true” message of religion. Harris goes to the root of the problem: religion itself. Even moderate religion is a menace, because it leads us to respect and “cherish the idea that certain fantastic propositions can be believed without evidence”. Why do men like Bin Laden commit their hideous cruelties? The answer is that they “actually believe what they say they believe”. Read Sam Harris and wake up.

Richard Dawkins, The Guardian

The End of Faith articulates the dangers and absurdities of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood… Harris writes what a sizable number of us think, but few are willing to say in contemporary America… This is an important book, on a topic that, for all its inherent difficulty and divisiveness, should not be shielded from the crucible of human reason.”

Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review (read the full review)

“Do we need another book on the conflict between reason and faith?
Yes, if it is as well-written as Sam Harris’s The End of Faith.”

— New Scientist

“Sam Harris launches a sustained nuclear assault… A bold and exhilarating thesis… The End of Faith is a brave, pugilistic attempt to demolish the walls that currently insulate religious people from criticism… The End of Faith is badly needed…”

The Independent (U.K.) (read the full review)

“This book will strike a chord with anyone who has ever pondered the irrationality of religious faith… Even Mr. Harris’s critics will have to concede the force of an analysis which roams so far and wide, from the persecution of the Cathars to the composition of George Bush’s cabinet.”

The Economist (read the full review)

“[Harris] writes with such verve and frequent insight that even skeptical readers will find it hard to put down.”

The San Francisco Chronicle (read the full review)

“A radical attack on the most sacred of liberal precepts—the notion of tolerance… [The End of Faith] is an eminently sensible rallying cry for a more ruthless secularisation of society.”

The Observer (U.K.) (read the full review)

4 thoughts on “Reviews

  1. I find Angier’s review balanced and intelligent:
    Harris reserves particular ire for religious moderates, those who ‘’have taken the apparent high road of pluralism, asserting the equal validity of all faiths’’ and who ‘’imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others.’’ Religious moderates, he argues, are the ones who thwart all efforts to criticize religious literalism. By preaching tolerance, they become intolerant of any rational discussion of religion and ‘’betray faith and reason equally.’’

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  2. I thought (today) that “religion”, whilst possibly being and/or having been an attractive source, of explanation, inspiration, and endorsement of curiosity, belief, greatness and humbleness, is limited, and appears to have become, as many things that are attractive to a sufficiently sized source of power to those who wish to exert it (i.e. a group of people or some other “resource”), skewed and manipulated for the puposes of control, rather than those elements of it, “religeon”, that are in escence attractive, as such. I have not read the ‘end of faith’ and I don’t think I have time to, but to me it seems that what is happening now, currently, with “religion” is only part of a picture which we are not able to see all of. In any case it has gone through over time and is still continuing through the many of the shades of good and evil that many religious themes seem to me to hold close for some reason.

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  3. I’m not clear how a religion goes through shades of good and evil as D.N suggests (perhaps similar to some evolutionary religious process to find an ‘acceptable’ moral balance, I suppose?).

    When (not if) people act on their faith, then who is accountable: the individual who freely accepts faith’s exemption from reason, or those who have inspired or tricked those individuals to faith-based action? (Who was that comedian way back when whose trademark saying was “The Devil made me do it!”)

    If a few or many people are inspired to action by the leadership of a particular dogmatic religion, are we being reasonable to suggest that the few or many are without the mental compentancy to be held individually accountable? Instead, are we being reasonable to suggest that responsibility for good or evil acts rests only with the religion and not the religious? I don’t buy it for a second.

    No matter how ‘manipulated’ the religious might be by these supposedly nefarious individuals who seek to abuse the poor little helpless faithful who make up the flock into helping their diabolical plots come to fruition, I think that the faithful must be held accountable for their individual actions… just as the leadership must be held individually accountable for their acts of leadership (that is to say, open to criticism and accountability).

    The necessary and healthy process of criticism and accountability is hampered when religious tolerance is widely accepted to mean uncritical religious acceptance, whereas religious criticism is seen by far too many to be equated with religious intolerance.

    Harris tackles this issue and holds that the tolerant religious moderate helps to promote this terribly dangerous and unearned shield of respect for religion and the religious behind which the many can safely hide from criticism. I think he’s got a point.

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  4. He does have a point. It’s weird the way religion has established a place in the arena of ideas where it is immune from criticism! I read yesterday that the Vatican is bitching about jokes that make fun of the clergy. I must say every time I see them in their dresses with all the stuff I laugh.

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