le_bebna_kamni: (knight)
I've been so busy this past week that I've only had brief moments to finish the last 34 pages of the book (not including the endnotes, of course. I don't usually include them in the count, but when you have a 237 page book with an additional 62 pages of end notes ‒ equal to about 25% of the text ‒ I think they should count).

Book #2: The End of Faith, by Sam Harris

I have to say, I wasn't impressed, and I can't see myself picking up another of Sam Harris's books any time soon. While the man is great with his philosophy, his understanding of human nature is poor and his science is atrocious (I have a particular bone to pick with him on his understanding of mathematics and the scientific method). The list of things I would dispute takes up multiple notebook pages, and none of them are covered in his "Afterword", which is a rebuttal to the most common objections he receives.

Sam Harris's book revolves around the premise that religious faith is detrimental to a modern scientific world. At best, he says that it hinders us from understanding the world and maintaining basic civility; at worst, it causes vast amounts of bloodshed, as evidenced by numerous holy wars of various faiths ‒ a scary prospect for modern times when one throws nuclear armaments into the mix. While there are many forms of dangerous and harmful ideas, both secular and sacred, religious faith is particularly egregious because it can't be questioned. For most people, once the words "Because God said so" come into play, all rational discourse is thrown out the window. Therefore, he suggests, we must rid ourselves of irrational faith if we ever hope to survive in a global society.

He illustrates his thesis nicely in his first five chapters, which discuss the issue of faith, the history of Christianity and Islam, and current laws in the U.S. that are religiously based. But reader beware: if you feel anything but contempt for Muslims, you may find yourself cringing through his fourth chapter, "The Problem With Islam", when he mentions engaging in preemptive nuclear war and suggests installing benign non-Muslim dictatorships in Muslim countries.
To Read or Not to Read? )


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