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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Sam Harris cranks out blunt, hard hitting chapters to make his case for why faith itself is the most dangerous element of modern life And if the devil s in the details, then you ll find Satan waiting at the back of the book in the very substantial notes section where Harris saves hisesoteric discussions to avoid sidetracking the urgency of his message Interestingly, Harris is not just focused on debunking religious faith, though he makes his compelling arguments with verve and intellectual clarity The End of Faith is also a bit of a philosophical Swiss Army knife Once he has presented his arguments on why, in an age of Weapons of Mass Destruction, belief is now a hazard of great proportions, he focuses on proposing alternate approaches to the mysteries of life Harris recognizes the truth of the human condition, that we fear death, and we often crave somethingwe cannot easily define, and which is not met by accumulatingmaterial possessions But by attempting to provide the cure for the ills it defines, the book bites off a bitthan it can comfortably chew in its modest page count however the rich Bibliography providesthan enough background for an intrigued reader to follow up for months on any particular strand of the author musings Harris heart is not as much in the latter chapters, though, but in presenting his main premise Simply stated, any belief system that speaks with assurance about the hereafter has the potential to place far less value on the here and now And thus the corollary when death is simply a door translating us from one existence to another, it loses its sting and finality Harris pointedly asks us to consider that those who do not fear death for themselves, and who also revere ancient scriptures instructing them to mete it out generously to others, may soon have these weapons in their own hands If thoughts along the same line haunt you, this is your book Ed DobeasIn this sometimes simplistic and misguided book, Harris calls for the end of religious faith in the modern world Not only does such faith lack a rational base, he argues, but even the urge for religious toleration allows a too easy acceptance of the motives of religious fundamentalists Religious faith, according to Harris, requires its adherents to cling irrationally to mythic stories of ideal paradisiacal worlds heaven and hell that provide alternatives to their own everyday worlds Moreover, innumerable acts of violence, he argues, can be attributed to a religious faith that clings uncritically to one set of dogmas or another Very simply, religion is a form of terrorism for Harris Predictably, he argues that a rational and scientific viewone that relies on the power of empirical evidence to support knowledge and understandingshould replace religious faith We no longer need gods to make laws for us when we can sensibly make them for ourselves But Harris overstates his case by misunderstanding religious faith, as when he makes the audaciously nave statement that mysticism is a rational enterprise religion is not As William James ably demonstrated, mysticism is far from a rational enterprise, while religion might often require rationality in order to function properly On balance, Harris s book generalizes so much about both religion and reason that it is ineffectual Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc All rights reserved