Author: Sam Harris
Type: Non-fiction, single subject
Full title: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
I read it: May 2008
Sam Harris deals a devastating blow to religion in this book. It’s hard to argue with his assessment of what crazy thinking can do to otherwise reasonable minds. He targets Christianity by dissecting parts of the Inquisition, and defames Islam by assessing modern warfare and butchery. He emphasizes that fundamentalist faith and action stems from moderate faith and action. However, there are parts of the book where he tends to stray from his thesis (that faith is unnecessary and indeed dangerous). He spends time delving into philosophies and ethics of warfare, which is an interesting section but doesn’t tie back into the other parts very well. He also touches on the scientific approach to spirituality that he endorses, which is encouraging but is such a new area of study that it does not seem to warrant much speculation in this particular book. Similar to The God Delusion, the book tends to end abruptly without summarizing key ideas. But perhaps that is the pattern of these books because, as desperately as the authors want something to be done about religion, it seems like an overwhelming and at times impossible task. It does start with discussion, however, and as long as there are still places in the world where I could carry a copy of Harris’ book and get killed for it, religion is something worth criticizing at every turn.