Monday, November 19, 2007

Enamored of Sam Harris

Although I read it over a year or two ago, I still consider The End of Faith by Sam Harris to be one of the most impressive books that I have read in the last ten or so years to address the evils of religion.

From his website:

"The End of Faith
provides a harrowing glimpse of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities. Harris argues that in the presence of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Most controversially, he maintains that “moderation” in religion poses considerable dangers of its own: as the accommodation we have made to religious faith in our society now blinds us to the role that faith plays in perpetuating human conflict. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism in an attempt to provide a truly modern foundation for our ethics and our search for spiritual experience."

"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

You should also check out his more recent book, A Letter to a Christian Nation, which I bought a few weeks ago and I haven't yet had the time to read.

Another excellent example of Sam Harris' overwhelmingly powerful thesis appeared recently appeared in the form of an excellent web debate with political commentator Andrew Sullivan. I unfortunately am also a big fan of Andrew for a variety of his political commentary but, obviously, am seriously put off by his staunch, irrational defense of his particular pet religion, Catholicism.

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