The End of Faith: Sam Harris

No personal God need be worshipped for us to live in awe at the beauty and immensity of creation.

Strap in folks, this one is pretty serious! The End of Faith looks to challenge attitudes towards religion in the modern world and how far it can be judged to be compatible with a rational and scientific society. Sam Harris is an author, philosopher and neuroscientist who co-founded the organisation Project Reason, focused upon secularism and the use of science to create moral obligation. Harris is anti-organised religion, asserting that such teachings are out-dated. The key question the book attempts to be address is whether moderation and tolerance are actually dangerous in their lack of challenge to organised religion, which is in itself a form of extremism.

I don’t know whether it is just me, but I find that sometimes an ‘American’ voice comes across in American authorship. It is slightly informal and anecdotal, something that is a bit bizarre in this book as Harris discusses holidays in Paris with his partner as a way to lead into a point. The arguments that he pursues can be complex at times – this is something that needs undivided attention. I read it in between studying and so couldn’t get through much at a time. The narrative has a tendency to reiterate points in order to cover the major religions , which can be irritating at times as it feels like the argument is going round in circles – but ensures that Harris covers all the basis.

The End of Faith raises some very valid points, I enjoy a book that makes you think and this is definitely in the same category of others such as The Establishment by Owen Jones. I like that it made me question my preconceptions but I felt that Harris could have gone further. He spends a lot of time talking about the negatives of inaction in the face of organised religion, yet does not expand upon what the rational solutions could be – beyond common sense.

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