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The End Of Faith By Sam Harris


des
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This is a very interesting book (mostly), that it, a one might say, anti-theistic polemic.

He says the following things: faith in anything not substantiated by factual information

is harmful and leads to violence and other bad things; that Christianity and Islam

are particularly violent and harmful; that the only hope for humanity is to give

up ancient beliefs and become rational nontheistic people.

 

He argues for a spirituality centered in experimenting with consciousness, much as

the nondoctrinal parts of Buddhism do. Actually I would say he may be a Buddhist,

but certainly not one who takes on any of the more Shintoistic (or the Tibetan

style of Buddhism) aspects of Buddhism.

 

He also believes that moderate religious people are dishonest (you have to be

a fundamentalist to be honest, but then you are almost psychotically dangerous :-)), but the worst

part of moderates is that they are too tolerant of the more whacky ideas fo their

fundamentalist neighbors. I thought that might be the most interesting aspect of the book.

 

There are many problems with his discussion. ONe thing I have not seen anywhere is

that I feel he is inappropriately and gratiutiously violent in his descriptions. It isn't enough

for him to say people were burned at the stake, but he needs to tell us how it was done.

Perhaps that was to make it real. A better approach might have been to give an individual

case, as I have heard done.

 

He has very little knowledge of anythign other than fundamentalist religion. He has

not read any Bible scholarship for instance. So his arguments about anything beyond

fundamentalism (and perhaps even that) are simplistic. One example would be

his arguing away any metaphorical reading of any part of the Bible by using a shrimp

recipe. And saying cubing the shrimp stands for this and that. Cute but silly.

His argument of taking something to the extreme, losing the point. Nobody, for

instance, would read the story of Job and get out of it something that was not

even related to the story but some kind of Freudian deliberation. I mean no one

serious. Isn't it the question of what happens when bad things happen to good people?

That's serious, and totally related to the story.

 

I think he is just totally unaware there is Bible scholarship at all, which troubles

me when he is interested in so much else.

 

Another is that he does not address any area that might complicate his ideas.

For instance the whole of modern cosmology is very interesting from a theological

standpoint. How come things happened so "just right"?? The universe wasn't too

hot or too cold (by fractions of a degree)-- that sort of thing. Is that just coincidence?

If so it was coincidence after coincindence after coincidence, as someone much

wiser than me said. (?) It is hard to believe that this guy with a mental capacity that

he seems to have and curiosity wouldn't know about this stuff, so I think he chooses

to omit it, since it doesn't jive with his ideas.

 

Anyway I think people should read his book because he has a lot of very interesting

thigns to say, but he is wrong on some of them. The one of them that has me thinking

most is the "conversational intolerance bit". Look at what has happened to us being

tolerant of it? A world where the president is waging war based on almost

thinking he is sent by God, and not cleaning up the global warming, etc. (not

necessarily from the president but major players who think we are in end times

anyway).

 

 

--des

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This is a very interesting book (mostly), that it, a one might say, anti-theistic polemic.

He says the following things: faith in anything not substantiated by factual information

is harmful and leads to violence and other bad things; that Christianity and Islam

are particularly violent and harmful; that the only hope for humanity is to give

up ancient beliefs and become rational nontheistic people.

 

--des

 

Hi des,

 

That is quite a statement and conclusion. It seems to me obvious that he is not intimately familiar with theistic religions except in a general fundamental sense. Faith in Love is neither harmful or violent if defined correctly and factual information that he speaks of is actually perceptual information. Even Buddhism does much to show us that what we think is factual is just a colored perception and that true knowledge is obtained by transcending the mind rather than allowing it to determine what is fact and what is not. The mind is incaple of this. Just some thoughts to consider.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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I think there are many limitations to Sam Harris' thinking, even though I thought his book

was thought provoking. Obviously if religions practiced the love they professed to, this world

would be a MUCH better place. Alas that is not always so, as the events that Mr. Harris

described did happen/are happening all over the world.

 

 

Mr. Harris is quick to write off things done good in the name of religion, saying something

to the effect that good can come without religion. (I would agree there). But I think

he misses (or choses to miss) momentously good things done thru the whole of

organized religion, that would be hard to do otherwise. I think he carefully

selects these things, and doesn't deal with things he doesn't wish to mention, like the civil rights

movement or much fo the movement against apartheid, or slavery a century before.

 

Also one other logical error he makes is that any time a nonreligious (secular) event atrocity is

committed, that isn't secularisms fault, but the fact that sometimes religions are created

without God. For instance, communism would be a "religion", in his view. Then the fault

still is religion not secularism. I think this is a mistake. I think it is just another example

of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Of course, communism did take on irrational beliefs,

however, there could have been a purer communism that did not take these on. The problem

is not a sort of secular religion, imo. Of course, it may be that things that seem to be

on opposite ends of the extremes end up close together. I think it happens a lot.

 

There are lots of logical holes if you poke around awhile. But I think in this age of

fundamentalism, what Sam Harris does is quite brave. I'm sure he gets hate mail, and

if someone threatened to bomb him, I wouldn't be surprised.

 

He's written another "book", sort of his answer to the Paul's letters-- A Letter to

a Christian Nation". Haven't read that.

 

 

--des

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