The End of Faith

September 24th, 2007

I find that Sam Harris is a more articulate critic of religion than Richard Dawkins, who is clearly more hostile. His two books The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation raise a lot interesting issues. The latter is not particularly interesting, but the former presents much insight.

The text is actually quite comprehensive at times, and piecemeal reading doesn't do it justice. I think he makes excellent points about the suffocating role of religion as opposed to progress and the evolution of knowledge. And his criticism of religion as a driving force in politics and policy making leaves little to dispute. Furthermore, the distinction of religions in terms of their values is a very relevant point. As is the condemnation of the taboo against criticizing irrational beliefs.

But what ultimately drives his "war on religion" is the premise that unless we do something right now we're going to destroy ourselves. It would be perfectly fine to make all the arguments he does as a crusade for intellectual honesty. And there is certainly enough social and political justification for it. But his bottom line is a doomsday scenario which I find rather extreme.

For more on this (and yes, he's an excellent speaker), youtube it:

The talks are rather focused on the struggle between religion and rationality, they don't go into his ideas about world destruction that much.

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