"The End of Faith"
I finished reading this book a couple of days ago. Harris' basic premise is that religions are not "peaceful" entities. Rather, at the core, they are essentially separatist - that is, they see themselves as "better", "set apart", "holy" that the rest of the "sinners" or "infidels" in the world. He also shows how religions have used their tenets to punish others through torture, terrorism and ignorance - usually these actions end up in untimely and cruel deaths.
Even though I don't follow any religion, I found it hard at times to read this book. Harris pulls no punches - page after page is full of cutting, forceful prose and evidence to support his claims. Yet Harris is not vicious; he's simply laying out the doctrines and practices of the Christian and Islamic faiths (the two religions he spends most of his time with). And that evidence is damning - Harris effectively shows how undermining religion can be to an individual as well as a society. If you think Islam is a "peaceful" religion, read the verses Harris pulls from the Koran (this is in the "A Fringe Without a Center" section in the "The Problem with Islam" chapter). Similar texts are used by Harris to show how cruel Christianity's doctrines can be.
This is not an easy book to read. There were lots of times where I was blown away by what I read. The atrocities that humanity has done in the name of their faiths is appaling. Harris' call to the reader is this: we must turn away from religion and embrace a rational mindset to guide our ethics and morality. To me, it's a convincing argument.
I would hope that those who are convinced that their religious beliefs are peaceful, righteous, and perfect read this book with just the slightest hint of an open mind. If they do, what they'll find out about faith will be disturbing. Even though I don't agree with everything Harris states, I found myself dog-earing the book on numerous occasions. I highly recommend reading this book - it's truly a eye-opener.
* Posted at 10.02.2008 07:03:37 AM CST | Link *