The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris (2004)

This is a logically reasoned argument against faith. "Faith" is herein described as belief in something in the absence of evidence. (Thus faith is irrational.) It is religious faith that is addressed—and found dangerous to the future of humanity.

Religious believers have been murdering each other—in good faith—for millenia. The difference today is technology. "We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our neighbors believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom, or in the literal truth of the book of Revelation, or any of the other fantastical notions that have lurked in the minds of the faithful for millenia—because our neighbors are now armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons."

Mr. Harris discusses religious moderates and religious extremists and finds no comfort in either. He summarizes thus: "the very ideal of religious tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principal forces driving us to the abyss."

Religious moderates pick among the canon of their religion, choosing to embrace some ideas and ignore others. Religious extremists simply believe the entire canon. "Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance. . . By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally."

In the last ten years "religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths."

Although all religions justify, even demand, the deaths of the non-believers, Islam is the biggest threat to our survival. Muslim "extremists" are merely fundamentalists—who believe their religion's book literally. "Why did nineteen well-educated, middle-class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors [on 9-11-2001]? Because they believed they would go straight to paradise for doing so."

Muslim fundamentalists "believe that modernity and secular culture are incompatible with moral and spiritual health. . . They appear to be suffering from a fear of contamination . . . [and are] consumed by feelings of 'humiliation' . . . [both] a product of their faith. Muslims . . . feel the outrage of a chosen people who have been subjugated by barbarians."

Regarding the linkage between "Muslim faith and 'terrorism,' it is clear . . . that Muslims hate the West in the very terms of their faith and that the Koran mandates such hatred."

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Revision: 5-15-2009.