Summary of The End of Faith

Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

W.W. Norton, more...

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The End of Faith book summary
Is religion a spiritual haven and the hope of mankind, or a violent, fundamental impetus for war and hatred?


7 Overall

2 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


In this hotly controversial book, author Sam Harris faults religion for being illogical, for inciting societies to violence and for not reconciling faith and reason. Many classic thinkers and theologians struggled with this question, including Maimonides and Aquinas, who are absent from the index. Such omissions lead one to acknowledge the author’s passionate writing perhaps more than his scholarship, which is also open to some challenge as he explains the tenets of various faiths. Harris, who has a compelling narrative style, provokes readers to confront their own philosophies as he asks another ancient question: why does a good God permit evil? Harris’s anti-religious discourse promotes reason as a panacea and asserts that spiritual living does not require religious practice. He particularly examines the role of extremist religious belief in its most violent manifestations, such as Jihad. He asks why polite society cannot criticize religion if it motivates suicide bombers and terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, however, Harris follows the Pied Piper of rationalism off the cliff by articulating a dispiriting, dangerous message against tolerating religious tolerance itself. If you want to provoke some spirited conversations, or reconsider venerable philosophical issues in the light of difficult modern times, believes this may intrigue you. Readers who share Harris’ fury about religion’s influence will find their opinions vigorously supported, while those who believe that religion is a force for good will find that reading this book is an opportunity to exercise the patience of a saint.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why religion can be dangerous;
  • What charges can be made against major religions and religious beliefs; and
  • What a modern author believes about some venerable questions on the nature of God and the purpose of faith.


Acting on Faith
People act based on the ideas they hold to be true. Words are meaningless until people imbue them with faith. Imagine how differently you would behave if you sincerely believed the words, "You have only two weeks to live" or "You’ve just won a lottery prize...
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About the Author

Sam Harris received his degree in philosophy from Stanford University and is working on a doctorate in neuroscience.

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