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The End of Faith

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The End of Faith

Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

W.W. Norton,

15 min read
7 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Is religion a spiritual haven and the hope of mankind, or a violent, fundamental impetus for war and hatred?

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples


In this controversial book from 2004, 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. 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 and science as forces opposed to faith, and asserts that spiritual living does not require religion. He reconsiders venerable philosophical issues and illuminates the concepts that explain opposition to religion and its often bloody role in history.


People act on faith 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 of $100 million dollars.” People hold their religious beliefs so deeply that these ideas shape how they live, even when their beliefs lead them to commit murder.

Many people accept on faith that God wrote a book that tells them how to live. These books set out belief systems, and claim perfection and holiness. Thus, society is divided into factions based on which book people follow. These powerful books are not mutually compatible, and – despite brushes with “ecumenicalism” – they teach intolerance.

However, modern culture regards it as impolite, even incorrect, to judge someone else’s religious practices, although you might easily criticize that person’s concepts about science. So, “when a Muslim suicide bomber obliterates himself along with a score of innocents on a Jerusalem street, the role that faith played in his actions is invariably discounted…Without faith, desperate people would...

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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    A. V. 3 years ago
    One of the best books I ever read - highly recommended for the author's capability to connect dots that other authors find inconvenient to connect.

    Regrettably, I found GetAbstract's own "Recommendation" rather biased: it's all too easy to guess which side the reviewer leans on... while GetAsbtract's introduction of a book should be sterile and unbiased by definition.
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      3 years ago
      Thank you for your note. This was published in 2004, so I have updated the recommendation and subhead format to reflect our current guidelines. Today we publish abstracts with evaluation and opinion throughout as reviews in our Journal, though we do express some limited opinions in the abstract recommendation to help readers decide if a book is for them. Within that limit, it is quite fair to say that this is a very controversial book. Thank you for your feedback. Erica Rauzin, Senior Managing Editor, getAbstract
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    C. s. 8 years ago
    Sam Harris is a Gentleman and a Scholar.
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    Y. S. 8 years ago