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The End of Faith

Sam Harris

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In any other sphere of life, a belief is a cheque that everyone wants to cash this side of the grave. The engineer who says the bridge will hold, the doctor who says penicillin will fix this infection.

Even the Holocaust did not lead most Jews to doubt the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent God. If having half of your people systematically delicered to the furnace does not count as evidence that an all-powerful God is looking out for your interests, then nothing can.

Problem is that most of the world belives that the Creator of the universe has written a book. Unfortunately there are many such books, each making an exclusive claim to its infallibilty.

Problem that once someone is convinced that following certain rules will lead to eternal happiness, he cannot the possibility that others are being led astray by people who believe the 'wrong' rules. Certainty about the next world is simply incompatible with tolerance in this one.

Shouldn't ask "What is the alternative to religion?" Science isn't an 'alternative' to alchemy. It is the wholesale replacement of ignorance with knowledge.

Even the least educated religious person has pushed back some beliefs. Most of us no longer believe that illnesses are caused by sin or demonic possession. At least half of us have discarded the idea that the world was created six thousand years ago, complete with fossils and with the light from distant stars already in transit toward the Earth.

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