I’ll take a quote from the afterword to sum up the book:
“It remains taboo to criticize religious faith in our society, or even observe that some religions are less compassionate and less tolerant than others. What is worst in us (outright delusion) has been elevated beyond the reach of criticism, while what is best (reason and intellectual honesty) must remain hidden, for fear of giving offence.”
People deserve dignity, but ideas do not.
You should be free to mock, criticize, praise, and openly discuss religion just as you do with sports teams, economic policies, and government actions. Don’t attack the people who hold those beliefs, but there should be absolute freedom to discuss the ideas themselves.
This book had a few key moments of clarity. Particularly shocking (to me) were the chapters on witch-hunting, the Inquisition, and the pervasion of religion in US public policy.
However, overall it fell flat. There were a lot of topics that didn’t quite connect, a lot of tangents, and a lot of questionably useful sections. If you’re looking for books along this topic, there are others that I would recommend (and do a better job), or even some YouTube debates.
This is my first Sam Harris book, and I was hopeful because I think he’s one of the more eloquent anti-religion speakers that I’ve seen…looks like that doesn’t carry through to the printed word?
Good idea, poor execution. I’m glad it was a short read.