Monday, March 27, 2006

A Truncated Book Review

Someone gave me The End of Faith, by Sam Harris. The blurb on the back cover goes like this:

In The End of Faith, Sam Harris delivers a startling analysis of the clash between reason and religion in the modern world. He offers a vivid, historical tour of our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs - even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism to deliver a call for a truly modern foundation for ethics and spirituality that is both secular and humanistic.

Sounds interesting. Anything that bashes fundamentalism sounds interesting right now. But not interesting enough to get me past the fifth page of the first chapter which begins:

I hope to show that 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 towards the abyss.

We have been slow to recognize the degree to which religious faith perpetuates man's inhumanity to man.

Ok. This is Stud Lit, the male equivalent of Chick Lit. Harris is writing for men and only five pages into the book I know that women are not going to be subjects in this book but might appear as objects for the acts of others. A quick check of the index and the list of contents confirmed my first impression.

So I set the book aside. Not because of the stylistic choices Harris made, but because of the meaning of making these stylistic choices today, and what that meaning tells about the whole book.