Eric Carmen

Eric's Book Club

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Well, here we are, just beginning 2007, and I thought I'd throw out something new and different. I mean, Oprah's got a book club. Why shouldn't we?

I just finished a brilliant book entitled "The End Of Faith"/ Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason, by Sam Harris.

I highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind. I must also warn anyone who is a devoutly religious that this may not be your cup of tea, as Mr Harris is most certainly not a fan of religion. For those of you concerned with the continuing spread of radical Islam and perhaps not altogether convinced that the Bible is the "inerrant word of God," this book is a tour de force! The clarity of Sam's thinking is awe-inspiring. I'd love to hear what you think about it. His website is samharris.org ec

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By the way, It was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 27 weeks.

SAM HARRIS is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation.

He is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. Mr. Harris is now completing a doctorate in neuroscience. He and his work have been discussed in Newsweek, TIME , U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, Der Spiegel, The Globe and Mail, New Scientist, Wired, SEED Magazine, and many other journals.

The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Mr. Harris makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss the danger that religion now poses to modern societies. His essays have appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He blogs for the Washington Post / Newsweek website: On Faith.

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I just read the first 10 pages of the book which is on Harris' website. It's rare to come across a position where "moderates" are assailed as well. Whether or not I agree with his apparent position, I'll probably read the book. To me, faith is an acceptance of our limitations. I'll admit, on the most important issues, I work from the heart and not the head. Great idea Eric - nothing shy about this first pick .

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I can't say that I agree with 100% of Mr Harris' ideas, but I think I do agree with about 96%. And you're right, he doesn't pull any punches. This guy's a flame-thrower! ec

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Eric, this would be great conversation I would love to get into,this is also up my alley.

I could go on and on sit comfortably and speak about it.

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It has been a while since I read Sam Harris's "The End Of Faith Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason." I think my sons sophomore philosophy class used it as an supplemental source. I read a lot of what they are studying in an effort to keep up with my kids, sad huh?

I felt that Sam Harris is a frightened man. His view that human civilization is heading toward the brink of self-destruction because of religious fanaticism, and only total eradication of the religious desire can end the possibility of this fate, A little heavy handed.

What is it in faith that would instill such discomfort?

When extremism in any faith or belief, whether in God or science, nature or nothing is the endangerment.

I do prefer fiction, romance and fluff, but I'll jump in.

I am a little afraid to dig around too deeply in his room to find the book. Who knows what I'll find.

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......i'm reading a fascinating little ditty called "collapse" by jared diamond that illustrates just how civilizations can unwittingly send themselves into extinction.........imagine that!

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Thanks for the heads up on the book...sounds interesting....though I'm guessing I'd agree with somewhat less than 96% of his opinions..

I just finished Joseph Wambaugh's new book....have read all his fiction books. For poignant yet really funny stuff, Wambaugh's the man. And he gets it....might have to write him in for president!

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Put it this way, science has equasions and formulas which tie in to the universe, in mathematical, terms, you have to have science with religion in order to find out who you are, what your on this planet for, why are you actually here.

I too can see a world of destruction that man kind is approaching with this Nuclear wide spread

operation to save on energy use.

It takes one man Or woman to start a world war 3, Or mass destruction of super nuclear weapons.

We all, all over the world have to come to grips with harmony and peace.

Do away, Or should I say, tone down the violence.

You cannot take away the bad and keep the good.

You have to have a sense of balance with nature, every living thing, small, medium and large.

Human bondage is a must, we all must care and help one another, love one another as much as it takes until the day one of us has deceased.

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Okay, so, let's start out by saying that this book is definitely not for me :-) But I do find it amusing that a Ben-Stiller lookalike atheist who boasts of getting his first "Epiphany" on religion while high on Ecstasy as a 19-year-old would think that his word is somehow more correct, more believable, or more powerful than anyone who chooses to believe there may something more to this existence than this pile of dirt we live on.

Is Islamic fascism bad? Sure. But is it religion that is to blame, or man's natural bigotry and hatred that hides behind religion to take advantage of the weaker-willed masses? Hmmm. I'm no Philosphy Major, or armchair theologian, but I do understand why it's easy to asume there is no God when the world is in such a mess. I think Woody Allen said it best, "If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank."

Bernie

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If Bessie's description of his stance is correct (and I suspect it is.) then I'll pass. I've studied Comparative Religion for almost 30 years and I've heard all these arguments of "If only there was no religion then the world would be great/peaceful/perfect/sane".

Unfortunately there's a whole lot of knee-jerk reacting and not so much depth of knowledge when it comes to the subject of religion.... a couple questions I'd like to ask:

1) IF the world would be a better place without religion and supposedly religion is some exclusive cause of wars/ violence / hate, then why was the 20th century (The least religious century) the most bloody, violent century of them all.... by far?

2) Why, were cultures where Atheism was enforced or religion forcibly removed (I.E. Communist states) so horrible when it came to human rights violations?

3) Why is it so easy to rile people up with a few historical anecdotes? No one would say that mistakes haven't been made in the name of religion.... but no one ever asks this question:

What percentage do you REALLY think that represents of the whole?

What would you think if someone brought up Jeffrey Dahmer as representational of the Gay community? "Jeffrey Dahmer is Gay, therefore all Gays are serial killer cannibals"?

No one seems to ever mention that spirituality is very much a part of the human condition. Some have a very deep sense of it, some none at all. but what happens when you forcibly remove something that so many hold deeply in themselves?

I think live and let live to be the best possible conditions for these kinds of things and I am extremely suspicious of anyone who thinks that "The world would be better if only everyone was like me".. which is usually what's

at the bottom of these arguments when all the sound and fury, the "facts and statistics" are taken away.

These kinds of hatred for the other never take in account the good, only the extreme cases of when things go wrong... So how objective can this be?

After studying Comparative Religion as long as I have, believe me I am not blind to when things go wrong... I am VERY STRONGLY of the opinion that a closer look needs to be made, though, by those who think there is some kind of easy answers to Religion or Spirituality...

Whether your stance is for OR against...

I challenge any hard core atheist to take the time and actually sample various churches, synagogues, temples etc. and be objective about what you see. You very well might not change your views on God / no God... you might, however confront the fact that by far the overwhelmingly majority of the people are kind, willing to help in what way they can and won't threaten your existence.

Tearing out a piece of man's psyche violently will never "fix" the world.... you'll still have fanatics who do horrendous things... they'll just find something else to fixate on.

Paul

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Eric, it has been said that religious differences have been the cause of more deaths than any other cause. I detest fundamentalism of any kind, as it presumes a "I'm right, everyone else is wrong" mentality. I don't think Sam Harris is off-base by warning of the catastrophic consequences of religious fundamentalism; population is ever-increasing and weapons are becoming more lethal, so attitudes become more important in a shrinking world. Psychologist Albert Ellis - founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) - has written about the rigidity and demandingness of fundamentalist thought. He would tell us that behind every violent action, there are irrational thoughts consisting of "shoulds, musts, and have to's". I wish more people would adhere to a Unitarian Univeralist philosophy of compassion and respect. I wonder if Sam Harris writes about what attracts people to fundamentalist types of thinking? Perhaps it stems from a fear of the unknown, a fear of death, a desire to have certainty and predictability. The first ten pages are thought-provoking!

Steveh

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My most recently finished book is Rumble on the Bayou by Jana DeLeon , a novice novelist that if this first book is any indication has more solid story-telling left in her.

On this book: "Dorie Berenger knew it was going to be a rough day when the alligator she found in the town drunk's swimming pool turned out to be stoned. On heroin. Now she has some big shot city slicker from the DEA trying to take over her turf. And agent Richard Starke is everything she'd feared---brash, demanding, and wat too handsome for his own good. Or hers."

Currently reading two books: A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett, as his character "Tully Mars" seems to lead the life that Buffett has dreamt of and written about in such classic songs as "Margaritaville", "Son of a Son of a Sailor", and "A Cowboy in the Jungle." Fast paced and yet languid in feel. Not a bad read thus far...

Also reading a Christmas gift book from my dearly beloved... New Rules by Bill Maher, subtitled as "Polite Musings from a Timid Observer." Though many of his "musings" are a year or more old in this book, they still ring true and relevang and elicit a range of chuckles and laughter as I read through the pages.

Great topic Eric. Glad you started it! laugh

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I haven't read the book, but I thought Sam Harris kicked some major butt when he sang on STAR SEARCH back in the '80s...

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I think Woody Allen said it best, "If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank."

Bernie

Another classic Woody Allen quote: "I was born and raised in the Jewish faith, but I converted to Narcissim". haha

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Virtually all religions (in their pristine form) promote their adherents to a higher mindset, a higher spirituality and to higher moral and ethical standards.

Religions don't cause war. People cause war.

If religion was wiped from the face of the earth, people who otherwise would war in the name of religion would find some other mantle to invoke as a basis for their warring.

IMHO, if religion was wiped from the face of the earth there would be more war (much more)... as the world would lose the positive influence that religion has always had on its people.

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James, your post reminded me "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water". There are many brands of religion (thousands) and it is a mistake to view religion as good or bad. When people use their religion to hurt others is what I oppose.

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Also reading a Christmas gift book from my dearly beloved... New Rules by Bill Maher, subtitled as "Polite Musings from a Timid Observer." ...

Great topic Eric. Glad you started it! laugh

Paulie, I'm so... proud that you're reading Bill Maher! Here I had you pegged as a hard-and-fast Reagan/Bush/Bush Republican, but you're digging Bill Maher! I love Maher's passion and his humor and his rantings.... He goes more leftward than I do, certainly, but he makes a lot of sense a lot of the time.

Re: the Harris book.... I'm probably in Bernie's camp, and I agree with my friend James ("Religions don't cause war. People cause war"). But I'll give it a look-see.... Before I do, I'll also say that I agree with what Bessie wrote: "...extremism in any faith or belief, whether in God or science, nature or nothing, is the endangerment."

Here's a book worth reading: It's called "Marathon Man," and it's about the career of this multi-talented... Oh, wait. Everyone here knows about that one....

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I knew someone would get to that. Thanks Popdude, for getting it out of the way early on. HE'S NOT THAT SAM HARRIS! Just for the record, I also agree with Bill Maher about 96% of the time. ec

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I agree with James and Steveh with their points of view. I don't know if I was in the right frame of mind but I did have trouble wrapping my brain around Mr. Harris' basis of his book.

LC,

I'm not a "religious person" per se but I do see that there is quite a bit of ignorance that could be corrected but if no one is willing to take that first step and put their own agenda aside to learn something new and take it for what it's worth then war will still prevail as a means to an end to their problems.

HT

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I knew someone would get to that. Thanks Popdude, for getting it out of the way early on. HE'S NOT THAT SAM HARRIS. ec

hahahahahaha

HT

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Did anyone catch Glenn Beck's show a few night's ago when he showed the "cartoons"( made for little jihadists ) featuring young suicide bombers shown on Al Jazeera? They also had five year olds singing nursery rhymes about how Jews are pigs and monkeys. Indoctrination begins very early in the Middle East. ec

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Didn't catch it either, but it's saddening and sickening. Clearly, terrorists start young in their mindsets and beliefs, and they keep the culture going....

I get equally sickened every time I see a documentary on Ku Klux Klan activities, because the adults always have their dirty-faced, impressionable little kids right there with 'em, learning the tricks of the trade. Hatred survives that way. And thrives, unfortunately.

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