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Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
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Letter to a Christian Nation (2006)

by Sam Harris

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I had read some of Harris's earlier book, the End of Faith, and I was interested to see how he answered his critics. This is a brief, cogent book that tackles the issues head-on. He was preaching to the choir, as it were, in my case, and I'm not sure how many fundamentalist Christians will ever expose themselves to the ideas he's putting out there, but still, it was a good book -- and a quick read for those who don't want to invest more time in a longer work. ( )
  CandaceVan | Apr 10, 2014 |
“Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.”

So begins Letter to a Christian Nation…
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Since my Darwin and God class recently finished reading The God Delusion, it seemed reasonable to tackle Sam Harris' short exhortation to post-9/11 America. Since I've also ready Breaking the Spell, I can now say I've read three of the Four Horsemen!

Harris' book is thankfully not as sarcastic and mean as Dawkins'. His basic point is that fundamentalist/conservative Christians are blind to how much unjust violence their religion causes, and how selective and ridiculous it is to pretend to base our morality on an ancient text written by far more ethnocentric and tribalistic cultures. As an atheist, he is of course an advocate of secularism in the public and private sphere.

But what about those who are not his intended audience? What about liberal or progressive Christians? Harris writes that they are also guilty because they provide a cover of respectability for the crazy fundamentalists. That's frankly the worst argument I have ever heard. As a more liberal Christian, I am not responsible for what others of my creed think or believe. It's a shame Harris has this one very bad argument, because it eclipses some of the very good points Harris makes elsewhere about how Christians can be intolerant, bigoted, and bloodthirsty, despite Jesus' teaching.

As a side note, Harris has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, and I would love it if he took a different science-religion angle and participated in one of the Mind-Life dialogues with the Dalai Lama.
  JDHomrighausen | Jun 5, 2013 |
Anti-Christian polemic, created several straw man arguments (its easy to condemn or ridicule extremism), really not directed to the group to which it is addressed, seems aimed more at the 'soft' liberal religious
  FKarr | Apr 4, 2013 |
I love this little book. I'm not sure whether it was this one, or Harris' more in-depth End of Faith—probably a combination of the two—that pissed off the devout, attracted new fans and rocketed him to stardom.

I easily identify with Harris' method of reasoning here, but it's taken me years to understand that true believers simply see the world differently and their discussions on religion are overwhelmingly couched in feeling, not logic. This doesn't presume they're not reasonable (though Harris probably disagrees) and it's definitely not a question of intelligence. Where I see a convincing argument, they may see uncompromising hostility. When it's explained to me that a sunset is evidence of God's love, I shake my head at the non sequitur, but likewise, my demonstrations of the logical absurdities of Christianity may produce equally baffling head-shakes in return.

The strongest statement in Letter to a Christian Nation comes right at the beginning where Harris sets up the either/or proposition of belief. Either some or all of Christianity's supernatural claims are true, or they're not. It's intellectually dishonest to be inclusive here. One group is going to be really right; the other really wrong. ( )
1 vote Daniel.Estes | Nov 13, 2012 |
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For my wife
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You believe that the Bible is the word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that only those who place their faith in Jesus will find salvation after death.
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Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious
You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently—though isn't it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?
I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.
In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" of a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more that the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.
If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307265773, Hardcover)

“Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.”

So begins Letter to a Christian Nation



www.samharris.org

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"[Since the publication of my book The end of faith, t]housands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse."--P. vii.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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