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Letter to a Christian Nationby Sam Harris
Synopses & Reviews
In response to The End of Faith, Sam Harris received thousands of letters from Christians excoriating him for not believing in God. Letter to a Christian Nation is his reply. Using rational argument, Harris offers a measured refutation of the beliefs that form the core of fundamentalist Christianity. In the course of his argument, he addresses current topics ranging from intelligent design and stem-cell research to the connections between religion and violence. In Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris boldly challenges the influence that faith has on public life in our nation. In his "Note to the Reader," he writes:
Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years. According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry here on earth. It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen — the return of Christ. It should be blindingly obvious that beliefs of this sort will do little to help us create a durable future for ourselves — socially, economically, environmentally, or geopolitically. 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. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency. The book you are about to read is my response to this emergency...
"Reading Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation was like sitting ring side, cheering the champion, yelling 'Yes!' at every jab. For those of us who feel depressed by this country's ever increasing unification of church and state, and the ever decreasing support for the sciences that deliver knowledge and reduce ignorance, this little book is a welcome hit of adrenalin." Marc Hauser, author of Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Sense of Right and Wrong
"Sam Harris fearlessly describes a moral and intellectual emergency precipitated by religious fantasies — misguided beliefs that create suffering, that rationalize violence, that have endangered our nation and our future. His argument for the morality, the honesty, and the humility of atheism is galvanizing. It is a relief that someone has spoken so frankly, with such passion yet such rationality. Now when the subject arises, as it inevitably does, I can simply say: Read Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation." Janna Levin, author of How the Universe Got Its Spots and A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
"It's a shame that not everyone in this country will read Sam Harris' marvelous little book. They won't, but they should." Leonard Susskind, author of The Cosmic Landscape
"Sam Harris's elegant little book is most refreshing and a wonderful source of ammunition for those who, like me, hold to no religious doctrine. Yet I have some sympathy also with those who might be worried by his uncompromising stance. Read it and form your own view, but do not ignore its message." Sir Roger Penrose, author of The Road to Reality
"Read this book and decide your stance for the future." Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of The Ethical Brain
"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...
About the Author
Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times best seller The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, winner of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction.
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