Letter to a Christian Nation

Author: Sam Harris

Type: Non-fiction, single subject

Published: 2006

I read it: May 2008

letter

This is a short reply to the critics of Harris’ first book, The End of Faith. Harris speaks directly to a Christian  reader, on the assumption that the person he is addressing “believes, at a minimum, that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that only those who accept the divinity of Jesus Christ will experience salvation after death.” Presumably, this is a whole lot of people in the United States.

This is a great book for those interested in jumping into the atheist/theist discussion. I agree with Harris across the board, because whereas religious apologists present their twine ball of confusing positions, the arguments against them are devastatingly simple. As Harris points out, “what is most surprising about debating the faithful is how few surprises there actually are.” This is because religion can be intellectually stagnant.

One of Harris’ main points, which he kicked off in his previous book, is that religious moderation is dangerous, and leads to religious fanaticism. He is quick to point out that “the God of the Bible and Qur’an is not a moderate.” This is plain to see simply by reading those holy books. Moreover, “religious moderation is the direct result of taking scripture less and less seriously.” So why not take it less seriously still, and get the ghosts and fairies out of our public schools, national politics, and the minds of children?

This book will sit proudly on my shelf next to the Bible and Qur’an. And whichever one I reach for, I will be well aware of the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

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