Spring Deals Automotive Best Books of the Month New-season heels nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. GNO for Samsung S9 Starting at $39.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon TheGrandTour TheGrandTour TheGrandTour  Echo Dot Fire tablets: Designed for entertainment. Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop now TG18SW_gno

Letter to a Christian Nation
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$12.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on February 20, 2018
Brilliant and lucid, clear and and documented, compact (it takes only a couple of hours to read) and well written. More than anything else: obvious and eye-opening. It should be required reading in all high schools in the nation. After this, I also suggest reading the rebuttal, "Letter from a Christian Citizen", by Douglas Wilson, to see that he has no actual counter-arguments to offer besides his blind attachment to his faith and its inevitable distortions. Don't get me wrong - I come from a very religious, catholic family, and I understand very well how important faith is for people. Still... read this book.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 30, 2010
"Atheists are the most reviled minority in America."

Sam Harris has it exactly right. Polls--even some taken shortly after 9/11--show that the majority of Americans would rather have a Muslim president than one who doesn't believe in any God at all. Maybe that seems hard to believe when we think back to the horror over our current Presidents highly suspicious middle name, but the number bear it out. Atheists aren't likely to achieve high office.

Maybe that's why one of our most famous nonbelievers in American history, Thomas Paine, is the most notable of our founding fathers not to have a monument. They don't even mention him in the recent History Channel documentary America: The Story of Us(which is otherwise both moving and surprisingly objective) in the Valley Forge segment. George Washington thought the political pamphleteer important and inspiring enough to read to his starving, freezing men at Valley Forge (and thus keep the army together through a terrible winter)--but this isn't the Age of Reason anymore.

I can't help but have a wonderful time reading the gleefully irreverent Christopher Hitchens. As might be expected, I can't say the same for my ex-roommate at UA, who never looked at me the same after she found God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything on my Kindle. But Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation satisfied my sentimental longing for Thomas Pain-esque writing, and then some. His short book--more a manifesto--echoes Paine's celebrated Age of Reason in that he's not on the defensive. Harris explains that the New Atheism isn't just a negative (not believing in God): it's about a positive too, belief in science and reason.

I won't go into detail on Harris's arguments, because I couldn't begin to write more clearly or concisely than he does in Letter to a Christian Nation. And personally, I wonder how many of the Christians the book's addressed to will actually read it--but for those who do or are considering it, let me say that while it's bold and certainly controversial, it's written in some of the most clear, logical prose I've ever read. It's accessible, and written more to persuade than inflame (like some of Hitchens's writings).

The book's only 900 locations on the Kindle (as opposed to the 5-8,000 of the average novel), so I'd place it at about 100 pages. In any case, it's a one-afternoon read.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 3, 2010
Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation is an articulate, no apologies challenge to adherents of religion. Prior to reading this, I read Harris' "The End of Faith". While "End of Faith" makes similar points, it rambles considerably and dwells too long on consciousness and meditation. Skip directly to "Letter" and you get the essence of Harris' viewpoint.

Harris throws down the gauntlet; religious fanaticism stands in the way of scientific advancements and poses a very real threat to our survival. Furthermore, tolerance of religious diversity is often, by nature, false and dangerous. He makes the point that while liberal Christians feign tolerance of other religions, in truth they believe that their own brand of religion is the only path to God and heaven. This hypocrisy is a flimsy veneer over what is really intolerance of other's religious views. So, while they may outwardly purport to support divergent views, when push comes to shove they really believe that those with different religious views will go to hell (or at least not be afforded the same benefits of an everlasting life in paradise). And, while liberal Christians preach tolerance, he suggests that other more strident religions such as Muslims gain strength under the shelter of such tolerance.

Harris makes the point that any good derived from organized religion could stem as well from agnostic altruism. That we are at a balance point in our societal development where we must find ways to support spirituality and benevolence without the need for religious dogma.

I found it an easy and interesting read, and Harris makes blunt, rational and thought-provoking points. I am curious to read some of the numerous rebuttals to Harris' work.
11 comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 10, 2008
On the stump, Barack Obama has to stand up there, proclaim he's a Christian, and say he prays to Jesus every night. Hillary Clinton has to say her faith in God had got her through her troubles with Bill. John Edwards says, "I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ."

Politicians in the United States are at their peril to ignore the Christian Right, Bible believers, fundamentalists, religious conservatives, creationists.

In "Letter to a Christian Nation," Sam Harris laments and bravely warns against this state of affairs, that adherence to faith leads to violence and wars.

Harris equates the folly of Christians believing in God with the madness of Muslims believing in Allah, and that the two faiths murderously oppose each other.

He says Christian literalists believe the Bible was written by God, that Christ was God, that life after death depends upon accepting this, and that eternity in hell awaits those who do not.

Harris says Muslims believe the Koran is God's word, that, according to Muhammad, Jesus was not God, and eternity in hell awaits unbelievers.

"Letter to a Christian Nation" details that science demands evidence, and that religion goes against reason. Besides objecting to the alleged sources of holy writings and the divinity of any human, Harris discusses many topics:

*** That the earth and cosmos are billions of years old, not created six thousand years ago.

*** That light from the farthest stars traveled billions of years to reach us, that God did not create the light already en route.

*** That "All complex life on earth has developed from simpler life-forms over billions of years."

*** That dinosaurs were not on Noah's ark.

*** That human existence ends with death, does not persist eternally in heaven or hell.

*** That biblical morality is deficient in many ways, including the subjugation of women, and importantly in not objecting to slavery.

*** That religious prudery about consenting relations adds to human misery, and is misguided in believing that "the creator of the universe will take offense at something people do while naked."

*** That "While missionaries do many noble things at great risk to themselves, their dogmatism still spreads ignorance and death. By contrast, volunteers for secular organizations like Doctors Without Borders do not waste any time telling people about the virgin birth of Jesus."

*** "Nor do they tell people in sub-Saharan Africa--where nearly four million people die from AIDS every year--that condom use is sinful." "This kind of piety is genocidal."

*** That "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." Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, suicide bombings, and genocides would be among the calamities.

Harris concludes that only by speaking against and divesting ourselves of the dangerous fantasies of opposing religions and by adhering to scientific demands for evidence and reason can our nation and the world survive.

He has hope.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 15, 2016
The frightening truth that is revealed in this book by Sam Harris confirmed my fears about the dangers of 7th century religious superstitions combined with modern day weapons of mass destruction.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 25, 2006
The publication of cartoons in Denmark of Mohammed has provided an enlightening litmus test on how truly supportive American Conservative Christians and the Catholic Church are regarding the founding American ideal of free speech as they lobby for speech restrictions to promote respect for other religious belief, even if reason, empirical evidence, and sound public policy would argue otherwise. Couple the threat speech is under regarding public debate of religious ideas with the increased ability of religious zealots, primarily Muslims, to effectively engage in asymmetrical warfare and mutual desire by radical Muslims and the Christian Right for the fulfillment of prophecy via a global apocalypse.

The recent questions these factors beg is now being asked and an increasing number of enlightened people wonder; can Civilization afford to tolerate a culture that analyzes the veracity of everything that effects public policy with the exception of religious beliefs? Can we continue to view religious beliefs as a quaint and harmless legacy of our past or are these primitive beliefs a factor now threatening the moral and technological progress, and even the security of Western Civilization in general and America specifically? Do today's Christian Conservatives want a free and open public debate on the veracity of Christian dogma in the public square or are they merely looking for protection of their ideas by way of increased government power? Would the people who want to promote Christian theology in the public schools and science classrooms also support a critical assessment of the truth of their beliefs in the public schools as well, by way for example, of consideration of Mr. Harris' arguments contained in "Letter to a Christian Nation"?

Mr. Harris makes a clear stand that we cannot afford to protect religious beliefs from criticism: "the primary purpose of this book is to arm secularists in our society, who believe that religion should be kept out of public policy, against their opponents on the Christian Right" (pg. viii). Mr. Harris clearly believes in a free market of ideas, where no idea should be protected because it's a traditionally popular one, in fact Mr. Harris sees the conflation of our technological prowess at destroying the world and that power being eventually more available and the increasing power fundamentalists are having in the Middle East and America as an "emergency" where we can no longer allow primitive superstitions special protections they are provided in our government or else we risk the self-fulfilling prophecy of ending the world (pg. xii). The seeming contradiction between Mr. Harris assertion "that religion should be kept out of public policy" and protection of free speech is that given the premise of a free market exploration of religious ideas, fundamentalist Christian dogma wouldn't survive the scrutiny, scrutiny that is the topic of this book.

"Letter" is a mere ninety-one page book with more ideas considered, challenged and posited than in many four hundred page books. Its' a fast read and worth reading multiple times, I've read it three times prior to writing this review. Harris also provides further recommended reading that will enlighten readers on the history of American philosophical legacy as it relates to the Constitutional framers' ideals (Jacoby's Freethinkers), the atheist scientists who do believe Science is correct in attacking superstition (Dawkin's "The God Delusion") and an introductory primer on canonical development since Harris accurately assumes most Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians are ignorant on the development of Christian Dogma and its claim to inerrancy (Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus"). Some of the other reading recommendations in my opinion are worthless, while the most important recommendation I would recommend and a source that Harris uses is missing, Karen Armstrong's "The Battle for God", probably the best comparative religion book on fundamentalism and why we should fear Christian fundamentalism and not just Islamic fundamentalism.

To the customer reviewers who state that Harris' attacks are stale and previously discredited, please provide one tangible example that you are able to refute, I found rhetorical fallacies substituted for reasoned challenge and not supported with evidence in those reviews, a failure not made by Mr. Harris.

"Letter" is refreshingly frank, mainly because Harris has no qualms about eradicating social niceties where none are deserved. Where Jon Meachum's "American Gospel" goes out of its way to expend words that respectfully discredit ridiculous notions in his "American Gospel", there is no such flotsam and jetsam in Harris' book, ridiculous notions get it right between the eyes, e.g., an intervening God that heals (but for some reason, not amputees), the moral wisdom of a book, the Bible, that condones slavery and promotes authoritarian government rather than the American ideal of freedom through represented government and individual rights. Harris also illuminates the hypocrisy of the notion of an inerrant bible with an all-loving God by publishing text from the Bible that if practiced today, would have you thrown in jail as the lowest scum on earth (the bible's god promoting slavery, killing of your own children for trivial indiscretions, serial killing of innocents including babies, old people, and gays, mistreatment of rape victims, etc.).

I am the rare libertarian who believes religion should be taught in the public schools, but critically where the true history is presented and rebuttals to its theology are also presented. Mr. Harris' book belongs in the public school libraries and if one's faith is truly built on truth rather than wishful and emotional thinking, this book should be debated and considered by all Americans, right down to the high school level. Consider me a big fan of Mr. Harris and the moral courage it takes to talk truth to power.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 22, 2016
Well-written, well-documented, and completely intriguing. I bought the audio book, listened to it, then started again from the beginning. I was expecting a diatribe of the Facebook/Twitter type and was delighted with the intellectual approach to the subject of the erratic Christianizing of the country.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on May 21, 2011
In "Letter to a Christian Nation," Sam Harris delivers a rebuttal of the criticisms of his earlier "The End of Faith."

Probably the best argument he provides is one that for a lot of people (including your reviewer) resulted in the taking of the "outsider's challenge" to one's own religion. That is, realize how one guffaws at the claims of other religions and sees them as utterly unbelieveable. Turn that skepticism around and focus it on one's own beliefs and see if they withstand the challenge. For the vast majority of people, they do not.

Harris is also entirely correct when he points out that the current trends towards multiculturalism and political correctness lead us down the path of giving free reign to ideas that are not only outdated, but downright dangerous.

One thing I do disagree with, however, is Harris' statement that the Old and New Testaments were written by "ancient people who wrote well." The Bible is *horribly* written, as the most basic reading will attest. Even rudimentary textual analysis shows the Bible as being the product of many different writers (within the same book!) who have patched together a quilt with bad thread. Other ancient texts, such as the Illiad and The Odyssey, are much better written.

The rise of the "New Atheist" movement is a direct result of the pressure put upon America by the irrationality of fundamentalist Christianity. They started pushing people and the rationalists pushed back. They pushed back hard, but the fundamentalists deserve it, as harsh as it may be.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon December 30, 2007
Mr. Harris is a part of a new wave of atheism on the offensive, in response to the growing power of religious influence in politics and public policy.

"Letter to a Christian Nation" is Sam Harris' response to thousands of letters he received following the publication of his first book, "The End of Faith", admonishing him about his atheist beliefs. Harris takes a forceful view of discrediting religion in "Letter to a Christian Nation", and while his arguments are compelling, he scores little PR points for atheism as a result. Harris is most likely fully aware that his rhetoric is not intended to dissuade or win friends among the religious. Rather, his belligerent and hard-hitting stance is to get his message out and plant the seeds for future battles when it will become painfully evident that the Founding Fathers' idea of the separation of church and state is as valid today and tomorrow as it was when this country was founded.

This book should be read by everyone, religious or not.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 28, 2017
This is probably one of the most important short books, I have had the privilege to read. It should result in sincere discussions about the role, or current lack thereof, religion plays in today’s world.
May-be future generations will look back at this time as a watershed moment, where humanity takes a step further towards enlightenment.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse