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Letter To A Christian Nation [Hardcover]

Sam Harris
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Feb 2007

' 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, Sam Harris's hard-hitting rebuttal of religious fundamentalism and blind belief . With deceptively simple arguments, he demolishes the myths on which Christianity was built, challenges believers to open their eyes to the contradictions of their faith and warns us of the dangers of America's ever increasing unification of Church and State.

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Letter To A Christian Nation + The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason + The Moral Landscape
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (12 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593058976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593058978
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"I dare you to read this book... it will not leave you unchanged. Read it if it is the last thing you do" (Richard Dawkins)

"Sam Harris's elegant little book is the most refreshing and wonderful source of ammunition for those who, like me, hold to no religious doctrine... Read it and form your own view, but do not ignore its message" (Roger Penrose)

"Sam Harris is a brave, intelligent, clear-sighted author whose brilliant essay should be read by every adult who has ever believed that a religious faith can solve the world's problems" (Desmond Morris)

"Harris and (Richard) Dawkins both share a wonderfully refreshing refusal to parse their language into more saccharine statements... Guaranteed to enrage all but the most delusional theist" (Irish Independent)

"Harris picks apart the very seams of Christian belief in such a convincing fashion that any shred of belief I had has now been obliterated. This is a good thing. We only get one life - why waste one minute of it on mumbo jumbo" (London Lite)

Book Description

A hard-hitting polemic against religious fundamentalism - Foreword by Richard Dawkins

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short. Sharp. Brilliant. Devastating. 2 Jun 2008
It is sometimes said that the pen is the sharpest of weapons when used correctly. In no book I have read has this been more true. This book is a mere 90 very small pages, even slow readers will make it through in a couple of hours, and the arguments are completely devastating all the way through, I was an out-an-out atheist before reading it, and I've always been so, but this book makes the points so well that I almost felt sorry for any true believers reading it, they must be crying when they finish this, but if so, it should be tears of joy and understanding.

Challenge every believer you know to read this book.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and well put Christian Polemic. 7 Sep 2008
This book is really suited to someone who wants to get the key arguments against Christianity without having to spend a long time reading something like 'The God Delusion' or 'The End of Faith'. It's very short and could be read in a day or even in a single reading.

Most head-in-the-sand Christians won't read anything that would challenge their faith but I would hope that a simple, short book like this would make that simple task more feasable. By reading this book, a Christians would certainly have some questions and be forced into a bit of thinking. But if their faith is genuine, honest and real why fear this?
Surely they'd come out the other side with a deeper, stronger faith.

I'd certainly applaud Harris for going out of his way for making it as easy as possible for a Christian to challenge their beliefs - a crucial part of any objective thinking.

Harris makes some excellent points. Among them:

1. Four of the most revered Theologians Augustine, Aquainus, Calvin and Luther were mad men who advocated torture and all sorts of hardship.
Does this mean that the Joe average Christian, who one would assume would abhor such perniciousness, can understand scripture better than the most influential thinkers in the history of Christianity?

2. Objections to stem cell research from hardline Christians is preventing research into the most promising science that offers hope to so many cruel and life debilitating ailments.

3. The problem of evil - how could a loving God preside over such a cruel world. Theodicy cannot answer this.

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168 of 181 people found the following review helpful
Letter to a Christian Nation - Review

Paul Gibbons

Reading Harris' latest contribution leaves me in a difficult state. Harris follows through with his attack on religion started in The End of Faith. He ridicules belief in the supernatural, and reviews some well travelled territory such as `the argument from evil'. In doing this he advances some interesting thought-experiments: if Salamanders can re-grow lost limbs, why wouldn't God, just once, allow an injured child to do so?

However, supernatural beliefs, on their own, do little harm. Most people have little superstitious oddities: my friend who must sit in the same seat playing Bridge, people who spend good money on homeopathy, not having important meetings on Friday the 13th. Harris' real beef is where such beliefs promote social ills and violence.

He lays quite a lot of misery at the door of religion, most of it on target, some of it overstated. When travelling in the Caribbean, I enquired why AIDS was such a difficult issue on the small island of St Lucia - surely it must be easy to contain within a tiny population? No, the island is very Catholic and many of the hospitals and educational institutions are under the sway of that ideology - no condoms for them. Clearly this causes much suffering and death, and the Church's position in Africa is implicated in the four million deaths per year on that continent. The Church not only advocates this, but defends it in the face of criticism. I hold those cardinals personally responsible for the policies that exacerbate this suffering. Harris' ninety-some pages are replete with this and many stronger examples.

I found myself agreeing with almost every word he writes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A succint warning for secularists 14 Jun 2008
By calmly
Harris had written this book primarily for secularists so as to defend against the threats posed in the U.S. by the Christian Right. Unlike "The End of Faith", he says little about other religions, in particular Islam. This book was shorter and more about what I am familiar with.

Preaching to the choir? Undoubtedly to large extent but unlike "The End of Faith" I do not expect many secularists will feel he is unfairly extreme: this time he seems to be speaking well to address the concerns of many of us including those liberal and moderate Christians (and even conservative Christians) who do not feel well served by the political activities of the Christian Right.

Harris comments that "atheism" isn't any more necessary as a label than having to have "words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive...". Anti-Elvisians? But would it be rude to the memory of Elvis, who, despite reported problems, was indeed a great performer? I did see and enjoy his movies. Perhaps Elvisism deserves founding, perhaps it already has been. Perhaps I could become a Elvisian apologist. Just show one of the movies or concerts and I'd have no trouble finding believers? Would you join? Pledge? Agree with me that Elvis not only lived but that I could speak for him. And that Elvis did not want your children learning about evolution in public schools. Or maybe gravity.

Foolish? Harris writes toward the end of this book "Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous". Harris expresses understanding: he writes that he does not "doubt that your acceptance of Christ may have coincided with positive changes in your life".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank, to the point.
A damning critique of america's religious influences in every day life and the hypocrisies of the church and crusading politicians.
Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This is a logical and simple summary of all that is wrong with believing in God in any shape or form. Annoying that my spell check has capitalised the G in god automatically!
Published 1 month ago by shall11
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple sense
This is a clear and reasonable explanation to those who believe in the silly hereafter that their notions are dangerous and long outdated. Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Long
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put this down.
An excellent read that lives up to the billing in the forward by Dawkins.

It is strange to read something that explicitly spells what I realise that I feel before I have... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andu on Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang on!
Says exactly what it needs to say. Sharp, direct and extremely powerful. It might be a shorter book than you like, but that takes nothing away from its potency - in fact, it tends... Read more
Published 4 months ago by D. H. Mccree
4.0 out of 5 stars "Faith is nothing more than the licence religious people give one...
Sam Harris' letter to the Christian people in his own country of America covers the main logical arguments for rational thinking, and dispels many of the leading 'arguments' as to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by K. J. Noyes
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
It was a good read, and I enjoyed it all the way through. I would recommend it if you like debate.
Published 7 months ago by margaret mcdonagh
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant easy to read and to-the-point book.
A well thought out and well written book. I did however think he was a bit too 'nice'. Lots of good points, though he could have gone more deeply into the various matters, but he... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mary Ann Pretorius
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, clear, well informed and very persuasive
A definite must read in my opinion for any non-believer (or believer for that matter). Harris does a fantastic job of getting so many persuasive and essential points across in such... Read more
Published 8 months ago by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Harris socks it to the fundamentalists
The insanity of religious fundamentalism, and in particular the modern phenomenon of its manifestation in the world's wealthiest country, has no greater critic than Sam Harris. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. M. Simmons
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