Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam Harris
This book is the author’s way of addressing current topics in connection between religion, science and humanism. He challenges the influence of faith(religion) to advancement in science and politics.
Talking about religion is a difficult topic because no matter how careful you are to justify things, some people may easily get offended. Reading the book, I can say that I agree with some of Harris’ points and some not really. His arguments not are entirely new to me but he makes valid points. Here are some of his statements that made me wince and nod:
- “It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.”
- “The truth, however, is that the conflict between religion and science is unavoidable. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma;the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.”
- “We might also wonder, in passing, which is more moral: helping people purely out of concern for their suffering, or helping them because you think the creator of the universe will reward you for it?”
- “I have no doubt that your acceptance of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in your life. Perhaps you now love other people in a way that you never imagined possible. You may even experience feelings of bliss while praying. I do not wish to denigrate any of these experiences. I would point out, however, that billions of other human beings, in every time and place, have had similar experiences – but they had them while thinking about Krishna, or Allah, or the Buddha, while making art or music, or while contemplating the beauty of Nature, There is no question that it is possible for people to have profoundly transformative experiences. And there is no question that it is possible for them to misinterpret these experiences, and to further delude themselves about the nature of reality.”
- “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”
- “Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral – that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research. And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year.”
- “You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible – and then, in the next moment, you assert that we human beings cannot possibly rely upon our own intuitions to rightly guide us in the world.”
- “Religious moderation is the direct result of taking scripture less and less seriously. So why not take it less seriously still? Why not admit the the Bible is merely a collection of imperfect books written by highly fallible human beings.”
- “We can either have a twenty-first-century conversation about morality and the human well-being – a conversation in which we avail ourselves of all scientific insights and philosophical arguments that have accumulated in the last two thousand years of human discourse – or we can confine ourselves to a first-century conversation as it is preserved in the Bible.”
- “An average Christian, in an average church, listen to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse — and there have been some extraordinary arrogant scientists.”
- “There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious believer: the creator of the universe takes an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me after death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain the best statement of the truth until the end of the world; everyone who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell….”
- “Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity— birth, marriage, death—without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.”
**I am raised in a Catholic family, went to a Catholic school from preschool to college. I can say that almost my whole life, I have been surrounded with the values and morals taught in a tight-knit Catholic community and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I learned the basic do’s and don’ts and the rest was up to me whether I try to pull it all off in life outside my home and my school. I cannot say I am a religious person nor can I confidently say that I am faithful (because religiousness and faithfulness are entirely different things) but I try to do what I believe is good,necessary and beneficial for me and those around me. I don’t have a problem with organized religion and I know people from different religious organizations, they are as human as I am – imperfect. We all have different beliefs and ways coping up with life and I think the best gift we can give one another is respect.