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Letter to a Christian Nation [Paperback]

Sam Harris
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 8 2008 Vintage
From the new afterword by the author:Humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice. In fact, it has been by no means uncommon for a child to be born into this world only to be patiently and lovingly reared by religious maniacs, who believe that the best way to keep the sun on its course or to ensure a rich harvest is to lead him by tender hand into a field or to a mountaintop and bury, butcher, or burn him alive as offering to an invisible God. The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the superstitious bloodletting that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. . .

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"A breath of fresh fire." —Wall Street Journal“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, author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion“It’s a shame that not everyone in this country will read Sam Harris’ marvelous little book Letter to a Christian Nation. They won’t but they should.” —Leonard Susskind, Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical physics, Stanford University

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, which won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. He is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. Mr. Harris is now completing a doctorate in neuroscience, studying the neural basis of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). His work has been discussed in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Economist, and New Scientist, among many other journals, and he has made television appearances on The O'Reilly Factor, Scarborough Country, Faith Under Fire, and Book TV.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Problem for Christian Literalists Oct. 2 2006
This little book is a gem of its kind. It is an argument with a literal minded Christian (fundamentalist, evangelical, etc) in the form of a letter. Harris's arguments are mostly not original - some previous versions of them date back more than a century in the skeptical literature - but his concise and hard-hitting presentation of them is. He is almost unique for his honest and, one must say, sometimes blunt treatment of religion. Some readers will find this offensive and won't pay his arguments the attention they deserve. I can only ask them to persevere and see if they can find a problem with Harris's reasons. The challenge for the committed Christian is to meet him on the plane of reason; and if you think that you don't have to, because faith prevails even where reason fails, I must ask, why your faith rather than any other? As Harris points out, many Muslims have exactly as much devout belief as you do and yet you are not troubled by this; can't you see that to an outsider, this is a reason to doubt all faiths? But I am paraphrasing Harris here, and poorly. I refer you to his forceful eloquence instead.

One more thought. Where does this book leave the moderate or liberal Christian? What does it say to them? While ostensibly not aimed at them, some challenges are obvious. If you are not a literal-minded Christian, then what exactly do you believe? Why are the literal-minded Christians not just simply more consistent (less politely: less hypocritical) than you are? Are there resources within Christianity that can justify your liberal stance, or are you really compromising with outside standards and motivated by outside factors?
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Direct and to the Point Oct. 7 2006
By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER
Sam Harris says what a lot of us have been thinking, but have been afraid to say in public. In this concise book, Harris directly attacks the very foundation of religious faith.

One might expect such a book to be either mean-spirited or intentionally provacative. Christian Nation is neither, although some will experience it that way. Harris sticks to the facts. He does not believe that religious faith, including but certainly not limited to Christianity, is good for people.

Harris is concerned with reducing human suffering and increasing human happiness. He agrees that many of the things that Jesus about love and kindness are indeed valuable and wise. He points out, however, that the bible contains much, much more than love and kindness. It contains cruelty, such as slavery, and pointless rules, such as the ban on graven images.

In the end, Harris argues, religious faith, or any belief that is not based on evidence and reason, does not make sense and will ultimately lead to unnecessary suffering.

No doubt, many good and loving people would be offended or hurt if they read this book. But that simply proves Harris' point. These people have been so blinded by faith that they cannot even consider the possibility they have been led astray. Hopefully, a good number of religious people will muster the courage to read the book anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing May 9 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an atheist, this is everything you need to tell a Christian if he is wanting to debate or argue. Absolutely destroys theism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter to a Christian Nation May 4 2011
By Shahin
Format:Audio CD
I love the reading of the book, I also ordered the CD-audio of it.
Great many points and powerful reasoning that demands thinking.
Requires a serious listener, open to rational reasoning.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it Nov. 24 2006
The basic premise of the book is that there are many contradictions with Christianity especially with how it is practiced in the United States. The assertion is that nothing has to be "believed" on insufficient evidence. This book is a great source for a logical retort to many religious claims. Read this book and pass it along to your friends. It is worth it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bang-On! June 20 2014
By Poetkitty TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sam Harris is one of the most approachable of the 'new atheists' and delivers a hard hitting, no frills, rational refutation of ancient beliefs. In this small book, he gives ammunition to atheists to help clarify and defend their own views, and perhaps a boost to the fence sitters that are having trouble giving themselves a final push. His reductionist arguments, his insistence that you make a stand, and his barrage against the airy-fairy, are refreshing and freeing. He exposes all myth based dogma as inherently false and ultimately dangerous. A great push for humanism with its ultimate concern for societal well-being and progress...Full of absolute gems..."Our country now appears, as at no other time in her history, like a lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant." and "The process of scientific conquest and religious forfeiture has been relentless, one directional, and utterly predictable." Sam Harris is never, as some accuse atheists of being, strident. He lets the facts speak for themselves. And at the end you feel his deep concern for a world who puts ancient, divisive, cruel nonsense above rational enquiry on how best to live moral, healthy, happy lives...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book April 12 2014
By Heidy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is a book that you enjoy every page, in which you can see how we are as a society
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5.0 out of 5 stars encore bravo, Sam March 25 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
un très bon livre pour qui veut comprendre la situation actuelle de ce qui mène le monde. attire notre attention sur la bêtise humaine, sur l'aspect déraisonnable de la foi, sur le refus de certaines gens de se servir de leur intelligence quand les grandes questions existentielles sont en jeu......aide à réaliser que l'athéisme est la seule position qui peut intellectuellement se défendre et aboutir à un véritable humanisme, à donner enfin l'importance qu'elle mérite à la position qui prône que le seul bonheur possible pour l'Homme doit être cherché sur terre, et que, en conséquence on n'a pas besoin d'un dieu pour être convaincu qu' une morale strictement naturelle est la seule nécessaire pour nous guider et faire de nous des Humains travaillant à effacer les inégalités tant biologiques, innées , que sociales pour arriver à créer un monde terrestre où le bonheur peut être l'apanage de tous
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener
Sam Harris writes a great easy read book. As a 70 year old brought up Catholic, I have always questioned the faith and many other different aspects of all religions especially... Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2010 by Outdoor man
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly lacking
I found Harris' book juvenile and pedantic, the many instances of name calling "lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant. Read more
Published on July 13 2010 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter to a Christian Nation
Another excellent book by Sam Harris. All believers should read it with an open mind and when finished, ask themselves a question: Can these facts be disputed?
Published on Sept. 22 2009 by Paul Plihal
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but powerful
This short book by Harris packs a punch. It ought to be read by anyone who holds religious/supernatural beliefs, but might be particularly good for the American audience for which... Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2008 by Star Stuff
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tribute to Christian Hate Mail
Here, Harris responds to the thousands of mostly indignant letters he got for writing "The End of Faith". Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2008 by Brian Griffith
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb
I'd never heard of Sam Harris before seeing this book recommended along with other ones about atheism.

Concise, straightforward, and extremely well written. Read more
Published on May 21 2008 by S.M.
1.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed...
I give Sam Harris 1 start not because I am a Christian but because this a very poor book on anti-theism. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2007 by Valeriy Strugov
1.0 out of 5 stars Carl Friedrich Gauss was a believer
"He took us to the house where Gauss' father had first lived, a narrow four-story one in a good neighborhood, a few houses from the present Brunswick castle, which we went through... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2007 by Sports Car Enthusiast
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