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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Jan. 8 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278777
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Dawson on Oct. 2 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 7 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Edward R. Swart on Nov. 3 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sam Harris is best know for his book entitled "The End of Faith" and although this small follow-up book is a welcome addition to the discussion of the role of religion in the modern world it seems unlikely to have a similar impact – although it is quite a pithy synopsis of the earlier book. I remember – over half a century ago – reading Bertrand Russel's book entitled "Why I am not a Christian". And there is clearly an overlap between the two books with Bertrand Russell probably being a little more ruthless in his criticism of Christianity. Russell says that “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in Hell.” And I wrote in the margin of my copy of the book: “Interestingly many practising Christians do not”.

Although Harris did not use the exact same words I am sure he agrees that there are indeed some of Jesus' views (as recorded in the New Testament) which do not seem to be morally defensible. Unfortunately, Harris does not distinguish very well between fundamentalist Christians who reject the occurrence of evolution and believe all sorts of unscientific mumbo jumbo about the age of the earth and more enlightened Christians who are comfortable with scientific discoveries about the nature of the physical and biological world.

Bertrand Russell wrote an earlier essay entitled “Mysticism and Logic” and in this essay he says “I believe that . . there is an element of wisdom to be learnt from the mystical way of feeling which does not seem to be attainable in any other manner. If this is the truth, mysticism is to be commended as an attitude towards life and not as a creed about the world.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Handmade Christmas Cards on Nov. 24 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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