Dear Sam Harris,
Firstly, it's important for you to
know that in your book 'Letter to a Christian Nation' your underlying
assumptions about Christian morality are fundamentally
false. This single fact discredits more than half your book.
page 8 you write: "Questions of morality are questions about happiness
and human suffering. This is why you and I do not have moral obligations
to rocks." Your presumptions are wrong, Christianity does not see morality in this way. Christians hold that good stems from God, not that God
conforms to some outside abstraction called good. Happiness and human suffering are unrelated to Christian morality.
page 7, you write: "You [Christians] believe Christianity is an
unrivaled source of human goodness." Yes, we do, but because we believe
it represents God’s will (and God's will defines what is good).
of this single misunderstanding most of the rest of your book is
pathetically inadequate as a criticism. For example, you argue that human suffering is
absurd because God is either not powerful enough to stop it, or else he
is malevolent. In phrasing the question this way you fail to present the
most obvious option: that God is beneficent in ways we can’t understand.
everyone would agree that stabbing a baby is an evil thing to do, but
most of us would also agree that vaccinating a baby (by stabbing it with
a needle) is usually always a good thing to do. Everyone agrees these
two sentiments are compatible.
It's likely this world’s sufferings are the vaccination we need to enter into a greater and healthier life.
this, God cannot and should not be held accountable to human moral
standards (even those he himself lays down). If God is responsible for
the death of millions of people in a bad storm this does not in any way
suggest that he's a murderer. He gives life, and he can take it away. As humans, we're not allowed to murder because it's not our
sphere of authority. God’s sphere is different than ours.
you argue that since Muslims are equally convinced of their god, Allah,
as Christians are of theirs, Christians should realize their
religion is equally absurd. This line of argument is unbelievably
childish. The members of the Flat Earth Society are probably as
confident of the flat earth as the rest of the world is of a circular
earth, but this does not invalidate the circular earth position.
are very good reasons why Christians view their religion as more
reasonable then Islam. For example, the founder of Islam was a rich,
blood thirsty, genocidal, pedophile, warlord who performed no witnessed
miracles, and whose religion was spread by the edge of the sword; that sounds
like the power of men. In contrast, the founder of Christianity
was born in a feed trough, performed witnessed miracles, died on a cross,
and his disciples were all poor uneducated nobodies who led a pacifistic
religion from a backwards province to dominate the entire globe by
getting persecuted; it’s so unlikely it almost has to come from a
Another of your arguments suggests the
Bible is so morally obscure that no one can interpret it properly. You cite
the slavery issue as an example. However, this sample is absurd because
all you end up doing is displaying how dishonest the human race is, and
how bad people are at reading their Bibles.
Personally, I'll be the first to tell you the Bible does,
in fact, condone slavery. The Bible is clear on this fact; but, this does not discredit the Bible. The Bible condones
slavery just like it condones marriage. There are many abuses in
marriage (beatings, rape, etc.) but no one in their right mind would ban
marriage. It will exist.
Today, slavery survives as
wage slavery and human trafficking. Slavery has not diminished just
because we banned it. God understood this and sought to regulate the institution.
This situation proves Biblical wisdom rather than refuting it. We, in
our imagined wisdom, have made slavery even worse by pushing it
underground and removing regulations on it. All we’ve
successfully done is put it out of our sight and mind (we made it easier to feel good about it).
If Christians are this bad at
interpreting their Bibles on the issue of slavery, how much worse might
they be at interpreting their Bibles when it comes to the Inquisition,
or any of the other "Christian" atrocities you mention. The Bible might,
in fact, be very clear on many issues, but Christians might be
corrupted by their own ambitions.
On page 60, you
discuss the issue of prophesy. You write: "just imagine how
breathtakingly specific a work of prophesy would be, if it were actually
the product of omniscience. If the Bible were such a book, it would
make perfectly accurate predictions about human events. You would expect
it to contain a passage such as ‘in the latter half of the twentieth
By suggesting this, however, you unwittingly
show your profound ignorance of Biblical principles. For example, In
Mark 4, Jesus addresses this issue when his apostles ask him why
he speaks in parables: "to those who are outside, all things come in
parables, so that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing
they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins
be forgiven them.'"
The Bible speaks about how life is
similar to the process of purifying gold. It’s about weeding out those
that don't seek after God and don't have faith in him. What kind of
challenge would it be to have faith in God if it was so obvious that no
one could reasonable deny it; if none of it was based on the desire of a person's heart?
If we are to be rulers in the life
after this (as Jesus suggested in the parable of the talents), what
kind of prep work would our current life be if it wasn't a challenge?
find your quote on page 68 laughable: "All complex life on earth has
developed from simpler life-forms over billions of years. This is a fact
that no longer admits of intelligent conversation." You repeat
similarly strong affirmations throughout the section of your book
dealing with evolution as if you are trying to convince yourself of this
"fact" called evolution. The reality is that evolution is on
the precipice of collapse due to modern discoveries in science like the
Cambrian explosion, entropy, the Big Bang, DNA reproduction, etc. The theory of evolution is rapidly falling apart. Besides all
this, the Bible has nothing to say about the age of earth.
in all, your book is based on the underlying assumptions of
materialistic philosophy which assert that the only way of knowing
something is with the senses. Because of this, you reject all personal
experience, faith, etc. but you never address the major hole in that
philosophy which is that there is no irrefutable proof that
one’s senses are reliable. In fact, every night we go sleep and they
deceive us in the form of dreams. Your atheism is just
another philosophy masquerading as logic, and you shouldn't pretend to be
above philosophical presumptions.