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Letter to a Christian Nation

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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  21,394 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews
Immediate "New York Times" Best Seller . . .The Challenge to Religious Dogma that has Sparked a National Debate!

"Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years," writes Sam Harris. "Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believ
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Audio CD, 1st Edition, 14 pages
Published December 5th 2006 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published January 1st 2006)
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Steve
Nov 05, 2007 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who appreciate critical analysis of religion
I agree with other reviewers that there are no new or surprising arguments here. He goes over ground which is thoroughly familiar to those who think critically of religion. What makes the book so worthwhile is not, therefore, any (ahem) great revelations.

What I found thrilling about this book, as an atheist of over 40 years, was the startling, forceful simplicity, directness, beauty, and artistry with which he made his points. Consider one quote: "If the Bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an
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Manderson
Oct 24, 2007 Manderson rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a Christian who needs their faith challenged
Shelves: non-fiction
What is interesting about this book, as in most atheist thought, is that in lambasting fundamentalist institutional religious dogma, the author ends up doing exactly what he accuses his opponents of: polarizing, claiming to know what truth and reality are better than anyone else, and pushing moderates into extremism. He claims, as all atheists do, to be speaking solidly from the standpoint of reason. As a reasonable man, then, he should have recognized that fighting antagonism with greater antag ...more
David
This seems like a completely unhelpful, pointless book. Sam Harris knows full well that the likelihood the people he purportedly addresses in his 'letter' (conservative Christians) will actually read it is close to zero. OK: he does state in the preface that its primary purpose is to "arm secularists", which I guess means he really had a different audience in mind from the start. Fair enough. But why use the particular framing device that he does - a belligerent, hectoring letter to fundamentali ...more
James
Wow! Concentrated essence of critique. This book is passionate, and tightly reasoned and put together. It catalogues some of the problems organized religions have inflicted on humanity, past and present, ranging from causing division, hatred and war to putting the brakes on truly free scientific and intellectual inquiry.

Harris takes a number of common arguments in favor of the existence of God and/or the validity of various bodies or tenets of dogma, and shows that under logical consideration th
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Werner
Jan 31, 2015 Werner rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians who want to understand anti-Christian bigotry
Shelves: other-nonfiction
New Atheist spokesman Harris published an earlier book attacking religion, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, in 2004. Written in response to "hostile" mail, mostly from Christians, reacting to the first one, this second book is designed as a concise (91 pages of text) distillation of his argument, both to irrefutably "demolish" any possible case for theism in general and Christian theism in particular, and primarily "to arm secularists... who believe that religion sho ...more
Jim
Harris received a lot of hate mail from Christians for his book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason so wrote this to
"...a Christian in a narrow sense of the term. Such a person believes, at a minimum, that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that only those who accept the divinity of Jesus Christ will experience salvation after death."
He also says:
...Consequently, liberal and moderate Christians will not always recognize themselves in the "Christian" I address....
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Chloe
Can I just admit something straight off the bat? I. Don’t. Care. I don’t care whether you want to participate in ritualized cannibalism. I don’t care whether you think the soul resides on the top of the head. I don’t care whether you want to rub blue mud in your navel, ingest some psylocybin and commune with Gaia. I don’t care whether you want to build temples to a god who, at best, is enormously small-minded and petty or, at worst, is a genocidal tyrant bent on undoing the mistake of free will. ...more
Aaron
It's clear that Sam Harris wrote this book out of frustration with Christianity in particular, and religion in general. The book's style and tone conveys the author's frustration--in such a way that makes it largely a turn-off for many Christians who might otherwise earnestly listen to what he has to say.

That aside, Sam Harris makes a lot of good points, that I think many Christians today should take to heart. His view of Christians reflects many in our culture who see us as, for example, peop
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Matt
Sam Harris sets out to "demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms" in only 91 pages. Mr. Harris repeatedly refers to Christians as arrogant narcissists, yet he regards his own intellect so highly he only requires 91 page to snuff out 2,000 years of religious tradition and intellectual questioning of billions of people who have concluded there was something about Jesus that compelled belief. These 91 pages could have been put to far more productiv ...more
Bruno de Maremma
Mr. Harris book is an easy and fast read as well as a 'must read' for anyone who values rational and moral thought over religious faith as a guide for behaviour. The current rise of the religious right in America frankly frightens me. As Mr. Harris says in his preamble 'the truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ's love are deeply, even murderously intolerant of criticism.' This quote from Jann Levin sums up the book nicely.
"“Sam Harris fearlessly describes a moral and intellect
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Rob
Feb 11, 2008 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: atheists, Christians on the fence
Shelves: read-in-2008
Seems to be more of a letter to atheists than to Christians. I've yet to find a truely compelling message to divert humanity away from religious thought, and Letter to a Christian Nation is far too accurate and on point to be convincing to a Christian mind.

One concept which I've found to be unique in this book is this: the word "Atheist" should not exist. There is no term in English which identifies someone who denies the existance of Aliens. There isn't a word for people who deny that Elvis is
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Elyssa
I wish Sam Harris had written this before The End of Faith or I had read this book first. In Letter to a Christian Nation, he takes a more gentle tone and walks the reader through his disbelief in Christianity and other religions. I found it hard to dispute his point of view. The connections he makes between religion and flawed political policies (i.e stem cell research) are especially effective. I'm glad he put away the sledgehammer and decided to spoon feed his readers rather than beat them ov ...more
Kerrie
A fair share of reviews mention his anger, but I see it more as frustration and very well-founded frustration at that. The statistic he cites that the U.S. placed #33 (out of 34, just above Turkey for cryin' out loud) of countries whose majority of population accepts the theory of evolution is an alarming one. As he states, we are a country built on ignorance which does not bode well for the rest of the world. Some have taken umbrage at his focus on the danger of Islam, but what I took from this ...more
Jonathan
Jul 22, 2013 Jonathan marked it as not-for-me  ·  review of another edition

I'll admit that my only interest in reading this would be to amuse myself or to understand the position taken by Sam Harris. It may sound obnoxious to say but I find the delivery style of Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins overwhelmingly stuffy, pretentious and interestingly dogmatic in their own way. Of course that's not any reason to ignore a book (save that I disagree with the overall contention regardless and that as far as I'm aware these New Atheists make some of the most blatantly obvious and
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Obscuranta Hideypants
Oct 02, 2007 Obscuranta Hideypants added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bigots
Shelves: readanddisliked
In his later work, Letter to a Christian Nation, Harris takes up Christianity and the Bible directly. It is notable, however, that Harris never discusses Christians or the “Christian world” with the same language that he directs against Muslims.

There is an incredible level of dishonesty involved here. Even if one were to accept Harris’ premises—that it is primarily religions belief that is responsible for acts of violence—one must, if looking at the situation objectively, conclude that the most
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Joey
WOW! It’s a tour de force- a perfect apologia. Sam Harris is so brilliant that he has an acute analysis of the issue. So , atheists, particularly agnostics, should read it to become more enlightened and completely free from fear of going to “hell” and religious intolerance.

The first book that gave me an idea about apologetics was WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY by Dinesh D’Souza ( 5 stars ). In fact, the book introduced me to the said Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse such as Richard Dawk
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§--
This is perhaps the worst book I've ever read the whole way through. Harris makes atheism look like the religion of angry high school kids, filling 90 pages with oversimplifications and visceral disgust with most human beings. He has not a single good argument going for him; all of his arguments are taken either from Bertrand Russell (who, by the way, actually knows how to write against Christianity) or Jeremy Bentham. Sam Harris is way out of his element on this one.

1. The writing style is put
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Joseph Olivares
Aug 06, 2012 Joseph Olivares rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fire
I did not by any means feel the need to give this little book one star simply because it was written by an atheist; I deeply respect many atheist thinkers, and am very open-minded and appreciative toward the good that has been produced by many atheist philosophers and thinkers. But I just could not bring myself to give this any more than one star, because it is difficult to imagine how it could have been worse. Think about what the worst, least thought-out anti-religion and pro-atheist propagand ...more
Andrea
Nov 07, 2007 Andrea rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the shrill and patronizing
I approached this book as a person who has a religious/spiritual Christian background. While critical of many organized religions and the damage that they do, I still feel a connection to my spiritual roots.

Perhaps it was too much to expect a well-reasoned invitation to dialogue in picking up LTaCN. Reading it, I could practically hear Harris spitting out each sentence with disdain. This tone left me in a place where I let his words glance off of me rather than delving into what he had to say. I
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Andrew
Harris has all his arguments in order, all the footnotes covered and has layed out a perfectly rational essay. Yet nowhere, either here or in 'End of Faith' does he adequately address the fact that Atheism, in this country and other first-world countries anyway, is essentially a comfortable position for those who can afford it. I say this as an atheist, and I might recommend this book to anyone firmly entrenched in their religion who also has a safe house to live in and a lawn to mow. However I ...more
Christian
This book should put to rest once and for all the paper-thin theological arguments and blind 'faith' by which many human beings lead their lives. It is clear, concise and utterly rational and reasonable. Mr. Harris' call for a new secular humanism to take the place of the silly superstitions and blatant fairy tales contained in so-called 'holy' books is timelier than ever. As we approach another election in which the Christian Right is pushing its noxious agenda on the American people, we need r ...more
Radhika
This book is very quickly read as it is pithy and direct. In it Sam Harris responds to the many comments and views addressed to him by believers in the United States. The idea of reason versus religion is not new and has been expounded as well by other scholars. However, Sam's approach is still valuable. I think such a "letter" to the Christians is needed as Christianity has, in many minds, taken on the veneer of civilization by being the major religion of the developed, modern, western world. I ...more
Buckets
Sep 29, 2007 Buckets rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: militant atheists
I love atheist literature mostly because extremely intelligent people contribute to the body of works. This book, however, was a little extreme. Although I am a Bright and therefore agree with nearly everything said in this short number, I often found myself thinking thoughts defending the silly Christian right. Why? Not because I agree with them (please…) but because I automatically think skeptical thoughts when confronted with a quasi-militant agenda. Sam Harris lacks the delicate poise that o ...more
Jesse Broussard
Only worth reading when you read Wilson's hilarious and skewering response chapter by chapter with it. Flawed logic, fallacies liberally smattered throughout. Just crap--poorly phrased yelling at God.
Brett
Nov 06, 2007 Brett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I'm not going to lie, Sam Harris is pretty abrasive in this book. He is not open-minded and this is clearly a rebuttal for the letters he received in response to his first book (have not read it yet). Considering that he is responding to some (probably pretty volatile) hate mail, I like the intensity of his response. This is the first time I've read a book on faith that does not pussyfoot around the possibility that religion, as a whole, is a wounded concept. I am not saying that I believe this, ...more
Natali
This book offers an answer to the question: What is the harm in someone believing in Christianity if they keep their beliefs to themselves and don't hurt other people? Harris' answer is that Christianity is a set of beliefs that intrinsically DOES hurt other people.

It is no secret that religion is the number one divisor of humanity throughout history. Harris looks at the specific doctrines of Christianity that are detrimental to society such as opposition to stem cell research, abortion, and co
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Patricia Boswell
I read this book out loud in about 2 hours to my son and husband. It's very accessible and quick to read. Good if you are really interested in Sam Harris, but don't have the time for reading _End of Faith_. He focuses specifically on Christianity too, which is one of the reasons I really liked it, since I have some basis for listening to his arguments, having been raised Catholic. His arguments are eloquently stated and highly compelling. His irony makes me laugh a lot. He is brilliant.

Of cours
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Tony
If religion indoctrination as a child left you with an unsettling mind and controversial thoughts, then Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation” is a good, satisfying prelude to your curiosity. There is no dwelling on particular subjects, only enough arguments to stir the pot. The pot that, I think, should be stirred automatically by anyone equipped with common sense and rational thought-processing mechanisms. In the Zeitgeist we’re currently part of, it is substantial to scrutinize that which ...more
Scott
This is a very short ‘open letter’ addressed to Christian fundamentalists. Though this book would most likely be read only by people who are sympathetic to his views and not to those to whom he is addressing, I found it very hard to argue with the validity of his assertions.

Harris addresses topics such as the existence and benevolence of God, the Bible as the best source of morality, science vs. religion, Christian prophecy, religious intolerance, and finally religion, violence and the future o
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"Sam Harris (born 1967) is an American non-fiction writer and philosopher and neuroscientist. He is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason (2004), which won the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and Letter to a Christian Nation (2006), a rejoinder to the criticism his first book attracted. His new book, The Moral Landscape, explores how science might determine human ...more
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“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.” 464 likes
“In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.” 341 likes
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