Dec 05, 10
Read from December 02 to 09, 2010
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 productive use had Mr. Harris actually taken seriously the faith he set out to demolish. He largely attacks a caricature of Christian faith, one I certainly don't believe and wouldn't.
One of my other complaints about this book is that I feel Harris does a disservice to utilitarian moral reasoning. He blames Christian belief for causing suffering without really establishing causality or defining suffering or weighing the resulting happiness against purported suffering. Suffering was whatever he said it was whenever it was convenient to his argument and it was caused by whomever he said it was.
Harris closes this book by expressing his hope that "human beings learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns...in ways that are not flagrantly irrational." A noble goal, and one I support. If Harris could have tempered his anger just a little I might have found this goal a little more believable; what I think he really, really wants is to to win an argument and he's quite emotionally invested. That's fine, let's just not pretend that's a purely rational motive.