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Letter to a Christian Nation: A Challenge to Faith

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  30,969 ratings  ·  1,712 reviews
"A hard-hitting polemic against religious fundamentalism" - Foreword by Richard Dawkins

' Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their o
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published February 12th 2007 by Bantam Press / Transworld Publishers, London (first published January 1st 2006)
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Chris Baetens No such study exists. This is a claim made by the sight trying to blame societal ills on atheism. Please get your facts…moreNo such study exists. This is a claim made by the sight trying to blame societal ills on atheism. Please get your facts straight before posting garbage.(less)
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4.03  · 
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 ·  30,969 ratings  ·  1,712 reviews

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Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 50 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 ordin
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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
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
Oct 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in religion's impact on society
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
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
Jonathan Ashleigh
As an atheist, this was an easy read. There was not anything that made "the god argument" over and done with but some points were well brought up. The problem with a book like this is that only atheists are going to read it, but I wont be reading much material which claims to prove god's existence either.
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....
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
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
Nov 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
Bill  Kerwin

An occasionally strident but--considering the times--a completely excusable atheistic screed.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Obscuranta Hideypants
Oct 02, 2007 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
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jafar Isbarov
I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.

Sam Harris is either a dishonest public figure or an incurable idiot.

He lacks the most basic quality to write a polemic—thorough understanding of the topic he is discussing. The very characteristics of religious ideologies he opposes constitute the most unmistakable shortcomings of his work—ideological intolerance, narcissistic worldview, almost endless a
Mikey B.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journalism, religion
This book is a relentless attack on Christianity and raises a lot of good points. For instance – religious people claiming to be moral preach against condom use when AIDS is killing millions. Why are they so obsessed about abortion and not about genocide in Darfur? Why are they opposed to gun control - would Jesus carry a gun? Why do they believe so adamantly in books written centuries ago – in texts that promote slavery?

Sam Harris explores many of these issues and more. Religion destroys our a
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
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
Mar 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I started out really liking this book, but by the end I was kind of meh on the whole thing.

The writing in Letter to a Christian Nation is straightforward so I'm going to be just as clear. Being a humanist myself, I agree on some points, but overall, I can't really be on board with the absolute confidence regarding the interpretation of religious doctrine show here. I'm sure that the billions of religious people in this world do not take the words of the Bible, Quran etc literally. We would be in
Sep 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good, concise rebuttal to many different aspects of Christian faith and is very effective in laying out the disastrous consequences of such beliefs on society.

Harris also briefly touches on the problem of religious tolerance, an idea which sounds (and certainly partly is) wonderful, but which presents serious problems when it becomes inappropriate to criticize religious dogmatism, anti-scientific claims being taught in schools, and the often immoral consequences of religious teac
Nov 07, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, atheism
This is a short little book (only about 90-100 pages) that makes a great case against religion. To be completely honest, I may be biased as I was already an atheist, but even still I think the points in this book were well-written, reasonable, and intelligent.

Although most of the arguments are addressed to Christians (specifically American Christians) I think they can be applied against any religion.

Some may think this book is bashing and mean spirited. I disagree. There is a fundamental diffe
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novella length book from Sam Harris about religion feels slightly short and I wish it were longer. Like all the books from the author I've read, the information is deceptively easy and maybe too simple looking. For that or some unknown reason, I've always regretted forgetting most of the deliciously pertinent and insightful tidbits that are up for offer for the open minded. I want to remember those facts because what I do remember makes a better, prettier, less ignorant, happier, and more ill ...more
Joseph Olivares
Feb 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  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
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Librarian Note:
There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Sam Harris (born 1967) is an American non-fiction writer, 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 attrac
“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.” 565 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.” 476 likes
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