-- Sam Harris, in Letter To A Christian Nation --
Well, I know I should be writing about the Roger Waters concert, right?
But I can’t do it just yet.
Perhaps it is still too holy of a moment for me to properly regurgitate all that this evening meant to me. I will try to write a bit about it tomorrow. It will have to suffice, for now, to leave you with the report that it exceeded my expectations. It was OVER THE TOP, good!
For now though, I am reeling over this book that I read today.
It is the new one from Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation.
I have never read anything that spoke so directly, and so succinctly, to the issue of the dangers inherent in the current religious faith of our day. In short, we are in a real shemozzle! I sat down with it, and did not get up out of my chair until I had read every page.
It is indeed, a letter, addressed to the Christian “in the narrow sense of the term.” →Those who believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that only those who accept the divinity of Christ will be saved.
Since the publication of his first book, entitled The End of Faith, Harris has received thousands of letters from readers who feel compelled to warn him of the peril of being an atheist. This letter is his response.
Fascinating stuff. I was spellbound.
And I myself am not an atheist. I am what I would call an LBHA. [Lapsed-believer/half-agnostic.]
But from start to finish I believe that every topic that Harris touches upon here, ought to be brought fully into the realm of Christian discussion.
During a survey of The Ten Commandments, Harris raises the issue of what “real morality” is. He says that it always involves “questions about happiness and suffering.” How sad that at 42 years old, this tidbit should constitute a profound insight to me! He points out [for instance] that the first four of the Ten Commandments have “nothing whatsoever to do with morality.” [p.20]
He then moves to discuss prevalent Christian attitudes toward sex, abortion, stem-cell research, distribution of wealth, infant mortality, evolution, disaster [theodicy], prophecy, and offers a glimpse into where our discordant religious certainties are leading us, on a global scale.
It is ominous. Really.
See, Harris is writing this thing to the committed Christian out there. And at the end he is saying [basically]: Listen. I don’t mean to make light of the fact that your religious experience is very important to you. It has probably coincided with some positive changes in your life. That is a good thing, perhaps.
But… but… but… BUT, "It is important to realize that the distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and spiritual experiences from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being honest about what we can reasonably conclude on their basis." [p.89-90]
According to Harris, we should conclude that we cannot conclude very much, based on faith alone. That what may have been “a necessary function for us in the past” may now be “the greatest impediment to our building a global civilization.” [p.91]
I fully concur.
What a terrific, monumentously important, timely, little book!