When I read Letter to a Christian Nation I was struck by how much of the book was about not being a Christian
...ha ha . Funny!
I think it’s becase deep down he hasn’t hit the rock bottom of his own honesty and admitted that his lack of faith isn’t the simple absence of belief or even that plus the reasons he doesn’t believe. It’s because at some level he has been effectively programmed and believes that Christianity is the Real Religon. Judaism and Islam have to be mentionedin passing. Nothing else quite counts. We even see that in the organization of the site. There is a section about Christianity. There is a section about Judaism. There is a section about Islam. There are sections about “New Age” and “Cults”. I could get exactly the same thing from the local Baptist church. That’s pretty much how they look at the world.
Now as I was saying when the projection started, a real weakness of LTaCN and the first few chapters of TEoF which I have just started is that it’s fundamentally Christian. In spite of his supposedly radical critique of religion he has fixed on Evangelical Protestantism as defining religion. It simply doesn’t.
Do you have any sense of what his book—-LTACN—is about and the reason Harris wrote it? Your words seem strangely out of context in relation to his content. Have you read any of his other articles, finished the EOF, listened to his debates? You not only miss the forest from the trees, you missed all of the pillage and ruin from the tornado that knocked down the trees.
Listen up and maybe I can attempt to give you some insights.
LTACN is a treatise on the religious rights political influence and power in America in the 21st Century. You know, the people who want to control the power structure of our democracy by using their Bible to make laws and policy that have a great, domineering effect on all of our lives. The people that have visions of sugar plums and theocracy in their dreams at night. Harris is addressing religious issues in the USA, not in the world at large, or in Iran or in Israel. He is addressing Christianity because Christianity, mainly the evangelical version, has reared its ugly head into our personal lives and is making decisions that come down to life and death matters. Harris is fixated on the lunacy of evangelical christianity because it is the lunacy of Christian dogma that is the driving force in much of the politics and bipartisanship today. If the lunacy did not exist in American politics and policy, his point would be moot. Combine this with the reactions he got from his first book, reactions from the Right that were personal and in Harris’ own words, defied any semblance of Christian virtue, and you can see more clearly that Harris is writing a critique of Christianity because it is Christians and their unchristian behavior that feeds his fire. If it were Judiasm or Islam driving that force then he would be criticising Judiasm , or Islam or the fill in the blank religion.
Harris exudes a scathing, biting and polemic view of religion for specific reasons. While he argues all religions can be dangerous and meddlesome, surely it is obvious to any educated person that certain religions pose more problems than others by their very nature. You may be critical of Buddhism but most Buddhist don’t believe in martydom and are not going to turn into suicide bombers. As a practicing Protestant, you may not be comfortable with abortion, but you understand the moral merits of stem cell research and its possibility of helping to reduce the suffering of millions of people with diseases. Harris is making a case that not only does all religion deserve careful scrutiny and critique, but specific dogmas in specific religions are unquestionably worse than others.
There is nothing intellectually dishonest about Harris or his books. He specifically offers honest and scathing analysis of Christianity in America politics and education and the danger of Islam in a nuclear age, because certain beliefs found in these religions pose risks to many Americans and much of humanity respectively.
Whatever flaws may be found in Harris, they are not substantiated in his ability to juxtapose the role of religion in the world today nor do they detract from his description of the power and potency of faith’s entanglement with politics and technology at the expense of reason.
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His knowledge of the history of religion including Christianity is deficient. He ignores his one great professional strength, a background in neurology, which might offer some insight into the biological basis of the religious impulse. He’s highlighting his weaknesses and ignoring his strengths. That’s always a mistake. . . .
What gives you the idea that people around here can’t read? How many people do you know who go out of their way to ignore their professional strengths? Oh wait . . . just this morning, I too ignored my professional strengths and slept late.
Also, Sam Harris, while he was writing The End of Faith, did not yet have neuro-science as an area of expertise.