Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Anne's Book Review - "Letter to a Christian Nation"

Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation” presents compelling arguments describing how religion stands at the core of the problems we face in today’s society. However, at the same time his insistence that the only solution lies in the total eradication of religion must inherently strike a nerve in the millions of people in the United States that consider themselves members of a religion. Although Sam Harris focuses his arguments on the extremists and fundamentalists, he also asserts that the moderate religious followers allow for the fundamentalists to flourish and contrive evil schemes like September 11. While his assessments may contain a strand of truth, I think that by placing his argument in his book he isolates those very people who he needs as his allies. If indeed, Sam Harris has a vision and hope for the future, I think he should reach out to these people rather than alienating the atheists even further.

While I find some of his more extreme statements objectionable, Harris presents the crux of his arguments in a clear and understandable format of letter addressed to Christians. His discussion of the perverted Christian view of morality in relation to modern issues of abortion, stem cell research and sexually transmitted diseases shows how important it is to change the conception of what is most important in our world. If morality is the alleviation of human suffering, Harris argues, then Christians have a skewed vision of right and wrong. Harris also addresses the conflict between creationism and evolution. His exasperation at the creationists who discount the obvious scientific evidence of evolution shows how the eternal conflict between religion and science remains to be reconciled. Sam Harris’ letter outlines the most relevant problems in the United States today and in the end shows how important it is for us to try to change our ignorance before it is too late.

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