Re: [asa] Letters to Sam Harris a "Maladjusted Misotheist"

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Sat Dec 02 2006 - 00:10:20 EST

Some background on the book. The book is a response to letters he
received from Christians after writing his book the End of Faith.

<quote>Letter to a Christian Nation is a non-fiction book by Sam
Harris, written in response to feedback he received following the
publication of his first book The End of Faith. The book, a slim
volume, is written in the form of an open letter to a Christian.
Harris states that his aim is "to demolish the intellectual and moral
pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms." The book
was released in September 2006. In October it entered the New York
Times Best Seller list at number seven.

The book's official website

The start of the book:

“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 own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by
Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism.
While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that
such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know
this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and

I hope Janice is learning from the Augustine quote. So far her
postings on scientific issues like global warming and the ozone hole
have significantly toned down and that is good.

I wish the author of the piece to which Janice linked would have had
an opportunity to read Augustine's wise words

The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be a Muslims with
respect to the beliefs of an atheist. Isn't it obvious that atheists
are fooling themselves? Isn't it obvious that anyone who thinks the
universe was a cosmic accident has not considered the universe
critically? Isn't it obvious that the doctrine of atheism represents
a near-perfect barrier to honest inquiry? Yes, these things are obvious.

It doesn't get much better.

 From another review

<quote>Written in his usual, punchy style, Harris doesn’t hold back
and isn’t afraid to offend his intended audience. For instance, after
a lengthy debunking of the anti-evolution ideology that has become
the cornerstone of the Religious Right, he concludes by simply
stating that those who don’t accept evolution on the facts are
ignorant at best and outright dumb at worst.</quote>

The anti-evolution ideology that has become the cornerstone of the
Religious Right. Sam Harris seems to have touched a sore topic here.
Augustine should be doing some overtime in reminding many of us
Christians of the risk of follies when we deny good science.

Sam Harris's book, based on letters he actually received from
Christians should be a powerful reminder of Augustine's wise words.
Sam Harris's book is a result of Christians 'responding' to Harris's
earlier work.

Sam reminds us of the cost of our beliefs

<quote>Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the
U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and
that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the
American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of
religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual
emergency." (p. xii)</quote>

I do not necessarily agree with much of Sam Harris's position but
remember that his position is in response to what he perceives to be
Christianity and even if we may disagree that this is what we believe
Christianity is all about, the message we send to others through our
actions is how we shall be known and if the sales data on Amazon et
al are any hint, it seems that he has hit a nerve.

As to the applicability of the OT laws (stoning etc)

<quote>5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law"
5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot
or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be
fulfilled. "Till heaven and earth pass"
5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom
of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be
called great in the kingdom of heaven.
5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed
the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case
enter into the kingdom of heaven.</quote>


On Dec 1, 2006, at 8:42 AM, Janice Matchett wrote:

> Letters to a Maladjusted Misotheist
> Responding to Sam Harris and his book, Letter to a Christian
> Nation.
> dp/0307265773
> (Sam Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University
> and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions,
> along with a variety of contemplative disciplines, for twenty
> years. Mr. Harris is now completing a doctorate in neuroscience. )
> Nine different reply “letters” were done this month and there will
> be a couple more at least this coming month. ~ J. P. Holding
> ~ Janice ... Sigh... Why do scientists and secular humanist
> philosophers make exactly the mistake St Augustine warned
> Christians against regarding science:
> Augustine:
> Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
> heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and
> orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions,
> about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of
> the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs,
> stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being
> certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and
> dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably
> giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these
> topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an
> embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a
> Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an
> ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the
> household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions,
> and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the
> writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned
> men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they
> themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions
> about our books, how are they going to believe those books in
> matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of
> eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their
> pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves
> have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and
> incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and
> sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their
> mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are
> not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend
> their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will
> try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from
> memory many passages which they think support their position,
> although they understand neither what they say nor the things about
> which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

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Received on Sat Dec 2 00:11:03 2006

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