Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Letter to a Christian Nation is another book I've been meaning to read for a while. Several of my more atheist-minded friends have recommended it highly. I decided to give it a go even though I'm not a member of its target audience. I've been an atheist for almost eight years now, since I was eighteen, and Letter to a Christian Nation is targeted primarily at American Christians, though I imagine people of other faiths in developed nations would find it useful to learn, in brief, how atheism and atheists work.

It does, of course, bear mentioning that atheism isn't monolithic. There's no dogma, no creed, no hard-and-fast rules of what all atheists must think, believe, and say to be considered atheists apart from the obvious lack of a belief in any deity. We run the gamut from Buddhists and other non-theistic religions to Ayn Randian Libertarians to the more stereotypical bleeding heart secular humanists to raging antitheists to militant apatheists and, of course, the whole range of agnostics who, despite their official ambiguous stance, live their lives in the same way that atheists do.

Nevertheless, Harris does a really good job of explaining why many choose to reject Christianity (also briefly touching on Judaism and Islam) as well as why it's possible to not be religious and still be a decent human being. His arguments are clear and easy to understand, and he doesn't bog himself down waxing pedantic or over-philosophizing.

Though I didn't find it especially enlightening, given that I'd already had many of these thoughts myself, I still consider it a valuable tool in explaining atheism to more religiously-inclined people. 4 out of 5 stars.

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