Archive for the ‘Books / Reading’ Category

Letter to a Christian Nation, Part II

In the first chapter, Sam Harris starts off innocently enough, but immediately lull the reader into a false sense of security. “… I would like to acknowledge that there are many points on which you and I agree. We agree, for instance, that if one us is right, the other is wrong.” This really is an unnecessary statement as it is a given between two sides in a debate, and this is what this book is – a one-sided debate.

Notice his use of the Gospels, an act in which he attacks the Christians when they use this to defend or attack him. This is the standard hypocritical act that is used by atheists and Harris continues this. In this chapter, he is doing two things. First, he has previously disarmed Christians by attacking their fervent use of the Gospels and is now using the Gospels in order to attack Christians. He is hoping that most Christians will not understand the meaning of the Gospels and take much of it literally. This is a great method of attack as few Christians are knowledgeable enough on the Gospels and we can include Atheists as well.

He is also garnering sympathy from other non-Christians, primarily atheists. Harris is expecting the idea of strength in numbers as most if not all atheists and non-believers would agree with him. Keep in mind, this is part of his disarming the Christians of the weapons for debate. Harris can’t disarm through humor much like Christopher Hitchens would do with his debates. He uses the term “inadequate” for Christians. This is a negative term used to denigrate Christians even more. Remember, the argument is to defeat or destroy your opponent, so you must denigrate and not debate with facts or logic.

He does a nice job of showing the disagreement between certain Christians but will NOT make any attempt to explain why as this would defeat this argument. He doesn’t explain the denomination or why these religious liberals and moderates do not follow or understand the Christian doctrine. Also, notice the terms liberal and moderate. This is being used in order to say to these groups, “I am like you. They are attacking us! I am defending you!” He also tries to create divisions within Christianity with, “There is, we are assured, a vast and beautiful terrain between atheism and religious¬†fundamentalism that generations of thoughtful Christians have quietly explored.” What this means is that there are Christians who are becoming atheists. What is not mentioned are the divisions within atheism. There are even non-believers that do not call themselves atheists as they simply do not believe in any deity. In other words, atheists are not full non-believers.

Harris is also talking down to Christians with statements such as, “You understand this.” This is condescending at the least. As I stated in my first post about this book, I like Sam Harris, but he is not being kind to Christians. From a propaganda standpoint, he writes a clever and nice attack. This is one of the reasons why I like him. He is deft in the way he writes this book, however, it is not very difficult when writing such a one-sided argument.

His next method of attack is to link Christians to Muslims while ignoring the major differences. There are huge philosophical and theological differences between the two, but Harris will not address this. He forgets to mention that the Koran borrows from Christianity, so there should be similarities just as you see elements of Judaism with Catholicism. He deftly uses Islam against Christianity, but this is a common method used by atheists. This entire argument comes down to the understanding and knowledge of religion and the past. He chooses to ignore historical facts that damage his argument but smartly uses the theological element to attack Christianity as this is difficult to defend or argue unless you do not believe in religions.

So far, Harris is using the beginning of this chapter to now prepare his attack on Christianity. This will likely begin with quoting gospel. There has been nothing really informative in terms of his argument. The most I can glean is his methods of attack. The chapter can’t be finished, but it has nothing worthwhile in terms of a theological debate. There are more generalizations and assuming vastly different groups are alike.





Letter to a Christian Nation

I have been asked to read and provide my thoughts to a book written by Sam Harris. Sam is one of those people I enjoy listening to even when I may disagree with him. He is part of that group of people that debate philosophically and theologically. It is the theological side that he, like many others holding the same views as he, stacks the game in his favor, and this is what I noticed in Letter to a Christian Nation.

He makes no bones about attacking Christians from the title of the book to his admitting his goal on pages viii and ix. He writes, “I have set out to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity…” “I respond to many of the arguments that Christians put forward in defense of their religious beliefs.” This is his goal and just like any group attacking another whether in war, business, or sport, you attack their perceived weakness while hiding your own. If it is possible, you structure the game much like three-card monte where the player will never win, and this is what Sam Harris is doing.

One of the methods of attack that Harris uses is to generalize Christianity and even place the responsibility of violence on Christians when they are not involved. Here is on veiled deception, “Although liberals and moderates do not fly planes into buildings…” This attributes Islamic attributes to Christians as he is knowingly referencing the September 11, 2001 attack by Muslims. He is nicely disguised but the point is made.

He links Christians to Muslims and even includes the Jews. The “Note to the Reader” section is less about Christianity about more about his own intolerance. He utilizes non-scientific polls to use as evidence. He spends some time with creationism and attacks fringe elements of Christians who choose to believe in debatable ideas. This is the part where Harris can neither prove nor disprove how man and woman were made and treats a religious belief as a fairytale even though there is no proof that our “species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath.” This one belief is problematic as Harris treats it in a literal manner while there are Christians that treat it differently, but Harris doesn’t want the reader to know it. The reader needs to think of Christians as “a lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant.”

He next picks on the prediction of Jesus’s return even though Jesus stated we would not know the time or hour, but this doesn’t stop Harris as he needs to weaken the Christian belief. There are indeed people that believe, from time to time, that the end is here or is coming soon. Is this really unique to Christians? Think about Trump’s election and the “liberals and moderates” with their view towards his Presidency. Everything should have imploded by now, but it hasn’t. Do you see how Harris is constructing everything in order to denigrate Christians before he begins his attack?

Sam Harris is doing what every debater¬†or anyone wishing to tear down someone or something before they attack. He isn’t being honest because that would require an in-depth look and a lot of research and work to write this book. Also, it would open his own arguments up to attack. Sam Harris cannot afford to be exposed as it would destroy his argument and book. As long as he can denigrate Christians, those whose ideology that aligns with his argument is willing to ignore this and even attack anyone that exposes this.

Now I haven’t progressed any further, yet, but I expect many of the same style attacks feigned as factual arguments. It is not in his best interest to show Christianity in a positive light so he will need to distance Christianity from the human element. Christianity needs to become the psychological cause of all negative actions but unrelated to the standard human element.

I will be curious to see how Harris continues with this “letter to Christians”. I am not optimistic that he will be fair as he does well to disguise his propagandistic attacks. As I have stated, this is not his goal and people need to understand that it is a propaganda piece that aligns with his ideology. There are valid arguments that can be made with elements of the Christian community, and I would expect Harris to focus on these and apply them to all Christians.

Books I Have Read In 2013

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I was thinking about the books I have read. The recent years have not been kind to book reading. I find so little time to read. There was a time when I would sit or lay next to The Educator and read. The Educator was studying and I was reading. Yep, no critters running around. Now I can not get enough time to read. I need to be selective and therefore magazines and web articles are what I look for.

1. The Hobbit (Umteenth Time)
2. The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic (Gift to me. Actually, is not a bad book)
3. A Christmas Carol (Yearly read)
4. King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do (A horrible and disappointing book.)
5. Lotions, Potions, Pills, and Magic: Health Care in Early America (Enjoyable book. Should make you think twice about the home remedy idea)
6. The Great Gatsby (Read this as a teen and loved it. I still do. What a treat to read it again. Too bad, my oldest couldn’t appreciate this book)

There were a number of books that I did not finish. In my research, I would only read sections of historical books. For the most part, they were dull except for the information I was seeking. These will be excluded for I did not read them from cover to cover.

2013 is the second year in a row I did not read the entire Harry Potter series since the series was completed. Time was likely the biggest culprit. Yes, no LoTR this year.

Some of the books I read were ebooks. I do not like ebooks for they tire me out for some reason. Another problem is running out of battery as you sit in the backseat of a car at night.

I am very certain I’ve missed a bunch of books. I read books and set them aside once finished. Seldom do I remember what I read until I start re-reading the book. I have even purchased the same book twice on several occasions. One had a different cover. There are some books that come to mind but the problem with these is the year with which I read them. I’ll leave them out.

I’ll leave this as is with the knowledge of the list being incomplete. I should create a list of books I want to read. That list would be number over 1,000.

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