Letter to a Christian Nation
by Sam Harris
Vintage Books, 2006. paper
According to a Gallup poll  only 12 percent of Americans
believe that life on earth has evolved through a natural process,
without the interference of a deity. Thirty-one percent believe
that evolution has been "guided by God." If our woridview
were put to a vote, notions of "intelligent design"
would defeat the science of biology by nearly three to one.
... The same Gallup poll revealed that
53 percent of Americans are actually creationists. This means
that despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to
the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the earth,
more than half of our neighbors believe that the entire cosmos
was created six thousand years ago.
Our country now appears, as at no other time in her history, like
a lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant. Anyone who cares about
the fate of civilization would do well to recognize that the combination
of great power and great stupidity is simply terrifying.
Forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that
Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in
the next fifty years.
Deuteronomy 13:6, 8-15
If your brother, the son of your mother,
or [your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or
your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying,
"Let us go and serve other gods,". . . you shall not
yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor
shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall
kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death,
and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him
to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from
the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out
of the house of bondage .... If you hear in one of your cities,
which the LORD your God gives you to dwell there, that certain
base fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants
of the city, saying "Let us go and serve other gods,"
which you have not known, then you shall inquire and make search
and ask diligently; and behold, if it be true and certain that
such an abominable thing has been done among you, you shall surely
put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, destroying it utterly,
all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword.
Martin Luther King, Jr.] acquired his commitment to nonviolence
primarily from the writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi... Where did
Gandhi, a Hindu, get his doctrine of nonviolence? He got it from
As for your male and female slaves whom
you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the
nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among
the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are
with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your
property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit
as a possession forever; you may make slaves of them, but over
your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over
another, with harshness.
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your
S earthly masters, with fear and trembling, ) in singleness of
heart, as to Christ.
Let all who are under the yoke of slavery
regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name
of God and the teaching may not be defamed
The U.S. Constitution does not contain a single mention of God.
1. You shall have no other gods before
2. You shall not make for yourself a graven
3. You shall not take the name of the
LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it
s. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's
house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant,
or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is
Mahavira, the Jain patriarch
Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave,
insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being."
One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends
to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering...
religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral
when they are highly immoral ... This explains why Christians
... expend more "moral" energy opposing abortion than
fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about
human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research.
And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan
Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year.
The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher
than it is among their peers in the Netherlands and France.
In El Salvador, abortion is now illegal under all circumstances.
There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The moment a j woman
shows up at a hospital with a perforated uterus, indicating that
she has had a back-alley abortion, she is shackled to her hospital
bed and her body is treated as a crime scene. Forensic doctors
soon arrive to examine her womb and cervix. There are women now
serving prison sentences thirty years long for terminating their
pregnancies. Imagine this, in a country that also stigmatizes
the use of contraception as a sin against God.
Atheists are the most reviled minority in the United States. Polls
indicate that being an atheist is a perfect impediment to running
for high office in our country (while being black, Muslim, or
homosexual is not).
Adolf Hitler in a speech on April 12, 1922 [Norman H. Baynes,
ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939. Vol.
1 of 2, pp. 19-20. Oxford University]
My feeling as a Christian points me to
my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once
in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, I recognized these
Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them
and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a
fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read
through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in
His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the
brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the
world against the Jewish poison as a Christian I have also a
duty to my own people.
Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium,
Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are among
the least religious societies on earth. According to the United
Nations' Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest,
as indicated by life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income,
educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant
The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level
of religious adherence; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high
rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted
disease, and infant mortality. The same comparison holds true
within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states,
characterized by the highest levels of religious literalism, are
especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction,
while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform
to European norms.
Three of the five most dangerous cities in the United States are
in the pious state of Texas. The twelve states with the highest
rates of burglary are red.
The ratio of salaries paid to top-tier CEOs and those paid to
the same firms' average employees: in Britain it is 24:1, in France,
15:1; in Sweden, 13:1; in the United States it is 475:1.
It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit
of the saved. It is time acknowledged how disgraceful it is for
the survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by
a loving God, while this same God drowned infants in their cribs.
People of all faiths regularly assure one another that God is
not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand
the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent?... If God
exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities,
or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or
... There is another possibility, of course,
and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical
God is a fiction like Zeus and the thousands of other dead gods
whom most sane human beings now ignore.
While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark
of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith
in God still holds immense prestige in our society.
Religion is the one area of our discourse where it is considered
noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could
possibly be certain about.
There is no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than
that of a religious believer: the creator of the universe takes
an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me
after death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain
the best statement of the truth until the end of the world; everyone
who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell.
Over 99 percent of the species that ever walked, flew, or slithered
upon this earth are now extinct. This fact alone appears to rule
out intelligent design.
The reasons to doubt the existence of God are in plain view for
everyone to see: everyone can see that the Bible is not the perfect
word of an omniscient deity; everyone can see that there is no
evidence for a God who answers prayers, and that any God who would
grant prayers for football championships, while doling out cancer
and car accidents to little boys and girls, is unworthy of our
devotion. Everyone who has eyes to see can see that if the God
of Abraham exists, He is an utter psychopath and the God of Nature
is too. If you can't see these things just by looking, you have
simply closed your eyes to the realities of our world.
Sam Harris page