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“Letter to a Christian Nation”, by Sam Harris

Yesterday, I finished reading Sam Harris (author of “The End of Faith”)‘s latest mini-book, “Letter to a Christian Nation”. The book is Harris’ reply to the criticisms he received after writing the first book, in the form of a letter (as the title suggests) to an average American “born again” Christian.

I highly recommend the book, though, again, the ones need it the most will dismiss is as “the work of Satan”.

One part of the letter incensed me – I didn’t believe such a thing was possible in the modern world. But there’s no end to human depravity, it seems. From the book:

Consider, for instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. These pious men and women want to preserve cervical cancer as an incentive toward abstinence, even if it sacrifices the lives of thousands of women each year.

I was absolutely shocked as I read that. My only thoughts were: “YOU… FUCKING… MONSTERS!”

And there’s more:

[…]Reginald Finger, an Evangelical member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recently announced that he would consider opposing an HIV vaccine – because such a vaccine would encourage premarital sex by making it less risky.

Now, please…

1- Don’t talk to me again about how religion and faith do “good” in the world.

2- Don’t tell me that such monsters are deranged extremists, not “true Christians”, and not representative of Christianity. The Bible agrees with them, which makes them more Christian than you are. And you agree that they have a right to those beliefs. It’s your “tolerant” idea that beliefs are “sacred” that protects such vermin from criticism and allows them to exist.

Sorry for all the anger, but this had to be said.


Fundamentalists to “militant” atheists… and agnostics

Readers of Planet Atheism have probably seen this several times today:

Fundamentalists: believe 2+2 =5 because It Is Written. Somewhere. They have a lot of trouble on their tax returns.

“Moderate” believers: live their lives on the basis that 2+2=4. but go regularly to church to be told that 2+2 once made 5, or will one day make 5, or in a very real and spiritual sense should make 5.

“Moderate” atheists: know that 2+2 =4 but think it impolite to say so too loudly as people who think 2+2=5 might be offended.

“Militant” atheists: “Oh for pity’s sake. HERE. Two pebbles. Two more pebbles. FOUR pebbles. What is WRONG with you people?”

And, of course, it’s absolutely correct.

But I’d add another one in the middle:

Agnostics: 2+2 may be 4, or may be 5. Yes, it LOOKS like it’s 4, but I don’t have perfect knowledge, and I want to keep an open mind. Who’s to say the religionists aren’t correct? Who am I to know?

Yes, as long time readers of WotM are probably aware of, I really don’t like agnostics. Sorry if you’re one, but, to me, agnosticism is pure intellectual cowardice.

A fundamentalist theist believes “truth” is separate from reality, and, if they conflict, then reality is wrong. An atheist believes reality IS truth. An agnostic, on the other hand, believes reality is unknowable, and therefore evades the responsibility of trying to understand it. Anything goes. Reality is fluid, ever-changing, unpredictable. We can never truly know anything for certain, since everything we know, every law we take as true, may change tomorrow.

An agnostic — much like a New Age mystic — distorts the concept of “open mindedness” to an absurd level, where there are no laws, no rules, no hard facts, no reality — at least none that can be ever understood. To an agnostic, everything is possible, so nothing is ever certain. Taken to the extreme, nothing is ever even more likely than anything else.

Sorry, but, to me, this is no more rational than believing in an invisible bearded man in the sky, invented by primitive Bronze Age nomads, who, somehow, hates all the same people you do.


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