Book review: Letter to a Christian Nation

by Sam Harris


Nobody needs another review on this short little atheist booklet. Amazon now has 724 reviews. By now, we all know how aggressively Harris attacks Christianity, and how effectively his writing pushes buttons. I’m not going to review the book so much as I’m going to discuss the problem.

Does Harris have good points? Of course. Is he right? Quite often. Is he offensive? Duh. I’m about as “liberal” as a Christian can get, and even I am offended when Harris writes.

The funny thing is, Harris cares. He cares about people, he cares about truth, he cares about our future. If you don’t believe me, begin the book by turning to the back and reading the conclusion. But Harris’ method pretty much assures that the audience he wants to reach will continue to ignore him. Just as Harris continues to ignore the Christian writers who seek to reach him.

There’s a lot of truth flying in both directions in the Christian/atheist argument, and certainly a lot of honest intentions and concern for one another, yet very little connection. It makes me want to throw up my hands and conclude that atheists simply cannot grasp Christian thinking, and Christians simply cannot grasp atheist thinking. Atheists think they can use logic and common sense to somehow talk Christians away from what they feel and know through experience. Christians think if only atheists would give in to the God they are so frantically resisting, all would be well. If I thought you’d let me get away with it, I’d suggest that one side thinks with their head, the other with their heart … but, of course, I’d just be offending both sides with a trite oversimplification.

It seems utterly impossible to bring the two sides together. I’m not sure it’s possible for the two sides to even understand each other. But you’d think coexistence and mutual respect would at least be possible. To that end, I recommend Christians read Harris’ book to better understand the way atheists think, and just do their Christian best not to be offended.


  1. Can’t let you get away with this one…. I became a believer with my head first, the heart came later – and all because the “Case for Christ” (see Lee Strobel) makes so much sense logically (see Spock). The heart only seals the deal…

  2. :) thanks, Richard, very well put!

    I’ve read several Lee Strobel books. The “scientists” he interviews are not very mainstream in my opinion, but Strobel has strong points as well. Maybe I’ll review one of them soon, to get your reaction!

  3. Again in agreement Richard. My own path I believe is similar. I had a logic battle with myself. I decided it could not be proven or disproven, but I was willing to listen and make the choice for my self. In listening and hearing the word from that perspective, faith was started. Since then my heart is definitely there. While my logic sees confirmation, I know that without faith I would not believe.

  4. Richard, I am curious about your logical journey. If you could elaborate in more detail I would be very appreciative.

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