Every once in a while I’d like to post something that touches the heart and has a little grit to it. Something that will invite you to wrestle with exactly what you believe about the world, your life and where we’re all going. In light of that I’m posting a review of Sam Harris’ book, Letter to a Christian Nation, written by my sister, Stephanie. Mr. Harris is an atheist and my sister is a Christian. She answers him well and her last paragraph is in line with my own thinking. Her lead-in to the review is posted in Susan’s Extras. She was responding to another family member who sent the book to several of us. That family member’s thinking is in line with Mr. Harris.
My Response to Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
I agree with Sam Harris on one thing: the origin of life is unknown. Those of us who take the time to consider this perplexing notion will have to come to some sort of conclusion. We all believe something. One of us is right and the other is wrong. In the end if Sam Harris is right, then he will never have the satisfaction of knowing it. He won’t be able to say “I told you so”, but that doesn’t matter. Sam Harris contends that religious people are stupid…that they have imaginary friends and believe in fairy tales. He contends that all wars have been started by religious fanatics and finds religion “dangerous” to society. He believes that if everyone held to an atheistic worldview then we would have healthier and happier lives and we would experience world peace. That being said, the only point worth discussing is whether or not there is a god because everything else he purports in his book rests on that one question.
The problem is that almost everyone who has ever lived on planet earth believes in some sort of higher power, and Mr. Harris thinks they are therefore stupid and unthinking. In my opinion the majority of humans believe in a god because they have an innate sense that something exists that is greater than them. If most humans believe this then there must be a reason for it other than just being stupid. Everyone looks at nature and is in awe of it…even Sam Harris. He has come to the conclusion that those very things in which he is in wonder of exist, not for our pleasure or purpose, but rather they exist merely for the sake of existing. He looks at the natural world around us and is awestruck, but he can’t seem to allow himself the possibility that life was created by a higher power. Rather he chooses to believe that it all just came about randomly and for no reason….it was all just an accident. It takes just as much faith to believe in evolution as it does to believe in a creator because no onereally knows. But I have to wrestle with more than my mind. I have a heart to contend with. I have a desire that is unexplained….a longing for something more (I believe its call hope), and so do 88% of Americans apparently. This is a phenomenon that can’t be ignored. If we evolved from primal apes then how is the fact that every civilization since the dawn of man has bowed down to worship a god? Sam Harris ponders this thought as well, but has no real answer. If most of humanity is compelled to believe in a god then one must wonder why and at least ask the question even if you are an atheist. If humans evolved then this sort of thinking has been a natural part of the evolutionary process. Belief in god was obviously unavoidable so I’m curious why Mr. Harris is so upset by it.
I think most people believe in a god because it is natural to do so. We are spiritual as well as physical beings. How does a flower bloom from a seed planted in the soil? What “causes” it to grow? If there is no spiritual nature to life then why do our hearts beat? Something is causing it to move. Medical science can’t explain it….IT JUST DOES. I’m not crazy or stupid or delusional because I believe in a powerful spirit that resides in every human being. It’s how I explain life. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. We are mind, body and spirit. Sam Harris is closed minded in this regard….he can’t get out of his own head. If he can’t prove it scientifically then he rejects it. If anyone concludes after serious thought and research that the universe must be the result of intelligent design then Sam Harris thinks they’re an idiot even though he readily admits that neither he nor science actually knows the answer. Just because you can’t prove something empirically doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are things we will never know or understand and I’m okay with that.
If I’m wrong and there is no God, then I’ve spent my entire life pursuing what makes me happy and I’ve lived a full life regardless. If I’m right, then I have everything to gain and nothing to lose…it’s a win-win for me. In the end, Sam Harris is not going to bully me into thinking that every human and global tragedy is a direct result of a delusional belief in God. The world will not come to an end because of my or anyone else’s faith, but if it does (as Sam Harris contends) then rest assured another random chemical reaction somewhere out in space will occur and slowly evolve into a new world with unsuspecting inhabitants. Maybe the next evolutionary process will produce a far more intelligent species and they can live happily ever after in their godless world. Until then I will continue to have hope that there is more to this life than just existing for a few decades and then disintegrating.