I recently had the painful joy of listening to an audio book called "Letter To A Christian Nation" by Sam Harris. I found it painful to listen to because of the arrogant tone filled with misrepresentations of my faith. I found it a joy because as I began to meditate more on some of the issues brought forth by Mr. Harris, and my faith in Jesus Christ was only strengthened, which I'm sure was not the author's intention. No his intention was clear, he wants his book to convert people to atheism.
It was a well written representation of the faith of an atheist. You may be confused by the term "The Faith of an atheist." However, after hearing the case presented by Sam Harris, I am convinced that he is a very faithful man. He is committed to his belief that the God of the Bible, or any god for that matter does not exist. This belief is not based on any evidence he has that God does not exist, only on his personal belief. He is committed to spreading the gospel of evolution. He is equally committed to eliminating any religous influence or representation in government. He is also committed to a fully secular world because he believes faith in any god is dangerous, and is holding back the advancement of humanity in many ways. In fact he even makes the case that Christian faith is actually immoral in several instances. In reality he is trying to impose his faith on others through government. Atheism is a faith in the sense that it makes us all our own gods with our own standards of what is good and what is bad. If you are an atheist, you answer to no higher authority of morality than yourself, which I find scary. So what he is trying to do is no different and no more or less dangerous than Christians imposing our faith into government. He makes the claim that his view is based on evidence and fact, but all of the points he asserts with great conviction were not backed up with any sort of objective evidence. He failed to provide any evidence as to how he knows there is no god, and all religions are foolish.
You see this is an act of faith on his part. He readily admits he cannot prove there is no god. He also admits that he cannot explain the origins of the universe or even how evolution got started. These are crucial points to skip over in making the type of bold assertions he makes in his book. So if his beliefs are based on his own personal faith and not fact, then what gives him the intellectual right to say Christianity is "False?" That is not a rhetorical question, it is an actual question. I will assert what the Bible says about atheists, and I will back it up with evidence that shows we can trust the Bible. Sam Harris backs up his claims with his own interpretations and opinions to back up his claims. Why should I trust or believe anything Sam Harris has to say. He cannot even tell us how the core of his faith (evolution) began. The Bible however provides prophetic, archaelogical, historical, philisophical, and scientific evidence that it indeed is a credible and trustworthy source for the truth about our common existance.
Though Sam Harris seems to be a very intelligent and well read individual, he does make several errors in his understanding of faith in the God of the Bible. So I will begin a series of responses to the points Sam Harris made in his book.
Sam Harris attacks several areas of the Bible that have to do with the consequences for violating the law under the covenant given to Israel through Moses. For Example: “We read the Golden Rule and judge it to be a brilliant distillation of many of our ethical impulses. And then we come across another of God’s teachings on morality: if a man discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin, he must stone her to death on her father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).”
Sam Harris is making the point here that decrees like this are immoral. He goes on to make assumptions that Christians believe this verse applies to how we are to conduct ourselves. First of all this consequence for sin was not part of the universal moral law God gave, it was part of the judicial penalties He called for to be enforced by Israel. The Church has no mandate to stone anyone for violating the law of adultery. God deals with each person individually with great mercy and grace. God delt with Israel as a nation under strict observance of His perfect standards of righteousness to show us how serious He is about sin. To the extent that we are offended by God's judgement, is equal to how far we have fallen from God's love of righteousness in our hearts.
Sam Harris is missing the point of the Old Testament law and the righteousness of God. Harris is applying his own standard of good to these issues. His implication is that pre-marital sex is not bad enough to warrant the death penalty. That point fails to prove any sort of immorality in the scriptures. The law was given to show us God's standard of morality and how serious sin is to Him. The law also gives us an appreciation for God's mercy through Jesus Christ, because we are all deserving of death for the sins we have willfully comitted. There is an example of a woman caught in the act of adultery, yet Jesus did not condemn her. Scriptures say that Jesus did not violate any aspect of the law. This shows us that stoning this woman was not part of the law, but was the judicial penalty for breaking the law. Jesus being God, chose to have mercy on that woman, as he has mercy on His church today. The covanent was given to Israel to show us what we deserve. Scripture is clear about this, in fact Paul the Apostle goes to great lengths explaining this concept. The fact that Sam Harris does not get it, does not prove that the God of the Bible does not exist. It just shows that Sam Harris is judging right and wrong by his own corrupted standard, and not by the standard of his Creator and Savior. More to come...