Sunday, August 24, 2008

Letter to a Friend about Sam Harris and Doubts about the Faith

[Name withheld],

I started looking through the stuff you copied for me. One thing jumped out right away from [Sam] Harris. I had forgotten this quote:

"I no more believe in Zeus, Isis, Thor, and the thousands of other dead gods that lie buried in the mass grave we call 'mythology.' I doubt them all equally and for the same reason: lack of evidence."

This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever seen. I promise you that I am open and susceptible to counterarguments about Christianity, but this one is utterly ridiculous. To say that there is some equivalence between, for example, Christ and Thor is to reveal incredible illiteracy about history and religion. Sam Harris is not qualified to write on the topic, especially not with the degree of certitude he claims. It is as though I started a conversation with someone who told me he was quite certain the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. I'd be suspicious of anything else he said.

The simple fact is that there is evidence, substantial evidence of the claims about Christ. Far more than for Zeus, Isis, etc. If Sam Harris thinks otherwise, it is because he entered the subject with his mind made up and thinking he had no need to perform research.

On the other hand, the bits you highlighted about the tragedy of being insecure in faith and doubt and faith not being at war make a lot of sense to me. The only people without a doubt would be the ones who participated with the Israelites in the amazing acts of God or the early Christians who actually saw the risen Christ. I have become a believer in Christ because I think the Christian faith, both historically and personally, offers the best explanation for why the world is the way it is and why we are as we are. I hope it is true. I can say with little difficulty that it is substantially more likely than the alternatives. I suspect it is Christ or nothing. And I find it very hard to believe in nothing. It wouldn't explain anything about creation, would it?

Thanks for the article. I enjoyed the interaction between Warren and Harris. Anything you want to talk about (or email about), please let me know. I enjoy talking about this stuff.


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