Saturday, January 10, 2009

Excerpt from 'Letter to a Christian Nation'

Here is a brief list of figures and a few quotes compiled by Sam Harris in his book 'Letter to a Christian Nation', a follow-up which responds to many religious criticisms of 'The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason', which spent 33 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List in 2005.  Harris is a Stanford-educated philosopher and the son of a Quaker and a Jew.  Data collected from Pew, Gallup, and Newsweek polling.
  • More than 50% of Americans have a “negative” or “highly negative” view of people who don’t believe in God. 70% think it important for presidential candidates to be “strongly religious.”
  • “A person who believes that Elvis is still alive is very unlikely to get promoted to a position of great power and responsibility in our society. Neither will a person who believes that the holocaust was a hoax. But people who believe equally irrational things about God and the bible are now running our country.”
  • 44% of Americans think Jesus Christ will return in the next 50 years. 22% are “certain” that he will, another 22% think he “probably” will.
  • “According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.”
  • Only 28% of Americans believe in evolution (and two-thirds of these believe evolution was “guided by God”). 53% are actually creationists.
  • “Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of the earth, more than half of our neighbors believe that the entire cosmos was created six thousand years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.”
  • 87% of Americans say they “never doubt the existence of God.”
  • 28% of Americans believe that every word of the Bible is literally true. 49% believe that it is the “inspired word” of God.
  • “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).”
  • 80% of Americans expect to be called before God on Judgment Day to answer for their sins. 90% believe in heaven. 77% rate their chances of going to heaven as “excellent” or “good.”
  • “In the year 2006, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise. Western secularists, liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The cause of their confusion is simple: they don’t know what is like to really believe in God.”
  • 65% of Americans believe in the literal existence of Satan. 73% believe in Hell.
  • 83% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. (11% disbelieve. 6% don’t know.)
  • “The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”


Krystal said...

hahaha the last one really got me. i actually chuckled.

itookthewalk said...

I read this book just a couple weeks ago. It was very interesting, I loved it!

Anonymous said...

back to this topic again? :p

gnominally attractive said...

playing devil's advocate here, eh?
no pun intended :)
-bc said...

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