Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and the just out Letter to a Christian Nation (L2CN) has a remarkable capacity for constructing straw men. Indeed both his books are filled with total misrepresentations of views with which he adamantly disagrees. I guess he deems it easier to beat up a monster of his own making than attempt to deal with actual arguments and facts. As an example, let me offer the following quote from the introduction to L2CN:
According to a recent Gallup pole, only 12 percent of Americans believe that life on earth has evolved through a natural process, without the interference of a deity. Thirty-one percent believe that evolution has been “guided by God”. If our worldview were put to a vote, notions of “intelligent design” would defeat the science of biology by nearly three to one. This is troubling, as nature offers no compelling evidence for an intelligent designer and countless examples of unintelligent design. But the current controversy over “intelligent design” should not blind us to the true scope of our religious bewilderment at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The same Gallup poll revealed that 53 percent of Americans are actually creationists. This means that despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antquity of the earth, more tha 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. Those with the power to elect our president and congressmen — and many who themselves get elected — believe that dinosaurs lived two by two upon Naoh’s ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to the earth, and that the first members of our species were fashioined out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God.
From Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris, (New York, Alfred A. Knopp, 2006), pp x-xi.
How many misrepresentations of facts and arguments can be stuffed into one paragraph ( like cramming college kids into a VW bug!). Continue reading »