Last week I read Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation.” Harris is an athiest and his book was a national bestseller.
For Harris any belief in a diety is ultimately irrational because God cannot be proven. Harris said, “The choice for us is simple: we can either have a twenty-first-century conversation in which we avail ourselves of all the scientific insights and philosophical arguments that have accumulated in the last two thousand years of human discourse–or we can confine ourselves to a first-century conversation as it was preserved in the Bible. Why would anyone want to take the latter approach?”
For Harris, “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious….Athiesm is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified beliefs.” And because of all the injustices in the world Harris concludes, “If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or he does not care to. God, therefore is either impotent or evil.”
Now to be candid, I think that Harris raises some viable questions in the book regarding how followers of Christ have responded and how perhaps they should respond to some of the challenges that our world faces (I don’t necessarily agree with his assessment, but they nonetheless are viable questions). How do we respond to environmental issues, genocide, the proliferation of AIDS in Africa, stem cell research, to victims of natural disasters, etc., etc.?
Interestingly enough however, Harris never really addresses that which is central to the Christian faith…the Resurrection! There was no reasonable conversation in his letter regarding the claims of Christ, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. There was no conversation about the number of eye witnesses who claimed to see Christ in His resurrected state or to the transformed lives of the apostles and the miraculous growth of the early church.
If the resurrection happened then the Gospel changes everything. I begin to see things from a whole new perspective. And although I don’t fully understand why things happen the way that they do, I can trust that the God who loved us enough to save us from the very sin that separates us from Himself, will work all things together for His glory. And although we may not “see” the good in situations, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.