Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Letter to a Christian Nation: Entry 1, Pages 1-7

Before going into this book, I want to address how exactly I am going to commentate on this book. First of all, Sam Harris' book really is meant to be in more of a letter format (just like the title states). This book is very short and it only has 91 pages. There are no chapters in this book, but titles addressing certain topics and issues he wishes to delve into.

Secondly, I will just tell you how I am going to comment on these since there are no chapters. I am simply going to write short and/or long responses on Sam Harris' claims from page to page. For example, I am going to start off and commentate on his first 7 pages of his book. Other times I will address 10, 15, 20 pages, or more (depending on the topic that is being discussed).

Now let met begin.

The first 7 pages of this book are actually pretty insightful and true. I want to commend Sam Harris for realizing a few things here. The points he addresses is that there is one truth when it comes to reality. That is, there is either a God or not. Jesus Christ either rose from the dead, or he didn't. Islam is either true or false. There cannot be multiple religions that contradict each other, severely, and BOTH be true. There cannot be a God and NOT a God at the same time. Sam Harris says on page 5:

"If the bible is an ordinary book, and Christ an ordinary man, the basic doctrine of Christianity is false."

I agree with this statement to the most part. It also depends on what he means as an "ordinary book".  However, if Christ is an ordinary man, then yes, Christianity is probably false.

He even goes on more to an extent to say on page 3: 

"If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. WORSE STILL, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God."
In a way, I would actually consider this a humble statement. The reason is because he realizes the implications and is willing to admit the consequences of his actions by doing so. I have some more respect for Sam Harris than I do with Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins won't even answer this question. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mmskXXetcg).

Sam Harris also goes into the fact that he believes that Christians, Muslims and every other faith would take each others as asinine. While, I must admit that a lot of this would actually be true, the same exact thing goes against non-belief, specifically atheism. 

A lot of Atheists will try and define Atheism as "a lack of belief" in a God or Gods. This is simply untrue and quite semantic. I will demonstrate as to why:
Theism and A-theism originates from the a Greek word THEOS which means God. 

Theism - the belief in the existence of God or Gods. (www.dictionary.com)
A-Theism- The belief "That there is no God" (www.dictionary.com)

So, both make a declarative/affirmitive/positive statement that there is a God (theism), and the contrary, that there is no God (Atheism).

So, what Sam Harris is actually doing on page 6-7 is trying place a credulity on the Theists and exempt himself (the atheist) from this equation, when in actuality he is just as guilty-if not guiltier because of his title "Atheist". Middle of page 7:

 "Yes, these things are obvious. Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity. And it is the way I view all religions."

He just revealed his hypocrisy. If he wants to play neutral-he must take up the title AGNOSTIC because AGNOSTIC is not a positive statement, as to what Atheism does.

Agnosticism - a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are known and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

 The ultimate reason why I bring this up is because Sam Harris criticizes our "poor evidence", when in actuality there is evidence-he just rejects it. While on the contrary to his worldview, he cannot DISPROVE a God. He cannot prove God does not exist, which ultimately places him in a lose-lose situation. This of course, he does not mention and will not. So far, Sam Harris has some things right and some things wrong. We will see how it carries on.

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why am I doing this?

So, the question is why am I doing this? A lot of Christians, as well as other individuals would be asking this question. There's actually quite a few reasons as to why I am doing this and to the reasons behind my motivation. Let me start off by giving you my testimony and what led me to Sam Harris and why I became interested in apologetics.

It all started when I was a new-born in Christ. Approximately 5 years ago is when the Lord radically changed my heart and gave me a desire for his word, will and the awareness of sin that would lead to repentance; a turning away from sin. 

Before, I was interested in just about everything else the world was. You name it. I was into it and I did it. Back from 2004-2007 I was really into the hardcore punk scene and attended shows 3-4 times per week. It was my passion. It was everything I was from the inside-out. However, throughout that time of indulging in sin and pursuing all that I wanted, there was an ever-growing hole in my soul. This of course happened gradually, but as more and more time passed I kept wondering and thinking about the big questions in life. Questions like, "Why am I here? Why do I exist?" and "What is the purpose of life?" After wrestling for about a year, it all sprung into being by an atheistic band (Ironically). This band was called "Go It Alone" and the song was titled "Faith in Fiction". I remember specifically what happened when it all really started to hit me. I was at the Chain Reaction in Southern California up front when the singer of the band began a shout out and handed me the microphone to yell into. The line was, "I refuse to live my life on my knees, waiting for salvation that will never come."

After singing this, this is the real moment of when my life came to change in a strange way that would eventually change my WHOLE life.  I asked myself this question IMMEDIATELY afterward: "Do I really believe this?" I asked this because I never truly sat down and thought deeply about the meaning of life. I just seemed to haphazardly go through life ignoring the big questions and sufficing the sinful indulgences of what I desired, while suppressing the truth.

Now, for a bit of a flashback. I grew up in a nominal Christian home that did attend church on Sundays (with Sundays being the only Christian life). The funny thing was that after growing up in Church (until age 12) I didn't know anything more about the Gospel other than Jesus was blond (which he wasn't), held sheep, was sweet, and died for my sins (whatever that meant). I did know a few stories of him turning water into wine and feeding the 5,000 with fish and bread. Other than that, I had no real knowledge of the gospel, so I stopped attending church at age 12 and pursued everything else a 12 year old and on would.

Now, back to where I was.

Shortly after asking these questions (a span of several months), the questions still burned in my mind. After restless days and nights, I finally decided to get back onto my knees and began to pray to God at my bedside when I went to bed one night. The prayer went something along the lines of this:

"Jesus, God, if you are real, please reveal yourself to me. I am empty. I feel hopeless. I do not know what to do. Why am I here? Make me whole."

Now within a week or so after this prayer the Lord answered it and confirmed everything to me. Let me add a little something and tell you how I KNEW this was from God. Every Christian or new believer KNOWS when God has spoken to them and when God has called them. It is something that may be "explainable" to the skeptic, but to us we know it is from God because they have not been in our shoes and they do now know the circumstances in which God answers these prayers. We realize the depth in which God is calling us to be his own and which he forgives us for the sins we know we transgressed against him. It brings a passage to me that couldn't be any more true.

In Luke 7:36-50 There is the story about a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume and wiping Jesus feet with her tears and hair. This woman knew she was a sinner. This woman knew she needed a savior. This woman had sinned much and needed much forgiveness and knew the implications of what Jesus could do for her. He was the one who could wash her sins clean. He was the one who can forgive much. She was the one who needed much forgiveness.

"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47

The problem with Atheists or ANYONE for that matter (not just them) is that they do not feel their sin. They do not feel the conviction of sinning against an all Holy God and that is where my life got radically changed. Just like this woman in Luke 7, I felt the need for a savior for all the sinful acts I had done. I knew i stood condemned for the things I did. I knew there was right and wrong. I decided to do wrong in the past countless times. 

While I must admit that when he first approached me I through he was a weirdo and almost laughed at him. However, I remembered my prayer from a short while before. So, I decided to talk to him. We sat down while my friends were wondering around and not listening. I remember in my head thinking of questions to stump him and to disprove him. That didn't really work. So, I started to ask the questions along the lines of, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "What happens if I do this (fill in the blank). Can I still go to heaven?" He answered every question and did it in a humble way. He expressed to me why Jesus died on the cross for my sins and how I broke his law and must be punished. He told me how Jesus is the only way to heaven and how he is the atonement for my sin.

As I kept asking these questions more and more I felt that my heart was softening (while at the same-time fearful of hell) after each one of my questions being answered. All I remember at the end of that conversation was that after 12 years of growing up in a church and being baptized, this was the first time hearing the Gospel. I now feared the Lord, I needed to know the Lord and never had such a desire to find out who he was.

Now before, I never read my bible once in my life. I never cared at all and I hated church and counted down the minutes as I grew up to wait for church to be over. Ironically now, that flipped 180 degrees and now I desired to read the bible with a hunger and I starved for church and to learn about God. This is where I became born again.

While God adopted me into his kingdom, gave me a desire for him and his word, that led me to search for Christian videos on Youtube and whatnot. This lead to my contacts with the Youtube Atheist/Christian/Muslim community and to make a long story short-lead me to where I am now. 

I will spare the details, because it will take me another 4 years to describe how I got to where I am now. A lot of things happened through the last 4 years of my life that were radical and life changing, but this is my testimony in a nutshell. I have left many things out but these were the most significant moments as to how and what lead to me to where I am today and what stirred my passion in reading and apologetics.

So, here are the reasons as to what drives me to write this commentary:

First and foremost:

  1. To give an answer for the hope in which I have. (1 Peter 3:15)
  2. To defend the faith with reason and precision.
  3. To see if Sam Harris' arguments are plausible.
  4. To correct the misconceptions Sam Harris has on the bible and its interpretations..
  5. To help strengthen my faith, as well as others.
  6. To have fun, entertain and challenge myself.
  7. To demonstrate proper exegesis of what Sam Harris asserts through Christian doctrine.
  8. As well as others
Now, I am sure there can be plenty more reasons as to why, but these come to my head at the moment. So, I hope I can honor the Lord in my commentaries and pray I give a proper depiction, even if Sam Harris is right.