According to a recent Pew poll, three-quarters of all Americans believe the Bible is God's word. To Steve Paulson of Salon.com, Numbers like that make an outspoken atheist like Sam Harris seem either foolhardy or uncommonly brave. In his first book, The End of Faith, Harris argued that much of the violence in the world today comes directly from people willing to live and die by sacred religious texts. The response to this book was thousands of letters from Christians excoriating Harris for not believing in God. Letter to A Christian Nation is his reply. In this open letter, Harris challenges the beliefs that form the core of fundamentalist Christianity and the influence that faith has on public life in our nation.
Oliver McTernan, author and the director of Forward Thinking, an NGO involved in conflict resolution in the U.K. and Middle East, is also a broadcaster for the BBC, and a former priest. He will challenge the claims set forth in Harris's new book, Letter to A Christian Nation. Is Harris a secular fundamentalist reflecting the mindset he rejects? Does his American perspective have relevance elsewhere in the world? Like the religious right, is he an anti-pluralist?
This event is co-presented by Culture Project Impact Festival.
About Sam Harris
Sam Harris is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason which won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. He is now completing his doctorate in neuroscience, studying the neural basis of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Harris makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss the danger that religion now poses to modern societies. His new book is Letter to a Christian Nation.
About Oliver McTernan
Oliver McTernan is director and co-founder of Forward Thinking, a British-based organization that works to prevent and resolve conflict at a national and global level. He broadcasts regularly on the BBC and writes freelance for the Guardian and the Times. For 30 years he worked as a Parish Priest in Islington and Notting Hill in Central London. In 2004 he organized and directed the NATO sponsored research workshop on the Roots of Terrorism that was held in Prague. His latest book is Violence in God's Name: Religion in an Age of Conflict. He is currently editing The Roots of Contemporary Terrorism to be published by NATO at the end of 2006.