Letter to a Christian Nation
After The End of Faith came out, I received thousands of emails, many from devout Christians who did their best to show me the error of my ways. I answered these emails individually at first, but they then came in such torrents, and were so similar in content, that I developed a boiler-plate "Letter to a Christian" in response. Occasionally, someone would respond to my form letter with further arguments in defense of God. So the letter began to evolve, and then I realized that I could write a short book and address all the committed Christians at once. [...]
There is no way around the fact that I'm advocating a certain kind of intolerance, but it is not political intolerance. I'm not saying that people should be jailed for their religious beliefs. I am saying, however, that certain beliefs are so lacking in merit that there should be no question of our "respecting" them. People who claim to be certain about things they cannot be certain about should meet resistance in our discourse. This happens quite naturally on every subject but religion. For instance, 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. This is genuinely terrifying. We must find a way of criticizing and marginalizing bad ideas, even when they come under the cloak of religion.
Then he turns the snark up to 11 with those pesky "facts":
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.)
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.
"It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion -- to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions and religious diversions of scarce resources -- is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity."
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."