Among Harris most underwhelming observations is that “Countries with high levels of atheism are also the most charitable in terms of the percentage of their wealth they devote to social welfare programs and the percentage in aid they give to the developing world.” Of course, this statement is not accompanied by any references. And we all know that this is what he really means: Nations tending towards socialism also tend towards atheism.
But there is an interesting slight of hand, here. Socialist nations obtain funding for large social welfare programs not through “devotion” that could be deemed “charitable.” They obtain funds through taxation enforced at the point of a gun. Those who do not contribute are not deemed to be “uncharitable” but, instead, “criminal.”
This point cannot be lost as we analyze Harris’ crass statements about the behavior of Christians in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that killed several hundred thousand: “(M)any conservative Christians viewed the cataclysm as evidence of God’s wrath. God was apparently sending another coded message about the evils of abortion, idolatry, and homosexuality.”
I don’t know any Christians who thought God was sending a coded message when the tsunami struck. Perhaps some televangelist said something to the effect but, if so, I am not aware of it. Like most Christians, I ignore televangelists. But what I do know is that my church took up an offering for the victims. And several members of our church went overseas to help the victims. I have no recollection of any help coming from any atheists I know. And I know a lot of atheists – most of them giving only when the government forces them to do so.
I believe the most revealing statement in Harris’ little book comes on page 54: “It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” Perhaps I consider this statement to be so revealing because I was once an atheist.
During that dark time of my life I gave nothing to charity. I did no volunteer work. Instead, I railed against the political establishment and demanded radical changes that would move the country drastically further to the left. I demanded radical leftist tax and welfare schemes that I knew would never be accepted by a majority of the American people. But by making those arguments I was able to deceive myself into thinking I was a superior moral being. There was no real chance I would have to deal with the consequences of my ideas.
I see a similar self-deceit and narcissism in the writings of Sam Harris. And I know there is only One solution.