Archive for the ‘christopher hitchens’ tag
It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but if so, it will be necessary
first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.
These aren’t words penned by a so-called “new atheist” here in the 21st century. No, they came to us from more than 80 years ago by Bertrand Russell in the essay, “Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization.”
Russell is responsible for some of the simplest and most lucid arguments against, not only Christianity, but religion in general and toward a more secular approach to the education of children and the making of a better society. I think he would find it alarming and disconcerting that we are no further along than we are in slaying the dragon, although perhaps encouraged that more people around the world are identifying as nonbelievers (and even in the United States Congress).
By taking a softer line on concepts like eternal punishment, downplaying its stance on evolution and new-Earth theories and by embracing popular music and culture, Christianity, in particular, has saved itself from complete extinction for decades or, perhaps, centuries to come. The good thing about logic, however, is that holds water regardless of whether it is spread by Lucretius, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, and the logic of the Christian religion is self-defeating.
As Russell pointed out in the same essay:
The world, we are told, was created by a God who is both good and omnipotent. Before He created the world He foresaw all the pain and misery that it would contain; He is therefore responsible for all of it.
While people like myself think that mankind would do itself a great favor if it would drop this fearful reliance on religion sooner than later, as I have said before, Christianity will persist so long as people view death as a proverbial event horizon between an eternity of rewards and punishments rather than the simple loss of consciousness that it actually is. As Mark Twain famously said:
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
It’s not hyperbole to say it: One year ago today, we lost one of the most profound thinkers and eloquent writers the human species will ever know:
For the first 97,000-98,000 (years) of this, heaven watches with indifference. ‘Oh, there they go again. That whole civilization’s just died out. Eh, what are you gonna do? They’re raping each other again. They think that the other tribe has poisoned the wells, so they’re going to kill all their children.’ Just watch all that. Three thousand years ago it’s decided that, ‘No, we’ve got to intervene now.’
You have to believe it. You have to believe it, and revelation must be personal. It has to appear. So, we’ll pick the most backward, the most barbaric, the most illiterate, the most superstitious and the most savage people we can find in the most stony area of the world. We won’t appear to the Chinese, who can already read. … No, we’ll appear to this brutal, enslaved, hopeless, superstitious crowd, and we’ll force them to cut their way through all of their neighbors with slaughter, genocide and racism and settle on the only part of the Middle East where’s there’s no oil. And all subsequent revelations occur in the same district and without this, we wouldn’t know right from wrong.
Probably my favorite Christopher Hitchens debate clip:
This is the story to which Hitchens is referring: “Dungeon dad admits abuse,” in which Freed Elisabeth Fritzl was kept in a basement for 24 years, while her father, Josef Fritzl, took sexual liberties and fathered seven children with her. Three of the children were kept in the basement 24-7.
All hail Kim Jong-il, the deceased (but still somehow) supreme leader of North Korea:
And here is one of my favorite Hitch clips:
Try to get past the numerous fallacies of the host of this show and enjoy the response from Hitchens:
Since this stunning portrayal of Christopher Hitchens’ final days by friend, Ian McEwan, I have been waiting for the great contrarian’s final published essay to be released.
Here it is: The Reactionary. This will be available in the March 2012 edition of The Atlantic.
Word of warning: unless you are an expert on post-Victorian British literature (I certainly am not), you may want to research a little beforehand. Hitchens, though lucid as ever, even to the last and apparently napping a little in between paragraphs, seems splendidly incomprehensible in his book reviews unless one is generally familiar with the topic at hand.
Notice how Hitchens makes five Christians (and many others in the room) belly laugh over a joke at Christianity’s sake. Brilliant.
… and I notice the other idiots on the panel coolly drinking their water and staring forward like subdued cows as if Hitchens is saying nothing at all, like it’s going in one ear and out the other. When, in fact, he has shreaded their entire world view. Moronic tools.