Monday, June 6, 2011
Christopher Hitchens on God and Religion
The real “miracle” is that we,
who share genes with the original bacteria that began life on the planet,
have evolved as much as we have.
- Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great
After reading an article of mine, which discussed God’s role in the universe, a friend recommended that I read the work of Christopher Hitchens. He is an intellectual, a journalist, and a proud atheist. He famously enters debates with religious leaders or advocates, and clearly comes out ahead (a quick YouTube search will confirm as much). On top of having a sharp mind, he has a cunning wit, and does not hold back for fear of insulting those on the other side of the debate, or those who watch such debates intently.
I recently came upon Hitchens’ 2007 book, “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”. It turns out that Hitchens is every bit as forward as a writer as he is as a speaker. He devotes nearly the entire book to debunking various religious myths; from west to east, no religion is spared. The theme throughout is the notion that freedom of thought and expression have been repressed by barbaric religious leaders throughout mankind’s history, and it is time that such bullying come to an end.
The book is packed with examples that give organized religion a black eye. I will not begin to report the countless instances here. Also documented are the thoughts of several in-the-closet atheists from modern history, like some of the founding father of America.
I particularly enjoyed the chapter on intelligent design versus evolution. Hitchens explains how religious leaders re-interpret their divine books to suit scientific findings. Why not simply write new books?
I suppose it is easy for a logical person to denounce religion at this point in time. You don’t need to pick the bible apart line by line to prove that it was written by man. A single example that proves this will suffice, and “God is not Great” is littered with them.
The reality is that today, more than ever before, we do not need blind faith. There is another book where we may search for answers, and it is put through continuous and rigorous testing – it is the book of science. No, we do not have all of the answers now. But, in recognizing the ends of our understanding, we develop a deeper appreciation for the little bit that we do know.
The scientific community differs greatly from the religious community. It has proven itself to be far more humble, as it stems from a place of inquisitiveness, and not authority. I choose not to believe in an old book at face value, but rather, to question the new book that is methodically revised and subjected to the experimental process. I do not agree with everything that Hitchens has to say, but I do say amen when he asks that everyone’s freedom to choose be respected.