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.


g4hsean said...

Interesting man Christopher Hitchens is. I find a lot of his arguments make sense when he talks about the religious events which happened throughout human existence. I believe he is about 80% right on his conclusion that religion is what sets us back. The thing i learned in Humanities class is that religion must be filtered of the fallacies in order to grasp the true meaning to human existence. I havent read in-depth about Christopher's argument but i can see he does understand that religion has a positive role but he shows that the negative aspects of religion outweigh the positive aspects.

I would have to say that his point of view is probably the more direct towards the truth than any other i have seen when it comes to the existence of man. To be honest, this man is a genius with his opposition to religion.

Ελλάδα said...

This book is one of the most insightful, though seemingly angry, and for good reason, books I've had the joy of diving into. His views of organized religion and 'beliefs' feel like they came right out of my own mouth. All too often, people justify things with the operative word 'faith.' This book, as well as many other atheist manifestos, holds those who thoughtlessly toss that word around accountable. I just want to hear, from those 'believers', as Hitchens so eloquently names them, one good, undeniable refute to Hitchens' claims. Here's the catch, leave the words 'faith,' 'miracle,' and 'divine' out of it