Home > General Politics > Why Hitchens was wrong on religion

Why Hitchens was wrong on religion

I yesterday wrote a brief tribute to the late Christopher Hitchens who passed away yesterday. I noted that I found his anti-theism crass. I now would like to explain why that is. I also do this in response (though it may not seem obvious) to the sentiment of Jim Denham, who has written in the comments thread on my friend Simon’s blog, that “for a leftist to side with the Christian apologist … against Hitchens and/or Dawkins is simply intellectual bankruptcy and a betrayal of a fundamental priciple (rationalism).” I add that one can be, on matters of foreign policy, more Hitchens than Galloway, and in the same breathe, on matters of religion, more Eagleton than Hitchens.

Hegel once said “Religion is the expression we give to a meaningless world” – out of which came so much bluster from Jean Paul Sartre, and from which Marx situated the opiate of the masses. Hegel, also in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, noted that religion is “the fantastic realisation of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality”. The notion of religion as a fantastic realisation hit the correct buttons for atheists for ever more, which is why this particular line found its way into the Christopher Hitchens edited The Portable Atheist – an unserious, random collection of de-contextualised quotes, aphorisms and essays showing an historical atheist foundation from the Greeks to unqualified theoretical astronomers.

In the same way that Stephen Jay Gould wanted to distinguish theism from religion to highlight the message of morality, what in actual fact Hegel is showing is that religion has quite become the human, all too human, expression needed in order to fill the vacuum that human essence represents. This, like Marx’ comment on it being the opiate of the masses, is a value free judgement of religion, and altogether scathing comment on the emptiness of human existence to which the existentialists were able to deliver forth on.

Carry this over as a comment on human existence and human opinion then you hit the mark. Carrying it over as a stick to beat religion with misses the mark and, in turn, ensures the stick is struck on the very head of the individual throwing the hit. Blaming religion for the people who represent it would be like blaming Kim Jong-il on Karl Marx – and Christopher Hitchens would not have had it this way. After all, and “Against all claims that he’d drifted rightwards, Hitchens insisted that he remained a Marxist in his habits of thinking”. As for Jong-il, it was very well known that he was frequently used as a target of Hitchens’ principled opposition to totalitarianism, including the celestial dictatorship that he imagined a nation under God would be (or, indeed, North Korea itself which was “a formal necrocracy, given that Kim Il-sung –who has been dead since 1994– remain[d] the titular head of state there.”).

So does religion poison everything? No, like with gun crime it is people who kill people, but to paraphrase Eddie Izzard, it is people with guns. People with religion have poisoned, and will poison again – but to make utility of, and then modify, a challenge that Hitchens raised while on the circuit against God, name an unethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer. As Hegel would have seen, the believer who poisons has religion to fill the void in lieu of essence, religion in this instance is doing nothing at all. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” – suggesting that where there is proof of glue that binds humanity together, there is the expression and actualisation of the message as spread by Jesus. What Jesus, here, is not saying is that humans are this expression. The clause “For where” exposes that for every where that there is two or three gathering together, there is also some where there is not. Religion is, and subsequently poisons where it does, because what religion has become is the fantastic realisation of something void – in other words human essence.

It is important to remember this, particularly with the passing of Christopher Hitchens, because this is where his beef was, even if he didn’t realise it himself (or conduct the fight being honest with whom or what it was he targeted). But it is also his shortfall. Hitchens was avowedly anti-theist, and thought, as did Mikhail Bakunin in his own reversal of Voltaire’s famous aphorism, that “if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him”. To any warning from Acts 5:39, Hitchens would happily “be found even to fight against God”. But Hitchens decided to say religion poisons everything – and I have seen him both qualify this assumption and say that he didn’t author the subtitle himself and thus I can only assume, myself, that he stood by this. It seemed to me he suffered from the very same things he loathed about his targets, that he denied the existence of something (the truth of religion) on the grounds that it made him uncomfortable (God is like a father who never leaves his child alone; is always there ensuring no independence is formed) and for this reason he wasn’t even on par with the other new atheists (who at least, in vain, tried to prove that God was not real). If contrarianism is the ability to take a step back and assess a motion without appeals to the emotions, then this is a noble trait and one which I think in many cases Hitchens had – which is why I consider him a great intellectual hero and for why I was extremely sad to hear of his passing. But if contrarianism is an instinctual position – and here I do believe an anti-theistic position often looks like – then it is crass, like the devil’s advocate.

(And of course, before I finish, I should just like to give my obligatory line, when writing about these matters, and say that I myself am an atheist and do not believe in God purely on the grounds that I have no reason to do so, any more than I should believe in magical wizards for whom I, also, have no proof.)

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Categories: General Politics
  1. December 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | #1

    I’m never quite sure what your obsession with religion is about Carl – you and Zizek. Personally I think it’s easy to stick to the Alistair Campbell school of thought; we shouldn’t do God. Most of our constituency doesn’t either, so it’s a match made in heaven, as it were.

    But on your own terms, the use of words like “religion” seems quite simplistic. Which “religion”, filling which social requirements in which epoch? Thus the question “does religion poison everything?” is as nonsensical as the assertion from Hitchens or whoever, that it does, and this in turn is as ridiculous as simply saying “people kill people, guns do not”.The matter is more complex.

    People kill people for particular reasons – we can aggregate those reasons, we can investigate common themes in psychology, we can look collectively at societies which emphasize “masculinist” narratives and look for correlations and so on and on, through many different permutations of study, to find out the relationship between murder, guns and society. To say people kill people as though it ends the discussion is a coded way of saying there is no such thing as society.

    Thus too religion. People don’t poison everything, nor does religion. But that is not to say religion occupies a position as some neutral territory over which competing sides in the class struggle can war for possession.

    Have there been radicals and socialists who saw their struggle in religious terms? Sure. Unquestionably. No argument. But even as far back as the Putney debates, proto-socialists had to step outside religion and rest their case on conceptions such as “natural law” – and conceptions which were determined by class interest (think particularly of the metaphor of the king as head of the body, and how the revolutionaries up-ended it) which moulded religion to its own end as far as possible.

    Having come so far, it is my view that we no longer need to cloak ourselves as the English Revolutionaries attempted to – nor is it in our benefit, as over-metaphorical as it can be it drowns out a direct appreciation of our concrete situations and material conditions, which can be discussed without the need for mediation (or ideology-laden obfuscation) by religion.

    • December 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm | #2

      My obsession begins with the notion that whether God exists or not, there has been no greater influence on this world, and I suspect that tomorrow if there was any way to negate the existence of God it wouldn’t matter – the thing about God is that he will control this world whether he exists or not.

      In many ways, I admit, this piece talks about religion as though it were simply a thing on to which people, over the years, have projected their own meanings – it is in this way that we should understand that people are held accountable for their actions rather than religion itself. And I’d say accountability rests with people even with bad faith, by which I mean people who are almost blind to the fact that they submit themselves to an unprovable externality.

      But of course religion is not neutral. However, many faiths are contradictory, and loose enough for people to see in them their own peculiarities (like a Rorschach test, if you will). Take if you will the Bible. Critics have said scorned the text for being inconsistent throughout, but scholars would protest that this is what makes it a worthy text, with discussion that has lasted all these years. Varied opinion, if from a collection of essays or from a multi-authored (perish the thought), greatly improves for the variety, and so, too, does the Bible, or indeed any religious text.

      I might be inclined to agree with you that we need no longer to appeal to religion like revolutionaries before us, and so too might have the late Christopher Hitchens, but the point is to recognise that it does dominate the discussion whether we like it or not, and we can either ignore it and offer it as a gift to our enemies, who will obfuscate it, or we can attempt to show it for what it is – a set of ethical codes not unlike any other book setting out, or at least attempting to set out ethical codes. What we should do is debate on how worthy these codes are, and understand such codes distinct from the (often nutty) people for whom they hold all the answers.

      • December 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm | #3

        I don’t believe religion does “dominate the discussion”. I’m not even suggesting we generalise from the general religious indifference of the West to the rest of the world; I’m simply saying that a socialist organisation could go from now to eternity never mentioning god or religion and could still achieve all its aims. I’d be curious to see some grounds for hard analysis of why religion can be considered to “dominate the discussion”.

        I would also vigorously dispute the idea that the existence or non-existence of god has been a primary factor in shaping the world (which is what I take you to mean when you say “influence”). Such an idea strikes me as a retreat to Hegelian idealism. Surely the relative absence of atheism throughout the history of the world makes this a nonsense? By and large people didn’t question the existence of god – they simply assumed existence.

        This being the case, I move a third point. Religion has no existence independent of people, and people have no existence independent of society (unless they are hermits and can enter into no relations with other humans). So the responsibility for actions committed in the name of religion is likewise ultimately a social matter – a matter to be addressed by through the class struggle.

        As regards people projecting their own peculiarities on to the Bible through the space provided by its contradictory nature, I would argue that this another social matter. The possibility for this is endless – but which ones become dominant are not random or endless; they perform particular social functions. And there’s our window; change the requirement for those social functions or challenge the structural privileging of certain interpretations, neither of which require the adoption of a religious idiom, and we (socialists, atheists too generally) win.

        Last point. Even assuming that you’re right, that we must “show religion for what it is…a set of ethical codes”, I’m at a loss. The contradictions evident in Christianity, for example, allow for the existence of competing ethical codes – and competing means for dealing with those who do not share such ethical codes. So once again we’re back to a religious extremists vs. everyone else situation. And arguing within the religious idiom doesn’t bring us any closer to solving that particular gordian knot. We can approach the religious on their own terms – for example, the Soviet Russian women who were revolutionary instigators in central Asia, who dressed in Islamic gear. But these women were still arguing for socialism – for the abolition, essentially, of organised religion, of “religion” as anything except an empty form within which we live the content of our lives. Which is the quintessence of Western indifference to religion.

      • December 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm | #4

        On the point of how much we could achieve as socialists without recourse to religion and/or God goes without saying, though it might be an idea to appeal to those key elements in history that have brought about relative change for the good, and what part religious symbolism has played – I’m thinking perhaps the peasant’s revolt. Undoubtedly the question of God on such demands as lower taxes for the poor and higher taxes for the rich serves as mere distraction, but nobody can doubt the direction of similar messages in the bible, and how revolutionaries would have read it as a text within which one could find explanations and moral obligations to seek the best for the majority not the few in society.

        But this is not even the point about how God has played a part in societal affairs, whether or not he exists. I see this particular point as something more philosophical, but not idealist which I will explain in a moment. The philosopher Frege noted that logically for a concept to exist it needed a referent in reality on which it could be linked. For the concept of apple, say, we needed something objective onto which we could recognise this as more of a set of sounds “aaaapppaaalllllll” and as something with an existing referent. With God, there seems to be no reason for this present referent, simply because people throughout the years have acted upon God’s demands without waiting until the day they trusted he existed. This is not something which is a pipe dream for me, which is why I wouldn’t say it was a focal element of socialist politics, it is a reality.

        It is not idealist because though, strictly speaking, the notion of God is not something that has a material referent in the same way that this can of drink has a material referent, or this plate – God has been accepted as a set of social practices that have been accepted in consensus in a social setting. In this sense life is still not determined by consciousness, because to live as though God exists is a sort of consensus, and I think this has entered into the way in which we live and think in the same way that a virus breeds.

        This is not Hegelian idealism, consciousness is still determined by life; but a societal and existential relation with a mere concept (which God is, whether he exists or not) is a reality, which is why for years people have lived by traditions that are fundamentally related to the existence of an unproven, possibly unprovable being.

        Religion, I accept, is not independent of us as actors in society, but it is not singular either, it is experienced as part of our lived reality and therefore feels both external and felt – and, oddly, can often be felt even where the person consciously and proactively tries to negate it. I bet even Richard Dawkins has some kind of superstition, no matter how hard he tries to fight it.

        (Indeed there is the story of the physicist atheist who has a horse shoe on his front door, and when asked whether he believed in that stuff, even as an atheist, he replied of course I don’t believe in it, but I heard that it works even if you don’t believe in it).

        As for the matter of people applying their own peculiarities to the bible, it is entirely social, and very interesting. But the point here has more than just anthropological interest, it also comments on how far the bible has been read to suit certain prejudices – precisely why a far right racist and a communist can, in principle, be reading from the same book in order to reinforce their own views. But this has always been something of a stick with which to beat the Bible – but as anyone will tell you, it is not monolithic, and it suffers nothing for that fact. Though, saying that, it is tiresome to say that Jesus was a socialist. He probably wasn’t, and even Terry Eagleton recognised this.

        The problem with your last point is twofold: yes perhaps the Bible not being monolithic plays into its own problems, but this does not mean we cannot read them in order to see which reading seems best, and, actually, what in the Bible we can take as a good position of historical justification for our struggle, political and philosophical, today. We can say parts of the Bible are wrong without having to toss the whole text aside into the bin. And as one Archbishop once said, Paul when describing Jesus on the Cross had no idea he would be dictating the Gospels.

        The second problem is that you have implied that those ladies fighting for socialism in their veils are watering down religion in order that it simply becomes something which allows us to live the content of our lives. I think if the question here is about creating an open society onto which there is a democracy of ideas, a culture where no single idea is said to have greater good over another idea in a modest way, then this is just liberalism. If liberalism is pursued by the religious, then it is just that: the religious fighting for an open society, apart from their own personal beliefs. But if they are pursuing the good life, away from the anomie of liberalism, then they will see their religion as more than just a blank canvass that allows us to live the (value-free) content of our lives. Social justice, which does find itself in religious texts, and in religious communities, is at odds with the sort of society that those women were advocating – unless it is the difference between personal religion and religion through government, even if pursued in a progressive way (like with liberation theologies).

        God does have a function over and above an abstraction, but it is not idealism to say so – it is scial anthropology, if anything.

  2. December 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | #5

    Bewildering. Particularly where you write that it seemed to you “that he denied the existence of of something (the truth of religion) on the grounds that it made him uncomfortable”. Is this seeming perception of discomfort with the existence of religious truth (implying a recognition by him of religious truth) based on anything that he wrote or said? Or does the seeming emerge from elsewhere?

    • December 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm | #6

      I’m glad you brought up the implication of the “recognition by him of religious truth”. Hitchens did, it must be said, always talk about God and his celestial dictatorship. Clearly he didn’t believe in God, but he did at least talk about him on a believers on terms in order to show that even if he did exist, he’d be horrid – which gave my grounds to say in my piece “Hitchens was avowedly anti-theist, and thought, as did Mikhail Bakunin in his own reversal of Voltaire’s famous aphorism, that “if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him”.”

      And this is what I mean by Hitch disliking something he was uncomfortable with. He would have been the first to admit that he, unlike Dawkins and evolution, Harris and cognitive science, Dennett and logic, had no directly related discipline to which he could borrow from to negate the existence of God (though I’d argue neither do those fellow atheists). All he had was the assumption that, since God has not been affirmatively revealed to us all, there could be no reason to believe in such a thing. He also trusted his friends who felt they had good reason to assert with stronger evidence than most that there was no God. This, I contend, is why he was more comfortable with the label anti-theist; because atheist the word is a judgement upon whether there is or is not a God, anti-theist notes the almost impossible task of making such a judgement, and holding nothing back by saying even if there was a God, he’d be a fucker. Perhaps that is true, but who am I to say?

  3. larrydunbar
    December 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | #7

    Hitchens said he wasn’t against religion, just God. I take that to mean that he wasn’t against structure, but was against content.

    • December 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm | #8

      Well, that really is up for debate.

      If he did say that, lest we forget Luke 23:24 – “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

      • larrydunbar
        January 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm | #9

        My wife and I loved to listen to Hitchens speak, so I always tried to listen carefully. It may have been leftover from his Leftist leanings, but he did say, and I hope to get this correct, “Actually I have nothing against religions.” Of course I have no context, but I believe he said it in reference to religions helping people as a close community would help people.

        And it is not so much “they know not what they do”, but did he know what he was saying?

        But then you may be right. He did seem to know what his writings “do”, as all these comments would seem to suggest.

  4. December 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm | #10

    Ah. My confusion stemmed from your use of the word ‘truth’ in the original sentence, and its implication that someone involved in this sentence sees a truth there to be denied. If the phrase in brackets was “divine authority” rather than “the truth of religion” then it might more clearly point to the meaning in your elaboration. But ‘uncomfortable’ seems odd as well. Putting ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘truth’ together in the same sentence carries an implication that would have been absent had you written that “he denied the existence of divine authority on the grounds that he found it oppressive”.

    • December 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm | #11

      Well as I say from time to time he chose not to add the clause “if there was a God…” but just take him on – it added to his bravery – that, as my Mother would say to me as a child, I’d argue with God. And if Larry – above – is to be believed “Hitchens said he wasn’t against religion, just God”. There’s something.

  5. Tim
    December 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | #12

    I do think that atheists sometimes overdo it, but I also think the angry atheist has two strong defences:

    First, Abraham Lincoln said:

    “I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.”

    Can this apply to those who make assertions about God without really knowing whether they are true? I think the case could be made.

    Second, there’s the problem of hell. Ironically, this pushed me away from religion to my present state of soft atheism. Torture doesn’t become acceptable because God does it.

    That said, the Bible gives lots of excellent lessons. My favourite is Luke 18:9-14 One which is foreign to many who espouse religion, it seems!

    • December 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm | #13

      I can sympathise with the notion of certainty in your message – Richard Dawkins to his credit did oppose the certainty in Carl Jung’s message that he did not have faith in the existence of God, but knew of his existence for definite. Hitchens can say his anti-theism isn’t caught up in this, but since it would not be controversial to call him an atheist as well, he sustains an opinion on whether God exists or not.

  6. December 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm | #14

    I’m an atheist – but the roots of my atheism lie in opposition to heirarchy and ultimately the the contradiction of capitalist democracy (the privileging of certain opinions of a minority through the social weight given to that minority by their monetary and institutional power). Going to a catholic school will do that. I honestly feel that people should believe what they want – but I want to abolish the basis for them to thrust it upon others, if those others are unwilling or minors. Is that soft or hard atheism?

    • December 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm | #15

      I honestly would not know how to measure soft from hard atheism, perhaps tim can help

      • Tim
        December 17, 2011 at 9:28 pm | #16

        My understanding, which could be wrong, is that soft atheism means that you accept it’s possible there could be a God but have no strong grounds to treat it as if it were actually true, whereas hard atheism is more of an insistence that there is no God.

        So I suppose neither description applies here, but I do agree with Dave’s sentiment about thrusting it on others, especially children.

      • skidmarx
        December 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm | #17

        Richard Dawkins sets out a hierarchy of belief or the lack of it in The God Delusion, you could try looking there.

        It seemed to me he suffered from the very same things he loathed about his targets, that he denied the existence of something (the truth of religion) on the grounds that it made him uncomfortable
        Or because he thought it was balderdash.

  7. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable
    December 18, 2011 at 9:23 am | #18

    Jimbo Denham is correct. The only thing werse than an idiotic g_d bothering tosser is an idiotic atheist soft-on-religion fuckwit.

    “Hitchens’ religious opponents used his absence to continue their argument with him by ensuring that every single one of their statements made his point for him.

    And George Galloway, the pro-Saddam cat impersonator who this morning used Twitter to revel in Hitchens’ death, was once again forced to wonder who will bother to clean and change him when he finally becomes incontinent.

    Meanwhile, friends and relatives of Hitchens have been urged to set up a foundation in his name devoted to the study of using your brain to squeeze the most out of the one and only life you will ever get, even if you have to wash it regularly in lukewarm Scotch.”

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/science-%26-technology/hitchens-cancer-not-intelligently-designed-201112164685/

  8. December 18, 2011 at 11:30 am | #19

    That Daily Mash piece is not only funny, it is also clear, concise, and to the point. These are qualities worth emulating.

  9. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable
  10. December 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm | #21

    Your final disclaimer (ie “I myself am an atheist…” etc) really makes a mockery of everything else you write. You also, (like a lot of other leftists, noteably the SWP, though I’m sure you’re a lot more honourable than them), seem to misunderstand (misrepresent, in the SWP’s case), Marx’s position on religion. The famous “sigh of the oppressed” stuff was quite clearly *not* intended as any kind of “value free” neutral comment on religion, or suggestion that rational people should be in any way soft, tolerant or “respectful” of it. And Marx’s much-quoted criticisms of “bourgeois” atheist was *not* a crticism of atheism *per se* but of those who separate rationalism from political action. The atheism part, in other words, was the bit Marx approved of.

    To say that religion itself does not cause wars, oppression, national rivalries, etc, etc (just as guns don’t cause crime) is simply banal. Of course, it’s material factors (often economic) that cause such things: that’s no reason to be tolerant of (let alone “respectful” of) one of the main forms that war and oppression takes.

    I take it, by the way, that your evocation of Stephen Jay Gould (a good guy, imho) means you go for his “non- overlapping magisteria” thesis, a position that it turns out most “sophisticated” apologists for religion (Eagleton, Armstrong, Bunting, etc) put forward, usually claiming it as something original and very clever. It’s also the position of atheists and agnostics who have their own reasons for wanting to be soft on (usually described as “respect for”) religion. Actually, it’s an intellectually bankrupt cop-out, or as one Molly Thomas puts it in the present issue of ‘Solidarity’ (the AWL’s paper):

    “Some people who are atheists themselves argue that faith should be respected as a valid way of knowing on questions which science cannot reach.
    “Stephen Jay Gould…claims that faith is a strong way of knowing in religion and morals. ‘The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria 9science and religion) do not overlap.’
    “Faith gets a good deal in Gould’s proposal. It has to hand over to science the grunt work, like working out how the planets move, or what causes epilepsy and how it can be fixed. In return it gets domination over what is right or wrong, good or evil.”

    Opposing religion is a *duty* for serious socialists. We may so it with varying degrees of sensitivity to peoples’ feelings depending on the context, but we must do it. Actually, (and please don’t take this personally) I have more respect for genuine believers than for those leftists who say (in effect) “I’m too clever and sophisticated to be a believer myself, but religious faith is appropriate for the masses / the working class/ / people from other cultures / the third world, etc, etc…”

    • December 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm | #22

      I’m afraid I haven’t got the time to run through all your points today, but I should just like to say how disappointed I am that you’ve compared me to a swappie, particularly as you once said this about me:

      “Someone called Carl makes Seymour look the fuckin’ eedjit he is over the question of intervention:

      http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/03/doomed-to-repetition.html

      Still, you should know I think you’re off the mark, and stand by my points – Gould in hand. NOMA, it is often forgotten, is a great point of criticism towards advocates of Intelligent Design theory, too.

  11. Edgar
    December 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm | #24

    I have to sympathise with the militant atheists even though they are, generally speaking, middle class, white, rich, workshy, unproductive, snobbish, arrogant, aggressive, hypocritical and chauvinistic. I too share the frustration that in the age of the Ipod, internet shopping and Sunny delight we still believe this nonsense.

    Marx attitude to religion was that religious criticism was in reality not a criticism of religion at all but a criticism of existing social relations and conditions, and therefore an attack merely on religion was to fail to understand its true nature. I am still undecided if Marx was correct about that.

  12. brad
    May 27, 2012 at 12:35 am | #25

    How can you say that theoretical astronomers are unqualified to speak on the existence if god. There can be no experts on the subject, because no one has access to better knowledge than anyone else. If anything, theoretical astronomers are probably high up in the qualified lust because they deal with the deepest realities.

  13. hector r
    July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm | #26

    I was confused about Hitchens because he said that the Bible, the Old Testament is filled to the brim with crimes and horrid things, and in the next line he said that thankfully it is a fictional tale made witten by man.
    He once said that Martin Luther King,Jr was not a nominal christian because he was non-violent, a nice way to try to fit forcefully his being incapable of negating that christianism is not always the source of violence, on the contrary, it can fight others who claim they are christian..the white christians who hated the blacks.
    Hitler wrote that he was doing God’s will destroying the jews (Christ was a jew, he would’ve been gassed too), while the regime’s foremost philosopher and prophet was Nietzsche, and not to mention the Occustism of the third reich.

    His attacks on the ten commandments and the unsufferable dictatorship from heaven: Big-brother exerts that same type of dictatorship on earth, he tells us that we must not murder, we must not steal, even tells us not to bow-down to other gods…what if I commended the communists in the 60′s?
    Coveting, Thou Shat not Covet: Meaning that we cannot even try to emulate…He knew better, Hitchens. COveting is an unhealthy way of desire, emulation is a different thing.

    Thou shalt not not commit adultery: Even in secular terms if you cheat on your spouse you are bound to suffer the consequences…either your woman or man whatever the case will naturally get angry.

    • hector r
      July 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm | #27

      I may disagree on that. Not necessarily, astronomers may be in touch with the deep space but the core of the matter is not out there…It’s within us, that’s my opinion.

      • brad
        July 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm | #28

        If it’s in us, no one can be an expert, thus an astronomer is just as qualified as any theologian. More so, because they have a greater understanding of that which can be understood about reality.

  14. hector r
    July 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm | #29

    hitchens made a big mistake blaming religious people for all the evil in the world, which amount to: Without religion man suddenly become good? or less evil?
    That’s a total Utopic longing, it is too expect too much knowing the real world in whcih we live.

    Something is bound to replace religion is you wish to blame all the evil that there is on it, it is the heart of man that needs a replacement.

  15. jones
    December 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm | #30

    You unbelievabely attribute a quote from K. Marx, in his Critique of the Philosophy of Right, included in Hitchens’ Portable Atheist, to Hegel himself–and then go on to bash the PA for including selections, that are ‘de-contextualized’? A quite serious charge to be making against the author and his publisher, that I bet you wouldn’t be willing to repeat in any forumn that actually mattered.

  1. February 11, 2013 at 1:27 am | #1

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