Hitchens vs Hitchens

Hitchens vs Hitchens | the Daily Mail

Christopher Hitchens is the author of the latest atheist salvo called “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” I have not read it, so I am certainly not qualified to comment on it. All I can say is that Christians seem to be saying that it is of a much higher quality than Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion,” which was the last popular atheist manifesto.

In the article I’m linking to, Christopher Hitchens’ brother Peter, who is a Christian, talks about and criticizes his brother’s views. It’s a pretty long article, but worth reading if you, like me, are following the atheism vs. religion public debates. Here is a poignant excerpt:

In the harsher parts of our great cities, strong, violent people rule their neighbours with pre-medieval savagery, demonstrating a fine understanding of what it means if there is no God: that if something works for you, and you can get away with it, then you may do it without fear of consequence in this world – and there is no next world.

That is practical atheism. Those who follow it probably cannot even spell it. Comfortable, suburban unbelievers hate to have this pointed out to them.

They would never behave like that, surrounded as they are by the invisible web of ten centuries of Christian law and morality, which still protects the nicer parts of our country.

But it is the application of what they preach, the worship of self and power.

Faith and belief can be and often are restraints on this arrogance of power. They offer the possibility of justice where human society fails to provide it – as it almost always does fail.

8 responses to “Hitchens vs Hitchens”

  1. Just read the article.

    I’m continually baffled by how appalling and obviously absurd the logical consequences of the atheists’ position are. With no true magnetic north your compass is a subjective and functionally useless instrument – so with morality as Peter so skillfully illustrates.

    Yet I’m reminded of a recent post of yours where you mentioned “pragmatism” as an inadequate form of knowledge. Since the primary problem of atheism seems to be its logical conclusion (pragmatism) where does that leave me with adhering to pragmatism as the ultimate litmus test for knowledge? What is the alternative?

  2. I’m a little uncertain as to what you’re asking in the last paragraph…

    I’m not sure if you think pragmatism is the basis here for rejecting atheism? I think that you’re saying that it is, and that this is a shaky way to do so… ?

  3. Exactly. It’s not that atheism is so illogical within itself, rather that the absurdity lies in its logical conclusion. Isn’t it then judged as absurd on pragmatic grounds?

  4. Tony:

    OK, now that I have what you’re saying, I’d say that atheism is not actually being judged to be false on merely pragmatic grounds here. Rather it is a reductio ad absurdum argument that argues a position to its logical (and impossible) conclusion.

    That is, if you have atheism, you have a worldview that cannot say that torturing babies for fun is morally evil in every situation for every person at all times. There is no basis from which to argue for morality whatsoever, since I cannot see how an atheist can logically appeal to anything outside of themselves for a moral mooring.

    As for what litmus test to use for knowledge, that is a question for which I don’t have a good answer… yet.


    Thanks for the link, I’m glad you have a discussion going on this. I have not read Dawkins’ book, so I am unable to comment on it in good conscience. I might chime in if reading isn’t required…

  5. I wouldn’t say reading is really required. I’m pulling themes out and commenting on how they look in my life as opposed to Dawkins stereotype perception of Christians

  6. I just wanted to let everyone know the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will host the Hitchens brothers as they debate on faith, politics, and war.

    Date: Thursday, April 3rd
    Location: Fountain Street Church
    Time: 7:30 PM
    Cost: $15.00 each, tickets available through http://www.startickets.com, keyword: Hitchens

    If you can’t make it, we’ll have a live webcast!

    For more information, visit http://www.allpresidents.org or call the Hauenstein Center at (616) 331-2770.

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