Tag Archive: Hitchens



Cover of "Letters to a Young Contrarian"

I find something repulsive in the idea of vicarious redemption. I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me; we rightly sneer at the barbaric societies that practice this unpleasantness in its literal form. There’s no moral value in the vicarious gesture anyway. As Thomas Pain pointed out, you may if you wish take on another man’s debt, or even offer to take his place in prison. That would be self-sacrificing. But you may not assume his actual crimes as if they were your own; for one thing you did not commit them and might have died rather than do so; for another this impossible action would rob him of individual responsibility. So the whole apparatus of absolution and forgiveness strikes me as positively immoral, while the concept of revealed truth degrades the whole concept of the free intelligence by purportedly relieving us of the hard task of working out ethical principles ourselves.

– Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian, p34

Advertisements

I wrote a blog post about this a while back here.

I didn’t know Hitchens debated Tariq Ramadan on this subject before I wrote this post. The real irony is that one poster, musingsaudi, who I debated back and forth with on this subject, suggested I read Tariq Ramadan in order to understand this subject better.

What a perfect surprise to see Hitchens spank the same guy on the same subject!

I’m not going to analyze the video for you, but it starts with a great intro by Hitchens, after which Tariq Ramadan immediately denies the claim that Islam is a religion of peace! I’m not kidding. He hedges and says it depends on the reader and it therefore can be a religion of peace or violence! This is in his INTRO! I don’t think I need to dig any deeper into this guy’s analysis of Islam after seeing this video.

The Fall of Theism


Image

For millennia, humans have been subjected to the whims of many kinds of powerful individuals and organizations.  Of these people and organizations, none has caused such devastation with immunity to criticism as religious leaders and their corresponding organizations.  Fortunately, the increasing number of educated individuals in the world in addition to the great access to information the Internet provides has led to a Renaissance of rationalism.  In the coming years, the chokehold of theism on the minds of the masses will slowly come undone.

The result of this Renaissance will be manifold, however, of fundamental importance are two key areas of improvement: a spur in scientific and technological development – no longer held back by superstitious beliefs – and a higher level of morality among the vast majority of the world’s population.

As even those with a minute knowledge of history understand that time and time again, organized theistic religions have hampered or completely blocked scientific and technological development. From the case of Galileo, being forced to recant his findings that the solar system is heliocentric and not – as the church believed then, geocentric – to the more recent criticism of stem cell research, to numerous other examples, theistic religious organizations have continuously impeded the advancement of science and technology throughout history.

Without organized religion, science will prosper for two reasons contemporarily.  First, religious organizations will no longer sponsor political parties (financially and otherwise) in order to influence party politics.  The examples of the fundamentalist Christian movement in America and the fundamentalist Islamic movement in numerous Arab countries demonstrate the strong influence of religious organizations have on political parties to this day.  Obviously, these religious organizations demand certain restrictions on science, such as stem cell research and – according to the Catholic Church’s recently released Seven Modern Deadly Sins – genetic modification. Second, if organized religions disappear, more people who would have lived under the haze of religious dogma will likely venture into scientific fields.  The sheer number of people who alter their understanding of the world according to their religion – that is, away from reason and science – is exceedingly large.  This untapped human capital will only help the development of science and technology in the future.

Additionally, non-religious people are simply more moral than religious people.  Of course, this statement is provocative, and extremely hard to believe by religious people; however, it is true.  As Christopher Hitchens often asks, “Name one thing that a religious person would do that a non-religious person wouldn’t” – that is name one noble act that a religious person does that a non-religious person would never do.  Unfortunately, for theists, there is no answer to that question because humans are fundamentally moral with or without religion.  Further, Hitchens follows up this question with another: “Name something that a non-religious person would never do that a religious person would do”.  Unfortunately for religious people again, this question is quite easily answered: suicide bombers, covering up pedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church, female genital mutilation, circumcision of infants or young children, knocking on people’s doors in an attempt to change said people’s beliefs, and the list goes on.   Thus, in a future without organized religion, people will no longer go against their natural morality in order to fulfill the artificial morality of their religion.

Sadly, people often dismiss this idea with the belief that more deaths occurred in the 20th century from atheism or secularism than religion.  The argument states that because Hitler, Stalin, and others were not religious, the reason they killed or allowed people to die was because of their atheism.  However, this is a non sequitur because there is no connection between these leaders’ atheism and the crimes they committed.  Hitler killed Jews because he hated Jews, not because he was an atheist; Stalin starved millions because he was blindly and callously committed to a political ideology, not because he was an atheist.  At no point did either of these leaders say that they were killing on behalf of atheism.  In fact, during the Nazi era, the Catholic Church sided with the Nazi regime.  Therefore, if a theist wants to argue that Hitler went to war and exterminated Jews because he was an atheist, then they must also accept that the Catholic Church agreed with the idea of Hitler going to war and killing Jews.   Further, any religious organization that had a Holy War of any sort is not in a position to criticize other war criminals without first looking in the mirror.

Thus, the proliferation of scientific curiosity and a greater understanding of morality, are both exciting reasons to look forward to a future without theistic religion – hopefully a near future.

standup2p

Observations - From the sharp end

Questionable Motives

What is the right question?

The Havers of a Questioning Mind

All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God. -Voltaire

nerd on the bridge

A Literary Paradox

Lights on the Moon

what's real & what's not

DOUG PHILIPS

Meat sack with thoughts.

The Southern Rationalist

Voices of Rationality and Skepticism from the Southern US

Endless Erring

Stumbling along a Druid path

God Shmod

The one true God of Atheism.

Pretentious Ape

a humanist blog

Confessions of a Disquisitive Writer

Blogging my thoughts to the world

The More I Learn the More I Wonder

Rambles and brambles in the garden of my mind

Little Duckies

Parenting, polyticks, and the everyday busyness of an American-born mom in Israel.

Illusions and Delusions

Education is the key

BEN STUPPLES

JOURNALISM | UK POLITICS | BUSINESS

Web-ling's World

The World as I See It

Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; I write from time to time, in the hopes that free-association might save a trip to a sanatorium.