The rise of atheism – James Studdard
The name Christopher Hitchens may not mean much to you if you are not (like me) a political wonk. Mr. Hitchens is an essayist, novelist and supreme polemicist for the Bush administration, generally, and the war in Iraq specifically.
To appreciate his stature as a insightful writer for the right, I would suggest that Ann Coulter, by comparison, would not be worthy to cook him breakfast.
His latest book is probably the most controversial since his excoriation of Mother Theresa a few years ago. He has also written biographies of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. However, this new book titled, â€œGod is not great: How religion ruins everythingâ€ given Hitchensâ€™ support of President Bush, seems a bit of an oxymoron and some say it is moreover, a quickly written, not well thought out tome intended to deflect attention away from his dogged support of the war in Iraq. Whatever are his motives, the book is sure to raise the ire of the believers in this country.
Hitchens offers this terse preamble to set the stage for the lambasts of religion to follow in his book: â€œThere are four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wishful-thinking.â€
Hitchensâ€™ rantings about religion is not confined to any one particular sect; he equally attacks and, he thinks, debunks not only the big three monotheistic giants but also Hinduism, eastern mysticism and other faith-based political ideologies like communism and fascism.
It is evident in the book that Hitchens gleefully challenges the credentials of Mother Theresa and single-handedly dismantles the muddled arguments of the fundamentalists who advocate creationism. He even goes so far to compare Hassidic mohels (houses of circumcision) to mere child molesters. However, despite Hitchensâ€™ occasional misplaced assumptions about religion and his often clumsy effort to turn a clever phrase, he still remains (to all but the most closed-minded) a needed check and balance against the insidious incursions of radical fundamentalists.
Hitchens is bi-partisan in his condemnation of faith-based hypocrisy and accuses both the Democrats and the Republicans of using religion to their benefit. He notes, that Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were the religious darlings of the left and their religion and ethnicity was exploited shamelessly, as only a shameless Christian can do.
Those who have read Hitchens over the years knew that it was only a matter of time until he ran out of â€œcolossalâ€ topics which would anger the masses, and thus launch an assault on God. The book is viewed by some as a poor adjunct to Richard Dawkinsâ€™ â€œThe God Delusion.â€ Hitchens exempts no one group as he declares religion to be a veiled form of child abuse and not to tell your children that Jesus Christ never lived is an example of it. Hitchensâ€™ archenemy, Max Blumenthal, condemns Hitchens as mean-spirited and bigoted, using pretentious intellectual fantasies to discredit principled institutions. Blumenthal stated, â€œâ€™God is not greatâ€™ represents little more than the disingenuous posturings of a certified fraudmeister who has openly cavorted with the most reactionary elements of the Christian right. If Hitchens had any principles at all â€” if he truly feared the cultural and political consequences of the encroachment of religion into public life â€” he would have used his still-considerable influence to support organizations and causes that shore up the wall between church and state and which defend the rights of non-believers. Instead, Hitchens has done exactly the opposite.â€
Hitchens has reconciled himself to living only once, and only then through our children. He speculates that once people accept the fact of their short, sometimes miserable lives, the better they will be for it. Hitchens believes that one can be ethical without confession of a religion and just a easily the other way around. â€œReligion,â€ says Hitchens, â€œhas caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.â€
I have read Christopher Hitchensâ€™ book, twice actually, to make sure my faith is in tact (it is) and I urge you to read it. Granted, it will test your resolve to adhere to whatever religion you profess, but if you can resolve the conflicts presented by Hitchens, then you can truly feel, in that inner-most place in your heart, that Hitchens is wrong and God is right, or at least, I did. Hitchens sort of wraps up his anti-God tome with this allusion of Blaise Pascal: â€œWe infidels do not need any machinery of reinforcement. I am so made that I cannot believe.â€
Well to Hitchens and Pascal, I say: I am so made that I must believe.