Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Problem with Hitchens

On YouTube, I found an audio reading of Christopher Hitchen's 'God Is Not Great'. It was a reading of chapter two - 'Religion Kills.'  I listened to the reading, and kept an open mind to his point of view, as I tend to disagree with atheists for the same reasons I disagree with xians on the role of religion.

Listening to the two of them debate is like listening to a political debate between Democrats and Republicans - pointless and needlessly cutthroat.

So, in listening to Hitchens rant on about religion being evil, I could imagine the xian responses to his arguments, and how unconvincing they would be to his.  Hitchens uses religion as the backdrop to all the evils of the world, which isn't correct.  Given the theme of his chapter, I would argue that God, to quote Concrete Blonde, is more like a bullet.  And everyone knows that bullets don't kill people, people kill people!  Just as basing murder on the teachings of the three plus monotheistic religions is self serving at its most basic, so too is blaming religion for all the ills of the world.

People are self serving - that is, there is no such thing as a purely selfless act.  Whatever action a person takes, it is in that person's best interest.  Otherwise, there would be no reason to take the action.  In this sense, acts of violence, goodwill, malice, and charity are all equal.  Religion isn't an evil - it's just a means to explore the subconscious self.

The problem isn't religion per se - of the major religions, none of them would condone the actions of their participants as they explain in their doctrines.  Individuals, on the other hand, are self serving and often bend religion to their own interests.  Religion is meant to be approached without ego.  Of course, man is an animal that struggles with the boundaries of  ego and the self.  Of course, when the ego is used to project God onto others, the trouble really begins.

We can see the same issues with ego and atheism.  Hitchens has described God (and as far as the book goes, religion in general) as 'the great wrong.'  He doesn't separate the core religion from the worst aspects of its followers.  And because of that, he comes off as hypocritical and self-righteous.  As such, I doubt that I'll be reading this book.

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