Top Leaderboard, Site wide
October 26, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Get Truthdig's headlines in your inbox!


Europe Faces Crunch Decision on Climate Policy






Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Report

Christopher Hitchens: Religion Poisons Everything

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jun 6, 2007
Hitchens
Edward McNamara

By Jon Wiener

Editor’s note: Christopher Hitchens died Thursday, Dec. 15. (You can find Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer’s remembrance of his friend here.) Jon Wiener spoke with Hitchens in 2007 about his views on religion and the book that would turn out to be one of the milestones of Hitchens’ career. For more on the subject, you can read Mr. Fish’s remembrance of and interview with the public intellectual here.

***

In his latest book, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens makes the case against religion and for “free inquiry and open-mindedness.”  Hitchens, of course, is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School, and author of many books.  He spoke recently with Truthdig’s Jon Wiener.

Jon Wiener:  You show in your book how many horrible things men have done because of religion. In Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade and Baghdad, men kill other men, and say God told them to do it.  But why blame God for the bad things that men do?

Christopher Hitchens: I don’t blame God.  I blame religion.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as God. Religion makes people do wicked things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It doesn’t make them behave better—it makes them behave worse.  You couldn’t get people to hack away at the genitals of their newborn children if they didn’t think there was a religious obligation to do so. The licenses for genocide, slavery, racism, are all right there in the holy text.

Wiener: Yes, the Old Testament is full of these horrors.  But it also contains the Ten Commandments, prohibiting killing, stealing, adultery, and lying—isn’t this a good thing?

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
Hitchens:  No.  it’s not.  Because these are prefaced by a series of injunctions to fear a permanent, unalterable dictatorship.  The first three commandments say “just realize who’s boss.”  Let’s assume the story of Moses is true, even though archaeologists have utterly discredited it.  Do our Jewish ancestors have to put up with the insult from us at this late stage that, until they got to Sinai, they thought murder and theft and perjury were OK?  Of course not.  There would have been no such people if they thought that.  There has never been a society or civilization that did warrant those things. And you don’t need divine urging to see that they’re wrong yourself.

Wiener: There’s one other commandment, the tenth—thou shalt not covet.

Hitchens: That is a particularly horrible crime of dictatorship, namely the crime of thought.  It says you can’t even think about this.  To say you’re not allowed to steal your neighbor’s possessions—including his wife—that’s one thing.  But to say you’re not allowed to envy your neighbor is absurd.  It’s impossible.  And the spirit of envy can lead to ambition and innovation and initiative.  I would say that’s an immoral commandment.
 
Wiener: Let’s talk about Islam.  You point out that the 9/11 terrorists said Allah wanted them to fly planes into buildings.  But there are something like a billion Muslims in the world today, and only 19 of them flew planes into the World Trade Center.  Why hold all of Islam responsible for the acts of those 19?

Hitchens:  I don’t.  Islam in fact has one advantage over Christianity—it doesn’t have a papacy.  There is no center that can say “we condemn this” or “we support this,” the way the church supported Franco Spain and said prayers in Germany on Hitler’s birthday by order of the Vatican.  But the centers of legislation and authority in the Islamic world, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo, have a lot of difficulty condemning suicide bombing.  In fact they’ve never got around to doing it.  They can’t seem to condemn even the blowing up of other Muslims—in Iraq, for instance, where they are blowing up each other’s children and each other’s holy places. No words seem to come from either Sunni or Shiite religious authorities there or elsewhere in the world saying “this is wrong.”  That’s because they don’t really think it is.  If it’s done for their cause, they surreptitiously sympathize with it, and you can detect that surreptitious sympathy if you read any of the statements from the Muslim authorities.  That’s a grave crisis for Islam—and for us, too.

Wiener: Are you saying Islam is worse than other religions?  It seems to me your position has to be that all religions are equally bad.

Hitchens: The position I take in the book is, of course, that all religion is equally stupid and an expression of contempt for reason and an exaltation of the idea of faith, of believing things without evidence.  But that doesn’t mean I think a Quaker and a Bin Laden are exactly the same.  They all have individual disadvantages.  I would say that, with Catholicism, the mad insistence on celibacy is peculiarly deforming.  With Islam, the problem is that it claims to be the last and final revelation.  All that’s required now is that everybody realize the truth of this book.  That’s extremely dangerous preaching, in my opinion.

Wiener: Don’t Christian fundamentalists say pretty much the same thing?

Hitchens: Yes they do.  But I think there is a real problem with Islam of intolerance in that way—it forbids itself to have a reformation.  That’s fanatical and actually murderous right now.

Wiener: Is the problem you have been describing religion per se, or is it the monotheistic religions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, Islam?  Are Eastern religions different and better?  Especially Buddhism, with its compassion for all living things; especially Tibetan Buddhism, with its impressive leader, the Dalai Lama.

Hitchens: The Dalai Lama claims to be a hereditary god and a hereditary king.  I don’t think any decent person can assent to that proposition. You should take a look at what Tibet was like when it was run by the lamas.  Buddhism has some of the same problems as Western religion.  Zen was the official ideology of Hirohito’s fascism that was used to conquer and reduce the rest of Asia to subservience.  The current dictatorship in Burma is officially Buddhist.  The Buddhist forces in Sri Lanka are the ones who began the horrific civil war there with their pogroms against the Tamils in the 1950s and 1960s.  Lon Nol’s army in Cambodia was officially Buddhist.

Wiener: Let’s talk about the U.S.  Polls show that 94 per cent of Americans believe in God, and 89 per cent believe in heaven; of those, three-fourths think they will go to heaven, but only 2 per cent think they will go to hell.  This seems laughable, but what’s the harm in people believing they will go to heaven after they die—and see their mothers there?

Hitchens: All you have to do is promise them 72 virgins, and they’ll kill to get there. That’s what’s wrong with it, along with the fact that it’s a solipsistic delusion.  And the spreading of delusion in the end isn’t a good thing, because credulous and deluded people are easy to exploit.  People arise who are aware of that fact. 

If belief in heaven was private, like the tooth fairy, I’d say fine.  But tooth fairy supporters don’t come around to your house and try to convert you.  They don’t try to teach your children stultifying pseudo-science in school.  They don’t try to prevent access to contraception.  The religious won’t leave us alone.  These are not just private delusions, they’re ones they want to inflict on other people. 

Wiener: Of course, you are right that we have Pat Robertson and, until recently, Jerry Falwell, saying horrible things in the name of religion. Both welcomed 9/11 as payback for America’s tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.  But we have also had Martin Luther King and Daniel Berrigan and William Sloane Coffin.  Why not conclude that religion can lead people to do good things as well as bad?

Hitchens: Let me start with a question: Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist?  I don’t think so.  I’ll take your case at its strongest—that would be Dr. King. Fortunately for us, he wasn’t really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child.  Fortunately for us, he didn’t take that route. 

The people who actually organized the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, were both secularists and socialists.  The whole case for the emancipation of black America had already been made perfectly well by secularists. I don’t particularly object to the tactic of quoting the Bible against the white Christian institutions that maintained at first slavery and then segregation.  But there’s no authority in the Bible for civil rights—none whatever.  There is authority for slavery and segregation.

The widespread view among white liberals that black people in some way prefer to be led by preachers is a condescending one.  It leaves out heroes of the movement like Rustin and Randolph, and has licensed the assumption that people like Jesse Jackson and, much worse, a complete charlatan and thug like Al Sharpton, are somehow OK because they’ve got the word “Reverend” in front of their names.  That’s done enormous damage, not just to black people, but to the country in general.  It’s the Falwell equivalent.

Wiener: What about practical politics for progressives: since almost all Americans believe in God, for progressives to attack, ridicule and dismiss religion as you do is political suicide that will ensure religious Republican domination forever.  Instead, we must argue that God is not on their side, and we must respect the fact that people belong to different communities of belief.

Hitchens: If you want to argue that God is not on their side, you can’t argue “that’s because he’s on my side”—you have to argue there is no such person. Marxism begins by arguing that people have to emancipate their minds. The beginning of that emancipation is outgrowing of religion.  If religion were true, there would be no need for politics; you’d only need to have faith.

Wiener: I know you’ve often been told that everybody has faith in something—for most Americans, it’s Jesus; for you, it’s reason and science.

Hitchens: That’s not faith, by definition.  You can’t have faith in reason.  It’s not a dogma.  It’s a conviction that this is the only way that discovery and progress can be made.

Wiener: The intelligent person’s argument for religion is that religion and rationality don’t compete—they deal with different parts of life.  Religion answers questions that science doesn’t: Why do the innocent suffer? What is the meaning of life?  What happens when we die? 

Hitchens: I wish it was true.  But, in fact, religion doesn’t keep its part of the bargain here.  It incessantly seeks to limit first discoveries and innovation in science and then their application.  Galileo, of course, but more recently discoveries about the possibilities of limiting the size of your family.  Really, they don’t want us to reconsider our place in the universe, because if we face the fact that we live on a tiny speck in an immense universe, it’s going to be difficult to convince people it was all created with that tiny speck in mind.  It’s not possible to believe that nonsense if you have any interest in science.

Wiener: The final killer argument of your critics is that Hitler and Stalin were not religious.  The worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis.  They came from political ideology.

Hitchens: That’s easy. Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommends Catholicism quite highly in “Mein Kampf.”  Fascism, as distinct from National Socialism, was in effect a Catholic movement. 

Wiener: What about Stalin?  He wasn’t religious.

Hitchens: Stalin—easier still.  For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to God, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot.  If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you.  The task of atheists is to raise people above that level of servility and credulity.  No society has gone the way of gulags or concentration camps by following the path of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Thomas Paine.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Malini, June 9, 2007 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks Mike Mid-City for your wonderful, warm, intellectual response!

It is great that this “faith” debate is going on…

As for me, this forum is very interesting and exciting.  It teaches me about the numerous spiritual practices and experiences that our human race live by and sometimes struggle with.

Life in all forms is very precious I believe. 

Wish our faiths had more regard for their very own species and our animal friends too!

Wishing good health and happiness to all,

Malini

Report this

By David, June 9, 2007 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi,

I guess this guy who “SUPPORTED AND STILL SUPPORTS THE WAR IN IRAQ” is now blaming organized religion for his own poor judgement in supporting that disaster.  The sad fact is that he was against the first Gulf War but feeling he backed the wrong horse the last time this time he will side with the most likely victor in this conflict. 

But Mr. Hitchens has no understanding of history especially since it was his native country of the UK that occupied and controlled Iraq for 41 years from 1917 to 1958. After the British created Iraq using fire and war after WW1 and imposed a government modelled after its own with a monarch and a Parliament. The British “Liberators” faced an armed uprising from 1917 until 1920 in which the British lost 2,500 men.  After the uprising was crushed by the British, a puppet Gov’t was imposed and an ally of the British, who fought against the Ottomans was made King of the country. 

But Iraq had a cursed history from that time to the present of neverending strife and struggle and political violence. An example would be that in 1941 a Pro-Nazi group in Iraq staged a bloody uprising and the irony here is that Saddam Hussein’s uncle was a participant in that uprising. The uprising against the British and its quisling government again was crushed but mostly by the British.

By 1958, the British were completely exhausted after years of war and conflict and they started pulling out of the Imperialist great game after this game destroyed its economy, devastated its country with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its people. At this time the British starting pulling out its troops from Iraq only to see its puppet regime fall so easily and quickly. The puppet ruler was then brutally murdered and his body dragged through the streets of Baghdad. 

The British were much better at imposing order and occupying countries for decades but in the context of Iraq and imposing Western style values it was an abysmal failure. 

My question to Mr. Hitchens and to all supporters of this disasterous war is based on the above, what does religion have to do with poorly designed policies implemented for the purpose controlling the fates of other nations?

Thanks,

Report this

By MARIAM RUSSELL, June 9, 2007 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I suspect Mr. Hitchens knows more about what he does not like, than what he does, so is willing to ¨believe¨ whatever fits.

This from Bill Blum, who is not given to hyperbole, in his Anti-Empire Report of June 8, 2007…..

I have no particular quarrel with the book’s general theme. But when I first read a review of it I wondered how Hitchens dealt with Saddam Hussein and his secular government in Iraq. Here was a guy who was genuinely a baddie, but not a religious fanatic at all. The problem for Hitchens was compounded, for being an ardent supporter of the US war against Iraq he had to dispel the notion that the United States had overthrown a secular government. Hitchens, however, came up with a simple but elegant solution to both problems—He made Saddam and his regime “religious”! Saddam, he writes, “had decked out his whole rule ... as one of piety and jihad” [against whom he doesn’t say, and I can’t either]. “Those who regarded his regime as a ‘secular’ one are deluding themselves.”[9]

There is now Islamic sharia law imposed in many parts of Iraq, with numerous horror stories of its enforcement against young men and women for their co-mingling, for their clothing, their music, dancing, etc. The number of family honor killings based on religion has jumped. Mosques and the buildings of other religions, including Christian Assyrians, have suffered many serious attacks. These things were rare to non-existent under Hussein, when Shias and Sunnis regularly intermarried and Muslims did not need to escape from Iraq by the thousands in fear of other Muslims; neither did Jews or Christians. (In his last year or so in power, Hussein spoke in religious terms more often than earlier, but this appeared to be little more than paying lip service to the anger stirred up in Iraq, as elsewhere in the Middle East, by Washington’s War on Terror.)

This, then, is what Hitchens’ “Oh what a lovely war!” has given birth to. The irony for a person like him might be unbearable if he were not rescued by denial.

It will not have passed unnoticed that Hussein’s Iraq is not the only secular government overthrown by the United States which led to a very religious successor. In Afghanistan in the 1980s and early 90s, the US masterminded the overthrow of the “communist” government, which led to rule by Islamic fundamentalists, from which the Taliban emerged.

Imperialist and capitalist fundamentalists also have a lot to answer for.

Report this

By Where'sTheBeef?, June 9, 2007 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE #76517

From your comment:
“Additionally, his answer to the question that “his critics say that Hitler and Stalin were not religious, yet the worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis. They came from political ideology,” was non-convincing at best and almost denying clear truths at worst.”

I find it amusing that in this same comment, you confess to exalting faith over reason. Yet you seem blissfully ignorant of the possibility that this admission might render the above opinion hilariously irrelevant.

It would not be terribly difficult to illustrate how your thinking is erroneous here, but what would be the point? As Nietzsche famously said “one cannot refute with reason what another has come to believe with emotion”.

You don’t have an argument here, but even if you and others like you did, it wouldn’t invalidate non-belief in a supernatural being. It would simply mean that almost any idea can be used for ill purpose (especially when the target audience is not exercising reason and logic). How does that further your quest to denounce reason and logic as inferior to faith?

The best one could do here is to argue that because Stalin followed Marx, then Marxism is to blame for Stalin’s pogroms. But anyone who’s actually read Marx knows that Stalin’s ideas were an abuse of Marx. When one is willing to make the intellectual blunder of conflating Marxism with Soviet communism, it’s easy to see how that same kind of mind can conflate atheism and Stalin.

If you want those kind of arguments to hold sway, you might try another website. This group’s far too bright—or hadn’t you noticed?

Report this

By Rob, June 9, 2007 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

If god is love, the words from the bible do not have the meaning to them that I know.  He is portrayed as saying, “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite:  let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:  Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and woman: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.  Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”  (Ezekiel 9:5-6)

“And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.” (Deuteronomy 2:34)  It appears love flows like the blood of the innocent!

And as for what Jesus is made to say in Matthew 10:34-37 - “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:  I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

Can no rational man but shrink in horror at the sight of Christianity?  The Koran reads quite parallel for the actions to be taken for infidels.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 9, 2007 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Rob is the best cut of all. I evolved into an atheist shuttled by all the hypocrisy found in Christian religions (uh, inherited from rather hypocritical parents and entire extended family). But even deeper than that after studying comparative religions in college, one can effortless see how demeaning such subjugation to a diety of any stripe is. The lucid, rational mind is the only thing that separates humans from other animals. To forfeit that makes existence for humans completely trivial.

Report this

By Rob, June 9, 2007 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

What a typical attack on reason.  Lesbians and facists and bears, oh my.  Atheists have no common thread save one.  That thread is the lack of a belief in religion(s).  I can only advance that one thread at my own peril.  I can only be attacked for one premise.  Actually, I personally do not “believe” in anything, but that has nothing to do with an atheist as described above.  That I will be attacked for not having a belief will seem typical to me.  I was born an atheist, have raised my children as atheists, have lived myself with this thought, and will die an atheist. I do not have a belief in religions.  There is your meat - attack at will.

Report this

By Matt, June 9, 2007 at 7:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens is very selective. Notice that he complains only of Christian or Muslim fanatics, the evangelicals who are always trying to convert people. We can call them the “obnoxious conversionists.”

Fair enough; but what the “obnoxious exclusionists”? What about religious fanatics who are always trying to exclude, denigrate, and deny the rights of other people not born into the religious elite? Fanatics of Judaism and of the Hindu faith tend toward this extreme.

For example: the religious settlers of the West Bank are offensive not because they try to convert unbelievers, but just the opposite: they blatantly steal the land and resources of the locals, whom they consider irredeemably inferior by birth. Even many “secular” or “nonreligious” Jews cleave stubbornly to this bigoted tenet of their faith.

An attempt at conversion by a Jew would perhaps, in this context, come as a shocking gesture of good will.

Report this

By Fadel Abdallah, June 8, 2007 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

I am really shocked and surprised to see how Christopher Hitchens cannot see the contradictions of his attack on organized religion, followed by billions of people, vis-à-vis his claim that he has a so-called “emancipated mind” when, in fact, he is the follower of a minor man-made religion called Marxism; he praises the Marxist religion when he tells us that “Marxism begins by arguing that people have to emancipate their minds.”
 
Additionally, his answer to the question that “his critics say that Hitler and Stalin were not religious, yet the worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis. They came from political ideology,” was non-convincing at best and almost denying clear truths at worst.

Furthermore, Hitchens ignorantly and wrongly claims that no Muslims have condemned the violence that other extremist Muslims commit. In fact, the condemnation of violence by moderate average Muslims can fill the pages of a very thick book, including the condemnation of this writer who gives Friday sermons in different Islamic centers in the Chicago area. Yet, in Mr. Hitchens’ so-called enlightened mind it is the problem of Muslims that they don’t go out of their way to be honored in placing copies of their words on his majesty’s desk, so per chance, he might give them the honor of glancing at them! Arrogance and emancipated mind are not compatible, Mr. Hichens!
 
Finally, I have not heard that Mr. Hitchens personally, as a leader of a movement, or as a spokesman for atheism had ever condemned the evil wars and violence initiated by evil G. Bush and company; wars that have been with us for over four years now, claiming the innocent lives of close to a million people. Mr. Hitchens’ intellectual muscles and activism should be directed at these atrocities, initiated here in our home land, in our names and by our tax-payer money, all based on lies, deception and pure evil.

Talk is easy Mr. Hitchens, especially when it is not done live in front of an intelligent and free-thinking audience. May you continue to be blessed in your faith in Marxism! But please save us the rants of attacking things that you seem not able to grasp or comprehend! Also, rest assured that for billions of believers around the world, you’re no match for Moses, Jesus or Muhammad; those great prophets and reformers of many nations’ spiritual and material lives.

In fact, reading people like Hitchens strengthens my attachment to the beautiful teachings of my faith; and it is for this that I don’t consider the time spent on reading this interview as wasted.

Report this

By Chuck, June 8, 2007 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the confusion here is comparing people to the religion. Most religions don’t teach violence it is the people that corrupt it with their own violent minds. Believe me atheistism doesn’t cure that. People will always be violent as long as they think it. Atheists have killed before, Communism is a good example of an atheistic idea, which everyone has seen how wonderful that went. About 100 million dead and brainwashed people. Instead it is more important to have religious freedom and not not oppress anyone or belittle anyone for their beliefs. This concept seems to be misunderstood by many atheists and they are setting themselfs up for a conflict and are acting quite like the converters they complain so much about. The religion itself may not be bad, it is the people that can be.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 8, 2007 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment

I need to read his book.  Hitchens down side may be, his using absolutisms against all religions,  He could have been more like “Consumers Reports” and had a rating system?  Guess that would cause other problems. 

He does go against the grain, that is what makes his point of view refreshing.

Report this

By Malini, June 8, 2007 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi All!

Buddhism teaches nonviolence and supreme respect for all living beings.  It focuses on the purity of one’s mind.  The actions during one’s lifetime is believed to utimately decide his or her own destiny. 

Buddhism never used force to spread its faith.

Wishing you good health & happiness,

Malini

Report this

By The Flying Trilobite, June 8, 2007 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The more I read of Hitchens, the more I like his style. He’s direct, and has a great command of history and personal anecdotes.

Hitchens: “That’s not faith, by definition. You can’t have faith in reason. It’s not a dogma. It’s a conviction that this is the only way that discovery and progress can be made.”

So true. You can’t whitewash science and reason with the faith brush and make it another sect.

Report this

By Jason, June 8, 2007 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

You can’t derive Gitmo or the like from Jefferson or Paine anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Report this
newsuperhuman's avatar

By newsuperhuman, June 8, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

“What the hell is this jerk talking about?  No nation ever went the way of the Gulags or concentration camps by following ...Jefferson or Pane?

Has the man of all knowledge never heard of the Japanese interment camps or Gitmo or do we not follow Jefferson and Paine?”

What an ignorant comment. I love when pseudo-intellectuals conflate every deed performed by the US with the worst crimes in history. First, America has apologized for the Japanese Internment camps, but even so, to compare them to gulags or concentration camps is sheer idiocy and ignorance. The Japanese weren’t tortured and slaughtered in the internment camps. Gitmo? America’s not allowed to defend itself against terrorists that bomb our cities and embassies? Get an education bro.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 8, 2007 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Those who prostitute religion as did HItler, and as do wrongheaded Islamists, Christians, and Jewish Zionists to give themselves justification for their atrocities, whenever it happened throughout history, hack religion for their own laundry lists. Was WWII about racisim, well anti-Semitism is racism and while Semite technically refers to a linguistic family, viz, Semitic languages of Middle Eastern origin, it has come to specifically mean Jewish people.  The term Jewish inextricably ties ethnicity to religion, so yeah, although WWII was about economic (read greed) domination, it was also about using (i.e., prostituting) religion.  It just bloody well doesn’t matter what name the savages call God.  We are in Iraq because GWB used religion to lay claim to its oil.  That is what ‘lay claim’ means, it means preemptive. Hitler used religion to create mass hysteria, that means the German people were prime candidates for mass hysteria. It also says that the ignorant will not inherit the Earth. George Bush uses mass hysteria masking his real intentions with the veil of religion, he said himself that God speaks to him. Now the invention of religion (all religions) has given mankind many many good virtues, wholly constructive for a productive society. And mankind is a social animal, who, like other animals, likes to be with others of their own species. But humans developed a brain that evolved to overcome its animal instincts of utter self-preservation, which by the way religion serves the purpose to promote. Religion is a beneficial hypothetical construct. That being said Mike Mid-City is right, religion doesn’t poison everything, people do.  Just as guns don’t kill. But then men invented all religions, because they had to for self-fulfilling purposes, and men invented guns for their own avaricious purpose. Guns are more efficient than arrows and knives.

Atheists, however, don’t use religion. They glimpse the heights of mankind’s intelligence. If the case is made that man is made in some God’s image, then that intelligence is complimentary. But, mankind, in general, has not evolved enough to shed its wretched nature and still covets. Its depravity causes it to debase its religions and engages in racism, wars for “religious” causes (ideologies), vested interests, whatever, it is always a conscious decision.

Report this

By Rosco, June 8, 2007 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

Religion kills.

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 11:24 pm Link to this comment

Re: #76259 by Mike Mid-City

The fact that you find Lefty’s “argument” compelling has less to do with whether you have a degree and more to do with your poor critical reasoning skills.  Lefty offered no evidence whatsoever that supported his claim.  All he did was repeat his assertion in various ways.

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

Re: #76242 by Lefty

Unless you have some special definition for “idiot” (perhaps something like ‘anyone that disagrees with me’), your assessment of my intelligence is certainly false and irrelevant.

There’s actually evidence against the claim that we’re genetically predisposed to be racists.  Very young children are not surprised when objects of a different colour helped one another.  I could dig up the article if I gave two shits and if I thought you had anything valuable to contribute, but your facile dismissal of anyone that disagrees with you is reason enough for me to believe that you’re nothing more than a flamer or an unskilled troll.  I don’t think you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about.  The only way for you to prove me wrong is to do what I asked in the first place - step your argument above the level of mere assertion.

Report this

By Freedomfinder, June 7, 2007 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

Who cares what this lush has to say?

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

Re: #76221 by Lefty

So everyone’s genetically a racist, huh?  What’s your evidence?  What gene is it?

I personally think you’re talking out of your ass.

Report this

By David, June 7, 2007 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t follow any organized religion and I agree that religion is often used to justify horrible acts- but when I read Hitchens all I can think is…

What an ass!

Report this
Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, June 7, 2007 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

On the other hand, I am a student of comparative religion. I think you can learn great lessons about human nature if you read Greek myths, Bible myths, or just about any other myth; that is, so long as you read the myths with a grain of salt.

My favorites are usually the Greek myths, where the gods are portrayed as having all the human foibles, but with a lot more power. The Greeks could share a laugh about old man Zeus and his constant escapades with mortal women, all the while being hounded by his jealous wife. The Biblical God is never so approachable, though his personality definitely seems to change from book to book.

The Norse myths are also fascinating, though very dark and often disturbing.

Observe that, in human history, societies eventually dismiss the more silly or evil doctrines with an embarrassed shrug: for example, most of us no longer feel we need to stone gay people and adulterers, or march around a stone altar, singing, while sprinkling fresh lamb’s blood.

Religion evolves and matures as societies evolve and mature.

Report this

By Amir, June 7, 2007 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a matter of fact, Ayatollah Sistani has strictly ordered not to retaliate against the suicide bombing of civilians as retaliation would only lead to killing more innocent civilians.
His edict is obviously not accepted by everyone and Bush-Blair gang have been organizing their own private militias and death squad gangs which leads to more and more killing.
One only has to look at Guatemala, El Salvador, Vietnam (A Beautiful American) to realize the depth of depravity of Machiavellian politicians.

Report this

By WW2, June 7, 2007 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I detest Hitchens but agree with his view on the difference between “God” and “Religion.”

Report this

By boris fisk, June 7, 2007 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A pompous and self-indulgent ass, Hitchens is.  Institutionalized religion is guilty of a legion of atrocities, to be sure.  However, the tradition of the saints in all religions who actually were enlightened enough to have a direct experience of God is what true religion is.  Jesus, St. Francis, Rumi, Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramakrishna…etc.  Read what the saints from every tradition had to say about God.  It’s remarkably similar.  Love, compassion, tolerance…  Reason and the intellect are ultimately limited and short-sighted and will paint you into a rather nasty corner as Hitchens has so convincingly demonstrated.

Report this

By Max Shields, June 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

#76086 by Shenonymous on 6/07 at 11:09 am

Look, you and Hitchens can conflate every war as a religious war, but when will people like Hitchens own up to their support of force throughout the world against whatever “evil” they consider to be.

The reasons for WWII were many, but among the top was what gave “birth” to facism in 1930s Germany: Germany was in a shambles after WWI, economically and socially. You can read into Hitler what you will. Some, here, may think GW Bush was the second coming. So? Is THAT really why we’re in Iraq?

What we know of Hitler and his propaganda chief, Goebbels, was a carefully staged and crafted communication to provoke and sustain a militaristic rampage. If there is a speech either gave in the name of God or religion to assoicate the Third Reich with a religious crusade, please present it. Is every dictator a religious zealot? There is no escaping the zigzag “logic” Hitchens wields (or those who are trying to make sense of his nonsense).

Anti-Semitism is not confined to religion, per se. It is to be against a culture and ethnic group of semitic heritage, in this case the Jewish people. War is about domination. For Hitler it was the superiority of the Aryan “race” over all others. So, was WWII a racial war?

With regard to these recent posts on God and Godlessness, it seems we’re witnessing not only a re-writing of history to fit an anti-religious mind-set, but the actual creation of a new religion - I dare not call it atheism because it has the fundamentalist tin ear that atheism has never exhibited.

Report this

By PJ, June 7, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although I enjoyed this interview and side strongly with Hitchen’s, I find it quite disturbing that he poisons his own body by smoking, despite all the evidence that it is clearly unhealthy.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 7, 2007 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

Well, let’s see…the Crusades is just one example and one of the most romanticized march of bloody violence against whatever, whoever got in their way. The Spanish Inquisition also bloody against the Moors (Islamics).  Again, WWII…Hitler set himself up as der Fuhrer, and although fuhrer in German means leader, Hitler’s every behavior and act was given for others to believe he was the “final fuhrer” which is Biblical and the New World Order a Biblical prophesy. And, oh, wasn’t Hitlers target the Jews (uh, a religious based group)? Hence, the war was about religious strife; nationalism is akin to a religiousity. Which also describes the Islamist extremists and fundamentalist Christians, as well as the Zionists. Hitchins well points out the Emporer of Japan used his Buddhism to justify his participation in WWII. But all that notwithstanding, the war in Bosnia is religious based, the wars in Africa is religious based, the Catholic bloodshed against the Amazon natives was religious based, and the Hispanic Wars in Mexico, Peru, ad nauseum. Those who deny mankinds’ utilitarian exploitation of their ‘man’ufactured religions to completely exploit, devour, consume the dispossessed choose to be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.  Hitchens, while I agree, does have some flaws, points out the hubris that overwhelms the ignorant and astounds the educated. He is a gauge for the way too comfortable state of mental hibernation and complacency.

Report this

By Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz, June 7, 2007 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens is a most convincing orator.  His speculations are backed by logic and reason which are sensible and compelling.
It’s my personal belief that religions are the great brainwash of the entire world.  It began almost as soon as man emerged from the slime and stood on his two legs; beheld the vast sky over his head and soon following that, had to give himself an answer for his being.  Driven by his innate omnipotence, he could not accept that he was alone in the universe, therefore, he created a god for himself.  The most ridiculous aspect of religions is that man made his all benevolent god and absolved him of any responsibility by declaring that god gave man free will.  Thus, all the ugliness that occurrs in the world occurrs as god looks down upon his lambs and does nothing to help.  There is something extremely sick about this concept.  It is the delusional mind that adheres to this philosophy.  It is this philosophy that will eventually destroy life on planet Earth.

Report this

By R.A. Landbeck, June 7, 2007 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Mr. Hitchens only knew how easy it would be to bring the entire edifice of montheism crashing down on itself, he probably wouldn’t believe it either? Such is the power of prejudice to limit creative imagination.

Anyone for religious revolution? Some interesting links:
http://www.energon.uklinux.net
http://thefinalfreedoms.bulldoghome.com
http://www.dunwanderinpress.org 
http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/1676
http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/1726

Report this

By Dale Headley, June 7, 2007 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I dislike Christopher Hitchens intensely; and I agree with everything he has to say about religion.

Report this

By Max Shields, June 7, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Hitchen’s reasoning to the question on Hitler and Stalin not being religious:

“Hitchens: That’s easy. Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommends Catholicism quite highly in “Mein Kampf.” Fascism, as distinct from National Socialism, was in effect a Catholic movement.” 

This is pure BS. Facism is not about a Catholic movement. Nor did WWII have its roots in a religious movement of any kind.

What about Stalin?  He wasn’t religious.

“Hitchens: Stalin—easier still.  For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to god, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot.  If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you.  The task of atheists is to raise people above that level of servility and credulity…”

Again, Hitchens makes up his little story about Stalin and weaves some theistic blabber that has no source in the history texts. But matter not he. Hitchens has a narrative to sell and he aint going to let any facts get in the way.

Look, I have absolutely no issue with atheism or theism. Both have their place in the human psyche. But Hitchens is not simply providing an atheistic argument, he is providing a political argument and using theism as the basis.

A case can be made against extremists, against fundamentalists of all kinds whether these be religious or policitical, cultural or economic. But that’s not where Hitchens is going with his polemic.

The case against religion is not new. Greater minds have tangled with transcendence and greater minds have embraced transcendency.

Hitchens is not one of them. His penchant for ranting should be seen for what it is: preaching. He won’t take no for an answer and his narrative is THE narrative. By god!

I find neither Hitchens’ nor Harris’ arguments convincing because they are so dishonest.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 7, 2007 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

#76050 by Paolo

My sentiments are the same.  Religion may be fine, if it could not to push it’s views on others.  The very nature of the beast defies reason

Report this

By peacefull1, June 7, 2007 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchen’s is brilliant.  He crushed every counter-argument Weiner put forth.  I would like to see Truthdig interview some religious authorities and have them defend their ideology that basically infers that all humans should throw reason out the windowand replace it with absurd unsupported ideas about the nature of reality.  These are the people that make weak unjustified arguments and spread bigotry throughout the world.  These are the people that we have a moral obligation to challenge

Report this
Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, June 7, 2007 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Religion, by definition, is the realm of speculation. Religions propositions cannot be proved or demonstrated. Religious assertions, properly understood, are neither true nor false: they are merely arbitrary (that is, they cannot be proved or demonstrated).

I have no problem with religion so long as it is entirely a private matter. Unfortunately, the very nature of religion tends to make believers want to cram their mystic revelations down everyone else’s throats. People who profess faith in an organized religion unfortunately put themselves in a vulnerable position: what if the leader of that faith (whether the leader be called “Pope,” “Caliph,” “Rabbi,” “Swami,” or any other name)claims his god has told him to wipe out all infidels?

Do you renounce your faith, or take part in the bloodletting? Unfortunately, because the faithful believe their mystic intuition and speculation is superior to reason, they more often than not take part in the slaughter.

The founders of the American republic tried to address this nasty human tendency by prohibiting an “establishment of religion.” The result is our very vibrant, comparatively tolerant society. But religious fanaticism always seems to lurk just beneath the surface.

Report this

By Max Shields, June 7, 2007 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Hitchens is all over the political map - going to whatever appeals to him at the moment. He’s sided with the neocons, he’s been an avid Trotskyite, he’s supported and been an apologist for Bush and most specifically his invasion and occupation in Iraq.

American occupation of Iraq is not about religion. WWI and WWII the bloodiest in human history was not about religion or God. Korea and Vietnam were not about religion.

Whether one argues the exitence or non-existence of God it’s not a political issue. That religion and faith is used at times for the gullable to sign-up to fight the bloody wars of the elite is certainly has at times been the case, but it is NOT the only case. How many centuries back do we need to go to conjure up the Crusades.

Liberals have their blind spot of intervensionism - neoliberals embrace the holiness of American and Western superiority.

But the obsession by him and Harris and their anti-religious rants blended with an anti-Arab/Islamophobia makes you wonder why their hi-jacking the atheist position for a political agenda.

Maybe their hoping that those who buy their atheism will buy their politics as well.

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Re: #75992 by circa1954

When Hitchens is talking about faith, he’s not talking about a mere “confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing,” so your statement that one can therefore have faith in logic and science is based on an equivocation.

Report this

By THOMAS BILLIS, June 7, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is something that is most difficult to do agree with Chris Hitchens.If all religion were wiped from the memories of man tomorrow the next day charlatans would appear out of caves with the new rules to get to heavan.The bottom line man fears death and will believe the most outrageous things to continue to live on in heavan or whatever the equivalent is in every other religion.We are so full of the greatness of ourselves that we cannot possibly just die and that be the end of it.

Report this

By N. Stillman, June 7, 2007 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo, Hitchens! - Game, set and match.

Report this

By B. K. Brumley, June 7, 2007 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really must read Mr. Hitchen’s book before making much comment. However, as a life-long student of the Bible, and from some statements in this interview, it appears Mr. Hitchens is ignorant of biblical scholarship and historical theology.

But again - I’ll need to read his book to understand his argument. Otherwise I would make similar mistakes as he does with his broad generalizations and non-sequitors.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 7, 2007 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

Chritopher Hitchens is a mixed bag to read or listen to. Many of his ideas (thoughts) are the most insightful on certain topics such as God, religion, politics in general. Those I totally agree with but have no illusion the world can put away their zeal-based religions. Christianity has been one of the worst in terms of murdering people, just read about the Crusades. The Bible itself is a chronicle of religious wars. It is staggering. And the history of Islam and the Jews run second and third. Of course they have gone running around killing each other. Maybe they will all wipe each other out. Oh, as Hitchens points out, Buddhists have left a bloody trail also. So goes religion! I’ve read numerous of his articles in Slate, etc., and heard a few of his interviews, but he does seem to run off at the end of the mouth when it comes to criticizing such people as Michael Moore and there I think he is quite wrong and only shows his betrayal of his own objectivity.

Report this

By circa1954, June 7, 2007 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

First off, I must take issue with his definition of faith as only being related to dogma, which is not accurate.

Faith, by definition is…
1) Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
(Therefore, your faith CAN be in reason and science.)
2) Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3) Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
4) often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
5) The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
A set of principles or beliefs

Since we as humans are susceptible to being allured by fame, power and wealth, the killing will go on regardless of religion or the lack of religion.  It would just be replaced by some other set of traits. 

Race?  Class?  Wealth?  Health?  Education?

Humans as individuals and as nations will always kill, they always have.

Why blame it all on Christians?

It’s easy to do if you neglect to figure in the psychology of it all.  It’s about power - wanting everyone to do what you do, accept what you accept - then you feel important, worthy, and proud.  It’s the human condition. 

NOTE: You is spoken in general, not specifically to the interviewer nor the interviewee.

If more Christians would get it right, and just follow the teachings and simple commandments of Love as instructed and given by Jesus Christ, then there would be no killing in the name of Christianity.

Report this

By Rob, June 7, 2007 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

Hitchens has one thing that most of us only wish we had. That thing is a rational discourse concerning the condition we find ourselves in.  I have not heard of him being backed into a corner, or having to retreat from his ideas.  But then, Science has that same reputation.  It has never had to abandon it basic premises, only adjust them, as more information becomes available.  Gravity still rings true.  Every step in religion has proved illogical and has had to retreat from one position after another.  The earth is 6,000 years old and there was once a talking snake in a garden still cracks me up.
Attack Christopher Hitchens - in fact attack all lovers of truth.  The curtain has been pulled back to reveal the awful lessons of religion.  We can’t unlearn what we see.

Report this

By Paul, June 7, 2007 at 6:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens is very naive in his defence of reason. Clearly he’s poorly informed about the relevant philosophical debate on reason that goes back for centuries. Hume, Kant, Russell, Ayer, Popper are some the great names here. Saying, as Hitchens does, that it’s a conviction instead of a dogma is of course laughably inadequate.

Popper who surely is one of the most steadfast and penetrating thinkers about reason (and a vehement defender of it), always used to say he had faith in reason, realising that there is no decisive argument that can justify rationalism and science. It was his American pupil William Bartley who then took Popper’s own thinking the logical step further: accept the lack of justication but at the same counter it with the notion that rationalism means criticisability. Being rational means being ready to criticize any position or idea if you think there’s good reason to do so. That includes the criticism of values, including rationality itself. Most importantly you have to criticize and be ready to modify your own ideas, values, positions. Your opinons, values etc. are then held in critical prefence instead of dogmatically. In fact this whole approach is that used in (good) scientific practice. Popper subsequently accepted Bartley’s extension of his own ideas.       

For anybody really interested in this debate I strongly recommend reading Bartley’s magnificent book ‘The Retreat to Committment’. Just forget about Hitchens who obviously just pulled a quicky on this issue for whatever reason (most likely to do with his personal market position).

Cheers Paul

Report this

By valupak, June 7, 2007 at 3:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve been loving Hitchens on his “God is Not Great” book tour. It’s too bad though, that I always remember his past, ugh, even present BLIND FAITH that our invasion of Iraq-2003 was ‘great and good’.

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 1:17 am Link to this comment

Bring it, biznitch.

Report this

By kalia, June 7, 2007 at 12:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens is only unwittingly confirming what the Bible says about the fallen state of man. His denunciation is in fact an affirmation and an object lesson of the universal truth.

Report this

By Jason, June 7, 2007 at 12:44 am Link to this comment

Re: #75905 by Humble Servant

Your comment raises an issue that Hitchens addressed in this very interview, but you haven’t in any way considered his response.  Since you didn’t consider Hitchens’ response to this issue, it seems like you haven’t read the interview in full or given it much thought.

Re: Mike

This will be my last response to the issue of our opinions of one another.  I didn’t call you any names.  I made comments about your comments - namely that some of them were poorly presented, redundant, and false or irrelevant.  These claims I supported by citing criteria for these descriptions.  None of these statements have anything to do with you as a person.  They are not name-calling.  On the other hand, you’ve called me a snob and a jerk.  On what grounds could you object if I decided to reciprocate?

Don’t confuse what I objected to in your comments.  I haven’t said that I don’t like the fact that you disagree with me.  I don’t mind that at all.  It’s the other qualities of your comments that I dislike.

I hope that this clears up the matter somewhat.  Have a nice day.

Report this

By Sally A. Bridges, June 7, 2007 at 12:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Hitchens is right.  I have more than entertained the thought that there is more to existence than meets the eye (actually, so does science).  We need to be careful on both ends of the spectrum when dismissing one argument or the other.  Having said that, I totally agree that religion is a festering poison throughout history.  It has done more harm than good.  I have not yet read his book, as yet, but I just received it in the mail and look foreword to reading it.  I share Mr. Hitchens passion in condemning the way religion has been used throughout history to keep the masses in line by threatening their very souls.  It takes guts to attack the underpinnings of society’s core beliefs.  For so many people (reporters included), it’s easier to pretend that you believe, so as not to be condemned by those who are frightened by other points of view (just think of how the Bush Administration has cowed the press until just recently).  It’s sad to say, but modern society has lost its courage to speak up, but instead rides on the coattails of the status quo.

Report this

By Humble Servant, June 6, 2007 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

And we know what a utopian society was created in atheistic Russia.

Once again,
Your Humble Servant

Report this

By slewis, June 6, 2007 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Life is a grand stage and to Christoper Hitches the stage can never be large enough and the lights never shine too long. Hitch the entertainer, the drama king and ever the insightful political and now secular surgeon. The drama and entertainment is seemingly never ending and the drum beat pounding that right, reason and intellect are always on Hitch’s side never stills.

I wonder, move Hitch to a temporary sports critic platform and his platitudes are “the view” or do they shrink to that of just “another view” by a malcontent writer from just another town.

Or move Hitch in front of the televison camera doing the nightly weather. The way is hair is frocked, the rocking and rolling of his head all lends to a report on heavy weather some days and blissfull normalcy on others. What would Hitch do if he projected blue skies and mother nature parlayed a blistery storm. I guess we’d hear that mother nature was and is off based.

For a moment, shift Hitch off the political or religious critic stage and his human antics mimic that of the old silent films where acting was everything and humor and tragedy were always at play.

I’ve seen and read too much of Hitch in the past half decade. He’s an intellect that could pop the top off of most cerebral wanabees and his sense of history is quite so complete. But how long can one hold “hearts and hands” with one of most omniscient souls on the earth and never sense a breath of civil humility.

Who knows which direction one’s secular or religious compass should point? As to gravitational pull though, if I want lively entertainment, I’ll turn to Hitch; and if I want civil talk re viable secular or religous matter maybe I should just wait until Hitch’s time on the stage has run, and after that, listen in.

Report this

By richard locicero, June 6, 2007 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hitchens’ arguments would carry more weight if it weren’t for the fact that he has spent the last six years carrying water for George W. Bush and all his works. Since Bush claims that his favorite philospher is Jesus, that he listens to “His Higher Father” and that friends tell the media that he believes God made him President to fight the Terrorists I’ll suggest that there is some selective outrage there.

Maybe his brother Peter is right when he says that Chris’s non-belief in God led him to support the Iraq War.

Report this

By Pavithran, June 6, 2007 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchen’s point must be well taken. Religion is not innocent as it pretends. It is the aspiration of people to find security in life and hence selfish to the core. However it creates its own antithesis to transcend selfishness. You cannot get rid of religion. Buddhism, orignally antireligious, antitheisitc ideology became a fundamentalist religion;similarly Marxism and atheism also establish itself as religion by their praxis. May we better organise our life by challenging, resisting religion, just as Jesus or Buddha did. Be counter religionists in religion. Let us put up with relaity.

Report this

By EoS, June 6, 2007 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris is right in his logic. But politics doesn’t follow logic, and Weiner’s point about aggressive atheism recruiting people for the Republicans should be addressed. Just as aggressive support for gay marriage may have tipped the electoral balance in 04, pushing atheism sooner than the people are ready for it could backfire. To many causes there can be a political price that is paid by the rest of us. We should be careful in how we state our arguments, we don’t want to throw too much red-meat to the fundies.

  The Republicans would love to separate agnostics, from religious liberals. Instead let us separate non-theocratic liberartians from the evangelicals.

  On a somewhat different tack. IMO the problem with god, is the problem that some people consider god to be overwhelming more important than humans. Once one believes that god’s wishes are more important than human life, the door is opened for terrible attrocities. People of faith need to recognize this danger. Remember that the purpose of religion is to improve human lives and society here on earth, don’t get it backwards and expend human lives in the service of religion.

Report this

By Jason, June 6, 2007 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment

RE: Comment # 75854 and 75850 by Mike Mid-City

Hitchens’ arguments in this interview stand or fall independently of whether he happens to have a bad habit.  Yes, he smokes.  Yes, it’s unwise.  Moving on.

I’m not pretending that your poor grammar is relevant to the issues raised by the recent articles on Hedges, Hitchens, Harris and the like.  It’s a stylistic complaint. 

In addition to the grammatical distraction, I’ve noticed that you’re making claims that are essentially identical to those that have been made and dealt with in some of the other articles’ comments sections.  You called Hitchens a fundamentalist, for example, but this subject was addressed in another comment section of an article that I know you read because you commented on it.  Calling Hitchens a fundamentalist is either a shallow ad hominem or a meaningful claim.  If it’s the former, then you’re lowering the level of discourse.  If it’s the latter then it’s either patently false since one can’t be a fundamentalist without a holy text, or it’s impotent because it can be correctly used to describe anyone (in the case of defining it as strict adherence to a set of principles). 

Very poor grammar and meaningless and irrelevant claims lower the level of discourse well below what these topics deserve.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

Christopher Hitchens is like the Don Rickles of everything.  Read the trashing he gave RR. in the “New Yorker”.  Unfortunitly he supports the Iraq war with hard to beat logic.  I suspect he may have made a deal with Bush and company, because he just became a citizen.  Even when I disagree with him,  his arguments are hard to beat, which suites me fine.

Just bought his book, he acts and reminds me of my alcoholic uncle who is a major A-hole. 

It is nice to hear reason used in arguments, for a change.

Report this

By dsmith, June 6, 2007 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Notice Weiner, who is Jewish, and Hitchens whose wife and maternal grandmother are Jewish take pleasure in bashing Christianity and Islam. Little is said about the current zealots of Zionism who persuaded Bush to invade Iraq and now are cheerleaders for the invasion, or bombing of Iran. It pisses me off that they don’t attack the looney tune characters associated with Israel.

If you’re going to condemn religion, then condemn them all. Jews are not a protected species!

Report this

By Jason, June 6, 2007 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

What’s ironic about that?  Hitchens said “I blame religion,” not god.  Did you miss it?

As for Mike, who claims that “with God anything is possible,” can God bestow you with the power to writetwo paragraphs without a grammatical mistake?  Your comments were addressed in other threads.  Do you read anything other than your own comments?

Report this

By Matt, June 6, 2007 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fanatical ideologies in general - be they religious or “secular” - are the problem.

As a fanatical neoconservative ideologue who promoted the Iraq war, is now promoting a war against Iran, and endorses the Repub-Likud project to advance Israel’s ethnic supremacist, expansionist agenda by any means at hand, Hitchens has no business spewing his alcoholic bile at religious zealots for their irrationality or lack of compassion.

Report this

By bill, June 6, 2007 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find it ironic that in the end he cites Einstein, and Jefferson, who acknowledge god, but not any particular religion.

I agree that religion is bad, but not spirituality, not belief in god.

Some of the more progressive spiritual minds of late promote toleration.  Eckart Tolle and Neale Donald Walsch come to mind.  Further more they indicate that the fact that all major religions say there is one god, then why can’t they all be the same (in essence).  The problem is religion that feels that they are better, or chosen, or what ever more than everyone else.  God isn’t the problem.

I don’t subscribe to any religion, but I am spiritual, I think that if you read Einstein and Jefferson you will find the same.  They aren’t religious to any main group that I have ever heard of though.

Plus the thing that I have wrapped my brain around since hearing of the Big Bang is “what was here before that?” and I haven’t heard a good scientific explanation.

Just my $.02
Bill

Report this

By tomack, June 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are many others like Mr. Hitchens, myself for instance. We just don’t get picked up in the polls I guess. Or we lie when asked. Based on my own experience I do not think that 94% of Americans believe in God. Granted, I am not, as an individual, “poll-worthy”, however I have known a very large number of people throughout my life and, again, many of them are not believers.

In addition, just saying you are a believer doesn’t make you one. Oh, sweet justification!

Report this

By joshua welch, June 6, 2007 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitchens is brilliant.  He crushed every counter-argument Weiner put forth.  I would like to see an interview w/ some religious people and have them defend the idea that all human beings should throw reason out the windowand replace it with popular fairy tales like Christianity and Islam.

Report this

By kikz, June 6, 2007 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

truth is truth.

Report this

Page 9 of 9 pages « First  <  7 8 9

 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook