03 September 2007

Schism, Not Atheism

Christopher Hitchens, discussing Mother Teresa's dark night of the soul:
She tried her best to believe. Her atheism was not like mine. I can‘t believe it and I am glad to think that it is not true, that there is a dictator in the heavens. So the fact that there is no evidence for it pleases me.
Hitchens couldn't be any clearer that his atheism is not the result of firm materialism, but stems from his politics. He can't accept "a dictator in the heavens."

17 comments:

Hey Skipper said...

David:

Hitchens couldn't be any clearer that his atheism is not the result of firm materialism, but stems from his politics.

Betrayed by using "atheist" instead of "anti-theist", you clearly don't understand his argument.

Which is, seriously abbreviated, this:

1. No one can say anything definitive about G-d, hence all religions must be human constructed, out of whole cloth.

2. All religions are, at heart, totalitarian.

It isn't that he can't accept a dictator in the heavens, but rather that there is absolutely no reason to suspect that such a dictator actually exists. IOW, since humans can't even come to agreement on G-d's first name for himself, then all claims to know G-d's desires for humanity are nothing more than hubristic nonsense: if there is no reason to believe something true, then there is every reason to believe it false.

BTW, Donohue doesn't understand Hitchen's argument, either.

Peter Burnet said...

How much more can our already gargantuan egos expand before they eventually blow, perhaps taking us all with them?

erp said...

Hitchens is, to use the modern vernacular, conflicted. He knows that the left is dead, but can't quite come to believe that the right is sitting up and taking nourishment.

We don't know G-d's last name? Do we know his first name?

Whether G-d exists or not, all we know about him is a human construct after all. Even believing that voice in one's head is G-d's, what we say or write about the conversation is from our own imperfect memory.

Peter Burnet said...

Skipper:

I want to assure you that the fact that we don't know God's first or last names shakes my faith not a whit. But sadly, I've been in the dark night of the soul since we misplaced His address.

erp said...

Good one Peter. When you find it, you will let us know, won't you.

b said...

Poor Hitch just can't accept that the "dictator in the heavens" doesn't do everything exactly the way that Christopher Hitchens would. Which means He must not exist. Or just maybe there's another explanation. Hmm....

Hey Skipper said...

b:

You substantiate my point.

Hitchen's argument has absolutely nothing to do with G-d, and everything to do with religion.

Which means you have completely turned Hitchen's argument around, a problem for which he cannot be blamed.

Peter:

Your faith in what?

b said...

skipper: OK, if you say so. That's totally and completely opposite from the impression I have gotten from his comments, but I confess I haven't read much of anything that he has written about religion recently because the few snippets I have read display no ideas that haven't been discussed for thousands of years, no awareness of said discussions, no knowledge about how the average religious person lives or thinks, and a tiresome hostility towards religious belief.

Personally, and this may be taken by some as a cheap shot, but I think he's basically Inigo Montoya.

joe shropshire said...

Nah, not OK if you say so. Skipper, how exactly do you get from this:

I can‘t believe it and I am glad to think that it is not true, that there is a dictator in the heavens

to this?

It isn't that he can't accept a dictator in the heavens

Hard to see how Hitch could have made himself any plainer.

Peter Burnet said...

Thank-you, Joe. I think Skipper's fondest fantasy is to rise to battle and fearlessly defend those fervent believers who refuse to go to church.

Hey Skipper said...

Joe:

I can‘t believe it and I am glad to think that it is not true, that there is a dictator in the heavens

to this?

It isn't that he can't accept a dictator in the heavens


Because there is precisely no evidence for the kind of totalitarian god postulated by monotheistic religions.

Which goes to his fundamental point that complete ignorance of god is no staring point for certainty about god's desires.

I can‘t believe it and I am glad to think that it is not true, that there pixies living in my computer.

It isn't that I can't accept it, only that I shall not, until it makes sense to do so.

Peter Burnet said...

Skipper, if you ever wonder whether your years of argumentative blogging have had any influence, let me reassure you they have. You have completely convinced me that the existence of God cannot be proven with a slide rule.

Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

This isn't about the existence of God.

joe shropshire said...

Of course not. It's about whether Chris Hitchens believes in him, which by his own admission here, he does. That of course is a different question from whether or not he exists.

Hey Skipper said...

Joe:

Have you read his book?

joe shropshire said...

Working on it, Skipper. Unfortunately I'm at work & will be until well into the evening.

Duck said...

Whether there is a god is an open question, but there is ample evidence to believe that if he does exist he is no dictator. Even the briefest perusal of human history proves that he will pretty much allow humans to do whatever they damn well please.