Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author of his memoir "Hitch 22," poses for a portrait outside his hotel in New York, June 7, 2010. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-HITCHENS-BOOK, originally transmitted on April 20, 2016.

God loves Christopher Hitchens anyway

This is the seventh yahrzeit (if one can accurately use the term) of Christopher Hitchens – pundit, public intellectual, pain in the butt, and notorious atheist.

I miss “Hitch,” as he was affectionately called. Not because I often agreed with him, which I did not.

No – I miss him because he was interesting, fun, and maddening. More than that: Hitch loved ideas, and we live in a time when there seems to be a shortage of ideas.

More than even that: I sometimes wonder what Hitch would be saying about the world today.

For the purposes of my remembrance of Hitch, let me remind you of a particular trend in American life that occurred about ten years ago. Hitch was one of its principle drivers, though he was not its only driver.

I am referring to his famous book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Hitch called organized religion "violent, irrational, intolerant, alllied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children."

He called  for humanity to "escape the gnarled hands which reach out to drag us back to the catacombs and the reeking altars and the guilty pleasures of subjection and abjection ... to know the enemy, and to prepare to fight it."

To mark Hitchens' yahrzeit, I decided re-skim his book.

This is what I learned -- or re-learned.

Hitch was a very smart man. He was a very intellectual man, a very clever person, a charming conversationalist who was apparently a lot of fun to hang out with and to share a drink with. Frankly, I would have loved to have had that opportunity.

But, for someone who wrote a best-selling book deriding religious faith, it is amazing how little he knew, and how superficially he had studied.

Yes, he browsed through the Bible -- enough to have found the passages that are offensive and/or irrational. But, beyond the Bible? No. Any works of theology? No.

Any encounter with, say, Maimonides to see how the great thinker might have responded to some of Hitchens' complaints? No.

It is as if someone who has never driven a car, and has never changed oil, chose to write a book on auto mechanics.

Let me focus on one topic that Hitchens raised. You will not be surprised to know that it is the most popular anti-religion allegation.

It is that religion is the source of war and violence in our world. When you consider that Hitchens wrote his book in the shadow of September 11, 2001, it is easy to see how he could have moved in that direction.

How do I respond to this allegation? Certainly without defensiveness. He is right. Religion had been the source of much violence and many wars -- though in a great many cases, religion was but the pretext for violence -- the real reasons often being economics and land grabbing.

However, if I were to simply look at the twentieth century, I would have to come up with the following grisly body count. Let me quote David Wolpe, who knew Hitch and nevertheless often rose up to debate him.

"The following staggering numbers of those killed are the results of societies, in each and every case, where religion was alternately persecuted, outlawed, or widely reviled:

20 million in the Soviet Union.

65 million in the People's Republic of China.

1 million in Viet Nam.

2 million in Korea.

2 million in Cambodia.

1 million in the Communist states of Eastern Europe.

The sobering truth: Atheistic regimes are far less tolerant than theistic regimes, and at least since the French Revolution, are far more likely to engage in large scale murder and genocide.

Hitchens could have viewed religion a different way.

He could have followed the path of a new book -- In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism by Scott A. Shay. Shay believes that we can summarize both religion and the moral life by citing only the first three of the Ten Commandments: I am God. Don't have false gods. Don't take the name of God in vain -- by which he means, don't do terrible things and ascribe them to God or religion.

He quotes Cardinal Timothy Dolan:

When atheists say, “you know organized religion has been the cause of some of the greatest horrors in the history of humanity,” we need to respond, mea culpa. I am afraid they are right. But we can add it has also been the cause of some of the greatest philanthropy and some of the greatest affirmation of human progress and charity and works of justice to humanity.

When I think of Hitchens, and his devout godlessness, I think of how Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first chief rabbi of pre-state Palestine, believed that atheism was actually useful.

Atheism has a right to existence, for it digests the impurities which attach to faith when true knowledge and worship of God are lacking. God wants us to uproot that dross which cuts people off from the true light of God. Upon the rubble heaps which are raised by the "denial of God," the lofty knowledge of God shall built its temple.

In other words: when people say that they don't believe in God, we would do well to unpack exactly what they mean by "God." In my experience, when people report their atheism to me, their view of God is rather literal, childlike, and quite at odds with what most sophisticated thinkers have thought.

Quite often, when people say they don't believe in God, I respond with: "Maybe you haven't met the right god yet."

God doesn't need our defense -- only our witnessing, only our testimony through lives well lived, and awe properly construed, and memories of moments filled with the divine presence.

In the end, I recall the words of the late Rabbi Balfour Brickner. "God is. We do."

Which I choose to interpret as: "Because God is.....this is what we must do."

Sounds like a plan.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Stopped reading when Soviet Union other countries were listed – oldest trope in the book. The murders in those regimes were to consolidate power and scapegoat certain segments of the population. They were not murdered in the name of atheism. Should also note, that the most atheistic democracies are also the most peaceful (Japan, Northern Europe, etc…) – so not only are you cherry picking data, you are cherry picking bad data….

  2. Poor Mr. Hitchens never got over his father issues.

    Yes this is a fact.

  3. In

    In not a single one of your examples of mass murder was anyone killed in the name of atheism, or with even a reference to atheism. In each and every case, millions were killed in the name of the state, on the name of ideologies destructiveto human health and happiness. In none of those cases did any of those regimes kill people in the name of any god, in the name of any god who is love, in the name of any fount of morality.

    On the other hand—

    How many witches were killed because of religious persecution? How many people died in the 250 years of warfare since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door? You can argue that those deaths were the result of politics, but they stated purpose was the spread of the one true faith or of the other true faith.

    85 million killed in China as a result of the religious delusions of God’s Chinese Son who was also the younger brother to Jesus Christ.

    40 millions dead as the result of world war 1, waged by Christian monarchs and peoples against other Christian monarchs and peoples, with both sides praying to the identical god, and thanking that god for their victories.

    Ceding the nonsense that ours is a Christian nation for the sake of argument— a Christian nation responsible for the genocide against the original occupants of our country.

    Germany murdered how many millions as a part of the holocaust? Germany was a Christian nation before, during, and after the holocaust and the war, the end point of 19p0 years of christian antisemitism. The Lutheran chirch’s support of Hitler was horrifying.

    How many people were murdered in Spain under his most catholic majesty, Francisco Franco?

    Shall we mention the entire population of the world being murdered for The Ultimate Religious Reason, apart from one old drunk and his family?

    The list goes on and on and on. I’m not here to trash religion; religion is quite capable of doing that it’s self. I’m not here to trash religion; I am here to trash the religious pretensions to morality.

  4. A paradox.
    Christopher Hitchens is now wrapped in the loving arms of God.
    Is Hitchens in Heaven because he will spend Eternity wrapped in the loving arms of God?
    Or is Hitchens in Hell because he will spend Eternity wrapped in the loving arms of God?

  5. And what do you mean by God?

    I agree that Hitchens as with many atheists and religious people was quite ignorant about religion–all the world’s religions–past and present.

  6. Noah was not and is not a drunk. You failed the test miserably. The word picture you speak of is merely an example of a common legality. In case you didn’t know, people did not read or write after the flood. The Bic lighters also did not get on the ark.

  7. It is as if someone who has never driven a car, and has never changed oil, chose to write a book on auto mechanics.

    That is crappy analogy. We are not discussing deity maintenance, we are discussing deity existence.

    A better analogy would be “It is as if someone who has never seen a Star Wars movie chose to conclude the Star Wars movies are all works of fiction.” Yeah, duh.

    Read your book. It is a book of fiction, complete with magic and curses, blood sacrifice and talking donkeys. One does not need to study ancient philosophers to figure out nonsense is really nonsense.

  8. What utter nonsense. No one who really knew Hitchens’ work would dare to say he had a superficial knowledge of any religion. It is amazing to me how far people will go in defending their religious delusions. Ad hominem attacks on individuals or on atheists in general are effective only to those who want to continue to believe. Pretending that atheists or Hitchens have superficial understanding just won’t cut it. Try some real arguments.

  9. Please list every book you read on the philosophy of religion before you concluded that Zeus is not real.

    Now list the books on eastern religion you studied before you concluded Ganesha is not real.

    Now list the books on Egyptian religion you studied before you concluded Osiris is not real.

    And now list the books on Norse religion you studied before you concluded Odin is not real.

    If you are like 99% of religious people worldwide, when you “chose” the religion your parents / family / community said was the right one you were ignorant of all other religions.

  10. DO NOT BE DECEIVED: NEITHER IS “religion … the source of war and violence in our world.” NOR ARE “atheistic regimes … far less tolerant than theistic regimes, and at least since the French Revolution, are far more likely to engage in large scale murder and genocide.” THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS. According to:

    (1) James A. Lucas, “Deaths In Other Nations Since WW II Due To US Interventions”, CounterCurrents, April 24, 2007.

    (2) James A. Lucas, “US Has Killed More Than 20 Million In 37 Nations Since WWII”, PopularResistance, November 27, 2015.

    (3) Nicolas J S Davies, “How Many Millions of People Have Been Killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? – Part One: Iraq”, Consortium News, March 22, 2018.

    (4) Nicolas J S Davies, “How Many People Has the U.S. Killed in its Post-9/11 Wars? Part 2: Afghanistan and Pakistan”, Consortium News, April 3, 2018.

    (5) Nicolas J S Davies, “How Many Millions Have Been Killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? Part 3: Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen”, Consortium News, April 25, 2018.

    (6) R.J. Rummel, “Chapter 13: Death By American Bombing And Other Democide”, Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900, Center for National Security Law, School of Law, University of Virginia; and Transaction Publishers, Rutgers University, 1997.

  11. Have you read the bible? It is about 10% pretty sound bites and the rest is either repugnant or absurd.

    Have you ever been around someone who can’t stop complimenting you? How quickly did you grow sick of them?

    Well, the deity wrote the bible as a test. She hates praise. It disgusts her. And anyone who thinks that the bible imparts wisdom or that the genocidal maniac of a deity described therein is worthy of praise is condemned to an eternity of Leave it to Beaver reruns.

    You don’t believe me? With evidence, prove me wrong.

  12. Then how would Hitchens & fellow Ashiests explain the #MeToo phenomenon of Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss & Al Franken combined and in tandem? No “superficial” answer, please.

  13. Is “nonsense … really nonsense”, though, maLARKey, when making sense of the Ashiesm of Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss & Al Franken, in light of #MeToo?

  14. So was the #MeToo indictment, then, of Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss & Al Franken issued “in the name of atheism” or as a curse upon it?

  15. I’m not sure what your asking. If they harassed women in their work capacity, then they deserve appropriate punishment. At least these people weren’t protected and moved around like many priests/ministers.

  16. China’s government isn’t just culturally Atheist, it’s officially Atheist. They ain’t hiding it. So let’s do the math.

    Atheist China + Chinese Christians = Scratch Christians.
    Atheist China +Tibetan Buddhists = Scratch Buddhists.
    Atheist China + Uighur Muslims = Scratch Muslims.

    No apologies. No religious freedom. And NO MERCY, if you’re the next mama to get in their way. But that Atheist horror show ain’t no sin — if you’re an Atheist. You see, God doesn’t exist, so his Bible stuff ain’t binding on anybody. (Which is why atheists never admit they are sinners like the rest of us.) Hey, it’s all natural selection anyway. Survival of the fittest, mama !!

  17. That some atheists, scientists and senators/comedians are guilty of sexual harrasment – or worse.

  18. I’m asking, Was the #MeToo victimization perpetrated “in the name of atheism”, in the absence or suspension of the Atheist Moral Compass? If no, why not, and where was the atheism? Just in the head but not in the lower body faculties?

  19. You mean Atheism ends up useless when the guilty act sets in? But perhaps Atheism acts as the muse for it to set in? What is The Theory & Praxis of Atheism here? More precisely, what power does Atheism have on these 4 so as to conduct themselves responsibly, rationally & just old plain nicely?

  20. Lark is saying the contents of the book are fiction. What do the “sins” of those people have to do with that? If you really want to play the whatabout game regarding sins of organized religion we can go back several centuries.

  21. So you are saying a fascist state is acting like a fascist state. My point exactly.

  22. Or is your apparent paradox a result of your ignorance and resulting inability to properly define God and how a Heaven or a Hell would fit into the deity?

  23. ” At least these people weren’t protected and moved around like many priests/ministers.”

    and school teachers, and politicians, and entertainment moguls, and …..

  24. Official atheism was part of the reason the Soviet Union, and China which continues, murdered religious believers since consolidating power involved scapegoating religion.

    Of course they were murdered in the name of atheism.

  25. “In not a single one of your examples of mass murder was anyone killed in
    the name of atheism, or with even a reference to atheism.”

    Put the doobie down.

  26. It would be easier to prove your bolts aren’t tight and not waste the time to “prove me wrong”.

  27. The sins of organized religion, or the sins of those who belong to an organized religion, or the sins in the same of an organized religion?

    Those are three separate sets of data.

  28. Okay, let’s have some real arguments … starting with yours.

  29. Good to see that you hold the priesthood to the same high moral standard as Hollywood. If I remember correctly, the priesthood is the lay person’s path to God. I don’t hear that level of moral hypocrisy coming from Hollywood.

    I would also like a reference that shows the education system had or has a this problem of similar magnitude. They recently called out 300 priests in Pennsylvania alone. Illinois is 690. That is only two states. Go peddle your false equivalency to someone else.

  30. They were murdered because it was a separate power structure from the state -and that couldn’t be allowed. The state became the religion, with miracle harvests, infallible leaders, and a system of thought control – essentially a competing dogma. Go throw sand someplace else.

  31. The state could only become the religion because in an atheistic state like the Soviet Union the state WAS the religion.

    As far “go throw sand someplace else”, you’re the party who brought your atheist litter box into the discussion.

  32. I have provided multiple references over months describing wholesale abuse in public school systems such as Chicago’s, including moving offenders about, hiding offenses from parents, and on and on.

    Observing the commandments and doing the will of God is the lay person’s path to God.

    Obviously your religious education consisted of reading the back of Cheerios boxes and reading Jack Chick comic books.

    There were not “300 priests” “called out”.

    Prosecutors’ reports are invariably one-side.

    Prosecutors pick the witnesses they present to the Grand Jury.

    Defense lawyers are not allowed to appear with their clients, or to present witnesses they might contradict the prosecutor’s witnesses or arguments.

    Prosecutors are not required to provide exculpatory evidence, even if they are aware of it.

    Nor need they interview witnesses that might contradict their narrative.

    That is why it is generally considered unfair for prosecutors to issue “reports”.

    Normally prosecutors announce a subject has been indicted, or not, without further comment.

    The report in Pennsylvania involved accusations, not convictions, not indictments over a period of at least five decades.

  33. Provide a reference please that supports your statements. Otherwise, I’m done talking with someone that justifies child abuse.

  34. See, my point exactly, to prove that it’s your instigating comment that’s “nonsensical” – that the victims of “murders in those regimes … were not murdered in the name of atheism.” THEY WERE, and you’re the living proof of that. That your atheism is capable of victimizing people. You can go now, Keen (as in Keen On … y’know).

  35. Let’s. I love the no-holds barred rule in the game, Critical Whataboutism. I’ll start by interjecting, Is “nonsense … really nonsense”, though, when making sense of the Ashiesm of Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss & Al Franken, in light of #MeToo? Now your turn, Omit Syringe, going “back several centuries”, if you wanna, wanna. THIS IS FUN.

  36. Your 3 Ancient Eyewitnessed Evidences coming right up, all yours, maLARKey, or rather your Counter-Eyewitnesses, to impossibly disprove in 48 hours. GO.

    (1) Acts 1:2-3 – “To the apostles whom He had chosen … Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing PROOFS [τεκμηρίοις = tekmeeriois = fixed and sure sign-post supplying indisputable, unmistakable, irrefutable information], appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

    (2) Acts 17:30-31 – “God … has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished PROOF [πίστιν = pistin = guarantee, certainty, assurance] to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

    (3) Romans 3:24-26 – “Our being justified as a gift by God’s grace is through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth in advance to achieve a particular purpose [προέθετο = proetheto] as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was for the DEMONSTRATION [ενδειξιν = endeixin = the showing forth, the pointing out, indication, proof, significance] of His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed. It was for the DEMONSTRATION [ibid], I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    TIK TOK
    TICK TOCK

  37. Christopher Hitchens may have been a harsh critic of organized religion, but honest people of faith cannot deny that much of what he said about it was true. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but I agreed with a lot of it, and I am a lifelong Christian. Jesus challenged the religious establishment of his day too and made them really uncomfortable, so much so that they killed him for it. Christopher Hitchens made some people really uncomfortable. I thought he was a hoot and I had great respect for his brilliant mind. But you know what they say, “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Hitchens did the latter in spades.

    Whenever Hitch would hit a nerve, instead of being angry and defensive, his detractors should have been grateful that he was doing them the favor of exposing weaknesses and flaws in their argument, which they then either had to rigorously defend or else cede his point. That only strengthens the kind of intellectual vigor that is sorely lacking in much of modern expressions of Christianity, which has devolved into a sickly miasma of passive info-tainment with hints of group therapy thrown in for good measure.

    The old intellectual tradition within Christianity (like its liturgical tradition) these days has become little more than a quaint artifact from a bygone era. Engagement with people like Hitchens could have brought it back. He at least cared enough about religion to engage with in. That’s more than can be said of the “nones,” who have simply walked away without saying a word.

  38. Good. You have no proof you’re reading the Bible right. By religious logic, that means I’m right. So sorry. Get ready for eternity, the Beave is waiting.

  39. Read your book. It makes the average fairy tale look like reality.

    The bible tells of a magic stick that becomes a snake. Also, a donkey carries on a conversation with its owner. And a man kills his daughter because he promised if god would give him a victory, he would kill the first person to leave his house when he got home.

    That’s all stuff normally found in myths and fairy tales.

    And you actually believe it? Seriously?

  40. Well, I do understand why religious people of all stripes find Hitch disagreeable, even offensive. Yes, Hitchens liked to smoke out the ugliest of the fundamentalists, Jihadists and Messianics. And of course, the Rabbi hits us with the Stalin and Mao atheist killers fallacy…when in fact both were semi-gods of their own religion, man-made faiths, like all.

    But Rabbi Salkin — your article does not try to take on Hitch’s strongest argument…the Abrahamic God’s “Celestial Dictatorship”. God is the absolutist…and we are the North Korean sheep-people who worship the Dear Celestial Leader.

    Also, the Rabbi is wrong about theology and philosophy…Hitchens does enlighten us…

    -> “You’d have to point to a society that adopted the teachings of Lucretius, Spinoza,
    Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Albert Einstein, and then fell into famine, dictatorship,
    torture, and genocide. And you won’t, I think, be able to point to such.”

    And the Rabbi Salkin is also wrong when he says Hitchens didn’t feed us some Maimonides (chill everybody 🙂 …

    -> “When Maimonides says that the Messiah will come but that ‘he may tarry,’ we see the origin of every Jewish shrug from Spinoza to Woody Allen.”

    — Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

  41. IOW, the Bible proving the Bible…

    In the words of Hitchens, “you’ll have to do far better than *that*!”

    (N.B., I’m also a Christian. Circular reasoning isn’t a proof.)

  42. There are some people who profess to being Christian but who practically speaking are atheists. These are the ones who do not practice what they preach, who where they see bad behaviour in one of their own shrug it off, but shout to high heaven about it when they see it in someone outside their group, who use the Bible to attack others and defend their privileges rather than to improve themselves much like many pharisees in Jesus’ time.

    If they really believed, they would take notice of verses like “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20).

  43. You DO like to babble on, don’t you?

    No one has a gun to your head to believe in anything.

    You really don’t have a reason for posting here beyond trolling folks who do believe something, do you?

  44. No, by any logic you’re a troll with a pointless script.

  45. No, Saddam(e), I wasn’t prooving anything; I was reporting 3 narratives that talk about The Christ Jesus and one of His 1st apostles way, way back proving the crucifixion and resurrection to their recipients of the good news. I want you now with the collaboration of maLARKey to take us all way, way back to your counter-eyewitnessing patsies who’d contradict Jesus & Paul’s Statement of Evidence.

    You & maLARKey have 39 hours to go and debunk these Ancient Eyewitness Accounts. And trust me, you’re NOT “also a Christian” as defined & demonstrated by Jesus & Paul. Get lost, stay lost, who cares. Not God & Jesus. Neither do I.

  46. You don’t define who is and who is not a Christian. That distinction belongs to Jesus alone, not you and not me.

    Your arrogance and callousness is hardly becoming someone who claims Christ. I’ll pray for you.

  47. another holier-than-thou creep. too bad you didn’t post this when hitchens was alive. i woulda loved to had see him tear you apart.

  48. Hitch has more intelligence and perspective in one dead fingernail than this author and these commenters have in all their whole bodies combined. Religious “reasoning” never ceases to amaze me…

  49. How do Christians explain child-molesting priests, or Boy Scouts, or the multitudes of way Christians have abused and murdered over their 1500 year history? People are people. Their religious beliefs are insignificant to their behavior. People make choices. What is your point?

  50. No.

    Another rational individual who understands debating with trolls is like dancing with pigs.

  51. Why would Christians have to explain child-molesting priests, Boy Scourts, or abuse or murder when you already have the answer – people make choices.

  52. To paraphrase his humble servant, “Let someone name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.” I’ll give you time.

  53. I’m not saying that sexual abuse doesn’t happen elsewhere. What I’m saying is that it hasn’t happened to the magnitude (especially the occupier) – a point you refuse to address. Additionally, none of the organizations you reference claim to hold ultimate morality and the keys to everlasting bliss – the stench of hypocrisy is thick. An organization that is supposed to represent the ultimate in morality couldn’t even figure out that moving pedophile priests from on parish to another was wrong. Regardless – a big old fat case of whatabboutism….

  54. I have already addressed the magnitude, or you didn’t read the articles.

    As to “Additionally, none of the organizations you reference claim to hold ultimate morality and the keys to everlasting bliss – the stench of hypocrisy is thick.”, the typical nonsense of anti-religious trolls like yourself, the very existence in Christian belief of both a Heaven AND a Hell provides the answer.

    And the existence of Judas among the Apostles confirms that.

    Then you try the “whatabboutism” dodge, also typical of anti-religious trolls.

    IF the human condition allows free will, AND the human condition is such that some humans will choose evil over good, THEN all you’ve pointed out is that Christians are humans.

    Have a nice day.

    And take your sophistries with you.

  55. And that they aren’t any more moral than the rest of the population, we agree on something – yes have a nice day.

  56. All you’ve demonstrated, which Christians acknowledge, is that some Christians behave immorally.

    Whether they behave immorally at the same rate, a lower rate, or a higher rate than non-Christians requires evidence and analysis which appear to be well beyond your pay grade.

    Have a nice day.

  57. I am not like most people. Surprised you haven’t figured that out! There isn’t room to list all the books I have read over my 60 some years! OH and I am not a religious person. I am an Atheist.

    Also it isn’t the number of books you read that matters. it is the quality of the books you read and whether you are capable of understanding them that matters!

  58. I already did: Ad hominem arguments are misleading and ineffective. This article employs them. The conclusion: the article is not making valid arguments.

  59. What possible connection could there be between your question and what I wrote? It is a clear red herring fallacy. My argument was that ad hominem attacks are ineffective and misleading. If you think ad hominem attacks are not, that would be the basis of an argument. Simply listing evil deeds and alleged evil deeds for specific people can be done for any group. It has no relevance to any argument that I can think of.

  60. There is no atheist moral compass. Each individual, atheist or theist, forms his own code of ethics and behavior.

  61. Hitchen’s body was donated to medicine. That is known. Whether he had a soul that lived on and whether there is a heaven or hell is pure speculation.

  62. You are arguing with Queen of Ad Hominems. Good luck with that.

  63. This is a strawman argument for the great christopher hitchens. He would have argued that the regime’s of the 20th century were not secular or atheist. He might have argued that the regimes of Stalin, Mao zedong, hitler, kim Ill sung, with maybe the exception of Mussolini . He just may also have argued that at least 2 of those leads didn’t worship Gods so much as they thought they were gods, so please don’t misrepresent my favorite journalist.

  64. Those that can’t accept an honest analysis of Hitchens and what he wrote are as disturbed, warped, psychologically as the Christians who can’t accept critical analysis of their beliefs.

    Hitchens had a very limited understanding of the great diversity within the world religions and of the basic purposes that religion has filled over the centuries. This was his basic flaw.

    What he didn’t realize is that IF you want to change an ideological belief you have to offer a better ideological belief that fulfills the purposes the first belief was attempting to fulfill. This is why we will never win the ideological war against ISIS and other fundamentalist groups whether Muslim or Christian or something else. This is basic human psychology 101.

  65. You said it: Atheists do “evil deeds”! Atheists have their own “evil deeds”! Hear that, Atheists?! (S)queejie here says, Atheists have their own “evil deeds” and do “evil deeds”! Can someone, please, tell me what they are? I thank you in advance.

  66. But, but, but, as defined & demonstrated by The Christ Jesus & apostle Paul, though? Kindly expand on that lie or self-deception of yours, Saddam(e), but from just that angle, and with accompanying chapter & verse from you know where. I dare you.

  67. So “their [Ashiesms, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s, David Silverman’s, Lawrence Krauss’ & Al Franken’s] are insignificant to their behavior” in all these #MeToo-defining moments in their lives as Ashiests?!?!?!?!

  68. “There is no atheist moral compass.”
    – Jim Johnson, December 20, 2018, RNS Disqus(sion) on “God loves Christopher Hitchens anyway”.

  69. “I am not like most people.”

    Now THAT is an understatement!

  70. Speak to me correctly and use my username or be dismissed as the troll you are.

  71. Re: “In other words: when people say that they don’t believe in God, we would do well to unpack exactly what they mean by ‘God.'” 

    This sounds rather conveniently like a case of moving the goal posts. It also ignores the reality that a lot of what critics of religion have to say, isn’t about anyone’s “God,” per se, but rather about what believers in that God think, say, and do based on their belief in that God. 

    Re: “Quite often, when people say they don’t believe in God, I respond with: ‘Maybe you haven’t met the right god yet.'” 

    This also ignores the reality that a lot of non-believers do in fact know all about your God … and a lot of other gods, too. It’s fairly well known that they tend to be better-informed than believers. It’s just not safe to assume any given non-believer hasn’t “met” your God — because chances are good that they have. 

    Yes, even if you don’t think they have, because you and they disagree. Disagreement is not a lack of knowledge. 

  72. What is your problem? You’ve brought up the sexual harrasment claims against 4 prominent atheists in nearly every article. You’ve been given numerous responses yet you carry on. It might be easier if you spell out the point you’re trying to make. I’m done with you on this topic.

  73. JFC, how condescending. And wrong: Hitchens was quite knowledgeable about the Hebrew and early Xian writings. This fool has no knowledge of Hitchens or his writings. Rabbi, you’re guilty of the things you accuse Hitchens of. Hypocrite.

  74. Re: “In each and every case, millions were killed in the name of the state, in the name of ideologies destructive to human health and happiness.” 

    Actually, in the cases of Stalin’s Purge and the massacres of Pol Pot, those were carried out because they feared uprisings against them or instability that might undermine them. In other words, they were caused by autocratic self-preservation, and arguably could be viewed as not even being ideological in nature. The deaths under Mao happened because his politico-economic schemes were, in a word, insane (e.g. the Great Leap Forward). Those could be called “ideologically-driven,” I suppose, but if they were, it was in the name of an insanity that manifested as a kind of ideology. 

    Re: “But we also have Luther’s own statements.” 

    Oh yes, especially in his long treatise, “On the Jews and Their Lies.” I’d provide a link, but prefer not to. Let’s just say it can be found on the Internet if anyone wants to read it. 

    Re: “How many people were murdered in Spain under his most catholic majesty, Francisco Franco?” 

    Or under the Catholic Mussolini in Italy? Or under any number of fascist regimes in Europe during the first half of the 20th century? Fascism, as (unfortunately) many do not know, was largely an invention of Catholic clergy in Italy, and it was promoted by Catholic clergy all over Europe. From Italy it drifted not only most famously into Germany (where it became Lutheranized) and Spain, but it was also found in Austria (established by former seminarian Engelbert Dollfuss), in Croatia (under Ante Pavelić, who had many links to Catholic clergy, and his Ustaše movement), and in the Nazi-era Slovak Republic under Monsignor Jozef Tiso — among other places. 

  75. Re: “Noah was not and is not a drunk.” 

    Maybe he was. The Bible reports he got drunk on at least one occasion:

    “Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.” (Gen 9:20-21) 

    Note, this event is what led to the famous “Curse of Ham” because Noah’s son Ham saw him naked. (Actually, it was Ham’s son Canaan who was cursed, but for some reason it’s still known as the “Curse of Ham,” and it’s also not clear why Ham’s misdeed led to Canaan being cursed, not him. For that matter, it’s not even clear why seeing Noah naked was so horrid an event to have resulted in anyone being cursed. But hey, it’s the Bible.) 

  76. I agree Hitch had his blind spots…his support of the Iraq war…Ughh !!

  77. I wonder if the late Hitchen truly believe in what he espoused or just love an argument. To dismiss the Divine in one’s small mind is benign ignorance. I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bring Peace. Reaching out to our Creator and our peace of mind is indeed a spiritual relationship unlike the void of atheism and nothingness.

  78. This article is trash. As another person on this thread already pointed out, Hitchens knew an unprecedented amount on Religion, specifically christianity and arguably defeated more theologians in a long list over the years, many of which I rewatch from time to time on YouTube, than anyone else during his era. I find it insulting and humerous at the same time to hear someone suggest such utter nonsense. Its great to see his name mentioned during this time of the year. I always remind myself of the great contributions made to the world by Hitchens, if nothing else he eloquently pointed out all the contradictions and obvious falsehoods of christianity and only helped me more clearly realize why it’s all so bogus. During the holiday season I couldn’t be more proud to remind myself of the lies and treachery that Christianity perpetrates so well.

  79. The traditional understanding that you have is out dated. It is a new Day in hermeneutics. Jesus says that the roll of the Book is written about him and that you must be taught by him. Jesus is the hermeneutics.

    The reason for the flood is the laying down of the Law. If a vineyard is a ministry in Jesus’ day, a vineyard is a ministry in Noah’s day. The word picture depicts a common legality known as a naked contract. “hey, it’s the Bible” it’s supposed to make sense and it will if you use the right hermeneutics.

  80. Absolutely the case, though I didn’t know about all of those names. Let us not also forget the Iron Cross in Hungary— Catholic Hungary, I might add. . And it is why I used fascism with a small “f”. Unlike the Nitpicker in Chief, if you know whom I mean, who wants to claim fascists are not Fascists, rather than admit that Fascists are fascists.

    You call it autocratic self preservation, I call it in the name of the state. as I think Louis XIV noted, “L’etat? C’est moi!”

    I wish I had kept those references to the Lutheran Church in Germany and Hitler’s plans for the Jews. Truly horrific documents, and perfect illustrations of the banality of evil. As casual a condemnation as one could hope to find,

    Thanks.

  81. “interesting, fun and maddening” Hitler was certainly interesting, and to some he was fun, to all he was maddening. What a fine line we all walk.

  82. Re: “The traditional understanding that you have is out dated. It is a new Day in hermeneutics.” 

    “Hermeutics” is not relevant. I remain factually correct: Genesis does, in fact, report that Noah got drunk on at least one occasion. No amount of “hermeneutics” can magically make those words disappear. 

    Re: “Jesus says that the roll of the Book is written about him and that you must be taught by him.” 

    Well, he’s not here to teach me anything, so if you don’t mind, I’ll just deal with the words on the page as they are. 

    Re: “The word picture depicts a common legality known as a naked contract.” 

    The words on the page depict no such thing. You just made that up … wove it out of whole cloth. I know what the words are, and they are all that matter. Telling me those words aren’t what I know them to me, isn’t going to work any better than you insisting the sky is red, not blue. I know better and refuse to be deluded by the likes of you. 

    Re: “‘hey, it’s the Bible’ it’s supposed to make sense and it will if you use the right hermeneutics.” 

    Let me spell it out for you, in case you don’t get it already: I don’t give a damn about anyone’s “hermeneutics.” They are irrelevant and have no power over me. I know what the words on the page are and they are all that matter. If the author of Genesis had intended to say something other than what he said, he’d have written that instead, and not something else. But he didn’t do that. He wrote what he wrote — and that’s the end of it. 

  83. I couldn’t make that up if I wanted to, I never heard of a naked contract until Noah told me about it. “the earth is the Lords and they that dwell there in” Noah did not have a legal right to dole out parcels of land.

  84. If as you boast, “Hitchens was quite knowledgeable about the Hebrew and early Xian writings”, what were his convincing arguments against these 3 claims? YUP, THERE AIN’T NONE.

    (1) Acts 1:2-3 – “To the apostles whom He had chosen … Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing PROOFS [τεκμηρίοις = tekmeeriois = fixed and sure sign-post supplying indisputable, unmistakable, irrefutable information], appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

    (2) Acts 17:30-31 – “God … has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished PROOF [πίστιν = pistin = guarantee, certainty, assurance] to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

    (3) Romans 3:24-26 – “Our being justified as a gift by God’s grace is through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth in advance to achieve a particular purpose [προέθετο = proetheto] as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was for the DEMONSTRATION [ενδειξιν = endeixin = the showing forth, the pointing out, indication, proof, significance] of His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed. It was for the DEMONSTRATION [ibid], I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

  85. “[THE NEW ATHEISM of] Hitchens … was his basic flaw.” Quote, unquote & period.

  86. These 3 “ethical statement[s compelling] … ethical action” prove Hitchens was wrong & unrighteous:

    (1) Acts 1:2-3 – “To the apostles whom He had chosen … Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing PROOFS [τεκμηρίοις = tekmeeriois = fixed and sure sign-post supplying indisputable, unmistakable, irrefutable information], appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

    (2) Acts 17:30-31 – “God … has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished PROOF [πίστιν = pistin = guarantee, certainty, assurance] to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

    (3) Romans 3:24-26 – “Our being justified as a gift by God’s grace is through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth in advance to achieve a particular purpose [προέθετο = proetheto] as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was for the DEMONSTRATION [ενδειξιν = endeixin = the showing forth, the pointing out, indication, proof, significance] of His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed. It was for the DEMONSTRATION [ibid], I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

  87. CORRECTION: “[ASHIEST] ‘reasoning’ … ceases to amaze” 95% of earthlings.

    PROOF: Only 5% are Ashiests today. Five percent! OMG mercy, Jesus – that’s peanuts!

  88. Violent New Ashiest that Hitchens was, then. I knew it, I knew it. Or maybe just his New Ashiest Cult. What made you join? So as to “tear … apart” Non-, Anti- and Ex-Ashiests?

  89. 2ND CORRECTION: “‘[McAryans] claiming to love God yet [branding and condemning] a brother or sister [as white evangelicals & atheists] is a liar. For [McAryans] not lov[ing her] brother and sister, hav[ing] seen [them with an evil eye as white evangelicals & atheists], cannot love God, whom [she] ha[s] not seen.’ 1 John 4:20”

  90. Sorry, mark, I thought you were the original poster. Thank you for reinforcing my point. The original poster asked the stupid question, which I answered.

  91. Don’t you flush after “yawn[ing]” there?! It stinks! Here’s your air deodorizer & refreshner to the rescue, “hav[ing] to do with ethics”. From the top:

    (1) Acts 1:2-3 – THE ETHICS OF “Jesus … His suffering … the kingdom of God”!

    (2) Acts 17:30-31 – THE ETHICS OF “God … judg[ing] the world in righteousness through a Man [The Christ Jesus]”!

    (3) Romans 3:24-26 – THE ETHICS OF “being justified … through the redemption … in Christ Jesus … [and] in His blood through faith … [and by] His righteousness … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    Without further ado, I NOW ACCEPT THE HITCHENS CHALLENGE to prove to me that all the above 3 “ethical statement[s compelling] … ethical action … could … have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.” DO IT OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE.

  92. FYII (For Your Insult to the Intelligence, such that it is): Wikipedia’s footnoted sources for “Demographics of atheism” report that:

    (1) “Sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera’s review [in 2017]”: “Atheists and agnostics [make up] 7% of the world’s population”! HA-HA.

    (2) “The 2015 Pew Religious Landscape survey”: “Of the American population … atheists made up 3.1%”! HA-HA.

    (3) “The World Factbook [of 2013]”: “Non-religious people [in the U.S.] make up 9.66%, while one fifth of them are atheists”! HA-HA.

    (4) “The Encyclopædia Britannica [2013]”: “2% of the world’s population self-identify as atheists and the average annual global change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was −0.17%”! HA-HA.

    (5) “Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project [2009]”: “In the United States, only 5% of the population did not have a belief in a god and out of that small group only 24% self-identified as ‘atheist'”! HA-HA.

    (6) “A 2004 survey by the BBC in 10 countries”: “8% of the respondents … consider themselves to be ‘atheists'”! HA-HA.

    (7) “The World Factbook [2004]: “Of the world’s population … about 2.4% are atheists”! HA-HA.

  93. I didn’t mention white evangelicals – you assumed it for some reason. I wonder why?

  94. It is the FACT they were murdered. Why? What reason could justify? It is solely the fact the undertakers of these murders had an ideological basis in Darwinism and thus “Survival of the Fittest” where life is absolutely pointless, purely luck with no higher law to abide by. So why not kill them because they are an obstacle or use them for potential gain? That is what exists without Christianity. Pure barbaric dog-eat-dog CHAOS. Tribes still exist nowadays who cannibalize and sacrifice each other, it is godless.

    People didn’t make up Christianity to patch a bunch of people together to form some sort of society that works or to control people.
    Why is it that the west has formed some of the most successful and prosperous nations with an institution of the “Welfare state”?
    Christian values doesn’t just work because wheeeey we finally got the lucky formula. It works because it is the truth when God came to Earth and shared his words of blessings for us all to hear. It is all about love thy neighbor even if they’re sinful.

    “Should also note, that the most atheistic democracies are also the most peaceful (Japan, Northern Europe, etc…)”
    Don’t say Japan is peaceful, they fought with the damn Nazi’s and sent men to their deaths in kamikaze planes in WW2 and didn’t give a crap about the sanctity of life of their people but just for warfare gain. And Northern Europe used to be dominated in Evangelical Lutheran Christianity but times are changing because of various other reasons.

  95. You’re on Candid Camera I mean Disqus, Grandma McAryans, while you pretend to “wonder why”?!

    “[McAryans] 3 days ago … 2 days ago … White evangelicalism is defined more by a certain political worldview than by a particular religious worldview. … White evangelical does at times seem like an oxymoron since I doubt any other Christian group has been more effective in turning people away from Christianity in recent times. … [For] ‘whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.’ 1 John 4:20 … [They] profess to being Christian but who practically speaking are atheists. These are the ones who do not practice what they preach, who where they see bad behaviour in one of their own shrug it off, but shout to high heaven about it when they see it in someone outside their group, who use the Bible to attack others and defend their own privileges rather than to improve themselves much like many pharisees in Jesus’ time. If they really believed, they would take notice of verses like ‘Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.’ (1 John 4:20).”

  96. If you spent a little more time reading a dictionary and not the bible, perhaps you would know the meaning of ethics. “Moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.” The “ethics” of jesus is his suffering? The “ethics” of god is judging through jesus? Once again, what does any of this have to do with being ethical? You find the word ethics and you think it has something to do with morality. Did you fall down and hurt your head?

  97. I didn’t say it above. Regardless of what I’ve said elsewhere about white evangelicals, you assumed I was referring to them here which suggests to me that you think that the things I described above could be attributed to white evangelicals. Why do you think that? I think what I described isn’t restricted to white evangelicals.

  98. I didn’t say anything about white evangelicals here though. You assumed it. Why do you think what I said could be attributed to white evangelicals? I think these things are not restricted to some white evangelicals

  99. You use your magic book as proof of your own thesis. This circular reasoning is logical flaw which does not support your argument. You magic book and the events described in tit aren’t true. It’s a tissue of fictions, so it can’t be used to make an argument for the existence of your silly deity. Yahweh isn’t real: It’s like Zeus or Thor. Sorry, you don’t persuade except to other believers in your fairy tale collection.

  100. ‘Yo, Bagel-Holder Man – YOUR IGNORANCE & ILLITERACY – your Ashiesm, I call it – are showing to your shame. Again! Such ethics, see, that I’ve outlined for your cultural education this XMess (the Post-Xmas Season of 2018) has long been explored in literature, including:

    (1) Jurgen Moltmann, Ethics Of Hope, Fortress, 2012.

    (2) Andrew Mein, Ezekiel and the Ethics of Exile, Oxford University Press, 2006.

    (3) John Howard Yoder, The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking, Brazos, 2009.

    (4) David S. Cunningham, Christian Ethics: The End of the Law, Routledge, 2008.

    That said & clarified, TWICE NOW I’VE ACCEPTED YOUR HITCHENS CHALLENGE to prove to me that all the above 3 “ethical statement[s compelling] … ethical action … could … have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.” OR ARE YOU BACKING OUT, ASHIEST?!

  101. In all those remarks, and all within just 24 hours, you were prooftexting them with “1 John 4:20.” They attest to your state of mind minding, and being mindful of, a common group enemy of your religion.

  102. What “circular reasoning”, ‘yo Ashiest? And don’t you back out now, just when my fun with Ashiests is getting started, and so nicely, too, before XMess, this Post-Xmas Season of 2018. I simply passed on & unpacked, see, the 3 newsflash transmissions for you, straight from Acts 1:2-3, Acts 17:30-31 and Romans 3:24-26, but for this reason alone:

    All 3 speak of proofs based on reliable ancient-time eyewitness accounts. As such, they’re vulnerable, of course, because contradicting counter-witnesses from such time might well be produced so as to refute these proofs and render them, as you put it, “[as] aren’t true [but merely] a tissue of fictions … [and a] fairy tale collection.” THE ONUS IS ON YOU & HITCHENS, therefore, to produce such ancient-time counter-witnesses who’ll prove all 3 proofs wrong. So give them to me pronto – preferably before, y’know, XMess. Go to it, Ashiest!

  103. What a ZESTY comment thread. Little I can add.
    View on Christopher Hitchens:
    From what I gather, his main deal, is that Christians should be more Christ-like, and because some of them did/ are doing really bad things, there is no god.

  104. Bagel-Holder man? Some sort of anti-Semitism? Wrong again, Hippo, my family are Christians and Methodists.

  105. Since I am a Christian, you seem to be saying that white evangelicals are enemies of Christianity. Not sure why you think so poorly of white evangelicals.

  106. BWAHAHA

    OK Granmama McAryans, you can go back to sleep now. And forget all about the blinding snow white evangelical atheists in your dreams.

  107. Just stop with this utter nonsense. Everything circles back to your God! As long as your don’t call it humility…..!

  108. “So why not kill them…” – this makes them power hungry demagogues – that is the reason for their murder, not atheism. We can play the “who killed more” game – religious or non-believers, but all we end up proving is that some humans (regardless of affiliation) are willing to murder many for power.

  109. Also, the Japanese during WWII were very religious…it is now that they are more atheistic. Really, you are proving my point for me.

  110. Several have already pointed out what a cruel disservice to history this article is. For you to claim Christopher had only skimmed the Bible, and knew very little about religion makes my skin crawl. Indeed if Hitch were alive today, he would be railing against people who feel no shame in distorting facts and history much like our current president.

    You have committed this offense sir, and you do it either from arrogance, or the satisfaction of trying, pitifully, to belittle an ideological opponent on the anniversary of their death. How dare you sir? I have never seen a Rabbi with such little regard for a great thinker. Not very Jewish of you at all.

    Very god-like though. Perhaps quite god-like indeed.

  111. Maybe you are confused. None of these people have done anything IN THE NAME of Atheism.
    Many people do awful things in the name of religion/god. The church Actively protects kid fuckers. That’s a fact.

    No atheist can represent atheism. Atheists can be Jewish, or naturalist, or scientists, or anti-vaccine flat earth nuts. Because atheism is not a belief system. Just a lack of god, hence A-Theism.

  112. I CALL YOUR BLUFF: That “many people do awful things in the name of religion/god.”

    PROVE to yourself & me once for all that “kid f*ckers … do awful things in the name of [catholicism or evangelicalism or jehovah’s witnessism / mormonism]/god.”

    You have 48 hours. GO.

  113. Interesting how the author claims that Hitchens had superficial knowledge of his subject yet admits in his opening paragraphs that he only skimmed his books.

  114. That’s not what I said. I said people do things IN THE NAME of God/religion. like suicide bombings for example.
    Things a rational person would never dream of in their nightmares.
    Also I said the church actively protects child rapists, and THAT IS solely to protect THE CHURCH’s IMAGE.
    How can you possibly say this isn’t so? Cardinal Pell is even in trouble now.
    Stoning gays to death during the day, and preying on defenseless children at night.

    Don’t try to change the subject with a “Whataboutism”. You never can and never will find someone committing an act in the name of atheism. Even if you could, atheism still isn’t an ideology. I met your challenge, and with ease.

  115. RESOLVED 9 DAYS LATE:

    Definitive Entertainment: “Kid f*ckers … do[ing] awful things in the name of [catholicism or evangelicalism or jehovah’s witnessism / mormonism]/god … [i]s not what I said.”

  116. Well i must admit it was 9 days late because the last week was spent slaving over the keyboard, sitting in a puddle of sweat and urine desperately trying to compose a response to your challenge. Not because I saw your comment a week later. But I digress, protecting child abusers, and simultaneously claiming to possess the only objective morality, is a real sticky situation.

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