God is Not Great? Christopher Hitchen’s sad defense of atheism
I’m doing some research on “God is Not Good” by Christopher Hitchens for an upcoming blog post, which I’ll probably post on Monday or Tuesday. Unforuntately for him, Hitchens criticism largely relies on what is commonly called a “straw person” or “straw man”. In simple terms, a straw person is when someone warps or otherwise mischaracterizes what another person is saying in order to appear to win a given discussion. Also, Hitchens uses a vast hasty generalizations to paint a picture of all religions, which fail to realize the nuance and diversity between religions.
Given the above its not surprising that Eugene McCarrher in Commonweal points out that for, “Anyone expecting a masterful demolition of all things sacred will be disappointed. Bullying and shallow” McCarrher continues, “Then again, this is a writer who understands religion only as a mélange of prohibition and superstition, plus an incitement to violence, and so large parts of the story get erased. Hitchens’s claim that the God of Moses “never mentions human solidarity and compassion at all” is preposterous, given the Torah’s injunctions about forgiveness of debts, redistribution of land, or openness to strangers, or the prophets’ exhortations to mercy, justice, and beating swords into ploughshares.”
In addition to those devastating problems I found this quote which is pretty problematic to his entire thesis, because an emphasis on (secular) science is the logical alternative to a de-emphasis on religion:
‘Religion Kills,’ Hitchens titles a chapter with typical bravado, as though science doesn’t. The history of scientific inquiry is filled with examples of incompetence, chicanery and outright torture and homicide undertaken in the name of “reason” and “progress.” Yet Hitchens continues to imply that evil is the prefecture of religion rather than a resident of both secular and spiritual worlds.” —Dennis Covington
You can check out a debate he had with Doug Wilson at Christianity Today here. PS. God is Great. I probably didn’t have to tell you that, though….
Any feelings about the issue? Any good quotes? Have you read any good criticisms of Hitchens? If you haven’t, I highly highly recommend Eugene McCarrher’s Commonweal article is a ideological and theological blitzkreig attack on Hitchens hollow work, thats well worth the read.