Sunday, June 24, 2007

"God is NOT Great"??? - Hitchens vs. Hitchens

What can be said about a book proclaiming with absolute certainty that religion, all religion, is bad, wrong, pernicious, and dangerous? How do you respond to the elegant rant of a writer so angry that he attempts to suggest that religion is child abuse? That faith of any kind represents nothing more than a stupid illusion?

In his recent God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve Books, 2007), influential author, pundit, and commentator Christopher Hitchens advances all of these points in the short compass of 288 pages. Ranging from “religion kills” to “the metaphysical claims of religion are false” to “the tawdriness of the miraculous and the decline of hell,” Hitchens spares no superlative in denigrating belief in God.

Recently, however, a review came out that deserves to be noted. Who better to take on Hitchens’ biographically saturated rant against God than his brother Peter?

“For all I know, Christopher is absolutely right – my prayers are pointless and a meaningless oblivion awaits. But if he is right, what a dispiriting, lowering truth it is,” writes Peter.

However, he moves beyond this observation to opine that the pogrom against God being advocated by brother Christopher will not only abolish religion, but conscience as well.

“We are in the process – encouraged by Christopher – of abolishing religion, and so of abolishing conscience, too. It is one of his favourite jibes that a world ruled by faith is like North Korea, a place where all is known and all is ordered.

On the contrary, North Korea is the precise opposite of a land governed by conscience. It is a country governed by men who do not believe in God or conscience, where nobody can be trusted to make his own choices, and where the State decides for the people what is right and what is wrong. And it is the ultimate destination of atheist thought. If you do not worship God, you end up worshipping power, whether it is Kim Jong Il, Leon Trotsky or the military might of George W. Bush. In which case, God help you.

Peter Hitchens reminds us of the serpent’s seduction: "Ye shall be as gods." These, Peter finds, may “be the most important words in the whole Bible.”

Take the enticing satanic advice, and you arrive, quite quickly, at revolutionary terror, at the invention of the atom bomb, at the torture chamber and the building of concentration camps for those unteachable morons who do not share your vision of a just world.

Indeed. God help us every one, even Christopher Hitchens.

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