cambro (cambro) wrote,
cambro
cambro

Damn dirty atheists!

I’m almost finished with Christopher Hitchens’s “god is not Great,” the latest of the slew of atheist bestsellers. It's a good read, and while he doesn't advance many slam-dunk intellectual arguments against faith, on a visceral level he does a great job of making religion seem ludicrous and offensive. (This may prove the most effective possible method for questioning religion, since much of religion's appeal is visceral.) Few people are better at criticism than Hitchens; he manages to be urbane and caustic at the same time, packing maximum scorn into each syllable, but often somehow doing it without actually seeming rude. He's also incredibly well-read and well-traveled, lending an important broader perspective to the whole discussion by focusing as much on foreign zealots as home-grown ones. (Although Hitchens certainly didn't intend it so, his book actually left me with a bit more appreciation for Christian fundamentalists, since they can be almost benign compared to some Islamic militants.)

Media reaction to this book has been interesting and sadly predictable. The New Yorker reviewed it in a recent issue, under the title “Atheists with Attitude.” I was surprised to see that, without any apparent trace of irony, they’d subtitled the review “Why do they hate Him?” “You seem very angry at God,” is one of the laziest and most childish possible responses to an atheist, right up there with a knee-jerk “I feel sorry for you,” or “You’re going to Hell!” It belies a total inability or unwillingness to seriously engage with the atheistic worldview. It’s the same thing Sean Hannity said when interviewing Hitchens (who rightly berated Hannity for wasting everyone’s time with such a dull and trivial assessment), and it’s a sad day when the New Yorker can’t be any more insightful than Sean Hannity.

I don't feel that I have a dog in the atheism-vs-religion fight, inasmuch as I consider myself agnostic and don't have any real beef with the vague spirituality that passes for religion in most non-fundamentalists. I think religion helps many folks be better, happier people, and thumbs-up to it for that, although I obviously also think that some stripes of religion inspire potentially well-intentioned people to become complete bastards. I suspect that a world without any religion would be better in some ways and worse in others, so although I'm very concerned with stopping fundamentalists from intruding on others' lives, I don't spend a whole lot of time fretting about religion itself. Sloppy thinking annoys me, though, and it's sad to see many media figures wallowing in sloppy thinking rather than honestly confronting Hitchens's (and Dawkins's, and Harris's) best points.

Anyone else read this, or "God Delusion," "End of Faith," etc.?
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