Posts tagged Christopher Hitchens
It’s the holidays. It’s a time when we see family…and try to ignore awkward tensions and not fight. Speaking of, did you know noted atheist Christopher Hitchin’s brother is a devoted Christian? AWKWARD! His name is Peter Hitchins. I wouldn’t want to be eating with them on Christmas no matter how good the ham is. In any event, this is a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ. To many, this is a great relief and brings peace. But others see it as an event that brings judgment and pain–since they don’t believe. Here is an amazing excerpt from Peter Hitchin’s book on this very matter:
What I can recall, very sharply indeed, is a visit to the Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, a town my girlfriend and I had gone to mainly in search of the fine food and wines of Burgundy. But we were educated travelers and strayed, guidebook in hand, into the ancient hospital. And there, worth the journey according to the Green Michelin guide, was Rogier van der Weyden’s fifteenth-century polyptych The Last Judgment.
I scoffed. Another religious painting! Couldn’t these people think of anything else to depict? Still scoffing, I peered at the naked figures fleeing toward the pit of hell, out of my usual faintly morbid interest in the alleged terrors of damnation. But this time I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and, in an odd way, the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me and the people I knew. One of them — and I have always wondered how the painter thought of it — is actually vomiting with shock and fear at the sound of the Last Trump.
I did not have a “religious experience.” Nothing mystical or inexplicable took place — no trance, no swoon, no vision, no voices, no blaze of light. But I had a sudden, strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. A large catalogue of misdeeds, ranging from the embarrassing to the appalling, replayed themselves rapidly in my head. I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned.
And what if there were? How did I know there were not? I did not know. I could not know. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death. I had simply no idea that an adult could be frightened, in broad daylight and after a good lunch, by such things. I have always enjoyed scaring myself mildly with the ghost stories of M. R. James, mainly because of the cozy, safe feeling that follows a good fictional fright. You turn the page and close the book, and the horror is safely contained. This epiphany was not like that at all.
No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion. I could easily make up some other more creditable story. But I should be even more ashamed to pretend that fear did not. I have felt proper fear, not very often but enough to know that is is an important gift that helps us to think clearly at moments of danger. I have felt it in peril on the road, when it slowed down my perception of the bucking, tearing, screaming collision into which I had hurled myself, thus enabling me to retain enough presence of mind to shut down the engine of my wrecked motorcycle and turn off the fuel tap in case it caught fire, and then to stumble, badly injured, to the relative safety of the roadside. I have felt it outside a copper mine in Africa, when the car I was in was surrounded by a crowd of enraged, impoverished people who had decided, with some justification, that I was their enemy. There, fear enabled me to stay silent and still until the danger was over, when I very much wanted to cry out in panic or do something desperate (both of which, I am sure, would have led to my death). I have felt it when Soviet soldiers fired on a crowd rather near me, and so I lay flat on my back in the filthy snow, quite untroubled by my ridiculous position because I had concluded, wisely, that being wounded would be much worse than being embarrassed.
But the most important time was when I stood in front of Rogier van der Weyden’s great altarpiece and trembled for the things of which my conscience was afraid (and is afraid). Fear is good for us and helps us to escape from great dangers. Those who do not feel it are in permanent peril because they cannot see the risks that lie at their feet. (The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, 101-104)
You may be familiar with the new atheist movement. Its leaders (albeit informal) are Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I once reviewed a book by some aspiring new atheists in the movement called The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. In a strange way, it was a fun read. And probably to all the contributers disappointment, it only served to strengthen my faith.
No, it’s not to indoctrinate children like you barbarian religious nuts do. Of course not, he alleges. His is much more noble and altruistic. He simply wants to to teach children to ‘think freely’.
>Yes, let’s all teach children how to think freely by telling them that there is no reason or purpose to life–that any thoughts or ideas leading to that end are just figments of their imagination.
Don’t you feel free? Me too! My bones are filled with hope at the thought of nothingness.
Admittedly, I haven’t read the book. But my thoughts are based on some of his interview highlights. I find it interesting. Watch it if you’d like:
See this ad? What do you think? It’s from an atheist group called Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason (Central Arkansas CoR), which is affiliated with the national group UnitedCoR, and they want to run a slew of ads like this in the public transit in Arkansas.
But their request and ads have been rejected.
My main problem with atheism is that it most often the tactics are destructive and condescending. So often it seeks to destroy faith through mocking and ridicule. It is even an encouraged tactic by people like Dawkins and Hitchens. Although atheists claim to be guided by reason above all, there is usually not a reasoned approach when engaging the community of belief. No, the free exchange of opposing ideas between equals is no where to be found. The ‘Socratic Method’ dies to immature personal attacks, because people of faith do not deserve such respect.
That being said, this ad doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it’s a fair and reasonable way to make the point. If I was driving by a bus with this on the side and one of by kids asked, “What does that mean?” I could engage it and present the opposing view to them with respect, since it is presented intelligently–and not as an attack ad.
So why has CoR’s ad campaign been rejected by the transit authority? Allegedly because the state requires $30,000 in insurance from the atheist group due to expected vandalism from such an ad.
Whatever the case, I am all for conversations, so to speak, framed like this.
And by the way, I’m good with God.
I probably am going to step in it, but I wanted to make another observation from my conversations with atheists. Now I know they have plenty to say about us. That’s fine. Christians drive me nuts too. Before I get into it I also want to remind people to join my cause by praying for Christopher Hitchens in his battle with cancer. Please spread it around by copying this and posting it to your social media status: PRAY for ATHEIST Christopher HITCHENS #PrayForHitchens. And here’s why>>> http://bit.ly/hIdSco
Anyway, back to my point today and it has to do with beliefs and worldview…
It seems to me that most atheists I’ve had run-ins with are Marxists in regards to their social/political philosophy (most are Socialists and a few admit to being Communists). Have you noticed this?
Respectfully, I find this somewhat inconsistent and even humorous. It is a true lapse of the ‘unwavering’ logic they profess. I’m just sayin’. Why not have the integrity or decency to be anarchists at best (the only ‘survival of the fittest’ social/political philosophy) or Libertarians at worst (the only amoral one).
Atheists are so often averse and upset about the influence of religion on society and its ‘oppressive’ morality, which I certainly understand.
Their perfect, reasoned, and logical solution?
To revert to another form of moralism. They seek to employ all the authoritarianism of a theocracy, minus the God part.
Just a curios observation.
One common argument (as I have noticed) from atheists against Christianity is all the differences. That is, they dispute Christianity because there are so many variations of it (with the denominations, non-denominations, and cults, to a lesser degree). In essence, Christianity (and Christians) can’t agree with itself, so it must be false.
Have you head that one?
It’s a fair point, until you start thinking it through a little. The logic is: because there are varying viewpoints on a particular subject (the result of free will, mind you) then none can be correct or worth considering.
Make sense? Not really.
Bring that into a marriage or friendship and see where that gets you. Not to mention, this isn’t exactly a fair point to make at all.
Atheists only have to agree on ONE THING: there is no God.
In the inverse, Christians unanimously agree on this point (that there is a God). And they agree on the most important element of Christianity: Jesus.
Beyond that, there can be no more comparing, since we have doctrine, principles, and lessons to learn from and interpret. If atheists had the same to consider they would obviously find themselves in the same predicament.
Just a thought.
“I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”
-This is from notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens. Talk about nailing it. By the way please copy and past this in your social media status: Pray For atheist CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS #PrayForHitchensHere’s why>>> http://bit.ly/hIdSco
Did you know famed Atheist Christopher Hitchens is going to die? Below is a clip from an interview Hitchens did with Anderson Cooper. I found it very interesting and wanted to talk about it, because there is something to learn in there. And as you read, please consider helping spread this around by copying and posting this in your social media status:
I have regular interactions with a handful of atheists. So long as they’re respectful, I have not problem with them. Why would I make enemies with someone just because they don’t believe what I believe? That’s stupid. Let’s disagree, be direct, but have fun doing it. In fact, last year I was asked to review a book written by several atheists (and a couple agnostics) called The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. It was a valuable experience, although I’m not sure the writers cared for my review.
Sure, atheists like Christopher Hitchens (and Richard Dawkins) can make me mad. In fact, I actually informally quote Hitchens in my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity:
I heard a gentleman on a radio talk show say that the Bible is “obviously myth and must be considered a work of fiction.” He said we must all come to terms with the idea that religion in general is untrue and must be put aside for the sake of reason and enlightenment.
That was Hitchens. This may sound strange, but I find him very likable–not to mention articulate and intelligent. There is a certain charm and genuineness about him even when he is venomously bashing Christianity and saying people of faith deserve to be mocked and ridiculed. Ouch!
In some measure, I understand. Faith is strange. Even God says that those who follow him are a “peculiar people” (in the KJV translation). I think it’s important to remember this. What is a given for me, especially considering I have been doing this faith thing for 23 years now, is foreign to a lot of people. I think when Christians forget this, they are more prone to alienate people and create a tense response to their faith-stance–or develop a faith-stance that creates tension.
What is interesting is that Hitchens seems to fall under one of my two reasons people either stay away or stray away from God. As much as people say there is no evidence for God or that there are so many religions no single one is right, it’s much simpler than that. When there’s a way to find out more about a person’s story, I find two common denominators. They were also the main thrust of some recent lyrics I wrote and screamed for a band called VENIA, which I explain here and here.
What are they?
PAIN and PLEASURE.
It is either that a person’s painful situation has caused them to doubt the goodness of God or his existence. It’s just that simple. It has crushed them and destroyed their faith.
Or it is a battle with some form of morality that people wrestle with (or want to engage in), and it usually brings some sort of pleasure. Most people dabble in a behavior that they know is wrong, don’t want to stop, so they change what they believe so that it is not longer wrong in their own mind.
Back to Hitchens. My heart broke when I heard about his mother committing suicide. How tragic. And clearly he will carry this with him until day he dies, whenever that may be. I can’t imagine the grief of that.
Yes, I am a Christian, but I do not wish death on Christopher Hitchens. I wish him all the best in his treatment and hopeful recovery.
And yes, I will pray for him. Not because it means something to me (and I know it doesn’t mean anything to him), but because I know he means something to God. I also pray he will at least have comfort in the strain, both physical and emotional.
Christopher Hitchens will die, but I hope he lives a long and happy life if at all possible.
So let’s continue.
Context doesn’t matter. That one was a little jab. Of course, this is not a stated value of the book, but this is certainly the practical application as the arguments play out. The authors have little regard for context in regards to the areas of Scripture they do analyze. As a result, they are completely incapable (or unwilling) of determining if a particular area of Scripture is meant to be a special circumstance or a timeless principle. For me, this is a daily and mandatory discipline. But rather than try to determine the context, they liberally vacillate between the literal and metaphorical understandings—depending on which will more readily support their current point or eviscerate Christianity more.
In the same vein, they also make no distinction between the religion of Christianity and those actually desiring to be a follower of Jesus. For example, I did not join a ‘religion’ or belief system (and I did not grow up a Christian). I simply wanted to try to follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them to my life.
Religion kills, Christianity is the worst, and Atheism is all sunny days and yummy milkshakes. If someone in history has claimed to be Christian and done horrible things, like Timothy McVeigh (He is a favorite example of Atheists, although McVeigh was a self-proclaimed agnostic, but I’ll let it stand for the sake of argument.), it was because he was a religious nut and religion is to blame (it made him that way). However, if someone was an Atheist or agnostic and did terrible things, like Mao Zedong, his godless worldview is not responsible. It was just because he was crazy or bad. Christianity is held accountable while Atheism gets a pass.
Plus, Atheism is awesome because it has never had missionaries corrupting societies or hurt anyone. So in the “Age of Reason” France never banished pastors, converted churches to temples of reason, and punished people for claiming to “know the truth” I guess? This is a good place to introduce the 2nd major flaw of the book.
Flaw #2-“The Original Sin”. What is the Original Sin of this book? It takes shape as a HUGE oversight. It does not even delve into the very reason for religion. That is to say, it doesn’t offer one thought as to how this all started or where we all come from. More fundamentally, it does not even do a cursory mention or a courtesy bow to the idea of how you get something from nothing. If you’re going to write a whole reference-type book on debunking Christianity, you better offer something on this.
That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? That’s why I believe at all. Where did this all start? What about our origins? Saying “Darwin” or “Evolution” isn’t enough. Give me “Cosmic Goo” or “X” the “Big Bang.” It isn’t an explanation, but its something. What started this all? Did aliens seed all this as noted Atheist Richard Dawkins said could be possible? To not offer anything is a major flaw of a book seeking to destroy Christianity and promote Atheism. You better offer something, or at least say why you’re not offering anything. But let me say, in offering something you may only put forward what science can prove and test. Remember, the natural (or physical) world is all that we may believe in or that can guide us. That means nothing that can be construed as “extraordinary” or hint at something “supernatural” may be proposed. I suppose that may be why our origins is ignored in this book. It is difficult to explain.
How do you get something from nothing?
Christianity can’t be because it isn’t. Christianity can’t be true because it probably isn’t the only religion you (or I) tried. That’s a major contention. They hold that I must treat every religion with the same amount of validity. If I want to have any integrity I must flush out and try each one before I am allowed to decide.
The Outsider Test For Faith. What I gather to be one of the benchmarks of the book is described as the Outsider Test For Faith (OTF). This is somewhat related to the point above. It is something the editor and main contributor, John Loftus, builds his very Atheism on. Unfortunately, he never stated exactly what the Outsider Test For Faith is. I read the chapter several times to try and find it. He laid out questions that he uses to guide his skepticism based on the OTF, answered objections based on the OTF, but never defined clearly what the OTF was/is. In addition, I know he wants us (Christians) to subject the same amount of skepticism to Christianity as we do other religions. I suppose that is what it is. Still, I’m not sure. Nowhere did Loftus say “The OTF can essentially be summarized as…” and then build from there. Perhaps, I missed it. I guess I failed the test.
Marxism and Atheism. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most Atheists are Marxists in regards to their socio-political philosophy (most are Socialists and a few admit to being Communists). And I extend this assessment beyond the confines of this book. I find this somewhat inconsistent and even humorous. It is a true lapse of the ‘unwavering’ logic they profess. They don’t have the integrity or decency to be anarchists at best (the only ‘survival of the fittest’ socio-political philosophy) or Libertarians at worst (the only amoral one). Atheists are so often averse and upset about the influence of religion on society and its ‘oppressive’ morality. Their perfect, reasoned, and logical solution? To revert to another form of moralism. They seek to employ all the authoritarianism of a theocracy, minus the God part.
*The book alleges that the Bible promotes a “flat earth” view of cosmology because it employs such terms as the “four corners of the earth”. This is to show how primitive framers of the Bible were and, subsequently, must have been wrong about God too. Somehow there is no understanding of the poetry and parallelism in Hebrew writings and banter. For example, Jesus once said to take the plank out your own eye before pointing out the piece of sawdust in someone else’s (in regard to being judgmental). This may come as a surprise, but Jesus did not in fact think we are all actually made of wood. It was a creative metaphor.
*The book contends that we are all moral relativists because we view someone else’s view of morality as relative to ours (often a clear distinction between belief and non-belief). But that’s not what I view as moral relativism. I am not a moral relativist because I believe in absolutes that are intrinsic and fixed. Perhaps we are operating from two different meanings of ‘relative/ist.’
*Christians must give opponents of Christianity more validity than promoters of it if they want to truly find the truth. Of course, no one ever does this. Do the environmentalists look to skeptics to learn how to protect the earth? Do pro-choice advocates glean wisdom from pro-lifers when weighing their decision? (And so on) This is simply hedging and an air of moral superiority, because we’re all guilty here—even Atheists.
*Science picks up where philosophy leaves off, is what they say in this book. In direct contrast, I say the exact opposite in my book. Philosophy offers a theory or explanation when science can’t.
*Atheists get mad that Atheism often gets called a religion by Christian apologists. While I understand Atheism is not a religion, in that it is not a belief system and is more accurately non-belief or non-religion, can we agree that sometimes this is an argument about semantics? Religion can be defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Does Atheism not sometimes fit that description when having these debates? Perhaps Atheism can sometimes be viewed as a religion with a little “r” and not a big “R”, as it is not an organized and formal religion. But you get the idea, academically speaking, when we’re having these talks, don’t you?
*Atheists also dispute Christianity because there are so many variations of it (with the denominations, non-denominations, and cults, to a lesser degree). In essence, Christianity (and Christians) can’t agree with itself, so it must be false. So am I to understand that because there are varying viewpoints on a particular subject (the result of free will, mind you) then none can be correct or worth considering? That makes no sense. Bring that into a marriage or friendship and see where that gets you. Not to mention, this isn’t exactly a fair point to make at all. Atheists only have to agree on ONE THING: there is no God. In the inverse, Christians unanimously agree on this point (that there is a God). And they agree on the most important element of Christianity: Jesus. Beyond that, there can be no more comparing, since we have doctrine, principles, and lessons to learn from and interpret. If Atheists had the same to consider they would obviously find themselves in the same predicament.
Flaw #1-“The Epic Fail”. The very title “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails” is an epic fail. That is to say, the very premise of the book fails. Why? Because Christianity is alive and well. In fact, it started with just 12 followers 2,000 years ago and has bad BILLIONS of followers since then. If we put this in an empirical and scientific context, as Atheists claim to guide their lives with, we see that the evidence proves that the title breaks down in a major way with very little analysis—because faith hasn’t failed.
In fact, the very first sentence of the first chapter confirms my point. It opens with, “One of the great mysteries is why, despite the best arguments against it, religion survives.” There it is: an inadvertent admission that the title does not stand up under the weight of its own scrutiny. And if that’s the case, then doesn’t the whole premise of the book fail? Perhaps a better subtitle would be something like “Why Faith Should Fail”. A title with a qualitative word in it helps to deliver on the promise. This is something I learned writing my own book. With all the contributors claims of intellect, experience in academia, and fancy letters after their names, how did they miss this epic fail?
Lastly, a word to Atheists:
I do not hate you. I am not trying to convert you. I do not want to control you. I do not want to create a theocracy. I understand your frustrations and doubts—I have them weekly. I believe in God. You do not. I believe there is a spiritual element to life. You do not. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. You do not. But make no mistake:
I believe because I know it to be personally true. Sometimes resolute and sometimes strong. And sometimes a little more dimly. But I know this:
I will always believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To me, that’s just the best news ever.
I recently finished reading The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (TCD) in order to review it on my site www.jasonberggren.com. It was recommended to me by one of the contributors, Edward Babinski, who is a reader of my blog (named above). I’ve had many pleasant back-and-forths with him and was excited at the prospect.
I suspect I was approached to read TCD because of the title of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith —that I am perhaps a borderline Atheist convert, or a “New Atheist” as they’re called. It’s a fair point, but it is not the case as many Atheists have discovered (and then gotten mad about). I suppose there is a frustration that I used such a shocking title, but used it for good (to build faith and bring attention to Jesus) and used it before they did/could. The irony is, much that is covered in TCD I discuss in my own book.
So what about The Christian Delusion?
Following are my overall impressions and thoughts. By the end of this, I will also reveal the three major flaws of the book, as I see them. Please keep in mind, when I refer to Atheists in this review, I am referring to the contributors of this book only unless otherwise noted.
I appreciate the content of the book. It was well written and presents many valid points. I think it’s important to constantly review the objections many raise concerning Christianity. They are questions worth asking and discussing. We, as Christians, should never resist these dialogues. We should be committed to healthy, productive, and respectful discussions regarding our faith. Unfortunately, the ‘respect’ part is difficult in this heated subject from both sides of this aisle.
Let’s get started.
Summarizing Atheism. Let’s begin at the foundation. From what I gather, Atheism hinges on two rejections (in regard to religion in general): 1) there is no spiritual element to life and 2) there is no such thing as the supernatural. That’s my bottom-line description. For this reason, the physical world can be the only guide. What can be tested and proven with scientific methods can be the only evidence for living. This is summed up quite well by Richard Carrier, PhD on page 296, “That’s why I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead: it simply isn’t a plausible event, and is not supported by any sources I trust.”
Intellectual honesty. That was perhaps the favorite phrase in this book when critiquing Christianity. Much was made of our (Christians) intellectual dishonesty. In other words, Christians would cease to be Christians if they were intellectually honest about…(and so on). But anyone who is intellectually honest will realize that much of the counterpoints to faith in this book are not exactly intellectually honest themselves. But then again, I am no intellectual, to be honest.
For example, there is a railing of Christian apologists for not being authentic in their approach since they seek to prove their faith—that they shouldn’t enter into the endeavor with a defined bias. It’s a fair point. But nothing is said of many apologists becoming converts by doing precisely this. At face value the Atheists make the same mistake (regardless of what they may say). They also enter into their undertaking with a defined bias: they seek to disprove God and Christianity. Personally, I could care less. Just be honest about it rather than assuming some level of moral superiority, especially when you do the same.
Humorless, condescending, and cynical. That is the overall tone of the book. One of the last lines of the introduction is, “To honest believers who are seeking to test their own inherited religious faith, this book is for you.” Sounds so magnanimous and polite, right? As if we are all just sitting around a coffee table together after Thanksgiving Dinner just shuckin-n-jivin. Unfortunately, up to that point the introduction spends a great deal of time talking down to people of faith.
For example, if you are a Christian, have faith, or believe in God this book has no lack of descriptions or directions for you. Allow me to elaborate about you (and these are no exaggerations). You are mentally ill, an obstacle to society, unenlightened, uneducated, brainwashed, sexist, prejudice, primitive, stupid, gullible, superstitious, uncivilized, racist, ridiculous, inferior, embarrassingly incompetent, perversely dishonest, wildly deluded, a liar for Christ, a tragedy, programmed to distrust skeptics, in a cult, and scary. You will hopefully evolve out of your need to believe, must realize that Rome didn’t really persecute Christians all that much, should know there has never been much of an effort to destroy the canonical evidence of Scripture or supportive artifacts, must be open to Atheists ideas (but not vice versa), may not use the Bible when discussing faith with Atheists (although Atheists can use the bible in every argument against it they make and are allowed any other bit of supporting work, theory, innuendo, or otherwise to proselytize their non-God worldview), believe in a savior (Jesus) who was an ignorant xenophobe, should be a socialist, should follow Marxism at least (according to most) and Communism at best (according to a few), contribute to the violence in the world, need to appreciate that Atheists are patient enough to ‘deal’ with you, and need to realize that the Apostle Paul hallucinated himself into belief because of guilt. Oh yes, and you have also likely hallucinated and have low self-esteem (which explains your need to believe).
Now you may be wondering why I included so many direct descriptions. Believe it or not, this is just a small percentage of what the book included. I think it’s important to point out that the book attempts to cloak itself in a guise of respect, reason, and magnanimity (as I stated before). But as you can see, these words are quite antagonistic. This dialogue environment is not egalitarian and altruistic as it claims to want to create. These are words of anger and revenge. And if that’s the purpose, again, then just be honest about it.
“Insiders” of Christianity. That is the claim of nearly all the contributors—that they were former ones, that is. I am very suspicious of this because of the blatant disregard for context (which I will get into later). It just seems to me, if this is true, there is quite a but of willful ignorance as the arguments play out. Or perhaps they had very bad mentors when they were “insiders”.
The Bible has NO credibility. Any source seems to be more valid than the Bible to them. Even one with only one or two copies citing a particular event holds more weight (so long as it casts doubt on Christianity) than the thousands of manuscripts of the Scripture. If two books record the same event, the Bible is automatically wrong. Why? Well, because it’s the Bible, of course! Aren’t you paying attention? This is a good place to introduce the 1st major flaw of the book (in descending order) and end part 1 of this review (part 2 posts tomorrow).
Flaw #3-“The Idiot Genius Contradiction”. In my observation, this is a major pillar of the Atheists (again, I refer to the contributors of this book) contention to Christianity. And in order to accept it, you must accept two contradictory theories at the same time and believe them both simultaneously. Although they should largely negate each other (if we are ‘intellectually honest’), somehow they survive each other, together.
The contradiction is this: Christianity (and Judaism to a lesser degree) is built on the brilliantly maniacal manipulative writings of an elite group of people (i.e., the Bible). This group has been able to translate, re-translate, craft, and re-craft the Bible in a way that has enabled them to control the masses, proliferate their religion throughout the centuries, and maintain their own positions of power. With it and through it they prey on fears, promise rewards, and punish disobedience.
And at the same time…
Somehow this elite group was not smart enough to make God perfect, his followers flawless, and his will universal and clear as the Caribbean waters in those same writings. Obviously, this would require no apologies and phony justifications while helping this elite ensure more power, influence, and amass more money. Instead, in the Bible, they make much of alleging God (and often his followers) is an ethical tyrant, moral monster, racial hatemonger, oppressive master, violent father, indifferent to suffering, and permissive of evil. But somehow we were all tricked into following this God while reading all this. In short, this elite crowd was not smart enough to frame a God that didn’t seem bi-polar and is at least good, yet somehow invented the most successful religion (Christianity) ever. It’s very similar to the 9/11 conspiracy theories: somehow President Bush was an evil genius that destroyed the Word Trade Center to line his (and his cohorts) pockets by starting a war for oil without leaving a hint of evidence but was the biggest bumbling idiot at the same time.
So the Bible is brilliant and stupid all at once. Somehow both are true. That’s the Idiot Genius Contradiction.
As a person of faith, I frequently feel like Atheists are antagonistic toward people like me. And I’m sure they feel the same way. For me, it’s because so many of them are bent on either disproving the existence of God or barring the idea of God from entering the public arena in any way. Beyond that, there is the common framing of people of faith as either idiots or evil.
For example, I found the picture above from an Atheist website that claims not to be about hate. They simply want to present all views. There is irony since the picture is meant to be funny, but is obviously quite insulting.
There are also those that celebrate Blasphemy week in which they do things like celebrate the freedom to denigrate and insult religion. Some trade pornography for Bibles. Others de-baptized people with hair dryers. And in Washington, D.C., an art exhibit opened that shows, among other paintings, one entitled Divine Wine, where Jesus, on the cross, has blood flowing from his wound into a wine bottle.
Now I know this does not represent the majority of Atheists. It’s just they’re the ones who get and want the attention. Do I like this stuff. No. But I also affirm the freedom of individuals to celebrate what they believe–or don’t believe–so long as it doesn’t tread on my rights.
But did you know that Atheists fight with each other? Why?
NPR has an article chronicling the issue. And it’s for the reasons named above. There are those Atheists that find it very offensive and unnecessary to take such insulting and seemingly hostile approaches to people or ideas of faith.
For example, the renowned Atheist Christopher Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book God Is Not Great,told a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.” His words were greeted with hoots of approval. This is known as the New Atheism and there are plenty of Atheists who don’t agree with the antagonistic and hostile approach.
I know there are many underlying issues and tangents that enter this
discussion. But I simply wanted to draw attention to it and ask what
the right approach from all sides of this?
Because of the nature of my book, over the last year I have ended up on several Atheist discussion threads. And there is always a common thread: they want a world that is free. Don’t be fooled. It’s a world free from religion. That’s depicted as true freedom. Again, there is irony. They want people to be free, just not free to worship or believe in anything that reason can not clearly prove or dictate. But that’s not really freedom. Because in a free world, people would be free to believe…or not believe.
Am I mad or offended? No.
What does this mean to me as a Christian? Will I still tell people about Jesus. Yes, because he said in the Gospel of Matthew that I should.
I will continue to believe and write books that make it into discussion threads that call me stupid and superstitious.