In the sixties one of the more hackneyed slogans of the time was from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Joyous Wisdom. “God is dead: Nietzsche. It was often countered with Nietzsche is dead: God. The prime decade of the new millennium has a new champion of human presumption and pride in Christopher Hitchens. |
Even a better than middling mind is bound to find a reason to be bored with Hitchens book “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Impeccable English and brilliant elucidation does little to keep the mind from wandering repeatedly to Matthew 6:23b “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Hitchens either doesn’t know or perhaps doesn’t care that almost all Christians who see themselves as saved by the grace of God through the finished work on Calvary don’t consider themselves saved, lead by or enamored of religion. Most born again people know that the world only needs a redeemer not a religion.
As a potent polemicist Hitchens drives hard against Mormonism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Having started his quest to undo senseless and unfounded faith in God when he was only nine years old, it seems he is only meandering through a few decades of anti-God reflection with occasional reference to someone else’s epistemology or his own brand of overtly verbose but labored tautology.
At other times he resorts to his own trusted solipsism or crescendos into vitriol. Political correctness, common protocol, decency and deference fail completely to keep Hitchens from describing Christians in the very worst light or calling them “morons.” Hitchen’s intelligence although always recognizable gets mired and smothered in his own arrogance, pomposity and presumption.
A graduate of both Cambridge and Oxford Hitchens has little tolerance for the un-lettered as was seen on his recent interview on the O’Reilly Factor. In June of 2007 he glibly referred to Sean Hannity as “un-lettered.” Hannity shook off the reference but the slur only served to backfire making Hitchens appear as is he were pimping his own broader education. Sean Hannity who is well spoken and well educated remained composed and did not yield to Hitchens attempt to un-nerve him. Following the remark, Hitchens seemed to amble aimlessly around the subject at hand in an almost incoherent kind of psycho babble.
With the same elevated view of himself that was shown on the Factor, in his book Hitchens speaks down to those he sees as unlearned. From the self perceived heights of his own learning he never seems to notice that though not un-learned, he is grossly un-premised. His four objections are the sophomoric premise that betrays the entire content of his book. Freshmen epistemologists could handle the best Christopher has in his fusillades and it is not likely that anyone will have their faith abjured by either his ranting or his obscurantism.
Hitchens four pronged premise is as follows: “There are four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.”
The idea that any of the four “objections” are “irreducible” is the beginning of the slide into presumption. We can only wonder if Hitchens thinks they are irreducible because he made them or because there is no possible argument against them.
Someone should have told Mr. Hitchens that only what is objectively established can suffer reduction. Subjective matters and the un-empirical, un-witnessed announcement of a big bang that created a universe of stars and planets is mere “prior philosophic postulation” and it is of the same substance as faith. For most people lettered or not it takes a great deal more faith to believe than the Biblical account of creation.
Empiricism by definition is necessarily limited to the arena of repeatable observable phenomena, or is it? If six billion sentient beings and millions of species of other creatures came from the non-sentient incidental gathering of gases and particulates at some unspecified time in the past that exploded and in time became all that now is, is making this claim science?
If it all was true then wouldn’t gases and particulates figuratively be our “heavenly father?” It is surprising that no one in the big bang crowd has ever been asked to account for the creation of the wandering gases and particulates. As in who created them, and how did they “evolve.” It seems that even atheists are plagued with the question of who created the creator, which for them was a cloud of gases.
With gas clouds as our creator and monkeys as our earliest progenitors it speaks to the height of presumption that Mr. Hitchens thinks faith in God as creator “misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos.” The Genesis account of creation is for many less taxing on the credulity than the princess kisses frog to produce a handsome young prince kind of story that the big bang theorists have put their faith in.
Hitchens says that “because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism,” that Hitchens says, “is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression…”
Glibly dismissing the faith of countless millions of souls because of what Hitchens lightly refers to as an “error’ is pompous enough, but to connect it to sexual repression is a leap that sounds like something from the material of the stand up comic. Belief in the creation story leads to sexual repression? Move over Sigmund Freud. To think that up to now we have all erroneously labored under the assumption that all behavior was linked to the libido. Had Hitchens been contemporary to Freud we may have been spared these years of wandering, but with new enlightenment we now know it is directly attributable to our errors concerning the creation account of Genesis!
Mature Christians rarely resort to mocking unbelievers because they are cognitively responding to the Masters call to love. At times that may be hard, but it is a lot easier when it is seen that some of the atheistic theories come with their own special brand of self mocking as appendages or supplements. Words like “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Ge. 1:1) and “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Ge.1:22) make us all glad the yellow pages are replete with a full compliment of psychiatrists and therapist to help us to deal with the repression these words create.
Hitchens petted premise and impetus for his book is summarized in the claim that all of these beliefs or “errors” as he calls them are “ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.” It’s the old “if you believe it that’s what makes it true” theorem. But this is not what our faith is primarily based on.
Long before we begin to trust the finished work and the words of Christ we acknowledge the historicity of Christ. Our faith is placed in a historical figure not the shear force of our belief. As always the big bang theorists have to be reminded that there is an army of witnesses to the life, the teachings, the death and the resurrection of Christ. There is still not one witness to the big bang.
Hitchens like so many anti-theists have both underestimated and misunderstood all three aspects or persons of the Godhead. They doubt the power of God to create the worlds, they doubt the power of Christ to redeem the souls of men but the greatest failing is their complete ignorance concerning the power of the Holy Spirit.
God does not depend on our ability to muster sufficient faith to retain belief and obedience to him. He has promised to actually give us something in transaction at the point that we place our faith in him. He endows each believer with his own Holy Spirit. The force of our belief would not last a week without the infilling of his Spirit.
It is that infilling that has found me quoting this saying hundreds of times over the course of my life. “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
After reading Hitchens I may have to appendage my well used quote with “even if he is fully lettered.”
Rev Michael Bresciani is a Christian author and a columnist for several online sites and magazines. His articles are now read in every country in the world. For articles and news from around the world visit “The Website for Insight” http://www.americanprophet.org
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