Keynote Address by Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
[Prefatory comment: Hitchens was not the idol of this audience. In one prior session, a woman got up to gratuitously declare, “By the way, Christopher Hitchens has no ethics because he supports the Iraq War and torture.” And Jeff Noll in the SSA panel: “We should tell Christopher Hitchens he’s not welcome here because he recommends genocide in Iran.” And these are the sorts of people who think it’s inexcusable if Iraq war opponents are called “unpatriotic,” and they label President Bush “divisive.” Enough!!!]
In his talk, Hitchens sought to defend his book’s subtitle—religion really does poison everything—because it attacks us in our deepest integrity, as though we would not know right from wrong without some divine guidance, thus robbing us of our moral autonomy.
To serious questions, religion offers a totalitarian solution—a dictatatorship of God, which can even convict you of thought crime. Hitchens reckoned the most religious nation on Earth to be North Korea, where the President is actually a dead person, Kim Il-sung—a “necrocracy.” But under monotheistic totalitarianism, unlike in North Korea, you cannot escape even by dying.
Emancipating ourselves from religion is a matter of self-esteem. As to the idea that religion, even if false, makes people behave better, the Holyland is a refutation. The two-state solution, obvious to reasonable people, is vetoed by the “parties of God” on both sides.
Hitchens also talked about the movement in the US to teach “nonsense” (he refuses to call it “Intelligent Design”) in schools. He offered a counterproposal: that every tax-exempt church be required to give 50% of its time to teaching natural selection.
[PS: In this talk Hitchens advocated neither torture nor genocide.]

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2 Responses to “Keynote Address by Christopher Hitchens”

  1. eric Says:

    Have a look at this
    Time for more vigorous lobbying and campaigning by the rationalists?

    http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20080612-Bad-religion-A-harm-reduction-approach-to-God.html

  2. Steuart Bowling Says:

    Why does Hitchens lay claim to all that is noble in man is of man while dismissing God as the source of all of man’s faults?

    It’s been said many times before and I know it sounds simplistic, but God is not hard to understand. He is Love and Truth. Anything that is not based on Love and Truth is not of God. Only fragments of His Truth exist in scripture; the rest is from man and man alone. This is where scripture and most of what is built upon it fails us. Fortunately, the highest of all of God’s Laws is preserved well enough to understand. We must Loven Him and love each other. This is described as the Law to which ALL other laws are subordinate. If any conflict with other laws is found, the law of Love trumps all.

    All the wars, killings, destruction, suffering and horrors inflicted by man in the name of God and religion are in violation of this simpleLaw. For God to tell us to love each other and then later instruct us to go to war or engage in acts of vengeance is in violation of His own Law. Since God is also of Truth, these conflicting scriptural instructions cannot both truly be from God. They are therefore the creation of man seeking to co-create laws in God’s name. It is incumbent upon man to see this and to use his free will to choose the path of Truth. The path of Truth is the path of Love. God is not the problem. He has not offered us dictatorship. He has given us free will instead. How we use it determines our reality.

    When man chooses to follow his own path and ignore God’s simple Truth, he acts with moral autonomy; the very same moral autonomy Hitchens pines for. It is from this position of moral autonomy man has warped religion, waged war, murdered, slaughtered, raped, pillaged and destroyed. How arrogant to point a finger at God as the justification or cause! He conveniently dismisses those that act with free will to follow God’s Law of Love—Mother Teresa being among the best examples.

    What will Hitchens use to build utopia when he finally assumes God’s place? Once his goal of universal moral independence is achieved even this simple Law of Love as a basis for morality is up for grabs. Tainted by association with what he sees as a false God and what we already know is warped religion, and with God’s believers dismissed as intellectual bottom-feeders, the baby is arrogantly thrown out with the bath water. Perhaps force, power and ruthlessness will supplant it. Be careful what you wish for, Christopher Hitchens, you might find out we already have it.

    FSR COMMENT: Reinhold Niebuhr said that “Religion is good for good people and bad for bad people.”

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