Christopher Hitchens’ lies do atheism no favors

Salon.com: While a scientist like Richard Dawkins might be forgiven for not having his philosophic/aesthetic house in order, no such tolerance should be allowed for his notorious comrade-in-arms Christopher Hitchens. In spite of the fact that Hitchens regularly invokes the authority of empiricism and reason—he condemns anything that “contradicts science or outrages reason,” and he concedes something that no poet would: that “proteins and acids … constitute our nature”—he was not a scientist but a literary critic, a journalist, and a public intellectual. So, you would think that the perspective of the arts, literature, and philosophy would find a prominent place in his thought. But that is not the case. He proposes to clear away religion in the name of science and reason. Literature’s function in this brave new world is to depose the Bible and provide an opportunity to study the “eternal ethical questions.”

Hitchens’s “God Is Not Great” is an intellectually shameful book. To be intellectually shameful is to be dishonest, to tell less than you know, or ought to know, and to shape what you present in a way that misrepresents the real state of affairs. In this sense, and in Hitchens’s own term, his book lacks “decency.” (You may think that I lack decency for attacking a man so recently deceased, but I do no more than what Hitchens himself did. Speaking of Jerry Falwell, Hitchens pointedly refuses a “compassionate word” for this “departed fraud.”)

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Categories: ATHEISM, Belief, Europe

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