Christopher Hitchens on ‘Why We Should Fight Religion’…

I will let the man speak for himself:

38 Comments on "Christopher Hitchens on ‘Why We Should Fight Religion’…"

  1. Loungelizard | Apr 17, 2010 at 6:44 am |

    This man is truely brilliant !

  2. Fighting religion is stupid, especially since “religion” is a thousand different things with different meaning for different people. You might as well try to fight the weather; religion will always be with us. Hitchens has become what he is fighting: a crusader. Besides, I stopped listening to this drunken bugger after he backed and agitated for the war in Iraq (which he still does, as far as I know.) He should at least have the decency to wash his hands by publicly apologizing for this terrible blunder.

    “.. my main political preoccupation: to help people in Aghanistan and Somalia, in Iraq and Lebanon resist those who sincerely want encompass the destruction of civilisation, and sincerely believe they have God on their side in wanting to do so.”

    What a fucking hypocrite. Hasn't he discovered that most of the wars being fought today: Aghanistan, Iraq etc. are not religious, but political in nature? In my eyes he's nothing but a pompous ass, addicted to his own pretentious voice.

    • captainsharpe | Apr 17, 2010 at 7:56 am |

      He's describing religous extremism as “true” religion, and dismissing everything else. Really? Religion has existed for thousands of years and been practiced by billions of people, and its a binary choice between stuff like terrorism and the Rapture/”pathetic apologism”. Really? Maybe people like Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero are the true face of Christianity, and extremists and hate-preachers are the perversion?
      He sounds a bit messianic himself when he talks about “helping” people in Afghanistan. What concrete things has he done to help people in that part of the world? Very patronising.

    • Exactly, he evens says “Muslim Extremists” which implies that normal Muslims aren't hell bent on world domination and destuction. He has become an extremist himself by ranting about how all religious people love death and hate life, it's ridiculous. He isn't engaging with the average believer, none of the Christians I know are anything like the Christians he describes, I don't doubt they exsist and I don't doubt that they do believe to some extent what he claims they believe. I just don't think he is aware that there are a great many people who have Faith in God because they don't love death more than life, like Captainsharpe says what about people like Martin Luther King? Just because someone says they believe in Jesus Christ or Allah or whoever that doesn't automatically mean that everything they do is representative of the God they worship, as it says in the Bible “there is none good but one, that is God.
      Do these Atheist extremists not realise that there are hundreds of Charitable organisations set up in the name of God, to do good to stangers, or do they simply choose to ignore all the good that has been done in the name of God? It's not even as if a secular society is a pinnacle of human sociology, atheists can bang on about how Believers are all evil and corrupt. It's not the Church that's sexualising young girls, making them have a low self esteem about their bodies and wanting plastic surgery before they are even sexually mature. It's not the church that has crippled the economy and plundered millions from hard working people, not recently anyway.
      I think he's deluded if he thinks getting rid of religion will somehow make Mankind a more tolerant fair and equal, it won't we'll still be people, we'll still have all our predjudices, we'll still have rascism and nationalism nothing would change. I can't even begin to comprehend how religion could be destroyed, what would you do with Jewish people, they are after all defined by their religion are they not?

      • First of all, I am an atheist who does see the charitable donations made by the church, but most of the volunteers are doing good things in hopes that they will not be punished or because they would like to be forgiven by some all seeing power. However wouldn't it be nicer if they were doing these things from the goodness of their own hearts? I donate and volunteer because I want to make a difference in the community, not because it could save me from going to a place of eternal damnation. Secondly, the church, I agree, is not “sexualising young girls” (young boys actually; especially if you look at the catholic church) but the people in charge are allowing this to happen. There are plenty of corrupt people in the world and since America at least has a Christian majority, the church is where most of the deviants of society end up. Lastly, I believe Hitchens was referring to getting rid of organized religions. One can still have spirituality and celebrate it without gathering in one place once a week where people with extreme ideas can influence him. And can I ask you where racism, sexism and prejudice came from? Religion.
        “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.” Leviticus 12:2
        “But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.” Leviticus 12:5
        I believe that most human flaws would indeed rear their heads in time without religion but goodness how a few books have sped that process up! I suggest you work on your arguments and if you reply, I would like it to be well thought out and intelligently written

        • you're kind of wrong about why Christians do charitable work they do it to honour and glorify God not themselves, I wasn't trying to say that nobody else does charitable work I was just trying to point out not all Christians are bad. Why does it matter what motivates people to do good anyway?
          Paedophilia is not exclusive to the Catholic church read what sinead o' connor thinks on this site to get a more realistic view of what most Catholics think.
          I'd say racisim sexism and prejudice probably exsisted before religion and it's more likely that it came from people.
          I don't know what your point is about leviticus it was written whilst europeans were running around chucking spears and living in caves, it's bound to be a little different to what we think, we don't stone adulterers you know, not all of us anyway. Anybody knows you can't judge historical texts by our standards, even if they are ironically the foundation upon which our society is based.
          Sorry if this isn't well thought out or written well enough for you.

        • Tuna Ghost | Apr 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm |

          “One can still have spirituality and celebrate it without gathering in one place once a week where people with extreme ideas can influence him.”

          When culture and society became organized, so did the predominant spiritual beliefs–you simply cannot get around this. There is no such thing as a religion that isn't organized. That organization is what makes religion big-R Religion. It's part and parcel of our organized culture. “Spiritualiy” without organization just plain would not serve the function that religion plays in our culture or in people's lives because of that.

          “And can I ask you where racism, sexism and prejudice came from? Religion.”

          …that's just retarded, and so is anyone who thinks that quoting a couple lines of the Torah is proof of this idea. It is completely out of keeping with any understanding of sociology or anthropology, and I'd ask you to provide any real evidence for this except that I know you can't. Ohmigod a desert tribe from several thousand years ago on the other side of the world had views that are different from our own!!!!! Racism, you guys!!! Holy shit!

          • As but one example Tuna, you might want to catch up on many of the sermons spewed from the pulpits of Protestant Churches in the South from Reconstruction through, at least, the 1950's (and the remnants of this excrement lives on even today). Look up the history of Parchman Farm in Mississippi…the collusion of law enforcement, the state government, and the pitifully compliant Churches. Look up why the Southern Baptist Convention began in the first place. I think you may find it, let's say, a tad “racist”.

          • Tuna Ghost | Jun 27, 2010 at 1:06 am |

            I grew up down south in close proximity to the Southern Baptist organization, I'm well aware of the rampant hypocrisy. Racism and the american south is a complex issue, and it simply can't be placed at Religion's doorstep.

        • “Because I want to make a difference in the community”? Subtle selfishness…( this is a good thing and I want to be known for doing good things) For a person to assume that all Christians have this narrow minded, ( if I do good, God will like me better) reason for doing good…is indeed a narrow minded and shallow; not to mention; resentful presuppositional generalization. Amazing is the inclination to apply bad intention to every good deed; especially if the person doing the good deed is religious.

          I grew up in a dysfunctional family in which every act was scrutinized, and assumed to be contaminated by ulterior and albeit malevolent intention. I find it interesting that this dysfunction is blatantly commonplace in the daily dialogue of life.

          We need mercy and we need to give it; to each other.

    • What Hitchens has “discovered” – he says it right up front – is that THEOCRATS like George W. Bush et. al. have necessary and sufficient control of most of the nations currently at war around the world. Notice that he is answering off the cuff a narrow question about how he has chosen to spend SOME, not ALL of his time. If you read just the headlines of his many articles and essays you might “discover” that he makes the case that you foolishly claim that he cannot make.

    • I’m afraid you’re right, what a waste of a great intellect, the wilful denial of the blatant politics of greed and power involved in the current global conflicts is a great disappointment and bodes ill for the intellectual elite. this is not new of course, the list of intellectual Nazi sympathisers in WWII contained both atheists and beleivers alike

  3. When will we stop fighting…?

  4. Hitchens got huge clanking balls of steel. Thank goodness people have the nerve to stand up to angry condemnation in order to make these points.

  5. Hadrian999 | Apr 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm |

    fight it all you won't but don't expect to achieve much,
    some people will question religion, most won't

  6. We all have our own views and interpretation on “Beliefs”. Like many of us, Christopher's is flawed. He's describing extremist who love death and hate life. Its all about love and being there for other living creatures from time to time. Not blowing yourself up and killing inocent people and think that a God of Love will smile upon you and give you a reward in the next life.

    Theres to much complexity in this physical world. How its all mathematical… thats design.
    Nihilism… kinda ignorant to believe in nothing.

    • you shouldn't jump to hasty conclusions about what you don't fully understand, fabian. he's an atheist, and you obviously don't understand the distinction between nihilism and atheism. nice argument for design by the way. garbage.

    • James_Smith | Apr 18, 2010 at 5:14 am |

      “God of love”? You poor, deluded person? The jewish/christian/islamic god is not a bit about love. It is about hate, intolerance, violence, and genocide. Just once, read your bible as if it were a new book that you had never heard of and knew nothing about it.

      Christopher's views do not agree with yours. That doesn't mean they are “flawed”. Point out exactly where they are flawed and give supporting evidence that can be verified by anyone. Until you do that, you have no credibility and will get no respect from any rational individual.

      Try thinking for yourself instead of parroting the lies you have been told all your life. Yes, thinking objectively about things is uncomfortable at first, but when obvious facts begin to reveal themselves, it is liberating and you will truly be free. It feels wonderful.

      • Oh really James? Yes, I know how what happened in ancient times… brutal. We even had to sacrafice animals for forgiveness. Its written that Christ was the last “Perfect lamb…” to be slaughtered. Im not completely sure why blood had to have been shed but there are a great deal of things in this univeres that are hard to fathom. He brought the new covenant:
        The man changed peoples lifes and the world (no denying that right?). No one would sacrafice their own lives to spread the gospel if they werent convinced. All of Jesus' disciples were murdered for what? Teaching what they've experienced… .

        I do think for myself Mr. Smith. You have not the faintest idea who I am and the life I experienced. Dont be another cliche. I'll try not to either

      • theophany | Apr 18, 2010 at 11:07 am |

        the Atheists path is that of a labyrinth with No center. The flaw of any system is the very boundary that excludes other systems. careful with your “objective” reason my friend there is a Superstition within “Matter”
        that is just as dangerous. I think if you take your reason a little farther you may see that Extremism is (as stated above) more about the hardened corpse of modernity, than the transformative power of Tradition. Leave it to an economist to point this out:

        • And who are you to understand what an atheist thinks? “A labyrinth with no center” I call bullshit. Quite the contrary, I have a strong spiritual core that comes from a belief in a higher source, call it God or whatever, that is not predicated on believing in a book written thousands of years ago that has been proven to have been edited throughout millenium. You sir, and you too Fabian Ramos, are a product of mutated information. Similar to the childhood 'telephone game' where you sit in a circle and a phrase is whispered in one child's ear and they have to whisper it to the child next to them until the last child in the chain hears the phrase and has to speak it out loud only to show that it has been changed and warped over the course, religion is also a pale imitation of it's source material. And Fabian, are you even sure Jesus Christ existed? I've never seen any historical evidence for it. The bible doesn't count as it was written many years after his supposed death and the many attributes of his life are attributes found in many other deities from other cultures which most certainly casts doubt on the whole story. I'm not trying to cut down Christianity, I'm just looking at facts. True vibrant spiritual beliefs have nothing to do with the trappings of religion and most certainly have nothing to do with holy wars, pedophilia and accumulation of power and wealth.

          • theophany | Apr 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm |

            well I was merely making an “objective” observation, not proclaiming truth. hmm well I don't think you qualify as an Atheist honu. But what the HELL? i say go beyond mere Atheism or Theism try focusing on the immediate transcendence of Being. I conjecture some Product Programming in you as well, but let us not go further down the slippery slope of “free” Will, and other impossible arguments. I sense a little knee jerk Agnostic reflex in your beliefs, but then again only you experience what you experience. Ah Bullshit and WIngnuts, Dogmatic Nihilists , Ceremonial Magicians, I love the cast on this sight!

          • Good stuff.

            Its a shame that the real truth has been corrupted and deluted by pure evil…


      • Tuna Ghost | Apr 18, 2010 at 7:07 pm |

        Set me free, Neo, I'm stuck in this rigid reality tunnel and only someone who has read all of Robert Anton Wilson can save me!!

        Yeah, you sound like a prick, buddy.

  7. Damn Internets | Apr 18, 2010 at 7:50 am |

    There are certainly MUCH more important things to fight against than religion. Have a look at Invisible Empire for some much more important topics to fight against.

  8. anti_supernaturalist | Apr 18, 2010 at 11:07 am |

    … no need to fight religion (or Mr Hitchens either). On this “national day of 'Prayer' ” it would be better to read two brief excerpts from the US Constitution* out loud, not just Amendment 1 but also Article VI, Section 3. Remember to fight for your right of freedom of conscience.

    Notice to believers, especially fundies, on this National Day of Pious Ventriloquism

    Whose pulling your strings, dummy?

    I expect my rights to disbelief and freedom from religion under the Constitution to be respected by all in this secular state from which you benefit more than I. And that includes my right to free speech against your nonexistent deities on the air, on the internet, in other media including political cartoons, billboards, bus and subway advertising.

    If you imagine that the anti_supernaturalist enjoys “freedom of conscience” think again. Look at the back of any dollar bill — “In God we trust” — that’s an insult to 16% of the US population and a lighted match at the corner of the US Constitution. (Same with NDP — declared unconstitutional by a Wisconsin federal judge on 13 April.*)

    Even if the morally disgusting, vicious, paternalistic 1-god of the Big-3 monster theisms could be proven to exist, even if old Tom Paine’s white-washed deistic divinity could be established by Reason — I have the sovereign right to reject any claim that it must be acknowledged, accepted, or worshiped. The existence of gods is irrelevant to my right to be a member of a secular, open society.

    Faith, the trusting suspension of disbelief, has always been theater of the absurd. As a skeptic, belief in your gods is beneath me. The de-deification of western culture is our task for the next 100 years.

    the anti_supernaturalist


    Article VI. Section 3. The senators and representatives before-mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  9. anti_supernaturalist | Apr 18, 2010 at 11:12 am |

    Where are the grammar police when needed?

    That should be 'Who's' not 'Whose'. Promise I'll do better Miss Oxley here
    and in the hereafter.


  10. not a fan of the anti-sematism

  11. he is quite a professional nihilist.. someone pointed that out to me a while ago and I thought “wow, that's totally true”.. I love is talks, and he makes a lot of great points, though at the same time there really is this general ambience of babies and bath water flying out of ten story windows, one after another.

  12. As usual, Hitchens is RIIIGHT on the money – this whole 'afterlife' thing IS damaging to life itself, and why THE HELL should us Atheists live in the fear that one of you crazy extreme religious idiots are LOOKING FORWARD to the end of the world?!!! I mean, that moron George Bush HAD HIS FINGERS ON THE BUTTON!! Who's to say that if this fucking PALIN bitch gets in, she'll just press it and go “great – it's the RAPTURE!” U Fuckers – It's horrible and disgusting that you decide to judge us in this way and threaten the whole world with your IDIOCY! And so we WILL judge you back. scumbags. Please die now and go to heaven like you want, and leave us alone!

  13. I love it when simple-minded people present themselves as the only ones doing any “critical thinking” or being “logical” etc. What Hitchens and others are reacting to are some bad religions, which also happen to be the main world religions right now. But you see they're not really religions because they do not suit the definition. Xianity, Islam and Judaism are political systems made up like religions. Wolves in wool overcoats. Xianity as a religion is a failure because there are well over 30,000 denominations that are all supposed to be based on the same text and also because even then no one who professes to be a Xian practices it. When's the last time you saw one sell all he had to help the poor? It was built upon the teachings of this one Rabbi who had a gnostic experience but made into a political machine that creates an us vs them mentality and which linked service to the state with service to the church. Meaning that obedience to the state kept you out of Hell, or at least made heresy against the church also treason. Xianity went on for centuries like this, where you were born a Xian and raised and trained to be one. This is what happened in America and children are trained to be Xian and told that the Republican party is doing Jehovah's work and the Tea Party right now is as much a reaction to the fact that America was getting so close to being a theocracy and now it's 180 degrees the other way with one of the cursed descendents of Ham. Xianity has since Constantine's time been a tool of the government, not a way to achieve an understanding of the unseen nature of reality. It is also in it's foundations of it's mystery not new. It borrows/steals from pre-existing motifs which it is why it was relatively easy to convert the “heathens” due to the similarities to worldwide myths and traditions. The heathens just didn't see the orthodoxy and dogma until it was too late.

    Judaism ceased to exist in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed because since then the Hebrews have been unable to practice their religion. They created Judaism 2.0 which has as much similarity to the Old Testament Law as Bill Cosby and a bunch of kids eating chocolate pudding does to 2 girls 1 cup.

    And Islam? Based on Judaism (which is null and void, see above) and whose sole claim for existence is that there were editorial errors in the Old Testament. Islam among these three “religions” it has been the most political as it was a tool to galvanize the disparate arab tribes into a military force. The conspiracy theory is that the Jesuits created Islam so their armies would do the dirty work of running the unwashed out of Israel then Islam would be given something or other. But the monster they created got out of control.

    All three of these religions share the “in My sign conquer” aspect and they are not to be taken seriously as true religions.

    But what the atheists do is because these “religions” are bad, because they are not thinking logically, they then make the leap that all religions are bad. This is due to the Big Three having done a great job over the last several decades of relegating pre-existing and concurrent religious belief systems into the realm of “just” myth, fairy stories, legends, etc. This is why Atheists, having realized Xianity, Judaism and Islam are of naught having nothing to fall back on. They then throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    The good news is the gods of your ancestors are still around if you want to reclaim your true religious heritage and if you don't want to go there, there's plenty of ways for you to make sense of the unseen qualities of life without pretending they don't exist.

    Because what are we as humans except a Mind? The body is just where we reckon our consciousness is centrally located but we can't see the mind, can't touch it, can't calculate it mathematically. When you look in the mirror you can't actually see yourself, you're just seeing the biological form you associate with and which the mind uses to interact with its environment. The mind is invisible. We are each our own invisible friend.

    Besides that, it is man's natural state not to have faith in, or belief in, but to have a real understanding and recognition of the unseen sentient forces in the world. An aborigine in Australia or South America or the Arctic doesn't belief…he understands. And if anyone wants to cure their Atheism, just go live in the woods for a couple years away from all the stuff humans take so much pride in, away from the fascination with superficial reality. It is only as we have built great cities and insulate ourselves most of the time in buildings and further separate ourselves from nature that ideas like Atheism have come bubbling up. Atheists do not feel (or misunderstand the feeling) all the unseen parts of existence because they are the product of non-religions that teach that nature is just a resource to be exploited, not something we are an integral part of. It is the human experience that has been lost, that experience that we have had for many thousands of years but now which we no longer as a whole connect to in the western world. We have lost our “common sense.”

    So atheists, you can claim that all those people who would not recognize the separation between the secular and the sacred that we now have in the modern era just didn't understand, you can talk about them like they're children and wag your heads and imagine that oh, now…NOW we have it all figured out. You just embarrass yourselves when you do.

    But most of all…you yourself are an invisible sentient entity…you yourself are a god. Good luck trying to deny your own existence.

    fiat lux

    • Nice and thoughtful post. I agree with much of your analysis.

      “Because what are we as humans except a Mind? The body is just where we reckon our consciousness is centrally located but we can't see the mind, can't touch it, can't calculate it mathematically. When you look in the mirror you can't actually see yourself, you're just seeing the biological form you associate with and which the mind uses to interact with its environment. The mind is invisible. We are each our own invisible friend.”

      That's one way of putting it. Personally I prefer to speak of mind and consciousness as including the visible and tangible: after all, what we call “things” or “matter” is impossible to distinguish from “mind” on closer philosophical and scientific inspection. Cartesian dualism is just a semantic splitting up of direct experience, reinforced by cultural habits and thought patterns. Or as William Blake puts it:

      “Mental things are alone real: what is called corporeal nobody knows of; its dwelling-place is a fallacy, and its existence an imposture. Where is the existence out of mind, or thought?—where is it but in the mind of a fool?”

  14. He can't get anything right. One; you're not going to fight religion with the alternative of “no religion.” For the religious; religion is their very identity. And so he's attacking people on an emotional level, but he's coming from a rational level. That equals fail no matter how you slice it. Two; as many people have already pointed out – he's not even being rational by generalizing and relegating all religion as extreme theocracy. Hell, even the Jehovah's Witnesses, who want the world destroyed so they can have it for themselves, are content to sit on their hands and watch the rest of us do it for them!

  15. Hitch telling us what we all know to be true.

  16. Tuna Ghost | Jun 27, 2010 at 6:06 am |

    I grew up down south in close proximity to the Southern Baptist organization, I’m well aware of the rampant hypocrisy. Racism and the american south is a complex issue, and it simply can’t be placed at Religion’s doorstep.

  17. I’m afraid you’re right, what a waste of a great intellect, the wilful denial of the blatant politics of greed and power involved in the current global conflicts is a great disappointment and bodes ill for the intellectual elite. this is not new of course, the list of intellectual Nazi sympathisers in WWII contained both atheists and beleivers alike

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