Come talk to me about Hitchens?

(193 Posts)
ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 01:41:47

How did I not know about Hitchens?

How do I not stay up all night trawling youtube....

Seriously..I have been a kinda quiet atheist...don't poke me with your religion and I won't poke you with how stupid it all sounds to me.

I feel like someone stuck a fire cracker up my back side.

What if there is a moral imperative that atheists get out there and attempt to rid the world of the evil that is religion?

I am all confused now.

CheerfulYank Sun 14-Apr-13 20:18:40

I think I may have been born a theist.

ICBINEG Sun 14-Apr-13 20:44:29

I think that if children grew up in the vacuum away from societal and parental influence (a thought experiment - not something that could ever be achieved) they would fall onto a spectrum from feeling alone in an uncaring universe to feeling deeply loved by a spirit larger than their own.

But nowhere on that spectrum would anything approximating Islam or catholicism etc. exist.

Can you imagine such children spontaneously deciding that sex was evil, or that only men could represent that spirit? Or that one persons interpretation was more important than another's? Or that certain specific words must be said in a certain order to avoid hell?

Basically I think that while faith or lack of it may be inherent in the human brain, organised religion is a pathological self-perpetuating virus like entity that the human race would be well shot of.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 14-Apr-13 21:16:45

Ellie, I guess you're shying away from another of his most quotable lines, 'religion poisons everything'.

What puzzles me is why women, especially women who identify themselves as feminists, would admit to being a follower of any of the Abrahamic faiths, given the misogynist nature of their scriptures and practices. It all seems to me a bit Mr Cholmondely-Warner, Women, know your place.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 21:51:08

ok then, lets not beat about the bush.

Samuel P Huntington, the first proponent of the clash of civilisations theory said:

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do"

its not high ideals, the enlightenment, liberal democracy, christianity, capitalism, et al that won or even still win it for the west, it is the superiority in applying organised violence.

the guns, the steel, the bombs, the nukes, the drones, etc that was how the vast majority of the world came under european colonialism and how they are still beholden.

if you are on the wrong side of history, you know it, non westerners never forget it. as muslims we are made to collectively answer for the acts of an extremist fringe of individualists - not state sponsored, not organised or given consent to/for - when there are hundreds of thousands plus muslim deaths as a direct or indirect consequence of official US government policy since 'desert storm' in 1991. thats within my OWN living memory.

"It wouldn't be too difficult to come up with a pretty lengthy list of Muslims who want to bomb the Western world and would actually follow through with it (or already have) so yes, I think Harris has a point."

how many people on that list? out of 1.6 billion people who are muslim that 'lengthy' list wouldnt even make 0.01%. to get to even 1 per cent you would need a list of 16 million names.

if we are to understand that citizens of a democracy, that can elect their governments, that can oppose their governments, are not to be held culpable for the oppression their government endorses/ acts out in another country - as everyone but al qaeda terrorists and israeli government officials on Gaza would know....

what then of those living under dictatorship, or under tyranny, like in Afghanistan under the taliban or Iraq under sadaam? what did the average afghan, poor oppressed himself have to do with the sept 11 attacks?

what about the iraqi? what did sadaam's iraq have to do with al qaeda? they said 'weapons of mass destruction' then as they say about iran now, 'sexed' up fabricated evidence.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 22:01:17

"What puzzles me is why women, especially women who identify themselves as feminists, would admit to being a follower of any of the Abrahamic faiths, given the misogynist nature of their scriptures and practices. It all seems to me a bit Mr Cholmondely-Warner, Women, know your place."

the thing is Western feminist liberation paradigms means nothing to Muslim women because it ignores the myriad forms of oppression that are visited upon Muslim societies by occupying or colonial forces in ways that violate the well-being, indeed the very lives, of Muslim men.

cut and paste afghanistan, palestine, iraq in place of hawaii, and Islam in place of 'culture' in this quote from Hawaiian sovereignty activist and scholar, Dr. Haunani Trask. she writes from a context fundamentally defined by racism, not sexism. and that is the context i also find myself defined by.

"From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i"

"Pacific Island women, like Hawaiian women, seek a collective self-determination. That is to say, we want to achieve sovereignty through and with our own people, not separated from them as individuals or as splintered groups. Such individualism and separation promise only more confusion and more alienation, the very maladies which so afflict industrial people...

Secondly, our efforts at collective self-determination mean that we find solidarity with our own people, including our own men, more likely, indeed preferable, to solidarity with white people, including feminists. Struggle with our men occurs laterally, across and within our movement. It does not occur vertically between the white women's movement and indigenous women on one side and Hawaiian men on the other side.
The reasons for this are many. We have more in common, in both struggle and in controversy, with our men and with each other as indigenous women than we do with white people, called haole in Hawaiian. This is only to make the familiar point that culture is a larger reality than "women's rights..."

In Hawaii, as is so many parts of the island Pacific, haole feminists have steadfastly refused to support our efforts to regain our lands, to protect our civil rights, and to achieve self-government. They have defined what is "feminist" as that which relates to women -and only women- e.g., reproductive rights, women's health problems, employment and education concerns.
But to most Native people, women's concerns are part of the greater concern for our lahu'i, our nation. For example, we see our lack of control over our bodies as a result of colonization. Therefore, poor Hawaiian health is directly traceable to the Americanization of our country, including loss of our lands where we once grew healthy Native food. High breast cancer rates for our women are similarly related to our forced assimilation into the junk-food, supermarket American diet...

But haole feminists don't see the causal connection between our life conditions and our status as colonized people. Their failure of vision is a result of their privilege as white Americans. In Hawaii, they see the oppression of women but they refuse to see the oppression of Hawaiian women as a product of colonization."

Quoted from, "From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i"

cjel Sun 14-Apr-13 22:06:29

I prefer his brother Peter!!!!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Sun 14-Apr-13 22:09:33

how many people on that list? out of 1.6 billion people who are muslim that 'lengthy' list wouldnt even make 0.01%. to get to even 1 per cent you would need a list of 16 million names.

Did I say large proportion? No I did not. I said lengthy. So I don't know what on earth you are going on about.

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke to be a problem.

crescentmoon Sun 14-Apr-13 22:45:08

"Did I say large proportion? No I did not. I said lengthy. So I don't know what on earth you are going on about. "

on military crusade 'on' the muslim world you said sam harris has a point because of a 'lengthy' list when this would not even make a minute proportion. yet this would be used not just to stereotype all muslims as terrorists but you even would see a point to military neo colonisation of the muslim world. not many atheists including dawkins go so far as that.

does sam harris speak then as an atheist or as a capitalist or as a white supremacist? because a variation of those arguments have been used to incite violence against the 'other' many times before excuse me if i see 'new atheism' as just a fake crock of shit along with that that.

hitchens supported military action on iraq based not on weapons of mass destruction but because the iraqis were muslims even though the dictator sadam hussain a secular, totalitarian iraqi dictator. that was it. thats the sum total of his argument. and he cheerled the iraq war and the commencement of the murder of innocents.

'it takes one type of fundamentalist...'

what type of fundamentalist? religious? we dont see that but we see a fundamentalism about 'the market' and about 'capital' that has and still can overcome any democracy, human rights, protection of society etc.

some of you would say religion and you can but i think personally capitalism serves as the biggest evil in the world and the biggest threat to human peace and security. to base a philosophy not just a monetary system on 'selfish greed' however rational, relies on insecurity and would view any connections between human beings not based on money as a threat. any tranquility or peace not gained from materialistic acquisition must be fought and brought down.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 22:48:40

Ellie, I guess you're shying away from another of his most quotable lines, 'religion poisons everything

Not shying away, just didn't think about it in that moment - but yes, I agree completely with that too.

EllieArroway Sun 14-Apr-13 23:00:17

I think that if children grew up in the vacuum away from societal and parental influence (a thought experiment - not something that could ever be achieved) they would fall onto a spectrum from feeling alone in an uncaring universe to feeling deeply loved by a spirit larger than their own

See, this is interesting and something I've pondered a lot. There is a tendency within all of us, I think, to "look up" for answers. I don't mean into the sky necessarily, but to refer upwards for answers to difficult questions - your parents, then the priests, then the leaders of the tribes, then the emperor or king - and further up to God/s.

Every civilization (I think) establishes a hierarchy of some description - even democratic societies like ours. We don't want to feel alone, so we look for authority - the ultimate and usurping authority being God. And since God never manages to speak to us himself, it's pathetically easy for people with an agenda to put words in his mouth.

So, I think you're probably right - that looking for "love" or authority seems a natural inclination. But that doesn't demonstrate that a god exists (as CS Lewis suggested with his hunger analogy), it just demonstrates that we all feel individually feeble and alone and want to believe that we're not.

Snorbs Sun 14-Apr-13 23:15:44

I think Hitchens had a wonderful ability, when he was on form, to cut through the societal pressure to acquiesce to religious faith and instead to strike at the real heart of the issue. There's a clip on youtube here from a discussion where a genial rabbi was talking about circumcision. Hitchens did a magnificent job of making it clear that what the rabbi was cracking jokes about was non-consensual genital mutilation and how inappropriate that was.

That being said, I wasn't particularly impressed by "God is Not Great" and some of the things he said I flat-out don't agree with. But that's ok. He's not a prophet, no-one is expected to go along with everything he said.

Isabeller Sun 14-Apr-13 23:53:17

So glad your thread took off, will catch up properly but (harking back) are you saying the religious group I belong to is evil (polite question smile?

CheerfulYank Mon 15-Apr-13 01:48:44

Nick for me it's easy because I'm a Red Letter Christian, who follows what we believe are the actual recorded words of Jesus. As far as I know (I'll have to reread) he didn't have much to say that was anti-feminist.

EllieArroway Mon 15-Apr-13 03:02:40

As far as I know (I'll have to reread) he didn't have much to say that was anti-feminist

No, he was too busy being pro-slavery and supporting the laws that say we should kill cheeky children and homosexuals. He didn't mention lesbians, which was nice of him.

CheerfulYank Mon 15-Apr-13 03:27:25

Okay. smile

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 08:05:11

'it takes one type of fundamentalist...'

what type of fundamentalist? religious? we dont see that but we see a fundamentalism about 'the market' and about 'capital' that has and still can overcome any democracy, human rights, protection of society etc.

I never used the word 'type', you are misquoting me. That changes the sentence quite a bit. I said it only takes one fundamentalist.

But to suggest that you don't see religious extremists causing problems..... well, I'm not really sure what to say to that.

I'll start with 9/11 but if you really want a big long list, I'll dig one up for you.

crescentmoon Mon 15-Apr-13 08:41:43

but you didnt say religious fundamentalist, and i think there are many more fundamentalists than religious.

and you said a fundamentalist WITH A NUKE. you mean iran i suppose? those weapons of mas destruction that iraq was supposed to have? that was used as a pretext to attack the iraqis? im watching the news and feeling dejavu about it all - nothing the iranians as the iraqis can change course.

but its an atheist Kim Jong Un that is threatening to plunge the world into nuclear war. actually making plans to make the first strike, not in self defence, and against the USA as well as South Korea.
now, Hitchens himself said that atheism entails no moral position, and i would go further and say that there is absolutely no reservation in atheism against evil. so what forms the rational basis of morality for an atheist? and if it is rational self interest as Dawkins would say, well what happens when someone is powerful and independent enough - with nuclear weapons - not to any longer need to cooperate with others? then in what name can we appeal to their better side as their 'evil' is relative and so is 'morality'. as with the other atheist leaders stalin and Mao who - throwing off the shackles of religion - decided, as well, that they must arrive at their own values through their will to power.

sieglinde Mon 15-Apr-13 09:28:14

Pedro said
"sieglinde you seem to be suggesting that children are born as theists. This is simply not true. If a child grew up in a world where there was no religion at all, it's pretty unlikely they'd ever be religious."

Not what I said. Just that there's some neurological evidence that human beings are wired to seek a universal explanation that makes sense of things. This might just as well be an atheist as a theist argument, as Ellie has pointed out. All I really wanted to say is that human children go through neural phases, only some of which predispose to theism/atheism - so really it's not entirely relevant. left to themselves, without the notorious men in frocks that seem to trouble ellie so much, they might for all we know evolve their own religion - say, worshipping a dead pig... or they might bypass religion. we can't ever find out, because our own society is - in all ways - the product of religion.

Interesting that some here don't seem to know what 'shallow' means. It's not a judgement about truth and falsity. The point is that Hitchens was a slick, sleazy and simplistic thinker, exactly the kind of thinker for the 21st century - soundbites and no nuances. Sorry, but he's not a martyr because he volunteered to be waterboarded. Anyone with two neurones to make a synapse didn't NEED to experience it personally to know it was horrible. It's part of his huge eogtism to turn it into the Hitch Show. FFS. Whty not do some work, people? Read some Ferber. Read some Kant.

Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism? Let's not argue Hitler all over again. Let's stick to Stalin and Mao. Let's just start with a glance at their combined death tolls - somewhere near 100 million or more. Now tell me again why the RC church is to blame for desertification in China and pollution in Russia.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 09:36:49

and you said a fundamentalist WITH A NUKE. you mean iran i suppose? those weapons of mas destruction that iraq was supposed to have? that was used as a pretext to attack the iraqis? im watching the news and feeling dejavu about it all - nothing the iranians as the iraqis can change course.

You make a lot of assumptions. Did I say anything about Iraq? No I did not.

You like to think that you know what I'm talking about when clearly you don't.

What I said was that it only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke. I didn't say religious. In fact you brought religion into it and suggested that we don't see religious extremists truing to blow stuff up. I pointed out that you were wrong.

As for North Korea, if Kim Jong Un really is completely atheist, then I can say with much confidence that he is not doing whatever it is he's doing because he's an atheist. However, the religious attacks are carried out precisely because of the religious beliefs of those who plan and carry out the attacks.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 09:40:35

Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism?

Militant atheism is not a thing. It doesn't exist. People don't perform atrocious acts because they are atheists. There are always other reasons because atheism doesn't propose a way of doing things, a moral code or a list of people to hate, it's just a word. What can't you grasp about that?

juule Mon 15-Apr-13 09:44:13

"Religion, you all say, is bad for the planet - can someone explain to me why it is worse than militant atheism"

Saying that atheism is bad doesn't make religion good.
This type of argument reminds me of my children. Tell one off for doing something and that child will then claim that a sibling did something wrong earlier in an attempt. It's an attempt to divert the attention and it doesn't make a wrong deed any better that someone one else did the equivalent or worse.

nailak Mon 15-Apr-13 10:16:00

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke, does this mean military action against all groups which have one fundamentalist in them is justified and should be carried out?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Mon 15-Apr-13 11:16:35

I can tell you at the moment in Asia many of us think it would be justified to teach the spoilt brat in North Korea a lesson.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 12:02:23

It only takes one fundamentalist with a nuke, does this mean military action against all groups which have one fundamentalist in them is justified and should be carried out?

No. And I never suggested it was.

ICBINEG Mon 15-Apr-13 13:01:38

hmm militant atheism...

Would we define that as the attempt to promote atheism through use of arms/violence?

Has that actually ever happened?

Both theist and atheist may be accused of using violence to expand their countries/resources/money etc but I think only the theists are guilty of using arms/violence in order to promote their religious view point?

Basically I think there is no such thing as militant atheism...while I am struggling to think of a religion that isn't a militant religion....even the buddhists seem to be having a crack at genocide at the moment.

This may be a selection problem...any religion not willing to use violence to expand it's membership has not survived to this era....

isabella well if your religious group has used violence, oppression, and torture simply for the end of expansion then yes I would suggest the religion is both militant and evil. Again this is far from saying that you are evil.

By analogy, for those of us living in the UK it is obvious that the British empire was evil, vast amount of violence was done for no reason other than expansion of the British meme, but that doesn't mean that all British people are evil....

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