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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.

Isabeller Fri 12-Apr-13 01:51:30

DP is quite into Hitchens I think. I am religious (maybe not the way you are meaning though?) and you're welcome to try a bit of ridding on me for as long as I stay awake wink.

I think I am not evil and I think my religion/faith is not evil although probably not as good as it would like to be. I may be mistaken though.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 02:01:12

I am religious and always quite liked Hitchens. He certainly died much too early. sad

As far as your question, though, I am an adult and my beliefs are my own. I was not brainwashed or conditioned into them. It's not up to you to decide anything for me, or talk me out of anything.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 03:17:40

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

Because of if you go on the terrain of "moral imperatives" on this subject you are also slipping into proselytism.catch 22.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as church and state are separate…..each to their own!

I LOVE Hitchens because am also a contrarian at heart.
He was quite prolific, look up his wiki page to find list of publications he contributed to.
Lots of very funny and bittersweet biographical articles chronicling his life as a Brit in the US (on the vanity fair & slate websites).

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 09:51:39

Hitchens is my god! (disclaimer: I recognise that he is a human being and not a supernatural deity)

He is by far an away the best presenter of arguments I have ever been fortunate enough to listen to. His mixture of incredible recollection, fact, cutting sarcasm, damning thought provocation..... Just brilliant.

Have you read God is Not Great? Fantastic book.

He will be sadly missed.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 10:00:49

isabella Oh no! It is not religious people who are evil, it is established religions themselves (I think).

The average catholic was not out spreading the message that aids is better for the soul than using a condom. But the 'catholic church' was.

cheerful well quite. That is what I have thought previously....that it is not my business what other people think. Actually I guess it is the same point as above. If your religion is a private thing that you do alone then it really isn't any of my business. As soon as you join up with an organised religion it may become my business because you may build a church or start setting 'moral standards' or dress codes etc.

master Are you french? I am living in the UK and the church and state are FAR from separate.

pedro I haven't read anything...this whole phenomenon has bypassed me....I mean I was aware of Dawkins but this seems a whole level above even Dawkins.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 11:32:58

Hitchens isn't above Dawkins. A notch below, maybe.

I read God is Not Great, and it's pretty dull - on a level with his Vanity Fair journalism. Mind you, Dawky is awful too - so thick-skulled. Bring back Bertrand Russell's Why I A Not a Christian. And The Brothers Karamazov.

I was genuinely sorry about Hitch's death, but his politics were FUBAR beyond words.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 12:26:08

Above or below really depends what angle you are taking. Dawkins is a biologist by trade and has become a poster boy for atheism as a result of his study. He's not the best debater, but knows his area of science very well and uses it to argue his atheistic stance.

Hitchens was a contrarian, sitting on the edge of philosophy. He wasn't a scientist, although he understood a great deal of the theory. But where he shone was a debater and presenter of ideas. He was also a self confessed anti-theist and was able to very effectively present his view of the world in every aspect. His knowledge of religion and its angles around the globe was unparalleled.

msrisotto Fri 12-Apr-13 12:32:08


ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 12:40:05

Oh I meant a level up on the rage scale tbh.

I am not even sure it is successful as a debating tactic.

I watched the intelligence squared debate with him, stephen fry, widdy, and an archbishop type. I really thought it was Fry that won people over with his calm quite 'why is my love evil' sentiment.

I was just blown away that anyone would stand up and say that organised religion is an evil that strips away human dignity and prevents us from reaching our full potential. I mean I think I actually agree...but to yell it in the face of a high up bishop guy....

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 12:40:20

Fucked up beyond all recovery?

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 13:15:17

Point taken siegelinde but its still great journalism.
He never really pretended to be more than that, surely you can give him credit for that?

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 13:40:05

Fucked up beyond all RECOGNITION. On this, see wikipedia, but basically he thought Lenin and Trotsky were great men, and in particular felt everything Lenin did was justified because In 2005, Hitchens praised Lenin's creation of "secular Russia" and his discrediting of the Russian Orthodox Church, describing it as "an absolute warren of backwardness and evil and superstition"...

In a nutshell this is why Christians find it hard to see secularists as white knights.

As bad, he eagerly supported the Iraq war, again because he saw it as combatting religion. He was right about that, in a way - there are hardly any Christians left in Iraq.

These aren't cutely perverse views. They are plain wrong, as in morally wrong.

I'm more than willing to give him credit for what he was, Master of the Yoniverse (are you really Pedro Yoni? Do we need some lingam in here to balance us?) As long as nobody mistakes him for a deep thinker. He was funny and readable, but also slick, glib and incredibly shallow.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 13:46:17

Yes certainly more slick than deep.

I guess it has made me think though.

I think it is wrong to mix church and state.

I think it massively more wrong to mix church and school.

But I'm not sure I would ever have thought to do anything about it till watching him in action.

I mean if I believe that starting your school day with an act of collective worship is about the most self-contradictory thing you could do to a child then why aren't I out there saying it loud?

Coz I don't want to upset people....

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:23:17

In America it's beyond all REPAIR. smile

I agree. I do not approve of mixing church and school or state either. I'm religious but will teach my son about my beliefs at home or church.

Our state funded schools are secular and I'd fight to keep them that way.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 14:32:53

cheer okay so this might be a bit of a personal question so feel free not to answer.

When you say you will teach your son about your beliefs at home, do you mean that you will:

a) teach him about your beliefs (as in 'I believe in the existence of a benevolent god because I feel his presence in my heart')

b) teach him to believe (as in 'god exists and you will only be a good person if you believe in him')

Coz I was mostly taught about religion actually from church and it was very much b) and not a).

It is also the difference between teaching religious education (which I have no issue with) and having collective worship in schools which I do have a problem with.

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:37:01

Very much A. I say "Mom thinks" or "I believe".

CheerfulYank Fri 12-Apr-13 14:37:41

Sometimes "the church thinks, but I'm not sure", etc.

ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 14:48:17


I have committed to doing the same with DD. 'Mummy and Daddy don't believe but lots of people do'.

Although I am still working on DH.

I don't know what will happen the first time she comes back from nursery/school telling Jesus related stories ...but I suspect home schooling will be involved.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 15:01:34

I'm RC and THEREFORE very keen on the separation of church and state. The C of E isn't my church either. It isn't the church of Islam or Judaism. Far from it - the C of E used to exclude ALL OF US from every profession and all universities.

Collectively, there are more people of faith who are not C of E than there are those who are. Get rid of its institutional role.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 15:03:05

ICBINEG, why are you so worries about DC being indoctrinated?

DH and I are born and bred muslim.
And yet, within a religion where it seems these days you are radical or you are not, we have managed to find a deep rooted identity beyond the dogma.


ICBINEG Fri 12-Apr-13 15:09:21

master because although some kids grow in to adults that find their own way lots of others don't.

I am a first generation atheist, so to speak, but that doesn't mean that everyone is in a position to get out.

Also many people that do get out are scarred in the process. I have friends that agonized over baptising their DD because of the competing pressures of parents, guilt, upbringing, conscience. It was truly horrible and it continues to blight them now.

I still vividly feel the pain of discovering that the evil, useless, non-believing, amoral, enemy of the righteous that I heard so much about was actually a description of me. That hurts a child, and tbh if I could save other children that pain then I would.

sieglinde Fri 12-Apr-13 15:13:52

ICBINEG - that is completely sad and horrible, and I fucking bet it ISN'T you. I bet you are lovely. You sound lovely. thanks

I'm RC and so are my children, but they have never gone to RC schools. They are free to leave, and I ask them occasionally if they'd like to . My son is turning out het, but I think my daughter may not be, and it will make NO DIFFERENCE to how I feel about her. Or to how Jesus feels about her.

What gets me is unchristian Christians.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Fri 12-Apr-13 15:50:51

Oh ICBINEG! You still battling with guilt?
Maybe you need to work out how you feel before you work out on hiw you pass it on to your children?

Not sure how to help.....but really, take a breath. If you just step back and not talk much about religion, your children will ask all the questions they want when they feel the need.for guidance. By then they should be able to draw their own conclusions.

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Fri 12-Apr-13 18:27:28

I'm more than willing to give him credit for what he was, Master of the Yoniverse (are you really Pedro Yoni? Do we need some lingam in here to balance us?) As long as nobody mistakes him for a deep thinker. He was funny and readable, but also slick, glib and incredibly shallow.

Firstly, to set things straight, MasterOfTheYoniverse and I are not the same person, but fellow Yoni thread lovers I presume!

I don't necessarily agree with everything Hitchens ever said or did, but that doesn't mean that his stance on specific issues is necessarily less valid. And the genius of his speaking was that it was not deep. His understanding of the topics was, but anyone could understand what he was saying and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone to debate him on religion, he had that nailed. Definitely one of the greatest speakers ever to have lived.

ICBINEG Are you familiar with Sam Harris? He's a neuroscientist and brings another fascinating angle to the same topical sphere. Also a great speaker, also a great debater.

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