Thursday, July 12, 2007

Christopher Hitchens vs God

In yesterday's column by Michael Medved at on Hitchens vs God, who is the author of "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (Hitchens is the author, that is, not God, capital g), Medved makes some great points. Evidently he had Hitchens on his show and brought up some inconsistencies in the author's position. For example, Medved writes:
In describing himself and his fellow atheists near the opening of his book, Hitchens declares: "We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books. Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and – since there is no other metaphor - the soul." Ironically, all the literary giants he describes as ethical guides were themselves guided, or at least informed, by their deep belief in God—in fact two of them (Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky) were full-out religious mystics. How can Hitchens unblushingly look to these writers as the right source for handling "serious ethical dilemmas" when their lives and work showed the unmistakable influence of religious teaching which he elsewhere holds in rank contempt? (my emphasis, lgp)
Nicely put. But an even more elementary point that undermines Hitchen's argument is in the line I emphasized in the above paragraph, and that is Hitchen's blindness to the fact that scripture is literature. And as such it has shaped and informed untold instances of beauty, wonder, goodness, bravery, etc. His argument then becomes as vacuous as the statement: "writers are not Great: How Literature Poisons Everything." Well, duh. Bad literature does. So does bad religion.

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