Thursday, August 16, 2012

Another Hitchens' Absurdity


Having extra time on my hands I pulled out Christopher Hitchens's book God Is Not Great. For a re-browsing.

I came upon this absurdity. It's hard for me to read this book, not because it is so intellectually challenging to me, but because it has so many things so very wrong. Hitchens wrote:

"There is a central paradox at the core of religion. The three great monotheisms teach people to think abjectly of themselves, as miserable and guilty sinners prostrate before an angry and jealous god who, according to discrepant accounts, fashioned them either out of dust and clay or a clot of blood. The positions for prayer are usually emulations of the supplicant serf before an ill-tempered monarch. The message is one of continual submission, gratitude, and fear. Life itself is a poor thing: an interval in which to prepare for the hereafter or the coming—or second coming—of the Messiah." (Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Kindle Locations 1200-1204)

Not really.

As regards actual Christianity, not at all.

Yes, I believe that God made humanity. That life could come from non-life requires, to me, too much faith. (BTW, this remains unproven.) Evolution does not explain the existence of life, since (by definition) evolution works only on biotic material; i.e., cells are needed. "We often hear the question how evolution explains the origins of life. The short answer: it doesn't. That is the subject of abiogenesis theory (also referred to as origin(s) of life science)." (Jelle Kastelein, "Abiogenesis Explained")

So, God fashioned us.

Then, God redeemed us. Out of his love. As one who is a Christian and has studied Christianity for 40+ years, I have never viewed myself as a "supplicant serf before an ill-tempered monarch." Hitchens severely misunderstands someone like me at this point, and my faith. In two weeks, for example, I'll preach on Colossians 1:13-14, which reads:  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Have I viewed myself as a "sinner?" Of course. I saw myself this way long before coming to Christ. I will never forget playing in a band, in a concert somewhere in the Chicago area, and having the thought "I am screwed up." That thought was true. Even atheists should be able to agree here and see themselves as "abject sinners." For what the lives of some famous atheists were really about, see Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. Read, for example, of the perverted behavior of the great atheist, misogynist, and serial adulterer Bertrand Russell.
Hitchens seems not to like the word "submission" (Russell had a hard time with it too, even though he got women to submit to his own sexual desires). But I think "submission," in this context, is a very good word. Everyone submits to something ("You've got to serve somebody" - Bob Dylan). Hitchens himself has succumbed to false teaching when it comes to Christianity. One this see, e.g., Hitchens's brother Peter's book The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, for a refutation of Christopher's twisted religious misunderstandings.

So Hitchens'-type atheism, in his quote, fails to satisfy me on the matter of abiogenesis, and fails to force me into kneeling before a falsehood on the matter of my redemptive history. It also fails to get right the matter of "life." Life, on Christianity, is not a "poor thing," an "interval," some kind of holding station as we simply await the glory train. Here Hitchens is simply, and woefully, ignorant of Christianity, and Jesus' teachings on the kingdom of God. I await a new heaven and a new earth, not some Platonic, ethereal heaven. This is Jewishness, not Greek philosophy. Following Jesus, I see the inbreaking of "heaven" on earth, and pray for it. Now. Today.

Life, for me, is a wonderful thing, and feels so almost entirely. Upon my conversion from practical atheism and weak agnosticism to Christianity I moved from death to life, not theoretically, but experientially. So life is not, for me, some "poor thing." Christ has become, and is, my life, the source of life.