Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poison Pen

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

Christopher Hitchens has a new book out, "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." The title tells you a lot about the man. He's opinionated in the extreme and given to sweeping generalizations that he wouldn't like to be told are emotional rather than logical.

But, they are.

"EVERYTHING!" Hmmm. Does that mean my vanilla ice cream cake has been poisoned by religion? How about my new watermelon lip gloss? What about the new plants I put around the patio? And the month-long research project I just completed at work? My weekly phone calls to my mother? Has reciting my morning Rosary destroyed them all?

Yet Hitchens has the brass to calls believers "ridiculous."

Hitchens debated Dr. Mark Roberts on the radio this afternoon. Hugh Hewitt billed it as "The Great God Debate." It was interesting, but unavoidably circular. There's no talking with antagonists like Hitchens, especially if you start making intelligent points in the opposite direction--which Roberts did. At that point, towards the end of a very full three hours, Hitchens became downright nasty. Roberts, to his eternal credit, remained gracious and respectful. Chalk a plus sign in the believers' column.

Although I've read enough of his work to know that he is a very talented writer, Christopher Hitchens is an angry, humorless man. Even his own brother takes serious issue with him on this subject. I won't buy his book--and not because I'm afraid of his self-proclaimed rationality. The self-impressed Hitchens would be incredulous, but he'll just have to take it on faith (ha ha) that I've heard more nuanced arguments against God than his oversimplified rantings. No, I won't buy the book because he is rude and arrogant. Neither quality deserves to be rewarded.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to reading Dr. Robert's new book, Can We Trust The Gospels?: Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Today's theological debate reminded me of a quotation from Albert Einstein:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

There's that word "everything" again, applied much more appropriately in this case. Even the genius Einstein could allow the possibility of God.

Sorry, Hitch, but you're not an effective advertisement for the joys of atheism. It's almost as though you've been poisoned.

UPDATE: Debate transcript and audio linked here.