3/09/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred, and contempt



This is Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech. This is the tail end of twenty minute speech given in Canada in November 2006.

The reason I am posting this video here is because I would like to point out that Hitchens does not advocate hating Christians, Muslims, or other religious people. It is religion itself that he says should be hated.

I think that hating individuals because they are infected with religious delusion is just as bigoted as hating people who are infected with a disease, or who are ignorant, or who are mistaken about something. I left Christianity when I figured out I had been duped by an ancient, well supported, propaganda campaign machine. I was angry about it. I felt deceived and cheated. But feeling anger, in my mind, is not hatred. When Christians try to evangelize me, I frequently feel irritated. Irritation, however, is also not hatred.

Although I may hate what religion can do to a thinking mind, it is the parasitic meme that I despise, not the parasite's host.

Or maybe I'm off the mark here. What do you think?

--Dave, the WM

31 comments:

Harlequin said...

It entirely depends on the individual...

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

Personally, I think that hatred towards anything, or anyone is self defeating, and that a rational, intelligent, and morally sound individual doesn't fall into that trap. Hatred of religion is no different - science has yet to prove AS WELL AS disprove gods existnece, so hating either way [concerning belief in god or religion] is absolutely irrational - Hatred in itself is not a rational mode of thinking. Kind of ironic how the individual giving this spech is talking about "freedom" of speech, and yet "he who hates, is a prisoner to that hatred" -Stephen Webb

fjell said...

I think to the degree to which you are preoccupied with hating someone, you are also incapable of having the necessary dialog with them about how to bridge the gaps which separate you.

I think for a better world to ever have the chance of arriving, people must first dispense with the idea that hating others or that warring with others shall somehow bring it on.

People need to engage in mutually-investigative dialog with their adversaries in an attempt to establish common ideals if anything but continued hatred is the goal of either side.

fjell

Boe said...

I think that hating a person and hating an idiology are very different things. To hate an idiology may mean nothing more than the necessary relentless exposure of that idiology as hateful, and I think Chris Hitchens does a very good job.

boomSLANG said...

The hatred, despising, loathing, etc., of an individual, and the hatred, despising, and loathing of the concepts that individuals hold, collectively, are two entirely different things, with entirely different effects, IMO.

While the hatred of an individual might very well be "self defeating", or pointless - the hatred of an ideology might simply mean to question the proponents of any ideology that claims Universal Truth, and to stand up against its negative effects, regardless of whether we, or science, can "disprove God's existence", or not.

Legion said...

In my opninion Hitchens makes the same mistake that many religious people do, and that is the use of the word "should". Christianity was constantly telling me what I should do, how I should think, how I should feel, what my values should be, on and on and on. And now Hitchens himself is taking on the worst aspect of religion in my opinion.

Hitchens, I love you. But I fucking hate your use of the word "should".

ou812 said...

Should have, could have, would have, but, I didn't. Love ya Legion, and thanks to freedom of choice...I might!!

Insanezenmistress said...

i also think the individaul, and how they live their highest ideals matter. Yes Idiocy should be ridiculed but it is better cured by love. Someone wise once said that hatred can never be demnished by hatred.

You dont have to hate a religion to expose the un-true-ness of the way some of the people teach it.

But if we engage in raw hatred we end up learning to hate a straw man type christian and volley our attacks like a gatlin gun rather than ever try to understand THAT individaul and his understanding.

Legion said...

Please don’t get me wrong here you guys. I am no longer a Christian. And I suppose I am an atheist now. I also happen to spend a great deal of time in natural science. And I value this time. But I still find value in the metaphor embodied in myth that out of sacrifice comes life and bliss.

I don’t hate Christianity. I suppose what I hate is the idea that while simultaneously living in denial and trying to extend control over others one would think oneself wise.

boomSLANG said...

Personally, I find no value in any ideology that extols blood sacrifice....."metaphor", or not. And I don't hate Christians; many of my immediate family remain Christian. However, I do quite loath Christianity, simply because it robs people of the most important relationship they'll ever not have, and that is with themselves.

No god/ No fear said...

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

- science has yet to prove AS WELL AS disprove gods existnece

Technically speaking, this assertion is fallacious. Science, or any other construct, cannot prove a negative. The burden of proof is on those who make the assertion that there is a god.

Also, science is completely unconcerned as to the question of the existence of a god. The concept of god falls into the category of the metaphysical and science is only concerned with the empirical. If there was any physical evidence of a god, there would be no need for faith.


I just want to make this clear as these are common misunderstandings regarding the scientific method.

Sophia

ou812 said...

boomSLANG and Sophia, Very good points! Thank you for your insight! It can be a hard thing to love people despite their beliefs. The one thing we have in common with all in our humanity. Love of self is a good thing. I think everyone should try it!

ou812 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave8 said...

Now, in logical mode :-)

Legion: "...But I still find value in the metaphor embodied in myth that out of sacrifice comes life and bliss."

I find value in the richness of literature, as well. However, I think using literary devices in mixed company causes confusion and may even give the wrong impression regarding one's views.

Looking beyond mere mythology, literary devices are artistic, and leave a lot open for interpretation - which is "not" how I would communicate to a child or someone who is uneducated.

Take a simile and a metaphor for instance. A simile uses "like" or "as", to make comparison, where a metaphor doesn't.

Mythical Examples:

Simile: A mighty fortress is "like" our God.

Metaphor: A mighty fortress "is" our God.

The metaphor makes a statement of fact, if read literally. However, if read metaphorically, an "educated" person understands the "artistic" use of the metaphorical literary device.

Compare metaphor with simile. A simile if read "literally", doesn't make a statement of fact regarding the subject/object.

Out of sacrifice, "may" give one a richer life or bliss, but it doesn't necessarily follow. One may sacrifice their entire life, and never find peace or bliss.

When I want to be direct, and send meaning without interpretation, I don't use literary devices - thus, the "science" part of communication.

I don't believe a spinal surgeon would use a host of literary devices, when directing surgical operations.

However, in the "art" of communication, a person has a host of literary devices/tools at their disposal. A person uses "artistic" communication, to compel, persuade and pique the imagination and curiosity of the listener. The listener is expected to arrive at meaning, based on "their" subjective interpretation.

While I am artistically inclined, I don't find it productive to communicate artistically, when I need to convey critical meaning - contrast that with the bible, which is "theoretically" supposed to be of paramount importance, for the infinite salvation of one's soul; and see the smorgasbord of literary devices strewn across both the OT and NT.

Just my logical thoughts, regarding the structure and use of literary communication.

Dave8 said...

Logical follow-through...

Dave8: "..."contrast that with the bible, which is "theoretically" supposed to be of paramount importance, for the infinite salvation of one's soul; and see the smorgasbord of literary devices strewn across both the OT and NT."

Okay, just want to make sure my logical sarcasm comes through - the bible, which is claimed to be of utmost importance by many Christians for guidance, should have been written with literary precision, such as a technical manual is written.

However, it was written artistically, like Homer's Iliad, notice I use the word "like", in simile form, such that there isn't the mistake of a factual interpretation between the Christian Bible, and Homer's Iliad.

The AntiChristian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The AntiChristian said...

Christopher Hitchens is a native of Northern Ireland, where religion has created a great deal of misery for a great many people.

Yes, I agree that we should not hate people of religious thinking, or anyone for that matter. Hatred of anything can become all consuming and self-defeating.

However, how can you tell someone who is a victim to not hate the perpetrator? How can you tell the Jews to not hate the Nazis? How can you tell Afro-Americans to not hate the KKK? How can you tell a rape victim to not hate the rapist?

Many of us who have been victims of Christianity, of which I am one, do feel anger towards Christianity because of the damage that has been done, and it can take a long time to recover. Part of that recovery is dealing with anger, and that means channeling emotions in the proper way. Therefore, I will allow myself to hate religion but be on guard to not hate religious people - I will reserve ridicule and contempt for them.

Christopher Hitchens comes from a place where religion has taken a heavy toll on society. How can one blame him for having anything but ridicule, hatred, and contempt for religion?

Andrew said...

Ridicule, etc. can be very emotionally effective.

But it simply is a class of LOGICAL FALLACY and not really an argument.

As to the "suffering" where Hitchens come from, he is by his own admission a former admirerer of the mass murderer Leon Trotsky, and currently fully supports the war in Iraq and killing as many Muslims as possible.

He is, by any definition, a monster in his own right.

Andrew said...

Hitchens is a war monger, who can't get enough killing of Muslims in Irag.

He is a former admirere of the mass murderer Trotsky, who helped kill MILLIONS>

Northern Ireland was a tiff by comparison, and it has long been known that many of those killers were thugs with vendetas and religion had nothing to do with it.

You all know this, but continue to lie.

Legion said...

OU812 I agree that there might be some good things about a love of self. Perhaps from love comes exploration; from exploration comes understanding, and from understanding comes the ability to master.

Dave8 I believe that I would enjoy sitting down with you and having a few beers. We could talk about language. I bet you have sacrificed a lot to come into your understanding. You could share some of it with me for free! :)

AntiChristian if your goal is to eradicate Christianity I will not share it. I will not directly oppose Christianity. There is another phenomenon I must labor to eradicate. I wish you well in your journey.

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

Idiology must begin somewhere, and as we progress further into the complex science of neurology it becomes more and more eviden that thoughts [therefore idiology] are the result of specific genetic dispositions as well as environmental influences which guide people to specific conclusions - so to hate a person, and to hate their idiology is far more closely related than you think. Is it fair to hate someone because of a specific neurological impairment that causes them to act in a seemingly irrational manner? That doesn't seem right - nor does it seem right to hate someone because all that they have learned in their sheltered upbrining are lies. So to hate idiology is to hate the very faculties employed by the brain. For some individuals, it may not be possible to "de-program" because they are not capable - is it fair then to hate their idiology which is the product of an uncurable physical/neuro disfunction, or twisted sociological upbringing? So my conclusion is to avoid hatred alltogether to avoid hypocracy. Hatred in itself is the product of an idiology held by individuals - and again, it may not be possible for certain individuals to change their view because of a particular upbringing or neurological impairment. I guess I'm lucky, I don't hate anything, I just avoid what I don't like.

boomSLANG said...

Andrew(Christian troll, I suspect) asserts...

As to the "suffering" where Hitchens come from, he is by his own admission a former admirerer of the mass murderer Leon Trotsky, and currently fully supports the war in Iraq and killing as many Muslims as possible.

He is, by any definition, a monster in his own right


I'd be curious to see any reference that substantiates the above charges, in full, or in part.

In the mean time, assuming that every word is true - then that makes, "by definition", our Commander in Chief and all Christians who support said leader's stance on the war, "monsters in their own right". Or does that now become a "LOGICAL FALLACY"??

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

@the_antichristian

You are right, you can not tell people NOT to hate, and you can't tell people what they should hate either - my posts are an expression of my own opinion, and I support that opinion in the post directly above this one.

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

@No God/No Fear

In the "excluded middle" form of logic, when one side is proven true [positive], the other is proven false [negative]. So how can you say that science can not prove a negative, when it does so every time the "excluded middle" form of logic is applyed and a possitive conclusion is reached?

Concerning meta-physics - isn't theoretical cosmology concerned with extra-dimensional energy/physics [with an entire set of its own abstract mathematics]? - isn't theoretical cosmology a science? I do imagine they employ the "scientific method" as well...

boomSLANG said...

SRW..to hate a person, and to hate their idiology is far more closely related than you think.

'Depends on the situation. Permit me to share an instance where the two are not related at all.

My maternal grandmother is a fundamentalist Christian. Please take my word when I say that not one ounce of my being "hates" the person who is the mother of my own mother. On the other hand, she lives life just as a God-fearing Christian is supposed to do...that is, being afraid of offending her god; keeping her nose firmly planted in the bible, instead out enjoying life to its fullest. She has told me on three separate occasions that the world is going to end. In fact, the most recent time was when "Y2K" was near("The End Times"). Well, it just so happened that a door-to-door salesman convinced her to remove her entire savings because of the projected "computer dilemma". He told her he could invest the money in a viatical insurance policy, and that he would do this for her... where there, it would be "safe".

Can you guess what made him so convincing? To back up a bit--upon the initial knock the door, he handed her a business card that had his name, occupation("stock trader"/"investor")...AND, his religious affiliation---which was "Christian".

(It turns out, this man had previously went to her church as a "guest", and got a roster of the church members and their addresses. I needn't say more)

Make no mistake--I, unequivocately, HATE the Christian ideology, and what it does to an otherwise thinking mind.

SRW...Is it fair to hate someone because of a specific neurological impairment that causes them to act in a seemingly irrational manner?

No, it isn't fair. And for the record, I'd no sooner "hate" a person who is infected with a religious meme, than I would a person with Alzheimers. On the other hand, a person with Alzheimer's has zero choice in the matter. To continue to believe a "belief" - even in lack of evidence to support it, and evidence to its contrary - is a different ball of wax. It is essentially wilfull ignorance. I don't find it unreasonable to have comtempt for anything that causes such 'thinking'. Fair enough?

boomSLANG said...

SRW...So how can you say that science can not prove a negative, when it does so every time the "excluded middle" form of logic is applyed and a possitive conclusion is reached?

"Excluded middle"..e.g..there is no third possibility. For example, the Boogieman either exists, or it doesn't. Science cannot, in an absolute sense, "disprove" the Boogieman, of course, because science doesn't deal in absolutes. Moreover, the existence of boogie-men is a non-issue, until/unless someone asserts that a such things exist, while insisting that all must share their belief---in which case, they would need evidence to substantiate the positive claim.

SRW...science has yet to prove AS WELL AS disprove gods existnece, so hating either way [concerning belief in god or religion] is absolutely irrational

Unlike the "Boogieman", "God" is hardly a "non-issue". People are blowing each other into red confetti as we sit here and type, over which "Faith" is "Truth", and which "Faith" is myth.

Unfortunately, "science" cannot "prove" either side correct, which is the over-riding and immediate problem with accepting something on "Faith"--- which is why having contempt for any religion, or philosophy, that is founded on "Faith", is not entirely "irrational".

stevie said...

Andrew scribbled:
> Hitchens is a war monger, who can't get enough killing of Muslims in Irag.

Hitchens did indeed support Bush and Blair in their murderous war against the Iraqi people. Many atheists opposed that war and millions, religious and non-religious, protested against their governments' criminal actions.

The Dixie Chix famously opposed the war but I don't expect the same level of critical thought of them as I do of Hitchens. So, I share your disdain of his position on the war. I further disdain his lesser evilism when it comes to Bush's Christian fundamentalism and the equally ugly Islamic fundamentalism.

> He is a former admirere of the mass murderer Trotsky, who helped kill MILLIONS>

Bullshit! You know less about modern history than you do about thinking rationally. Trotsky was not a mass murderer and you slander a man of genius and heroism who opposed murderous tyranny.

It is to Hitchens discredit that he no longer upholds the principles he once advocated.

> Northern Ireland was a tiff by comparison, and it has long been known that many of those killers were thugs with vendetas and religion had nothing to do with it.

Ireland is a lot more complex than many here realize. Nevertheless, religion has a *lot* to do with the current conflict. Catholics have experienced decades of protestant bigotry and discrimination. That is the reason why Catholics overwhelmingly seek to end partition and the second-class status they hold.

> You all know this, but continue to lie.

How do you know what we "all" know here? You don't - you just want to spew out your bile. If you make a reasoned argument you'll get a reasoned response.

Steve

Stephen_Richard_Webb said...

@BoomSlang:

Kudos! good replies man. Sorry to hear about what happened to your grandmother because of some jackass lier. As you can see, I like to play "Devil's Advocate" because its always a good source for debate. Trying to see things from varying viewpoints is quite liberating really. Its also good to know where people stand concerning these issues.

The AntiChristian said...

Andrew,

I'm afraid you are confusing Trotsky with Stalin, who, despite both being Russian and communist, were ideological enemies. I believe it was just an old fashioned political power struggle.

At any rate, Stalin won and murdered his millions, and Trotsky escaped to Mexico, where he was murdered by Stalin's assassin. "The greatest mind ever destroyed by a hammer" someone lamented.

Despite the fact that I do not support the war effort in Iraq (I consider it merely an opportunity for US business interests to raid the US treasury.), I do believe that many people do support the war, in their own misguided way, for geopolitical reasons. If you look at Christopher Hitchens on Youtube, he gives many viable reasons for the war in Iraq other than killing Iraqis. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d7fHvHXeiQ) Besides, if his goal were simply to kill Arabs/Muslims, then why would he be an anti-Zionist? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkAPaEMwyKU&feature=related)

Legion,
I would be overjoyed if I could lead even one person from the clutches of the lies of Christianity into the world of logic and reason.

However, I am a practical man, and I know that ignorance is much easier than intellectualism; with ignorance, you simply believe what you think sounds nice, with intellectualism, you must actually work to find the truth.

The truth does not come from faith, prayer, or listening to the leader of your group. The truth comes from laborious research, arduously searching for facts, and after many years, you think you may know something, but even with that, you are still not 100% sure.

Christians can't be right; they haven't done the work.

Yeah, I hate Christianity. Perhaps it's just because I hate the self-righteousness that is born of laziness.

the-walruss said...

You have to be careful with the sorts of language you use. There is a fine line beween hatred and contempt for the belief and hatred and contempt for the believer, and too many otherwise wonderful people have fallen into that trap on both sides of the aisle.

I can't treat religion with respect because it's dumb. I could go into all of the reasons why it's dumb, but I'm going to assume you guys already know that.

But I can treat the individual who believes it with respect. They are not delusional, they are misinformed. Their mental capacity to process information has been radically altered by years of consistant brainwashing from the way it it intended to work. They are not stupid, they are not dense, they are simply victims. And it is impossible to open up a dialogue with these people and *shudders at the parallel* "save" them from their beliefs while still purporting to hate all that they stand for.

Treat them with compassion, treat them with pity, treat them as human beings. Do not treat them with ridicule, hatred, and contempt.

stevie said...

The Walruss wrote:
> I can't treat religion with respect because it's dumb. I could go
> into all of the reasons why it's dumb, but I'm going to assume you
> guys already know that.

Amen to that :-)

> But I can treat the individual who believes it with respect. They
> are not delusional, they are misinformed. [snipped} Treat them with
> compassion, treat them with pity, treat them as human beings. Do not
> treat them with ridicule, hatred, and contempt.

I think this is a good starting point. Some religious individuals really are worthy of contempt (as are some irreligious people) but most are pretty decent despite their flawed ideas. Reserve your contempt for those who do something to deserve it. Most of us here are ex-Christians and we can understand that even smart people believe dumb things sometimes.

Steve