HITCHENS: ‘RELIGION SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RIDICULE, HATRED AND CONTEMPT’
Atheism, or “antitheism,” which was once considered taboo in America, has become somewhat mainstream in today’s society; books like Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, and Sam Harris’s The End of Faith all became New York Times bestsellers.
Faith-bashing films, such as Bill Maher’s Religulous and Ricky Gervais’s The Invention of Lying have done reasonably well at the box office.
Furthermore, the left never seems to miss an opportunity to ridicule or condemn (in public – as loudly and as often as possible) the latest errant statement or behavior from disparate people or groups who claim to speak or act in the name of Christianity; but many liberals are quick to (angrily) point out that Islamic Extremists don’t represent Islam as a whole. Why the hypocrisy? I suspect it’s the “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” syndrome.
Why the anger, ridicule, and hypocrisy? Fear of being caught in an “oops” moment in the end? Second thoughts? Guilt? The reality is this (and they know it): atheists can no more disprove that God doesn’t exist than believers can prove that he does. Yep – that whole “faith thing” gnaws at them.
Then of course, we have passive-aggressive atheists, many of whom refer to themselves as “agnostic” – due to their lack of courage to come out of the atheist closet. These people are forever on the lookout for “examples” of “non-Christian” behavior by Christians, as if to say, when they think they’ve found one: “See – that’s why I don’t believe in God!” When they think they’ve struck pay dirt, they tend to smile derisively, make flippant comments, or mumble under their breath – as opposed to going all Bill Maher on the nearest Christian(s).
My faith teaches me not to judge others; God will handle that. (Don’t misconstrue this to mean that I don’t criticize the political beliefs of others; that I do with gusto — on a daily basis.) However, there are two aspects of atheism that have always puzzled me: the desperate need to ridicule, deride, or fear Christians and their faith — and the outright anger and hatred that many atheists display; the Bill Mahers of the world.
Well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens, for example, says that religion “should be treated with ridicule, hatred, and contempt.” Hitchens is quick to point out of course that Christians themselves should not be treated this way; it’s Christianity he hates. (Which is akin to “supporting the troops” — but not the war.) Hitchens leaves no room for doubt:
“It is entirely appropriate to ridicule absurd ideas rather than to treat them as serious and give them respect. Only serious ideas based on reason and evidence are worthy of intellectual respect. The ideas that we critique and ridicule have historically led to or facilitated war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. They have enslaved millions, impeded medical and scientific research and are now draining vast sums of taxpayer dollars to propagate more of these ridiculous ideas.
These ideas have resulted in untold amounts of violence, death, torture, and suffering as well as the profound intimidation and physical molestation of our young. Ridicule and even sneering condescension are about the mildest critical reactions that we can have for the enormity of the mind-boggling injustices perpetrated in their name. I can readily empathize with those of us who consider the behaviors prompted by these dogma to be illegal and criminal.”
Greg Epstein, “Humanist chaplain” at Harvard University, and author of Good Without God: What a Million Nonreligious People Do Believe, has a different view of the role atheism and its believers should play in society. He describes the “New Atheists,” (Hitchens, Dawkins & Co.) as “atheist fundamentalists,” imparting mindlessness and hypocrisy to those who approach Christianity with ridicule and derision.
Epstein believes that atheists have allowed themselves to become defined by what they don’t believe. “Humanists,” as he refers to atheists, would be better served by respectful coexistence with believers. Mutual acceptance of the beliefs and conviction of others –or the lack thereof — allows for common ground on issues of shared concern, he says.
In a concession to the New Atheists, Epstein has hedged somewhat, lately:
“What I’m more concerned about,” he says, “are religious people who’d be fine with ‘Humanism,’ and are interested in working as equals with me. We’re not here to erase you – we’re here to embrace you.”
Excuse my skepticism, but it’s been awhile since I’ve run across an atheist who embraces my faith. The Bill Mahers and Christopher Hitchenses of the world are much more prevalent – and vocal, as well.