Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 30, 2013 at 2:39pm

“But you have no right to forget the way it behaved when it was strong”

This is the problem I have with modern day apologists. They HAVE forgiven themselves. They have not asked for forgiveness, they have just assumed it because it was “a long time ago” and therefore does not matter.

We are justified in reminding them about the crusades or burning women to death. We are justified in reminding them of how they tortured those that dissented or were killed as heretics. We are justified in reminding them of the Spanish Inquisition where at least 300,000 people, including children were murdered by appalling means. We are justified in recalling their treatment of Jews down through the centuries, especially in Europe. Who can forget the murder of over 500,000 Serbs in Croatia during WW2 with full support of the Catholic Church (eh…Catholics, especially Franciscans, seem to forget easily enough).

Yet when they are taken to task about any of it all I ever hear is “well look at Stalin or Hitler or other religions”. However there is no justification for that. Atheism, i.e. a lack of belief in their god had nothing to do with any of it. I recently heard a priest say that “while we do regret the appalling actions of some priests regarding the sexual abuse of children it must be borne mind that the majority of offenders are related to the child”. In another century they will say “Oh, all that is in the past and nothing to do with us - look at how some countries treat their children”.

I could continue and talk about the burning to death of early scientists and its continued opposition to modern medical advances or to this day it hindrance of quality scientific education and constant whining about how maligned they now feel even though they have idolatrous icons of their faith everywhere and don’t even have to pay tax.

For most of the last 1000 years, when they were all powerful, this mind-set of having god on their side allowed them to justify their actions. This was because it was at the very core of their theology.

It is because you still believe that your imaginary god is on your side and continue to interrupt and hinder the advancement of the modern world that you are not going to be allowed to forget your terrible past. In a hundred years’ time when we look back your list of shame will be even longer as we add stem cell research, gay marriage (a human right) and condoms for HIV prevention to the list. Oh and the hundreds of child abuse atrocities still to emerge from Africa.

We can handle being a hated demographic in many countries. We will get over not being allowed to hold office in several US states or nations around the world. We will eventually not have to worry about discrimination in family custody cases. We won’t always be forced to have our children attend indoctrination classes in order to get an education. I think I will stop now and leave you with the words of another Atheist who suffered discrimination for his writing:

"As a love of truth is the only motive which actuates the Author of this little tract, he earnestly entreats that those of his readers who may discover any deficiency in his reasoning, or may be in possession of proofs which his mind could never obtain, would offer them, together with their objections to the Public, as briefly, as methodically, as plainly as he has taken the liberty of doing."

— Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Necessity of Atheism”

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on December 30, 2013 at 10:28pm

I'm not sure how rational it is to personify a belief system.  Or for that matter, to lump a whole mess of very different philosophies and ethical systems into one caricatured persona and pretend that any such criticism is meaningful. The man was mostly a demagogue.  There are always people who are attracted to demagogues, but it is largely an emotional response,  not a rational one.

Really, Bob. The pretense is that you're actually obtuse enough to require someone to walk you through this. Hitchens is referring to centuries of history when challenging words directed at religion could result in death (rather than friendly persuasion) at the hands of religious. In some parts of the world today where religion still holds sway, it's not even history, but the current state of affairs.

No, it's not that valid criticism from Hitchens is meaningless, irrational demagoguery. It's that you're willfully ignoring a clear point and attacking Hitchens falsely for doing what you yourself do: engage with emotion, without meaning, and without rationality. Hitchens was no demagogue.

Comment by David Smith on December 31, 2013 at 10:16am

@ Reg

Very good points, though I feel the need to point out (before someone like Dr Dolittle here tries to de bunk the theme by doing so) The catholic church in some cases in WWII hid jews in chapels, helped them secure fake identification and cross boarders, brought jews in hiding food and other supply's.

In support of your point though, it can be noted that a number of clergy helped the Nazis both during the war by handing jews in and housing nazi soldiers and after by helping war criminals escape.  of course helping both sides was inevitable, they couldn't have known which was the rite side and its not like there was a divine hand guiding their actions for the greater good or anything.

With that acception, your argument is flawless.  The catholic church has much to be ashamed of, to the point where if i think about it for longer that 5 minutes I become revolted by the fact that any half way inelegant person still associates themselves with it.

If forgiveness to this awful organisation is possible, it starts with trying any of the members guilty of current crimes and suing the church for any past crimes with the proceeds going to real charities.  If justice is done they would be bankrupt, having to re build from the ground up and I see no way in which this course of action could be considered over the top, intact, if anything, its the gentle approach.

Comment by James Cox on December 31, 2013 at 11:01am

I guess when I have read other,older authors, dealing with the debate that preceeded the 'no God' point, they do mention what this would mean. There seems to a spectrum of conclusions on this point, from 'no values', 'no meaning', 'no direction', 'no point', to 'human creation of x/y/z', to 'concensus building'.

Sadly I can not link authors with their 'conclusions' at present, but these do appear from my memory after years of reading.

This dear fellow, while a seeming patron saint of many atheists, does the summing up of his own readings and good thought on the subject. I expect he has settlled on the 'human creation', or 'concensus' models as most reasonable, which I would agree to, and now has helped to galvanize the atheist horde to these options as an 'atheist future' developes.     

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 31, 2013 at 1:07pm

Thanks David, I have no problem with the “good” that the Church has done. I could have continued with (say) the anti-scientific and/or literal interpretation taken by many of the other various Christian groupings. I could mention the German Peasant revolts where killings where done in Luther’s name. I could mention and exhaustive list of Islamic crimes against humanity. I could mention the current spate of murders in Burma where Buddhists are hacking Muslims to death.

I will agree that all of these groups have also done “good works”.

My point though is that Christians or Muslim keep mentioning the good they do or the bad that non-religious people have done as if that is somehow a defence for the bad they have done. It in no way excuses them. It is not like a balancing device with “good” on one side and “bad” on the other and that somehow the good outweighs the bad. They cannot now, as Hitchens says, “come to us in this smiley-faced ingratiating way” and ignore their past or take it upon themselves to forgive themselves.

The religious that claim to have god on their side have always been like this. They have not reached a place where it is in their past and can be “forgiven” because most of them still perpetrate or tacitly condone crimes against humanity to this day. Many of them as still living in the middle-ages with the same unscientific mentality. Yes there are many good people that are good people despite being part of the deluded mind-set whose particular religion still poisons today just as it did in the past. It is not for them to forgive themselves as they do for their personal sins, especially when they are still sinning. Hitchens was right, religion does poison everything.

Comment by David Smith on December 31, 2013 at 1:43pm

you make some very strong points, and I wouldn't dis agree if I wanted to.  I love the idea that "Yes there are many good people that are good people despite being part of the deluded mind-set" This is one I have seen with my very own eyes, people doing good things, some times in direct conflict of the teachings of their religion.  It must be very hard for them and you would wonder why they chose to live like that.

I can only come to the conclusion that many religious people think they have to be religious.  I'm not going to say it's not a choice, just that they don't know they are free to make that choice for themselves.  It's very sad top be honest , I feel really sorry for the good ones that try to live a decent life having their freedoms restricted every step of the way.  The only patience I have for their beliefs is because of this, because attacking these people wont help them, I just don't yet know what will.

Is it possible to destroy an organised religion, while leaving the followers unhurt? maybe there's a full discussion in that one.

Comment by Dustin on December 31, 2013 at 3:24pm

Hitchens spoke the truth.  Religion does in fact poison everything.  Just because you tithe and might volunteer in a soup kitchen on a weekend morning or even devote 3 years of your life to life in a poverty stricken country to help the poor - You still at your very core - Believe ridiculous and dangerous ideas based off faith.  Blind faith, blind obedience to the slave master (God) - Except in the best forms of Christianity, they are called 'Sheep' and not 'Slaves' - Blindness to the immorality of their beliefs simply bc they find some ink on a page from a 2,000+ year old document, many of which is forged...ink that tells them that Women and homosexuals are a lower class of heterosexual men.

Hitchens is 100% correct here.  Anyone who disagrees just seems like some woo apologist on  how they are personally a good non-religious believer in some sort of 'Ground of all being' - Not the typical religious goer who Christopher was speaking against.  

As he also rightfully pointed out...You never know what they are going to say next.  Christians have this extremely annoying way of professing that they aren't religious and don't have to believe in the bible.  But yet they claim Jesus died for your sins.  The claim the good-feeling parts of the bible and when you point out to them that their goodness is cherry picked from the passages that talk about owning slaves, stoning your children to death, telling women to shut the Fuck up in church and to be obedient to their husbands who own them much like property.  

One of the most poisonous things is a Christian who doesn't read the bible and yet professes to be a Christian.  Because not only have they come to be a Christian for irrational and ignorant reasons but it's next to impossible to reason them out of it until they READ their damned books or study their damned history. 

/End rant

Comment by James Cox on January 1, 2014 at 12:05pm

'Religion does in fact poisen everything'.

Life would be hard with or without religion I expect. It is unclear if our lives would be better without religion mucking up our reason, thoughts and creativity, but I do expect that guilt and fear would be minimized. As I work with folks, repairing and considering solutions, I have noticed a very strong signal that does muck up our common cognitive processing. I have seen religious ideology intrude into problems when we should be considering the physics and chemistry involved, or a fake authority offering an opinion about some technical issue and calling the shots just because he is a christian!

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on January 1, 2014 at 2:25pm

Another point is that religious people (imo) also appear to accept other false authorities more readily. Many of them will believe their star chart readings as worthwhile (and not complete BS). They will also believe the hype about homeopathy (again complete BS) or shun scientific cures like vaccines because of some religious based preconception. They are too confused to think critically and don’t realise that they have been hoodwinked.

Comment by James Cox on March 6, 2014 at 4:42pm
Yes, sadly.

I recently watched the 2008, 'Dawkins VS Lennox' debate. Sadly I felt that Dawkins was a little too respectful to Lennox, and both used an ad-hominum attack in their openning remarks! Lennox used every opportunity to preach, while Dawkins just sort of spaced out waiting for Lennox to finish outgassing.

Over all an 'ok','debate', sadly I felt that most of the time they talked 'by' each other, I expect as a professional courtesy.

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