Why God is not great: Unapologetic atheism

I was watching a Christopher Hitchens video recently, a debate he had with an atheist-turned-Christian.

This is really my first time watching Hitchens. I’ve heard about how great he is, and now I can highly recommend his videos.

He has his own distinct style, and comes across very strong. I wouldn’t have been able to handle him in the first months of my deconversion.

I couldn’t bear to pick up a book called God is Not Great, or one that called God a ‘delusion’ or a ‘virus.’ I still loved Jesus, even though I no longer truly believed in him. I felt like any direct attack on God would be an attack on everything good and true that I believed.

Instead, I read the testimonies of ex-Christians.

As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house and could do so without being caught, I bought Dan Barker’s Godless and John Loftus’ Why I Became an Atheist. Later I picked up Deconverted by Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist.

I read blogs and forums, seeking out deconversion stories. I began visiting exChristian.net regularly. I devoured Dan’s Deconversion on the Camels With Hammers blog. I read Rechelle Unplugged’s journey into atheism. I picked up on GodlessInDixie.com. I searched Libby Anne’s blog for stories of how she had left the faith—she called it throwing out the bathwater but not finding a baby.

They all attacked belief in Jesus, but in a respectful, more muted way. They understood what it was like to love Jesus, and how much time it can take to really let him go.

I wasn’t ready for Hitchens then; but when I watch him now I find him fascinating and even a little exciting.

My atheism at first had such an apologetic quality to it. I was thinking, yes, it looks like God doesn’t exist, but I’m really sad about it! I really wish God did exist! I think the world would be better if he did! I don’t reject your entire Christian reality, I just see problems with the ultimate truth of it!

The ex-Christians I read didn’t encourage that mindset, but they let me live with it for a while longer. Hitchens is different.

Hitchens doesn’t argue that Christians are immoral people. His number one argument is that the idea of God—an ultimate force controlling everything— is in itself immoral. Not only is God immoral because of all the bad things done in the old and new testaments, but the very concept of an omnipotent dictator is harmful. Hitchens believes humankind can be good. And he is proud to be a human being.

He believes humans can become great. He believes we can learn to do good, and stop doing evil. He believes we’re learning to be more fair, more loving, more free, and that we can continue to do so. And he believes that appeals to a deity detract from the work we’ve done, and even threaten to move us backward.

This man is proud to be a godless human, and for the first time, I can understand that. It’s a real shift in perspective.

Views: 725

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on November 30, 2013 at 12:48pm

Comment by Sagacious Hawk on November 30, 2013 at 6:07pm

You've come a long way in 8 months! It's good to see.

And there will never be anyone quite like Hitchens, which is a shame really.

Comment by Cameron on November 30, 2013 at 7:24pm

I agree.  Listening to him right away would probably have been just a little too much for me in the beginning.  But, oh man, listening to him now is fantastic.  And the best part is that every time I hear something I've already heard, I can always pick up something more.

He was incredible in his ability to speak and make a coherent point every time.

Comment by H3xx on December 1, 2013 at 12:36am

He was the kind of speaker that people don't really want to quote, because everything he said was always so much more eloquent, exact, and just all around better than how you remember it. He was a genius who loved himself and humanity so much more than anyone could love a deity. He knew exactly what it meant to take responsibility for one's own life, and he was the one who finally drove that home for me. Atheists are better people in general, using his arguments, because we can't say that it was god's will, or that we'll pray for something. Atheism takes the middle man out of the equation, and we have to take part in our world, and we have to seriously think about our actions before we do them. While we don't have anything like sin, we have something worse. We have conscience, and we have to live with our decisions. It brings out what is beautiful and glorious in human beings. If it weren't for the fact that I know better, Hitchens would be a better candidate for a prophet than Jesus, Mohammed, John Smith, or Buddha combined. He's a teacher and an inspiration, and I for one will miss him dearly.

Comment by jb2013 on December 3, 2013 at 6:44am

I bought Hitchens  "God is not great" and tried to read it. I could not get into him. I will have to give the book another try. I was raised atheist and only studied religion as a skeptic. I too wish God was real. Just can't buy it. As far as being led by a dictator, if God were real and all powerful then we could just close our eyes and be guided by the perfect one. How hard could that be. Everything could be perfect. (maybe kind of boring but a lot less trouble). But the bible was written by man wasn't it? Men who were guided by the hand of God and then revised by men that were guided by what? Popular opinion? Pier (can't spell) pressure? I can't look at the God idea without including all the other religions opinion. Just because they live in another place doesn't mean they were any less important to me. They just call God another name and have a different rule book. I figured that if God were real would he really mind my questioning my belief in him.

Comment by Noel on December 3, 2013 at 7:44am

Yep, I was blown away by Hitchens "god is not great". But like most here I couldn't read it at first. It took Dawkin's "the god delusion" and Sam Harris's "Letter to a christian nation" to prep me for "god is not great". Like other's have said, Hitchens could come off a little too strong for folk who still want to hold on to any semblance of their lost belief system.

After reading Hitchens, in the words of Darth Vader, "... (my) conversion was complete"

Comment by SteveInCO on December 3, 2013 at 10:00am

jb2013, try reading God Delusion first, before reading Hitchens.  And/or Letter to A Christian Nation (thank you for reminding me of that one Noel)

Physeter, Barker's older book, Losing Faith in Faith is also good.  Fair warning, if money is tight you might want to spend it elsewhere as it has a lot of overlap with Godless.  I personally found both books enjoyable.


On a more punning/ironic wordplay note, I find it interesting that "apology" many centuries ago meant an argument for a position, and the first writers who propagandized for Christianity were "the apologists," and their writings were "apologetics."  In fact, "apologist" still has that meaning today but because "apology" now primarily means "saying one is sorry" "apologist" today carries at least a little bit of a connotation of someone who is defending a position that surely he really can't believe is true; people use it to describe their opponents in a debate, never themselves.

In any case, when I read counter-arguments against Christianity, such as explanations of why Josephus' account of Christ from the first century AD (which is the best non-Christian source "they" can throw at us) is more than likely a total forgery inserted centuries later, it's a "counter-apologetic" but I will refer to it as an "unapologetic" because that's a good word for it in both senses of the term... it counters Christian apologetics, and it's not in the least bit sorry to be doing so.

Comment by John Jon on December 8, 2013 at 2:22pm
Wow this sounds like me, I'm trying to find the truth in believe in a deity who loves you and I'm in this state where I enjoy learning why the people love Jesus so much , even more than there spouse
Comment by David Smith on December 15, 2013 at 12:00pm

Christopher Hitchens, Such a great man.  There was a guy that tried to promote free thought, reason, human rights, and a better society.  I really wish I could debate religion half as well as he could.


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