been reading

I’ve been reading many of the Carnival of the Godless posts today, some quite enjoyable and interesting reads. One of the posts directed me to an article by Christopher Hitchens in which he poses two ethical challenges, as paraphrased below:

Name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.

The second challenge. Can anyone think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?

The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first awaits a convincing reply.


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That’s all from me today, I’ll try and post something more interesting and tangible soon.

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4 Comments

Filed under blog, Carnival of the Godless, ethics

4 responses to “been reading

  1. There are a few obvious problems with this type of challenge.

    1) When Hitchens or someone of his caliber trys to “slip one by” his audience, he uses the word “religion” when he really means Christianity. Or more correctly, he attempts to tack on the overt failings of, say, radical Islam, onto normal, everyday Christianity. Unfortunately, one does not become a bigot because of misunderstanding the facts. One misunderstands the facts because one is already a bigot. Hence, many, many atheists buy into this slight of hand.

    2) Sometimes the distance between what one could do and what one would do is the same as the difference between something and nothing. To say that an atheist COULD love his enemy, an enemy that has or does revile, reject and attempt to kill him, is probably true. To say that an atheist WOULD do this is another thing altogether. Yes, I’ll grant that you could find Christians who have killed their enemy and you could find an atheist who loves his enemy. What you will find however is that the majority of Christians attempt to adhere to this teaching, and many, if not most succeed. What you won’t find is any atheist teaching others that loving one’s enemy is a good thing to do.

    3) Another teaching that is the grounding of Christianity and is absent in the atheist mind-set is the concept of grace, bestowing unmerited favour upon another. To suggest that this is possible of Chris Hitchens is laughable. In fact, this concept is so foreign to the atheist mind-set that I have yet to meet an atheist who is able to get around the idea that Christians think they’re going to heaven because they’re better people than atheists. An atheist cannot conceive of any life or any salvation that is based on grace. I’ve never seen it – ever!

    4) While someone doing something evil because of religion may be easy to find, and while you might even find someone doing something evil in the “name” of Christianity, you cannot find justification or grounding for that action in the teachings of Jesus. Again, Hitchens and his ilk will try the bait and switch on you, substituting “religion” for “Christianity.” And again, the level of your bigotry will determine the ease with which you accept his ruse.

  2. Makarios:

    Ignoring the falacies of 1-3 let’s look at your point # 4 shall we.
    You state that there is no grounding in the teachings of Jesus for violence… REALLY?
    New Testament
    2 Thessalonians

    1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

    1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

    Yea, right!
    Trying reading the bible sometime.

  3. makarios, I will post a reply to points 1-3 on a new post later today.

    Poodles, thanks for covering point 4

  4. Pingback: Can YOU meet the challenge? « Oz Atheist’s Weblog

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