What to do when some one writes a long reply to a simple question and then doesn’t even answer the question in the first place? At first I considered just ignoring it all (Poodles, possibly quite rightly, ignored points 1-3, but answered point 4 well. I knew it would be easy but Poodles saved me a few moments looking up the many bible passages that clearly show Jesus wasn’t afraid of promoting a bit of violence now and again), but then I thought I should respond, because it is the courteous thing to do. After all, it’s all about the discussion, isn’t it?
I was going to respond to makarios’ comments on the original post, but it got so long I thought I’d start a new post. Please read the original post and makarios’ comment here first. I’ll answer each of points 1-3 one-by-one.
Firstly I don’t see how Hitchens is trying to slip anything past anyone. He has simply laid down a challenge to which no one has been able to respond to.
Secondly makarios your assertion that he is using the word religion instead of christianity is only your opinion, and what is “normal, everyday Christianity” anyway? (see the many tomes on ‘what is a “True Christian”‘).
How about some definitions:
religion: A set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims
christianity: A monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus
So the only difference between religion and christianity is that your ‘supernatural power’ is defined as jesus. As Poodles has rightly pointed out jesus’ teachings are at times quite violent, a good moral teacher? I wonder.
In Hitchens’ article he used the word religion three(3) times as follows:
his own supposedly kindly religion
In this context he has used the term correctly, Hitchens was referring to Gerson’s [his] religion, whatever that may be (Jewish?).
whether or not religion is metaphysically “true,” that at least it stands for morality.
Again I think Hitchens has used the term correctly, religions (of whatever flavour) and christianity profess that some higher being (in christianities case that being just happens to be jesus) somehow provide a moral basis for life; and that’s not necessarily the case. Hence Hitchens article and challenge.
The final use of the term religion in the article is as follows:
If you credit any one religion with motivating good deeds, how (without declaring yourself to be sectarian) can you avoid crediting them all?
Please read that carefully makarios, christianity is but one of many religions, what is your answer to the question.?
The bottom line is that no matter which religion you are talking about they all claim a moral high ground backed by their particular messiah. As Hitchens’ article points out these so-called higher morals are in fact quite often flawed, and not adhering to any of these religions does not equate to lacking in any good morals.
Besides being an Ad Homen attack on Hitchens, perhaps accusing him of being a bigot is a little hypocritical makarios?
bigot: One strongly loyal to one’s own social group, and irrationally intolerant or disdainful of others
perhaps there is some kettle calling back to you makarios?
(Yeah, OK, I’ve stooped to my own ad homen attack, but I couldn’t resist)
Re-read Hitchens’ article, his attacks on so-called ‘good morals’ covers various religions, including jewish, christian (particularly catholicism) and islam. I’m sure there would be quite a few catholics who would consider themselves ‘normal,everyday christians’ but they are members of a religion that has been just as radical and violent as islam.
In all your words in point 2 all you really pointed out is that Hitchens is correct (thanks for that). The is no one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.
Your assertion that the majority of christians would adhere to the “love thy neighbour” principle and atheist wouldn’t is purely your opinion with no facts to back that up.
I think you will find many christians who have killed and want to kill their enemy. Have a read up on some of the shenanigans going on in Iraq and Afghanistan by the right wing christian brigade; and their slandering of atheists – “no atheists in foxholes” (by the way there are many atheists in foxholes)
Have you any evidence for any of that?
I’m quite sure there are many atheists who have a “concept of grace”, and “bestowing unmerited favour” though they might not put it in those terms. The difference is they do it because of humanity, not because they think it might get them to some mystical nirvana.
By the way, many atheists who I have spoken to DO get “that Christians think they’re going to heaven because they’re better people than atheists”. We just think that you are deluding yourself; as there is no evidence for any heaven, we see no evidence that generally most christians are any better than most atheists, we think that doing good deeds as a way to get to ‘heaven’ is not as good as doing good deeds just for the sake of it.
An atheist cannot conceive of any life or any salvation that is based on grace. I’ve never seen it – ever!
No salvation necessary, thanks for the concern though (TIC)
Grace – you have used this word a few times, perhaps another definition is needed:
grace: (Christian theology) a state of sanctification by God; the state of one who is under such divine influence
If that is what you mean then no, no atheist can conceive of a life without ‘grace’, because we can’t conceive of a god, we can’t conceive of having to live a life needing sanctification by anyone, thing, or mystical supernatural being. Atheists don’t consider being ‘under a divine influence’ a good thing, or even a possible thing.
grace: elegance and beauty of movement or expression, or
grace: a disposition to kindness and compassion
Now if you are using either of those definitions then I would hazard an educated guess that the vast majority of atheists would live a life of grace and admire grace in other humans. Whilst I am personally not the most elegant in my movements, I certainly admire it in others, I love watching professional dancers for instance. Whilst I am not always kind and compassionate (my own personal failing, nothing to do with a lack of any supernatural being running my life), I try to be and I’m quite sure so do most other atheists.
No matter what religion or lack thereof, there will always be exceptions. There will always be bad or immoral theists and atheists alike. This doesn’t undermine Hitchens original challenge.
To date makarios I don’t see you meeting that challenge.
Care to try again?
Anyone else care to try?