9/10/08

Christopher Hitchens : The Challenges, part III of III

This post will bring to a conclusion my consideration of Mr. Hitchens’ challenges.

To read/Or not to read


Let us now consider the next segment as Mr. Hitchens asks for:
“an example of a society which had fallen into slavery and bankruptcy and beggary and terror and misery because it had adopted the teachings and the precepts of Spinoza, and Einstein and Pierre Bayle and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine…you will find no such example.”

I wish to propose a much simpler challenge: I would like an example of a society that adopted the teachings and the precepts of Spinoza, and Einstein and Pierre Bayle and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.” You will find no such example and so whatever such a mythical society may produce is irrelevant. What I mean is this: suppose that I could provide you an example of a society which had fallen into such things but they had adopted the teachings and the precepts Spinoza, Einstein, Bayle and Jefferson but not Paine, would the example not count? Or imagine any combination of inclusions and exclusions. Just how absolutist are Mr. Hitchens’ “and” statements?
Thus, again I so not find the challenge unanswerable due to its force and correctness but due to its generic, fallacious and or straw man nature.
Is Mr. Hitchens unaware that the USA, which adopted the teachings and the precepts Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, did fall into slavery, etc.? Yes, but did the USA also adopt Spinoza, Einstein, Bayle? Well then, that does not count. Could we thank Einstein for the devastation of nuclear weapons? Thomas Jefferson, deist or not, attended Christian church services in the Capital building, something for which today he would be arrested or sued by the ACLU (apparently modernists understand Jefferson’s concept of separation between church and state better than Jefferson did).
The bottom line is that such arguments will go nowhere.

The last segment is a repeat of earlier ones:
“name an ethical statement made or action performed by a believer in the name of faith that couldn't have been by an infidel. And name, if you can (this is easier) a wicked action that could only be mandated by faith.”

This has been answered already in part I.

I do not know if to state that I have answered any of the challenges or to simply state that Mr. Hitchens’ challenges are a confused concoction of generic statements, misunderstandings and qualified to a degree that they may be unanswerable merely due to their illogical nature.

12 comments:

  1. You know what? You are wrong, and Mr Hitchens is right. And you know that.

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  2. "Or imagine any combination of inclusions and exclusions. Just how absolutist are Mr. Hitchens’ “and” statements?"

    He is asking for a society that was based on rationalism. Does that help?

    "Is Mr. Hitchens unaware that the USA, which adopted the teachings and the precepts Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, did fall into slavery, etc.?"

    Sorry, nope. Paine was a pampleter and his actions had NO effect on the US government. He died abandoned by all but Jefferson. Jefferson ironically enough tried to ban the slave trade- it didn't pass.

    The US ISN'T based on their ideals.

    "Could we thank Einstein for the devastation of nuclear weapons?"

    Precepts, not inventions- or do you want to attack rationalism for providing science?

    "Thomas Jefferson, deist or not, attended Christian church services in the Capital building, something for which today he would be arrested or sued by the ACLU (apparently modernists understand Jefferson’s concept of separation between church and state better than Jefferson did)."

    Your an idiot. The ACLU does not care if you attend church- they care if you promote religion on government time.

    You seem to be totally unable to understand secularism. I'm sure Jefferson would agree- after all:
    http://www.mccullagh.org/image/13/thomas-jefferson-tombstone.html

    Look at the man's grave- one of his proudest achievements was "Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom".

    You may say that religion isn't "free" due to the ACLU- except there are two problems. They only attack things in the government sphere (which is supposed to be secular- 1st amendment) AND the ACLU is a private organization. They are citizens using their 1st amendment rights of
    "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    If you are against that, why... you are UnAmerican. Why do you hate Freedom? Do you WANT the terrorists to win? What is next- are you against democracy? Apple pie served by lesbian waitresses? Why do you hate America?

    "I do not know if to state that I have answered any of the challenges or to simply state that Mr. Hitchens’ challenges are a confused concoction of generic statements, misunderstandings and qualified to a degree that they may be unanswerable merely due to their illogical nature."

    You do realize that if something cannot be given an answer because it is ruled out by logic, that could be intentional. Surely you have heard of a Koan?

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  3. Ben Hoogeboom;
    Thanks for the comment but not much of an elucidation.

    Samuel Skinner;
    “Your an idiot”??? I think that you meant to write, “You’re an idiot.”

    My dear sir, please allow to cut through your phantasmagoric comment and clear something up.
    The ACLU files lawsuits in attempts to have the Ten Commandments removed from government property. In this case we are dealing with monuments which quote the Bible.
    Thomas Jefferson attended Christian church services in the Capital (government property). In this case we are dealing with the preaching of Christianity, the teaching of the Bible and the worship of the God of the Bible.
    If they sue over monuments what would they have to say about continuous, preaching, teaching, worship?

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  4. if atheism is dead why on earth have you written all this crap, flogging a dead horse ?

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  5. You know what? You are wrong, and Mr Hitchens is right. And you know that.

    gee I was going to say the same thing to you

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  6. Samuelskinner said:
    "If you are against that, why... you are UnAmerican. Why do you hate Freedom? Do you WANT the terrorists to win? What is next- are you against democracy? Apple pie served by lesbian waitresses? Why do you hate America?

    While this might be just sarcasm (sarcasm doesn't play too well when mixed in with angry statements), it might also be one of the silliest things yet seen on this blog.

    And koans do have answers, and they are rational, just not what you might expect due to their apparent paradoxical self-contradiction.

    And ben hoogeboom: Your statement has no weight without something concrete to back it up. Sorry. Actually it reminds me of a lot of what Hitchens says.

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  7. Ben, I am not convinced by your argument.

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  8. By comparing the morality of Christian and secular societies, and by pointing out that a secularist can be just as moral as a Christian, Hitchens is siding with rational atheists who claim that morality can have a foundation apart from God. Therefore, he is pointedly separating himself from a Nietzchean atheist who claims that there are no absolutes and that we are free to define our own morality for ourselves. Hitchens seems to be ignoring a huge problem in Western philosophy - the use of reason to establish values. Hume destroyed cause and effect; Kant tried to restore reason but acknowledged that it couldn't be used in metaphysics; the logical positivists failed miserably with their verification principle and at last sight were debating even the meaning of "good" and "evil"; Russell acknowledged that science can say nothing about values. What philosopher has established the rational basis of morality (apart from religion)? Before Hitchens can make his claims he must establish the rational basis of morality. Either that, or become a Nietzchean atheist. Jeff Carter, www.sophiesladder.com

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  9. “name an ethical statement made or action performed by a believer in the name of faith that couldn't have been by an infidel.”

    This is double-think at it's finest. According to the the materialist, our thoughts and motivations are the product of chemical processes. Our actions are the manifestation of this process.

    How is it possible to label a chemical process as ethical or moral? That's tantamount to applying ethical standards to a bowel movement.

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  10. "According to the the materialist, our thoughts and motivations are the product of chemical processes. Our actions are the manifestation of this process.

    How is it possible to label a chemical process as ethical or moral? That's tantamount to applying ethical standards to a bowel movement."


    And that's greedy reductionism at its finest and straw man arguing at its dumbest. Such infantile rubbish, do I even need to elaborate?

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  11. AGS "How is it possible to label a chemical process as ethical or moral? That's tantamount to applying ethical standards to a bowel movement."
    You could always write down your own subjective opinion and tell people it's a Special Revelation from God. That seems to solve the problem for a lot of folks.

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  12. Jon;
    Thanks for stopping in and for your comment.
    The death of God was declared over a century ago. So why on earth are atheists writing all of their stuff? Why is there a new wave of atheists becoming celebrities and making quite a few shekels talking about God and religion? Flogging a dead horse?
    Atheism is dead but people still like to run to the corpse: some to check the pulse and see what state it is in and other to attempt, quite desperately, mouth to mouth resuscitation.
    aDios,
    Mariano

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