Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Toast To The Hitch

From Richard Dawkins's blog:

(The whole piece, lecture and Q&A session, is wonderful and can be found here.)


OldJoeClark said...

Regarding Hitchens "chloroform in print" comment, Twain made that comment about the Book of Mormon which contains the book of Ether (the name of a Mormon prophet) hence there's a built-in pun as well. So I believe Hitchens is mistaken since I don't think he made the same comment regarding Mary Baker Eddy's writing.

When it comes to Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris they're just preaching to their own choirs while the religionists are preaching to theirs. The "wake up and stop being stupid" card never works.

I heard a recent presentation by William Lobdell, author of "Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace". Those kinds of personal stories are more likely to engage religious folks to embark on a journey of larger thinking.

Lobdell in his presentation commented that he is often a guest of atheist groups and almost invariably during the Q&A somebody wearing a Star Trek shirt with a pocket protector or similar garb will ask him why it took him so long to figure out what the questioner had already concluded by age six. There remains an abyss between these groups that seems impossible to bridge.

Paul J.

wunelle said...

Howdy! I loved the "chloroform in print" quote just for its delivery.

I do agree that these guys are most times preaching to the converted, though I'm glad there's a place for the converted to go for solidarity with like-minded folks; there is certainly no shortage of religious propaganda everywhere in our world.

I do wonder at times whether Dawkins, for example, makes any converts with his "The God Delusion." It seems that no fervent believer would read a book with such a title, and those who will read it were never (from Dawkins' perspective) much of the problem in the first place.

The Lobdell thing sounds most interesting.

How's the bike commute in the fading sunlight?

wunelle said...

And, now that I think of it, I'm not sure that conversion is really these guys' aim. Dawkins himself, when asked about charges of stridency, has responded that he's not really trying to win adherents so much as simply tell the truth. (There is a legitimate question about how much good his truth does if he takes no pains to make sure others hear it.)

For Hitchens, I think he loves a good rollicking debate. I think he's into the intellectual workout. He seems along among the so-called "Four Horsemen" in not wishing there to be a world without religion, because, as he says, "I wouldn't want this [debate] to end." (An aside: my chief complaint with Hitchens is that so much of his argument is with the brutalities of the Old Testament. True, it's part of the Holy Book, but very few modern American Christians see anything of their own religion in so much of what he criticizes. When he gets to the Catholic views on sex & birth control and to stem cells and abortion, then he's on firmer ground, I think.)

I went to Wm. Lobdell's site, and there's a great summary / book review from the NYTimes there. Sounds very interesting, and I can see it would be a good deal more tolerable way to hear the message, especially for those for whom the message is a painful one.

Craig said...

Twain did criticize Mary Baker Eddy's work as "vacant of thought" or something like that, but I cannot find the chloroform reference to anything but the Book of Mormon