Christopher Hitchens, Garbage Man

February 4, 2010

christopher hitchensReligion Dispatches has a great piece up on Christopher Hitchens (who is, along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, one of the “New Atheists” — or, as I like to say, something of a Horseman of Anti-Theism, decrying religion left and right). For anyone interested in issues of religion and non-theism, this article is a must-read, especially in its breakdown of the nuances between what Hitchens calls “religious” and what he calls “numinous.” For people like me who believe that Hitchens’ critical brush is far too wide and imprecise, this conversation is very revealing. The story picks apart an interview between Hitchens and a liberal Christian minister, concluding that “when it comes right down to it, the biggest difference between Christopher Hitchens and Marylin Sewell is not in their substantive views but in the emotive sense they attach to the word ‘religion.’ They both dig through the complex phenomenon that is religion—one searching for the jewels amidst the junk, the other lifting up the garbage and yelling out ‘See!’ But if Sewell should unearth a treasure, Hitchens may be the first of the New Atheists to acknowledge its worth. He’ll just refuse to call it ‘religion.'” A beautiful image, to be sure, and one that suggests that maybe Hitchens is beginning to realize that religion isn’t as black and white as he’s cast it. One can hope, anyway. Because c’mon, man: you’re giving the rest of us non-religious — and Christopher’s, for that matter — a bad name! Read the rest of the story here.

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One Response to “Christopher Hitchens, Garbage Man”

  1. […] As I’ve done, Pigliucci critiqued the exclusivistic attitudes of New Atheist folks like Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and even Penn and Teller in his talk, saying, “I love Bill Maher and Penn and Teller, but if we’re part of a community of reason we need to take members to task when they say things that aren’t that reasonable. And they have some unreasonable ideas.” Ultimately, Pigliucci’s perspective can be best summed up by this statement: “I don’t pretend that my position is the only reasonable one.” This pluralistic perspective was refreshing and important. […]

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