Molls over at Neamhspleach had mentioned wanting to start a cyber book club of sorts. It just so happened that I owned, and had not yet read, the book that they chose to read the first month, so I decided to join in. I’m also trying to read more, and having a deadline and people to discuss books with will help motivate me, I’m hoping. Molls and HDW have also posted their thoughts on this month’s book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. Still less can they hope to tell us the ‘meaning’ of later discoveries and developments which were, when they began, either obstructed by their religion or denounced by them. And yet– the believers still claim to know! Not just to know, but to know everything. Not just to know that god exists, and that he created and supervised the whole enterprise, but also to know what ‘he’ demands of us– from our diet to our observances to our sexual morality. In other words, in a vast and complicated discussion where we know more and more about less and less, yet can still hope for some enlightenment as we proceed, one faction– itself composed of mutually warring factions– has the sheer arrogance to tell us that we already have all the essential information we need… The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun…”
“The attitude of religion to medicine, like the attitude of religion to science, is always necessarily problematic and very often necessarily hostile. A modern believer can say and even believe that his faith is quite compatible with science and medicine, but the awkward fact will always be that both things have a tendency to break religion’s monopoly, and have often been fiercely resisted for that reason. What happens to the faith healer and the shaman when any poor citizen can see the full effect of drugs and surgeries, administered without ceremonies or mystifications? Roughly the same things as happens to the rainmaker when the climatologist turns up, or to the diviner from the heavens when school teachers get hold of elementary telescopes.”
“I am morally certain that millions of other people came to very similar conclusions [regarding religion] in very much the same way, and I have since met such people in hundreds of places, and in dozens of different countries. Many of them never believed, and many of them abandoned faith after a difficult struggle. Dome of them had blinding moments of un-conviction that were every bit as instantaneous, though perhaps less epileptic and apocalyptic (and later more rationally and more morally justified) than Saul of Tarsus on the Damascene road.”