I haven’t read Christopher Hitchen’s (photo of the charming chap to the right) intolerant rant, and enough other people have stood up to defend religion and demolish his sophomoric tirade. Carl Olson does a good job of rounding up the reviews here.
There’s something else about it all that troubles me.
Books matter. Ideas matter. Popular propaganda matters.
It’s one thing to write a book and have a little tantrum about religion, but I want to know what Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and their gang intend to do about it. I mean, if you really, really think that religion poisons everything, that religious people are killers, mass murderers and insane child abusers, and that religious people cause everything bad in the world shouldn’t there be some action taken? If you honestly think that religion is holding back humanity, that priests, rabbis, monks and missionaries are not only deluded, but evil, why should you sit around and do nothing?
Who is going to take the action? Well certainly not the clever fellows who write the books or publish them. They wouldn’t want to get their hands dirty with any rough stuff. But what about those they influence? These books which inspire hatred towards religious people are bound to affect many young people. Those young people will get into positions of power one day.
I’ll bet there are a couple of young tyrants out there right this minute who are reading Hitchen’s hate literature. Are they getting a little bit high with the potent wizardry of Hitchen’s hatred? Are they and their chums even now despising Hitchens and Dawkins and Harris for being priviledged snooty academics without the guts to actally do anything? Are they asking the obvious next questions: “Religious people aren’t going to give up their religion voluntarily. In fact they want to be martyrs don’t they?” Are they wondering even now how they might take power one day and weed out the religious people from society? Are the minds of all those who will elect such monsters being conditioned even now as they read such poisonous stuff?
If so, it’s only a short time before the pogroms and the bonfires and the midnight knocks on the door begin.