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Middle aged heterosexual, WASP male. Semi retired, semi-sane and semi-serious. And endangered species and I'm not going quietly!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

God Damn the Pusher!

"God Damn the Pusher" is the title of a song written by Hoyt Axton and performed by John Kay and Steppenwolf back in 1968.

The reason I mention this tune is because it can be just as relevant today, but in a totally different way.

The "Pushers" I am referring to are the Televangelist and Evangelists here in North America and the Islamic Fundamentalist Clergy in the Muslim world.

Both groups are doing just as much harm as the drug pusher because they advocate the "Drug" of extremist religion.

It doesn't matter whether it's a rally call against modern science, reason and evolution, or the blare of trumpets proclaiming a particular version of Islamic Jihad, they are a drug that the masses can well do without!

The only real defense we have against these "fundamentalists and extremists" is constant vigilance and a sane and reasoned approach to their attempts to lead us down the garden path. (That would be the Garden of Eden boys and girls!)

I mention this because I ran across a book the other day that very closely mirrors my own views in the book "The Plain Truth About God-101."

It's by an guy you may have heard about, Christopher Hitchens.

There is no question that Christopher Hitchens is very smart, very well-read, very outspoken and, more often than necessary, very obnoxious. (Gee, a guy after my own heart!)

All this is fine if you enjoy hearing him defend the Iraq war, but perhaps less so when he mounts a caustic attack on organized religion, as he does in his best-selling new book GOD IS NOT GREAT: How Religion Poisons Everything.

A formidable debater, Hitchens recently appeared on Fox News' Hannity and Colmes, managing the difficult trick of offending the liberal Colmes and reducing the conservative Hannity to stuttering incoherence.

Hitchens seldom fails to deliver an impressive performance, and he does so in God Is Not Great, where the arguments are brilliant and the language marvelously crafted.

If one is disposed to his point of view, it's a terrific read. Certainly it's the best of the recent assaults on organized religion from Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel C. Dennett.

Those who are planning a visit to the new Creation Museum in Kentucky or whose faith needs to be kept under lock and key are not likely to read this book. But those with a serious interest in the psycho-sociology of religion as a flawed human institution will find much to ponder here.

After all, we do live at a time when people who passionately believe God is great have no problem flying passenger planes into New York skyscrapers.

Hitchens, who excels in fine distinctions, has been careful to state that he is not an atheist. He is, he says, an "anti-theist,"a man who vehemently opposes the concept of God as defined by the three dominant Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

That God, Hitchens argues, resembles the despotic ruler of a totalitarian state, monitoring our every thought, judging every action and keeping us in thrall not just in this life but for all eternity in a heaven (if you're lucky enough to get there) that resembles North Korea.

Since Hitchens believes this God is a Santa Claus-like fiction invented by human beings, he stands in amazement at our ability to make life harder than it has to be.

"The person who is certain," Hitchens writes, "and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs to the infancy of our species."

Thousands of years pass, cultural forces work their magic, and primordial superstitions acquire a near-universal legitimacy and certitude, no matter their assault on reason or contradiction of fact.

Though we exist in a thoroughly material reality, religion does its best to persuade us otherwise.

Hitchens sees this as an invitation for all sorts of terrible mischief. Since there's no objective standard to judge anything having to do with religion's imaginary realities, one theology is pitted against another.

"It was never that difficult," Hitchens writes, "to see that religion was a cause of hatred and conflict, and that its maintenance depended on ignorance and superstition."

Although Hitchens does his best to demolish the claims of religions, he is very much a believer — in what he calls "a finer tradition."

It's the tradition of Socrates, Galileo, James Mill, David Hume, Kant, Descartes, Spinoza, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, who wrote: "If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

It is Einstein's view that seems closest to Hitchens' own. For Hitchens there is something in the material world that is "far more miraculous and transcendent than any theology." If we seek ultimate truths, they are right here in front of us if only we are diligent and clever enough to discover them.

In the end, Hitchens calls for a "new enlightenment," based "on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman."

The tools are readily at hand: art, literature, philosophy and the "pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry."

Hitchens sees the human story as still very much unfinished. There is a sense in the last pages of this book that our species is at a momentous turning point: The old self-serving myths are falling to the relentless revelations of science, through which we will be either transformed or destroyed. The choice will be in our own hands, not God's.

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fundamentalist asshole issue? try sendahole.com.

Sunday, July 22, 2007 9:15:00 p.m.  

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