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To Hitchens, With Love: The Fault of Dogmatic Inconsistency. Yes, Yours.
Posted By Diane Suffern On January 18, 2010 @ 10:41 am In NewsReal Blog | No Comments
It’s been a while since our last encounter when I told you I needed some time to think about where this relationship is going (you know how much I like Guinness, yet, you continue to ply me with Johnnie Walker Black, amongst other compromising things). I wanted to keep our personal issues as such–personal. Yet, you seem compelled to confess them to your friends at Slate and elsewhere. Did you think divulging your grievances would not get back to me? Ridiculous. I need to address this.
Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do by bringing philosophy into it (you know how much I love it when you talk philosophy to me). So glibly you pronounce the beginning of Reason and proper skepticism following the 1755 destruction of Lisbon:
On Nov. 1, 1755—the feast of All Saint’s Day—a terrifying combination of earthquake and tsunami shattered the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon. Numerous major churches were destroyed and many devout worshipers along with them. This cataclysmic event was a spur to two great enterprises: the European Enlightenment and the development of seismology. Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were only some of those who reasoned that no thinkable deity could have desired or ordained the obliteration of Catholic Lisbon, while other thinkers—Immanuel Kant among them—began to inquire into the possible natural causes of such events.
Do you honestly believe that these thinkers–Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant–were autonomous geniuses who derived their theories purely out of their own internal processes? Chrissy, I’m surprised by this rudimentary assumption, even from you. They stood on the shoulders of Greek giants, the fathers of Skepticism. Furthermore, to suggest that science, philosophy or even political theory were ever value-neutral endeavors would undermine Newton, Pascal, Boyle, Bacon, Kepler, Descartes, Berkeley, and even Islamic contributions in their fields of expertise. Where were your “objective” clergymen during cataclysmic events prior? Were they evolving while Christian thinkers and scientists grappled with laws of nature and reality? Oh, you suggest they were persecuted by a superstitious religious oligarchy? I’ve never denied such instances. Please explain the 20th century again for me, since we’re discussing ideological atrocities (Merely trying to level the field a bit, love).
You continue to astound me, detailing geological evidence for the recent earthquake which devastated Haiti, as if I ever assumed otherwise! Your own religious dogma isn’t lost on me, assuming one cannot rationally believe in the design of the natural world and still maintain the belief in a Prime Mover. And, here:
It’s idiotic to ask whose fault it is. The Earth’s thin shell was quaking and cracking millions of years before human sinners evolved, and it will still be wrenched and convulsed long after we are gone. These geological dislocations have no human-behavioral cause. The believers should relax; no educated person is going to ask their numerous gods “why” such disasters occur. A fault is not the same as a sin. (Emphasis mine.)
But, sweetheart, certainly you aren’t calling for the end of inquiry? A closed system? I thought that was what Christianists do? Perhaps you shouldn’t invoke the philosophers if you are so loath to entertain fundamental questions, hmm?
I wish that were the worst of it. But, no. You had to bring my family into it. You know as well as I do that I cannot reason with Crazy Uncle Pat. Yet, you insult me:
As so often, the first priest out of the trap on this occasion was that evil moron Pat Robertson, who announced on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Haitians had long ago made an agreement with Satan to enlist diabolic help against French imperialism. The implication was clear … for this offense, God would kill underfed Haitian babies in slums 200 years later. (He would also kill the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Joseph Serge Miot, and bring his cathedral down on his head, though since Pat Robertson doesn’t really think that Catholics are proper Christians, there’s perhaps scant irony there.)
We’re seriously not going to be able to continue talking if you insist on such inane out group homogeneity bias. Not all Christians are cut from whole cloth. Neither are your ilk. I see what you’re doing here–you know how much I hate intellectual inconsistency, particularly that which cannot acknowledge what is plain. No. I also will not resort to your juvenile tactics and remind everyone about your Uncle William Provine’s statements, outing naturalism as the ethically bankrupt system that you swear it cannot be. Shameful, no? But, of course you are an independent thinker! Atheists are of varying shades! It’s those religionists who are all the same. Those Jesusists who all “look alike.” Try a little harder to not sound like such an abject bigot, OK? You’re making me embarrassed about my affection for you.
Naturally, you’ve twisted my words to suit your own religious ambitions:
Currently, the cry is that Robertson is out of step and that it is Christian charities that are doing the hardest work. By all means let the pious agree to keep God out of it (though I wonder if that doesn’t make them feel slightly insipid). However, the heaviest lifting will, in fact, be done by nonreligious outfits like UNICEF and the International Red Cross (which may sound Christian, but isn’t). The biggest work of all will be performed by carrier groups and airborne brigades of the United States, the taxpayer-financed forces of a secular republic.
I never once said that the relief would be borne on the shoulders of Christian aid groups alone (regardless of the enormity of good Christians have done for the country’s poor and orphans prior to the earthquake), though I challenge you to explain how the world would have benefited without Christian altruism throughout the annals of history. Predictably you’ll evoke the crusades and witch trials, to which I will remind you of the Reign of Terror, Margaret Sanger, the Holocaust and Stalinism, among others. I also must say that I’m quite amazed by your blind faith in Government and other secular charities to provide consistent, honest relief to the suffering Haitian people. Certainly as a student of history, one cannot say that secular states are without their own brand of religiosity? What grounds the rigid totalitarianism and subjugation of people in North Korea, Cambodia under Pol Pot, or Cuba? All I ask of you is consistency, Chrissy.
Your insults intensify:
In the meantime, I urge everybody to think first as a human being, and to give as much as they can to any relief organization at all, but most especially by contacting the newest secular aid group at Non-Believers Giving Aid.
Really, Hitchy? Think as a human being? To imply that I am some sort of creature? A subhuman like this, perhaps? Oh, but I would think you’d appreciate the basic goodness of a creature, not unlike an animal, fighting for their own civil society…being such a fan of Rousseau, of course. After all that we’ve shared, this is low, even for a cad like yourself.
And, no, Christopher. I will not associate myself with your weaselly friend Richard Dawkins. You know how he’s insulted me. I suppose I thought you were somehow…different. Alas! I’ll await your reply.
I remain conflicted, yet, inexplicably devoted,
P.S. – This made me think of you:
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