I have a problem with people like Hitchens. My problem is not that he is an atheist. In general, I have no issue with atheists. Some of the most Christian people I know of are atheists, and some of the most evil people I can think of would profess to be Christians. My problem with Hitchens is that he is an evangelical fundamentalist atheist.
The other problem I have with people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins is one of intellectual rigour. The arguments they present are the kind of arguments that they would dismiss out of hand if they were applied to any other subject.
The first is when they talk about the evils of religion. If someone wants to talk about the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion, then they will get no argument from me – but that has absolutely nothing to do with the existence of God. That’s like citing crooked cops as evidence that there is no law. It’s a complete non-sequitur.
The other, is their claim that there is no sound evidence of God. Of course, millions of believers will state that there is plenty of evidence of God, but I’m not going to go down that path in this piece. Let’s accept, for the sake of argument, their premise that there is no evidence of God. This does not mean there is no God. The apparent absence of evidence in support of one theory does not automatically mean that the opposite is true. That is fundamentally unscientific thinking and it disturbs me that people with intellects as sharp as Hitchens and Dawkins can’t see that.
The non-existence of God is just as untestable and unprovable as the existence of God. Therefore, whether you believe in God or not, it still comes down to an article of faith.
The popping sound you can hear is a thousand atheists’ heads exploding.
Faith in the negative is still faith.
And this is the point that separates the nice atheists from the dangerous radicals. I can get on perfectly well with atheists who accept their faith for what it is. The ones I have issues with are the ones who say that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
Therein lies the great irony of atheism. My biggest disagreement with Hitchens, Dawkins and their supporters is their assertion that their particular faith is morally and intellectually superior to all others. That’s exactly the kind of behaviour they decry in other religions, and rightly so up to a point, but it’s okay for them because they’re atheists and that makes them better.
I would not have called atheism a religion a few years ago but that has changed with the launch last year of the “atheist bus,” and several other similar campaigns.
There was a time when atheists were simply religious refuseniks and fair enough if that’s how you want to live your life. But now here they are, openly touting for converts, promising happiness, begging donations so they can do more good in the world (both through charity and expanding their own influence) plus an ego trip in the form of advertising Richard Dawkins’ website. And don’t be fooled by the “probably” qualifier. The website of the atheist bus explains that it was only added for legal reasons.
How is that not a religion? How is that not embracing everything atheists used to say was wrong with organised religion? And how can people as rational and scientific and Dawkins and Hitchens not see that? If they were not such intellectual snobs, I might think they just missed the point, but seeing as they are such great thinkers, I can only assume that they are being deliberately blind to their own contradictions.... which is just another thing they criticise believers for.