Monday, July 23, 2007

Hitchens vs Religion

Wikipedia can lead to strange alleys - on a mental kink of some sorts, I was browsing through the Cliff Notes' version of Isaac Asimov's foundation series, a sort of a recap, because I only remembered bits of it, like Hari Seldon, the Mule, and that chick who could read your thoughts.

Turns out, Asimov was a big fan of Edward Gibbon, a raging supernova from the enlightenment era, and the Foundation series were a sort of an allegory, inspired by Gibbon's The History Of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Long title eh? Wait till you get to the book. Though I must say, for a man of that era, the book is surprisingly entertaining and witty. Digging out facts from the source - that's a polyglot's job - it's also tedious, it takes a lot of earnest hard work, the kind that my internet generation cannot possibly fathom.

Here's why I love this man - because in the 17'th century, he called it like he saw it. The Romans were never the same, he said, after they found Christianity. That got his book banned in many countries, mercifully there were no fatwas on him.

From this era, we've got Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens who're saying the same thing, except they're a lot more direct and blunt. Dawkins wrote The God Delusion last year, and it was a best seller, and Hitchens, one upped him with his book: God is Not Great: Why Religion Spoils Everything. Here's an excerpt.

I'm not buying either of these books, because they're both gonna tell me something I already know. But they'd make great gifts for any of your friends who are religious nuts.

A sincere question: how much of this can you really attribute to religion, and how much would you attribute to plain ol' human nature? We've been really vicious to each other since the dawn of time. Religion is just another reason for you to root for the home team.

I love my atheist friends. Goddamn, we need more missionaries who preach atheism. I'll close with a quote from Doug Stanhope.

"You never hear in the news, "200 killed today when Atheist rebels took heavy shelling from the Agnostic stronghold in the North."

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