What Chris Hitchens and Jonah Goldberg both got wrong

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

In his atheistic diatribe “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” the late Christopher Hitchens revisited the various evils and excesses committed in the name of religion over the centuries. And they are many.

Yet what about the brutal excesses of secular, atheistic regimes, such as Stalin’s USSR, Hitler’s Third Reich, Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge? Doesn’t their existence challenge the claim that it is somehow religion that is at fault, rather than something still deeper in the human psyche?

In response, Hitchens offered what I consider to be an intellectually lazy answer, an answer designed to try to win a debate rather than get at the truth:

The regimes of Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot were also religious in nature, Hitchens argued, because they substituted the worship of an individual or ideology for the worship of a god. Therefore, all evil that those regimes did must be totted up on religion’s side of the ledger, leaving the secular world unstained.

With that contention — voila! — Hitchen’s problem was solved, or so he claimed.

In a 2007 tour to promote “God Is Not Great”, Hitchens traveled the country debating religious experts about its theme. Here in Atlanta, he crossed rhetorical swords with Tim Jackson, a professor of Christian ethics at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. And Jackson, to his credit, refused to condone Hitchen’s cheap debating tactic:

Timothy Jackson

Timothy Jackson

“If we can embrace such doublespeak that North Korea is a religious institution, a religious regime, and understand Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot as fundamentally religious, then religion has become an ugly meaningless term,” Jackson pointed out.

“We’re all sinful and we can all contribute to horrific injustice, whether we’re believers or not,” the professor reminded the crowd. “….the worm at the heart of human nature is deeper than that.”

(An audio of the Hitchens/Jackson debate is available here.).

In that regard at least, Hitchens shared a lot with his one-time neighbor in New York, conservative writer Jonah Goldberg. In his 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” Goldberg echoed Hitchens by alleging that all totalitarianism, including fascism, is by nature liberal in its origins.

Clearly, communist regimes in the USSR and China were brutal and tyrannical. But what of, say, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which are historically treated as examples of right-wing dictatorships? Do they not demonstrate that totalitarianism is a temptation to which both the right and left might succumb?

To Goldberg, the answer is no. He argues that Nazi Germany was actually a left-wing manifestation that drew its poison from the wells of liberalism and socialism. In fact, in his view of the world the phrase “right-wing dictatorship” is an impossible contradiction and a null set. Conservatives by definition could never be tempted to seek absolute power; thus, those who seek absolute power could never be conservative.

In a new posting at National Review, where he works as a columnist, Goldberg claims to have found further evidence of his thesis in a two-part series on Nazi Germany that was originally published in 1932 in The Atlantic and has now been republished on the Internet.

(The articles by Nicolas Fairweather are astonishing in their own right, demonstrating just how predictable the coming nightmare really was. Everything — the attempted genocide of the Jews, the invasion first of France and then of the Soviet Union — was all well-known and understood by those who cared to do so long before Hitler even gained power.)

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg

However, when you read the articles cited, you realize once again how thin and downright silly Goldberg’s argument really is. For example, the 1932 Atlantic article lists “the principal articles of Hitler’s political faith,” which included:

“(Hitler’s) violent animosity to Marxian Socialism as in essence opposed to his ideal of a nationally minded people and a racial state. He condemns the Socialism of Marx as a poisonous teaching which by its humanitarianism, its internationalism, and its pacifism — all legacies of the unnatural and unwholesome democracy of the French Revolution — operates to undermine the clean ideal of Aryan (that is, German) overlordship.”

Hitler saw “Marxian Socialism” as a Jewish invention, “the principal tool by which they insinuate themselves into healthy, pure blooded, racial states.” He despised labor unions and expressed contempt for the common man. As the Atlantic piece reported:

“Class warfare, it appeared (to Hitler), was necessarily a destroyer of nationalism. In reacting against the internationalism and class-consciousness of the orthodox Socialists (’Marxists’ is the term Hitler always uses), he has made himself the outstanding opponent of all Communistic tendencies.”

Remember, this is all in an article cited as evidence in favor of Goldberg’s thesis.

In one sense, I am admittedly rehashing old ground — both the Goldberg book and the Hitchens book were published years ago. However, as the 1932 Atlantic pieces demonstrate, bad ideas and bad history can have profound consequences if left unchallenged.

It is dangerous for any group of people to wrap themselves in a belief that they are immune to the temptations of power, because once you make that mistake, those temptations become all the harder to resist. As George Orwell documented so well, for example, a similar arrogance on the left during the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s led many liberals to dismiss evidence of just how brutal the Soviet Union had become.

There will always be those who are eager to take as much power as possible; likewise, there will always be those who are willing to surrender that power to others. Political philosophy and religious faith make no one exempt to either temptation.

Because, as the good professor noted:

“The worm at the heart of human nature is deeper than that.”

– Jay Bookman

903 comments Add your comment

Mick

April 23rd, 2012
12:28 pm

Used to read jonah goldberg’s column in the herald – he’s the very definition of a hack. Hitchens on the other hand, even though I mostly disagreed with, was a very talented wordsmith…

Jefferson

April 23rd, 2012
12:32 pm

goldberg is weak and out in left field with a catcher’s mitt on, wondering why the 3rd base coach wants him to bunt — clueless.

USinUK

April 23rd, 2012
12:34 pm

“However, when you read the articles cited, you realize once again how thin and downright silly Goldberg’s argument really is. ”

and this is news???

anyone who has read more than a handful of his “articles” (using the term loosely) has known that for years.

oh, unless he wants to talk about The Simpsons … then he’s extremely well-versed.

Fly-on-the-Wall

April 23rd, 2012
12:34 pm

Goldberg is just another person who is doing research with a bias – he’s setting out to prove his idea is true versus someone who does real research and lets the finding speak for themselves.

Both sides of our political process do this.

Fly-on-the-Wall

April 23rd, 2012
12:37 pm

USinUK – naw, sounds like he’d get the Simpsons wrong as well.

JF McNamara

April 23rd, 2012
12:39 pm

You are debating the particulars. Greed and cruelty are part of human nature. That’s not religions or political fault. Unless you address the root cause, you’re just skimming the surface.

There are three words that can always perplex a Christian, “Prove it objectively.”

stands for decibels

April 23rd, 2012
12:40 pm

To answer Jay’s headline question: Pants are for wearing, not for loading.

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

April 23rd, 2012
12:41 pm

I think there must be a “God” and you can’t have good without evil, (yin and yang, don’t you know). But this “God” is supposed to be worshiped by all mankind. Yet as we all know, man has decided that One True God doesn’t have it right, so man, in his arrogance, makes up religions to fit his way of thinking. It’s not if there is or is not a God that is the problem, it’s man messing with God’s word and His desire for his people. God created enlightenment, in all it’s brilliant glory. Man created religions and turned that light off.

Would we have had Hitler or Stalin without religion. Don’t know, but I doubt it. Unification under one God without religion getting in the way would take care of a lot of problems, wouldn’t it?

USinUK

April 23rd, 2012
12:44 pm

“There are three words that can always perplex a Christian, “Prove it objectively.””

which is why it’s called “faith” — belief in things unseen.

just don’t expect me to accept it as gospel … so to speak.

ByteMe - Political thug for sale

April 23rd, 2012
12:44 pm

It comes back to faith without thought and those who would take advantage of that for their own power gain.

If your faith is so strong you can’t question it regularly, then you are likely to become a pawn in someone else’s power play.

Brosephus™

April 23rd, 2012
12:44 pm

goldberg is weak and out in left field with a catcher’s mitt on, wondering why the 3rd base coach wants him to bunt — clueless.

Dammitt!!!! Thanks for making me spit up a mouthful of coffee….

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
12:45 pm

I find it comical jay is calling hitchens intellectually lazy

I’m not a hitchens fan, but the man was a giant next to jay in the intellectual category

He’s also dead. Which makes him an easier target for the super intellectually lazy like Bookman

M

April 23rd, 2012
12:50 pm

I have also heard that there are no true Scotsmen.

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
12:55 pm

Meanwhile the NY Times has a piece abouthow Obama is making unprecedented grabs for executive power…

Peadawg

April 23rd, 2012
12:56 pm

Never heard of any of these guys but interesting read, Jay.

Aquagirl

April 23rd, 2012
12:57 pm

There are three words that can always perplex a Christian, “Prove it objectively.”

That’s when they either get out the bludgeon or the passive-aggressive “I’ll pray for you.”

Doggone/GA

April 23rd, 2012
12:58 pm

“There are three words that can always perplex a Christian, “Prove it objectively.””

Not always. If you ask ME that about an article of faith you’ll get no perplexity. Just an hones “I can’t” – BUT, if it’s something that CAN be proven objectively…I’ll ask why you can’t do it for yourself.

Mick

April 23rd, 2012
12:58 pm

jm

If you don’t have something good to say that is irrelevant to the topic, why embar ass yourself by saying it?

Mad Max

April 23rd, 2012
12:58 pm

Jay,

I sense a more centrist theme in your recent columns. Thanks, now if you can get your regular readership to be a bit more tolerant(both sides), this might be a place for reasonable discussion instead of talking points and oneupsmanship. I just finished reading the Grace Effect and the author engaged in several of these tours with Hitchins, including his farewell tour which provided some background for reading your column today. His book follows the journey his family took adopting a Ukranian girl and the corruption and disregard for the leasst of these they ran into in the former USSR. He used a quote from Washington to explain some of what he encountered and it went something like this, “No country can maintain it’s moral compass without the presense of religion”.

Whatever

April 23rd, 2012
12:59 pm

Normal,

How do you propose “Unification under one God without religion”? Who will define the truth of this god? Who will lay out his doctrine? Who will decide if he’s a he and not a she? You can’t have “unification” (all believing the same thing) without someone defining what it is you should believe.

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
12:59 pm

While I agree with most of Jays argument, it happens to be an irrelevant argument

On the national level, democrats are the current significant threat to liberty. When conservatives are I’ll be back to bashing them

And the conservatives at the state level in GA are certainly deserving of the stick

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:00 pm

I really don’t think Hitchens’ argument is far off, considering the prominent portrait placement of Mao, Stalin, Kim, et. al. They insisted upon what could be considered worship. Dissent equals punishment or death.

GW

April 23rd, 2012
1:00 pm

You can be forgiven for the rehash since these are Interesting thoughts.

But it strikes me as an attempt to show in a mainstream newspaper that you are on both sides, rather than taking a true editorial position. That’s what’s wrong with most newspaper editorials and columns today in my view, which is why I insist on taking a strong stand rather than straddling the fence.

And in the end, it seems to me while Hitchens did not come up with the correct intellectual answer to the problem of totalitarianism not based on religion, he still had a strong point about religion being at the root of many wars.

We may not stop all war by educating people about science and showing how religion has it wrong, but it seems to me to be a better strategy for the long run for the human race than right-wing jingoism.

Grasshopper

April 23rd, 2012
1:03 pm

“It is dangerous for any group of people to wrap themselves in a belief that they are immune to the temptations of power, because once you make that mistake, those temptations become all the harder to resist.”

This is why many believe that power should be dispersed. Too much in the hands of one assembly, one president or one court is too much temptation. The founding fathers knew this to be true.

Generation$crewed

April 23rd, 2012
1:03 pm

Why is it when some on this blog discuss religion they seem to act as if Christianity is the only religion, or christians are the only ones with convictions of faith?

Do you all have a bias against or in favor of christianity?
Or
Are you unaware of the many different faiths of the world?
Or
Is there another reason behind this common occurance here?

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
1:05 pm

Doesn’t their existence challenge the claim that it is somehow religion that is at fault, rather than something still deeper in the human psyche?

Jay–I’m not necessarily taking Hitchens’ side in this argument, but I believe that is the point he is making by attempting to equate personality cult dictatorships like North Korea with blind adherence to religious leaders. Technically he isn’t correct because religion by definition focuses on a Creator, but I think the same human characteristics which lead us to put faith in an unseen Creator is the same human quality which leads people to put absolute faith in other humans.

Whatever

April 23rd, 2012
1:06 pm

If someone is truly a Christian then they believe that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If they believe that then even though they know there are other religions why would they consider them true?

(ir)Rational

April 23rd, 2012
1:06 pm

Generation$crewed – I would guess the reason is that most of the people here would consider themselves Christian, or were raised in a household that considered itself Christian. Nothing to do with intentional bias, just the fact that people tend to speak about what they know. Probably nothing to do with general ignorance as you suggested either. Once again, people tend to speak about what they know.

(ir)Rational

April 23rd, 2012
1:10 pm

Bruno – The argument could probably be furthered by asking those in North Korea who they consider their “father/creator.” I would be willing to bet that a majority would assert that it is the Kim family. The ones that wouldn’t are probably in the government and therefore better educated, or in a work camp.

JF McNamara

April 23rd, 2012
1:10 pm

The faith response is a joke. Why do need to have faith?

God is omniscient and omnipresent. He created the heavens and the Earth, but he can’t just tell us he exists with certainty? An all knowing, all powerful deity requires you believe in him but provides no evidence at all of his existence. The last recorded “evidence” was 2000 years ago, and is a dubious amalgamation of god like beliefs of the era. That makes no sense at all.

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:13 pm

Hey, c’mon…he appears on toast and tree stumps every so often.

Mick

April 23rd, 2012
1:14 pm

JF

Wow! You said a mouthful…I think the answer is all around you and that’s what makes yours or my journey so unique and special…people just need to put on their 4d glasses as a reminder every now and then…

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:14 pm

There will always be those who are eager to take as much power as possible; likewise, there will always be those who are willing to surrender that power to others. Political philosophy and religious faith make no one exempt to either temptation. Because, as the good professor noted: “The worm at the heart of human nature is deeper than that.”

Obviously.

Whatever

April 23rd, 2012
1:17 pm

Why do we say there is a “worm at the heart of human nature”? If there is no God then there is no absolute right/wrong, good/evil, or worm in the heart. There is nothing moral or immoral except what we want to pretend.

Those who believe in no god but want to believe in good/evil do not make sense. Without some authority to define good/evil there is no absolute on which to rest our cases.

RB from Gwinnett

April 23rd, 2012
1:17 pm

JF, what would you do if God came to you and proved he was real? Would you change anything about your life and how you live?

Jay

April 23rd, 2012
1:17 pm

Bruno, I can see that point as well. However:

– In every other context Hitchens defines religion as a belief in the supernatural. I don’t think it’s “playing fair” to then suddenly redefine religion as faith in a person or a political or economic philosophy just because it suits your debating needs.

– It may be true to a degree that religious faith appeals to the same basic human desire as hero worship, etc. The problem then is with that basic human desire, which is the point I’m trying to make.

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
1:18 pm

Mick some typos in your 12:58

Ayn Rant

April 23rd, 2012
1:18 pm

What a lot of worthless twiddle-twaddle! Religion, fascism, and totalitarian communism have one thing in common: dogma over rationality. The real purpose of dogma is to delineate “we” and “them”, to define who we should care for and who we should hate. The results vary according to the dogma and the practitioners.

Even saintly dogma can produce evil results. Christians have been at each other’s throats since the religion was announced by Christ and organized by the Roman Emperor Constantine. As examples, the principle translator/author of the treasured King James Bible was tortured to death by devout Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics in England were cruelly persecuted, and their property confiscated, by pious English Protestants.

Dogma is best acknowledged grudgingly, as something others cling to when they can’t accept reason and truth.

man behind the curtain

April 23rd, 2012
1:19 pm

“Meanwhile the NY Times has a piece abouthow Obama is making unprecedented grabs for executive power…”

Wrong, Jm, the article said nothing about it being unprecedented.

Mary Elizabeth

April 23rd, 2012
1:20 pm

President John F. Kennedy on being a liberal…

“I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”

“But if by a ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’ ”

http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=539
==================================================

Thomas Jefferson was, also, considered to be a liberal thinker, both by himself and by others. He was certainly a man who “look(ed) ahead and not behind, who welcome(d) new ideas without rigid reactions, who care(d) about the welfare of the people. . .”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” the liberal and egalitarian baseline for America, penned by Jefferson.

In terms of the article above, balance, and humanity toward all, should prevail. All have the potential for a lust for power. Self-awareness and good intent is critical to maintaining balance and humanity, both personally and nationally.

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
1:20 pm

You are debating the particulars. Greed and cruelty are part of human nature. That’s not religions or political fault. Unless you address the root cause, you’re just skimming the surface.

JF McNamara–You and I think exactly alike on this issue. Though we consider ourselves to be “rational beings”, in the end it is emotion which drives us. But, because emotion is a feeling, it has to manifest itself in other, more tangible ways, such as an expression of religious faith or allegiance to a political leader or even support for a particular sports team. In this way, all of our outward actions are simply a reflection of our human nature. Though it’s arguable that human nature has evolved somewhat over time, I don’t think we’ll ever get away from our “pack animal” roots. Us and Them, Liberal and Conservative, White and Black, Yankee and Southerner.

Mr. Snarky

April 23rd, 2012
1:22 pm

Ideology and religion, when abused, are just levers that people can use to justify oppressing others.

Generation$crewed

April 23rd, 2012
1:23 pm

(ir)Rational
April 23rd, 2012
1:06 pm

I can certainly see that as a reason.

However if people were only talking about what they know this blog would be a real silent place

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:24 pm

If God suddenly appeared to *me* and proved his existence, I’d have an awful lot of very pointed questions for him (or her).

I’m ready when you are, Deity.

barking frog

April 23rd, 2012
1:25 pm

Science is the new religion.
The others will become
irrelevant.

RB from Gwinnett

April 23rd, 2012
1:25 pm

M. What would your questions be?

sam

April 23rd, 2012
1:27 pm

Goldberg is lazy, writes what people want to hear..hitchens was a bit too out there for me

Bill Orvis White

April 23rd, 2012
1:27 pm

Mr. Hitchens was a troubled man when it came to God, but Mr. Goldberg is right. Nazi Germany is very similar to the post-1960s/feministic/urban-centric “idealism” as envisioned by secular progressives Jessie Jackson, Gloria Steinem, Jimmah Carter, Cornel West, Bill Ayres, Bubba Clintax, Bawney Fwank, Father Pfleger and Hussein Obama. All believe in “leveling the playing field” like Hitler (and later his friends ranging from Mao, Pot, Chavez, Castro to Um, Hussein and Ahmadinejad). The big difference between Nazi Germany and modern-day liberalism is that Nazi Germany wasn’t naive – like the failed presidents who refused to stare down evildoers. Everything else is pretty much the same from banishing the Lord Almighty from the public square to cracking down on conservative free speech.
Amen,
Bill

godless heathen©

April 23rd, 2012
1:28 pm

RB: “JF, what would you do if God came to you and proved he was real? Would you change anything about your life and how you live?”

I don’t about JF, but I’d change my blogging handle.

Jay

April 23rd, 2012
1:29 pm

“Those who believe in no god but want to believe in good/evil do not make sense. Without some authority to define good/evil there is no absolute on which to rest our cases.”

Ah, the old “no atheist can be moral” canard.

In other words, no one can have a personal code of honesty and ethical dealings; it must be imposed on us by an outside force.

Oscar

April 23rd, 2012
1:29 pm

It is true that humans have a tendency to form and join groups that exclude others, to escape being alone and to have some comfort in belonging. That is the problem. Hitchens was wrong to claim that tendency as religion. I think he made an error on that. But, religions goups can fall into that same error if they become hostile and violent toward non-members.
Calling all such groups a religious groups as Hitchens did is not correct.

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Too many to list here. But they would include:

Cancer: why?
Couldn’t you pick just ONE version of your perfect holy book?
At what point did you decide that your infallible representative on Earth should cover up child rape?
Why are so many of your purported followers complete holier-than-thou jerks?
Would it have killed you to just leave lasting evidence of your existence rather than make so many people guess?
Why was human sacrifice ever a solution for anything, and where do you get off telling me that I sinned enough to kill someone else, and then making that sacrificial lamb your son? And then making me feel guilty for that?

That ought to make Him/Her sweat for a bit.

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
1:32 pm

In every other context Hitchens defines religion as a belief in the supernatural. I don’t think it’s “playing fair” to then suddenly redefine religion as faith in a person or a political or economic philosophy just because it suits your debating needs.

Fair enough, Jay. As stated above, I’m not necessarily adopting Hitchens POV, just stating that there seems to be a kernel of truth in what he is saying.

– It may be true to a degree that religious faith appeals to the same basic human desire as hero worship, etc. The problem then is with that basic human desire, which is the point I’m trying to make.

Then we are in absolute agreement along with JF McNamara above. I see all of our outward actions in life as a manifestation of our fundamental human nature. And though the particular outward manifestations may vary from culture to culture, the emotional basis underlying these varied expressions seems to be pretty constant world-wide.

Mick

April 23rd, 2012
1:33 pm

jm

No typos, just a fruedian slip of the keyboard…

(ir)Rational

April 23rd, 2012
1:33 pm

Generation$crewed – Very true, but at the same time, religion is probably one of the touchiest topics in the world. Look at how many people have been killed, both here and abroad simply for a perceived insult to someone’s religion. I’ll expound on topics all day, but when it comes to religion, I typically speak only about that which I know well. I’m not religious, but I know and understand how seriously people take it and how deeply held their beliefs are. I’m not one (obviously, only speaking personally) to needlessly provoke or upset someone about their religion simply because I got one or two details wrong. Therefore, when I speak about religion, I tend to stick to Christianity. It is what I know.

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:34 pm

Oscar: It is true that humans have a tendency to form and join groups that exclude others, to escape being alone and to have some comfort in belonging.

Careful how you say that. The perfect non-sinners here will call you arrogant, tell you they don’t want to be in your group, and demand that you come off your high horse.

RB from Gwinnett

April 23rd, 2012
1:35 pm

So basically, M, what you’re implying is you think you’re worthy of questioning God?

Good luck with that

TaxPayer

April 23rd, 2012
1:35 pm

Mighty deep train of thought you shifted to here, Jay. What brought that about.

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:36 pm

I am worthy of questioning any deity that appears in my living room, because I’m not a slave, and certain atrocities demand explanations prior to anything resembling “worship.”

Paul

April 23rd, 2012
1:36 pm

Read the first part and thought it sounded a lot like the exchanges on this blog.

Read about Hitchens and it appears he does what he decries in others. It isn’t about the truth, it’s about winning. So he appears to have more than a little ego invested and seems to want to keep himself as the object of reverence and adoration of his followers.

Also strikes me that we take terms with our 21st century American definitions and try to apply them back thru the centuries. So Hitler instituted national education and national health? Doesn’t mean he was a ‘lliberal.”

“It is dangerous for any group of people to wrap themselves in a belief that they are immune to the temptations of power, because once you make that mistake, those temptations become all the harder to resist.”

To that I will add, it’s dangerous for any political group to think their opponents are evil, do not have any knowledge, redeeming characteristics or any worthwhile solutions, and reject any and all attempts to seek common ground through compromise. Arrogance, the desire for power and self delusion make for a dangerous combination.

Oscar

April 23rd, 2012
1:36 pm

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:34 pm
____________

Sure, the non-members always call the members arrogant. That is why the member band together and put the non-members in work camps or kill them if they get become to bothersome.

Normal Free, Plain and Simple

April 23rd, 2012
1:37 pm

Whatever

April 23rd, 2012
12:59 pm

It’s like what someone has said….faith and I might add, listen to your heart and not another man who might not have your best interest in mind…

Mick

April 23rd, 2012
1:37 pm

When jesse ventura years ago said that many people use religion as a crutch, I thought that was a pretty bold statement for a politician. I believe there is some truth to that…

Generation$crewed

April 23rd, 2012
1:38 pm

M
April 23rd, 2012
1:30 pm

Not to butt in, but…

Aren’t all those questions to be asked of Organized religions?, not a god or gods to answer?

Other than cancer? But for arguement sake there is a god I bet he/she/it would have an answer that is beyond your earthly comprehension or mine.

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

Oscar,

While that sounds like it could be fun, I usually just opt to cross them off my list of to-die-for homemade holiday PIE recipients!
;)

They BOTH suck

April 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

“Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear”

Thomas Jefferson

man behind the curtain

April 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm

In my humble opinion what we call “God” is a personification of our own human psyches. No different than Zeus and all the others.
“The tao that can be told is not the eternal tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name….
Darkness within darkness
The gate to all mystery”

UNCLE SAMANTHA

April 23rd, 2012
1:40 pm

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.
~ David Brin

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:40 pm

Why would you assume it’s beyond our comprehension? People who say “there’s no way we can understand the mind of God” are often the same people who, in the very next breath, say “God wants you to do _______ .”

UNCLE SAMANTHA

April 23rd, 2012
1:40 pm

If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God?
~ George Deacon

RB from Gwinnett

April 23rd, 2012
1:42 pm

M. Why do you assign the deeds of men to God as is he commited them himself?

To whom do you assign the slaughter in Darfur? Are you blaming God for that to? If you’re blaming him for all that’s wrong in this world, are you also giving him credit for all that’s good?

Or are you just lost and miserable and looking for somebody to blame?

Oscar

April 23rd, 2012
1:43 pm

The meanings of the terms liberal and conservative and left and right have change meanings so much over the years, and mean so many things to different people that they are hardly valid terms any more.
A better way to describe governments would be to used the terms totalitarian and democratic and to judge each government on a scale of demoracy and rights allowed to its citizens.
At the present in the US, both liberals and conservatives claim to be more democratic and protective of rights than the other.

UNCLE SAMANTHA

April 23rd, 2012
1:45 pm

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.
~ Donald Regan.

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:45 pm

Cancer is a deed of man?

The crucifixion was a deed of man? (yes, you will say that men DID it, but obviously God intended it to happen, or there would be no “he died for our sins” nonsense).

I assign the slaughter in Darfur to the people doing the slaughtering. But if God is indeed omnipresent as I have been told since birth, why is he watching it and not intervening? Does his Grand Plan include the merciless slaughter of innocents?

Scooter

April 23rd, 2012
1:45 pm

I consider religion to be blind faith that an external entity provides the individual with hope for a brighter future. In that sense it fits… hope of change.

TaxPayer

April 23rd, 2012
1:47 pm

The Republicans believe that we are each entitled to the best rights that money can buy and the Democrats believe that tax dollars should be used to buy them.

willie lynch

April 23rd, 2012
1:47 pm

Christopher Hitchens death gave him far more credibility than his work. He like Ronald Reagan benefits from an ignorant audience.

The Dude

April 23rd, 2012
1:47 pm

For those nihilistic Bookman-types who worship the state………………….your God will always disappoint.
.
Oftentimes fatally.

Oscar

April 23rd, 2012
1:48 pm

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:39 pm
Oscar,

While that sounds like it could be fun, I usually just opt to cross them off my list of to-die-for homemade holiday PIE recipients!

___________

After I married I discovered I was in a mixed marriiage and had married outside my faith. My mother always served pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and my mother in law served pecan. I’ve never quite gotten over the shock,

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
1:49 pm

God is omniscient and omnipresent. He created the heavens and the Earth, but he can’t just tell us he exists with certainty? An all knowing, all powerful deity requires you believe in him but provides no evidence at all of his existence. The last recorded “evidence” was 2000 years ago, and is a dubious amalgamation of god like beliefs of the era. That makes no sense at all.

JF–Per your earlier point, I see little value in debating the “truthfulness” of any particular religious claim. I’m far more interested in understanding WHY people will proclaim “faith” in obviously kooky claims such as Supernatural intervention into our individual lives. By running such claims through the “human nature” filter, the answer becomes much clearer.

In my own case, taking a deeper look at the WHY behind religion has led me to some greater understandings about how our brains work, the nature of truth and why mythological explanations can often reveal more than a strictly “rational” approach can.

(ir)Rational

April 23rd, 2012
1:50 pm

Oscar – There is a simple solution to that problem. Serve both (although the pumpkin is obviously the superior choice). There is no downside, except to your waste line. :)

In other news

April 23rd, 2012
1:50 pm

More diversions from Bookman. Maybe one day he’ll find something good to write about.

godless heathen©

April 23rd, 2012
1:50 pm

Jay “Ah, the old “no atheist can be moral” canard.

In other words, no one can have a personal code of honesty and ethical dealings; it must be imposed on us by an outside force.”

One would wonder why the jails aren’t full of atheists. In actuality, there is a smaller percentage of atheists in prisons than there are in the general population.

Paul

April 23rd, 2012
1:51 pm

M

Depends on the religion’s view of God. Sounds like you’re assuming an interventionist, I’ll make it happen, forget free will and absolute choice and responsibility kind of God.

M

April 23rd, 2012
1:55 pm

Paul, if you’re edging towards deism, I have more respect for that view. It at least doesn’t have any of the absurd specificity that most modern religions have.

The notion that a deity created this universe and either walked away or just let it run itself for kicks, while still highly unlikely, is MUCH more likely than the ideas of most Christians/Muslims/Jews.

Generation$crewed

April 23rd, 2012
1:55 pm

M
April 23rd, 2012
1:40 pm

1st you would be wrong to assume I would claim to know what god wants you to do. I feel my god and I have a relationship, the relationship or lack of one is between you and god or gods.

2nd I feel that any being capable of creating or setting in motion the events that have formed the universe, earth and us, most likely has a reason we may not have thought of. But its only my bet! Its not a claim of fact you and I couldn’t comprehend.

I may be able to

TaxPayer

April 23rd, 2012
1:55 pm

Oscar,

We mix pecans in the pumpkin pie. Whatever it takes to keep the peace.

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
1:56 pm

Careful how you say that. The perfect non-sinners here will call you arrogant, tell you they don’t want to be in your group, and demand that you come off your high horse.

Matti–For the record, my earlier objection to you setting up a “Southerners Only” club is based on your own complaints of being excluded in the past based on your gender or political orientation. You don’t like it when you are the “outsider”, yet seem extremely willing to participate in the same behavior as long as you are an “insider”.

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
1:57 pm

Mmmm… PIE! A sliver of each will do nicely.

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
1:57 pm

Meanwhile back at the ranch

Social security and Medicare trustees issued new warnings today

Social security disability fund will be broke in 2016
Regular trust fund exhausted in 2036, 2 years earlier than previous

Given they lop off about a year for every year we go down the road, I’d say it’s bust in 2024

Though we’ll be broke entirely before this decade is out unless a new president is elected

Aquagirl

April 23rd, 2012
1:58 pm

taking a deeper look at the WHY behind religion has led me to some greater understandings about how our brains work, the nature of truth and why mythological explanations can often reveal more than a strictly “rational” approach can.

Chimpanzees show religious tendencies, so it seems to be hardwired into our brains. You even have sects of Thor-worshiping chimps and zen chimps. I’m sure they’ll get organized and slaughter each other when they get civilized enough.

http://www.janegoodall.org/chimp-central-waterfall-displays

Paul

April 23rd, 2012
1:59 pm

M

I find many of the definitions/explanations don’t really convey what the person wants to convey. Like people who ask for certain ‘blessings.’ One could say they view the Universe as operating according to certain laws and if they align themselves with those laws or principles that certain results may more than likely occur. But what a lot of people hear from that is ‘oh, so you want God to wave a wand and make it all better?”

Lots of Hitchens-like debate scoring and not enough searching for understanding goes on.

The Dude

April 23rd, 2012
2:01 pm

Obama/Romney=corruption, war/death,nihilism,staleness,darkness,depression, malaise, climate-change neurosis,killer tornados, Moscow in November.
.
Ron Paul=an Exuberance of joy,personal liberty, happiness, peace, Freedom, and April in Charlestown.

mm

April 23rd, 2012
2:01 pm

I’m disgusted every time I see “Republican” and “Christian” in the same sentence. Their actions certainly don’t mirror their beliefs.

USMC

April 23rd, 2012
2:02 pm

I am shocked that Jay is attacking Comrade Stalin, for Comrade Stalin offered Universal Healthcare, fought for “Social Justice”, and made everyone pay their FAIR SHARE of Taxes just like Jay always preaches. :-)

Matti

April 23rd, 2012
2:04 pm

Bruno,

Don’t play dense. I didn’t say I excluded people for not being Southern. I said “messing with people” (any new people, not just yankees) is our way of seeing if they can take a joke and not take themselves too seriously. You twisted it into something else. People laugh at me. I laugh at myself. I feel better about someone laughing at me if they can also laugh at themselves. You’re not as nice as you pretend to be.

Bruno

April 23rd, 2012
2:04 pm

After I married I discovered I was in a mixed marriiage and had married outside my faith. My mother always served pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and my mother in law served pecan. I’ve never quite gotten over the shock

In my own case, it came down to bread-based “stuffing” cooked inside the turkey vs. cornbread-based “dressing” cooked in a pan. Hard to keep the “dressing” from drying out.

In other words, no one can have a personal code of honesty and ethical dealings; it must be imposed on us by an outside force.

heathen–I doubt if Jay noticed, but he revealed a deep inconsistency in his own political position with that statement. As far as society goes, Jay seems to have little faith in self-regulation, and is all for a top-down governmental approach.

RB from Gwinnett

April 23rd, 2012
2:05 pm

M. Why complain about cancer and not car accidents? Don’t they both result in death?

All Of us would like to understand the whys of Gods plan, M, but to whine about his plan and appoint yourself worthy of questioning that plan is rather arrogant of you.

Jm

April 23rd, 2012
2:05 pm

USMC

April 23rd, 2012
2:05 pm

Meanwhile Comrade Obama has raised the debt 5 TRILLION Dollars
That is $5,000,000,000,000….
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_debt_chart.html