I saw this book review about Christopher Hitchens’ book “God is Not Great”, written by Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason.
The post is here. Here is an excerpt:
Let me say something that isn’t very pleasing to think about Religion isn’t false just because it’s cruel. Even if every one of Hitchens’ accusations were accurate, they don’t disprove the truth of religion. God might be a cruel being who does delight in manipulating man. In that case, Hitchens’ claim that “religion poisons everything” might be true, but his real claim is that God doesn’t exist. And that just doesn’t follow from every evil example of religion.
What standard of morality is Hitchens using to judge God and Christians as evil? If it is his personal preference, then who cares what he thinks. If it is the current fashion of the culture he is in in this time and place, who cares? That “standard” will change as time and place changes. It’s convention. But, if it is an objective moral standard that exists independently of what individuals and cultures think, then God exists to make that design for the way the world ought to be.
Hitchens says religion is evil, and he does mean evil and sin. He freely uses moral language to pin the blame right where he believes it belongs, but he never explained how he, as a materialist, can use moral language and mean them as moral terms that all mankind are beholden to….
As I mentioned, Hitchens professes materialism, believes it’s proved. He freely makes moral accusations against religion and religious people. He freely admits contempt, and, given what he believes, that would be the proper response. He accuses religion of sins and evil. These are real, objective categories for him, not his personal sentiment. He never explains how, as a materialist who believes in a world of only what science can explain and prove in the physical world, he can lay claim to morality. He ignores the grounding problem, the explanatory power of a view of reality to account for the features in it. Morality, the way Hitchens is using it, has no material explanation. How does he account for the prescriptive, universal nature of morality, not merely descriptive? His humanism won’t get him there because that can only offer a descriptive, contingent account – whatever is is morality. On this major flaw alone, it’s justified to ignore anything Hitchens claims because his view of reality can’t lay claim to morality.
Melinda wants to know how Hitchens’ can help himself to the notion of rationality on a materialistic worldview. After all, if materialism is true, humans are pure matter. Everything humans do is causally determine by their genetic programming and sensory inputs. But that behavior is targeted towards survival and reproduction not reasoning about the external world.
There’s more to the grounding problem, too. Is rationality material? He can’t even ground the rationality he sees as the crown of human progress. If man is purely material, then he’s a machine programmed by nature, c-fibers firing, acting according to the laws hard-wired by his biology. He lauds the “chainless mind,” free from religion. Yet in his view of reality, man is chained by determinism with no escape. There is no rationality because there is no option to behave, think, believe any way other than we do. There’s no point in even trying to persuade religious people to believe and behave different since we’re also just acting the way we’re programmed to. Indeed, even scientific inquiry that Hitchens offers as the hope of mankind is nonsense since only one conclusion is predetermined by our programming.
And it goes on from there. I’m looking forward to the (not yet planned) debate between Melinda Penner and Christopher Hitchens! Because I think she could kick his butt with half her brain tied behind her back.
If you want to get ready for the debate today between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens, check out my analysis of the 11 arguments Hitchens made in his opening speech in his debate with Frank Turek. You can also watch or listen to a preview debate that was held in Dallas recently between Craig, Hitchens and some other people. Biola University is live-blogging the debate as well.