What did Christopher Hitchens think of philosophy?
So ancient is religion, so venerable is its criticism. Many of the arguments that support the modern rejection of religious beliefs were already represented in the ancient discourse on religion. Pious Jews, Christians and Muslims confess that a creator god created man as his most noble creature.
No, the one god or the many gods are mere fantasy structures of the human mind, arose out of fear, existential despair and the hope of eternal life - according to the critics. Astonishingly early on, those who despised faith were already formulating theses of deception by priests: Power-hungry and greedy priests had invented religion in order to keep the gullible people dependent and exploited.
It is precisely the rich traditions of European criticism of religion that permeate the assumption that religious belief represents a false, illusory, and ultimately unhappy consciousness.
In the religious histories of the modern age, this argument gained plausibility not least through holy wars against people of different faiths, denominational quarrels and the brutal persecution of minorities. The more faithful the times, the greater the need for critical differentiation between pious spirits - God is not the same as God.
Authoritarian gods cause high levels of suffering and stimulate critical reflection. Others serve fantasies of omnipotence and at the same time awaken the desire to question their alleged omniscience. Not infrequently, criticism of religion has itself produced effects of faith and served as a catalyst for spiritual renewal.
Richard Dawkins '"God delusion" and Christopher Hitchens' "God is not great" have caused a stir in the English-language media. This can be explained without major intellectual effort.
Vulgar hardcore beliefs are currently enjoying far greater success on globalized religious markets than beliefs that are based on the basic tone of humility, prudence and respect for others. Strictly binding gods of battle dominate the scene, and missionaries are being upgraded in many places.
Criticism of religion can easily benefit from this. All she has to do is present the gods of violence in their cruel harshness and, in a second step, prove that the fixation of violence, oppression and aggressive intolerance constitute the true essence of God. That's exactly what Dawkins and Hitchens are about: Traumatized by the current terror of God, they want to show that even the best "dear God" is just a bloodthirsty monster.
In doing so, the two authors embark on very different ways of thinking. The behavioral scientist and evolutionary biologist Dawkins, who holds a chair for "Public Understanding of Science" at Oxford and became world-famous in 1976 for "The Selfish Gene", portrays himself pathetically as a provocateur who destroys the fictions of the god-poisoned with a sledgehammer.
Theory of evolution as an all-explanatory key to interpretation
His boring text arouses interest only because of the claim to have an all-explanatory key to interpretation based on Darwin's theory of evolution. In terms of evolutionary theory, he not only wants to open up nature and natural history, but finally also to uncover the secrets of all culture and especially the history of religion.
Dawkins appeals to atheists of all countries to rally for a mass movement. In the vain poses of the ambiguous Grand Enlightenment, he recalls his colleague Ernst Haeckel, the "world riddle" solver, who once had himself proclaimed "antipope" by the monists.
Hitchens, a publicist from south-west England who now lives in New York, argues against this in a cultural-analytical manner, with a view to the destructive consequences of religious belief for peaceful coexistence among people. He is skeptical, ironic, also self-critical, writes brilliantly and emphasizes, epistemologically reflected, the limits of scientific concept formation.
Dawkins, on the other hand, boasts of his philosophical illiteracy and proclaims the message of salvation that a worldwide "coming out" of all atheists could finally abolish any religion. His unequally educated colleague regards the hope of a world without religion as naive misbelief. The "Protestant atheist" distanced themselves from doctrinal opinion with mild mockery. This may also have something to do with the fact that Dawkins' criticism of faith is not free from accompanying anti-Jewish tones.
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