Home > Apologetics > God is Great: How Christianity Remedies Everything

God is Great: How Christianity Remedies Everything

If anyone has read Christopher Hitchens, or heard him speak you know he’s got some seemingly good points. In his recent book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher has some particularly radical views that reflect his title with deadly accuracy. But a fatal flaw has been made that everyone I’ve seem debate him or read a response to him has touched on, but I want to say in a much more systematic way, and is as follows. Oh, and I am not going to mention religions other than Christianity, though the big 3 monotheistic ideologies can be considered under the same scrutiny, I am just ignoring them (it’s a blog post, and I’m a Christian, so why not?).

To claim that religion poisons everything, scientifically speaking, you have to isolate the variables and see if the result of “poisoning” is exclusive or intensified in the case of religion. When doing so, events such as the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Salem witch trials, and so on, are the kinds of events to be taken into account. The Spanish Inquisition suffered upwards of 2,000 inexcusable casualties over 300 years. The “Holy” Crusades, over 200 years with many different wars and conflicts, with an estimated total ranging from 1,000,000 to 9,000,000 casualties. Obviously this far too great of a range, so a more accurate guess is between 3 and 5 million. In fact, the 1 and 9 million claims are equally bad. And then Salem, with a grand total of not millions, not thousands, not even hundreds, but 18. (possibly only 17 to some sources I’ve read, and I read some article that claimed only 14). here is a good source for cross referenced numbers http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm and it also mentions a lot more events.

Now consider the non-religious atrocities, such as, Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and a big one from the source afore noted, Genghis Khan’s empire. None of these atrocities failed to end any less than 20 million lives (I am being generous by not offering exact numbers).

Look at the two ideologies closely, Christian and Atheistic, and you will find, even from afar, that religion is clearly not poisoning everything. The poison, in this case represented by deaths, is found in the common variable between the two ideologies which is humanity. I am not getting at the point that humanity is filthy and evil by nature and we are all unworthy and unholy and must beg for forgiveness, while it has a kernel of truth, it is not the whole of the truth. I do not wish to go into that further in this note, it’s too off subject. It is apparent that religion is not poisoning anything, but rather is offering a remedy.

Hitchens, as far as I’ve seen, never brings this up. He will respond to someone who brings them up, but he never uses these events to prove his point, but tries to play off Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia as a religious atrocity, not as atheistic, and i’ve never heard him address Mao’s China in any substantial way offering even a comment to refute or make sense of. And how could he, the numbers and truths of the ideologies are apparent. There’s no way around the obvious. But he does play the point of slavery. He has claimed that Christianity mandates it. I’m not sure he still holds this idea to the point of mandate, which he shouldn’t. He did not offer evidence for this, and I would like some, if it exists. I know that some Christians have justified slavery, even with the bible, but slavery is not exclusive to Christianity, nor does Christianity truly endorse slavery in any form, other than the willful enslavement of the heart, which within the metaphysical terms of the bible sets you free. A paradox greater than all of Wilde’s combined. Moving on, I made the claim that slavery is not exclusive to Christianity, and I need to provide some sort of explanation, though it is a simple one. Slavery has developed independently all over the world. It was present in Africa long before western civilization made it on the scene. It existed in non-Christian Greece and Rome, in fact the societies were built around it. It existed in China and even in the Americas long before Columbus ever showed up. The fact is Christians were the first to take a strong stand against slavery, which in the end led to great results. It is clear that instead of Christianity poisoning anything, it is indeed a remedy.

I want to add a personal note to this which I say is personal because I do not like logical fallacies. I want to discredit Hitchens’ credibility. It is not okay to do this concerning logic because the idea exists beyond the person, and just because a person is flawed does not mean the same flaw can be applied to the idea. However, Hitchens has some interesting views concerning this immorality of religion that has gone very far that must be said. He wrote a book about Mother Teresa comically title “The Missionary Position”. He also said comically when Dinesh D’Souza mentioned her acts of physical affection for a leper, something to the effect of “Gag me with a spoon, yuck.” He holds this sort of disdain for acts of charity, love, and kindness. Atheists, being no less capable of identifying morality, can appreciate what Mother Teresa has done for the poor and loveless. Hitchens has a ‘questionable at best’ sense of compassion. Do we really need to take advice on what is poison from someone who holds the views of ‘poison’? Also, if you want you should read the Chapter of his book about science. It’s pretty funny what a terrible point he made on how since the sun is going to explode in a few billion years, and cited that as a reason for why religion is poisonous, while failing to connect the two thoughts.

In conclusion: religion does not poison everything, but offers a remedy to the pains and sufferings of the world. Christianity, and all religion, is blemished at best, festering at worst, but it is not in the spirit of Christ, the center of Christianity that it is so burdened, but rather in the spirit of men seeking their own desires other that Christ’s. I’m not going to go into Jesus’ teaching, but rather just say read Matthew chapters 5-7, and the rest of the gospel to get a good grasp of what he said. Then imagine a world where everyone lived up to these ideals. Religion would then not only be a remedy, but a cure.

  1. November 29, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    You have created a false dichotomy: the crusades/religion and totalitarian atrocities/atheism. This later is not true; atheism had nothing whatsoever to do with any totalitarian states. And Hitchens addresses this oft repeated false dichotomy.

    I don’t think you did a very close reading of Hitchens’ book God is not Great if you think he doesn’t thoroughly explain that there is no injunction against slavery in the OT or the NT. Yet we do not think slavery is a moral institution. How can this be? Hitchens explains it’s because our morality based on enlightenment values is better than one based only on scripture.

    You will not discredit Hitchens’ credibility. It is solid… as an intellectual, as a master debater, as an academic, as a clever and razor wit, as a curmudgeon, as a man who crafts words with precision, flair, and beauty and whose criticisms and barbs are as accurate as they are delivered swiftly and to the heart. His Mother Teresa book is written based on her letters and is the final word on how her empty faith has caused so much unnecessary perverted suffering in the name of her god. I have learned that when I think a big brained person has made what appears to me to be a rather obvious error, the fault has always been my own and my own poor reading and mis-comprehension. Hitchens, one should never forget, is as big brained a person as they come. Even if we disagree with him, we can still learn from him.

    • December 4, 2010 at 7:32 PM

      I agree with you almost completely, Tildeb. Especially on the point of atheism and totalitarian states. You’re right, the totalitarian states were not driven by atheism in the least. But they weren’t driven by theism either (which is kind of the definition of atheism, ya know). The only debatable totalitarian government is Nazi Germany under the reign of Adolf Hitler, a “catholic”. The best possible refute to the claim of Hitler as a catholic christian is the definition of a christian. The great historian Luke records that the christians were first called christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). Before that they were called disciples of Christ Jesus meaning followers of Jesus. In other words, the Christians, or disciples, did what Jesus did and lived out his teachings. A hall of fame for Jesus’ teaching is found in Matthew 5-7. If you read through the gospels I guarantee you will see through the life of Christ and his teachings that Christianity cannot poison anything by definition. If Christianity does poison anything then it is not christianity, but something else disguised with that title. Even the bible speaks of antichrists coming and giving other teachings than those found in the bible. Also, extra biblical sources hostile to Christianity from the first and second century agree to the moral lives of the original christians.
      Hey, and thanks a lot for the comment on Mother Teresa, I’m really looking forward to reading Hitchens’ book now. I am admittedly not well read in his work, and have only read pieces and watched debates.

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