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Re: [atheists-55] Atheism?s Unholy Trinity...Chris Hedge's New book "I Don?t Believe In Atheists"

From: Kevin G.
Sent on: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:35 AM
Yeah, this guy was on the CFI podcast last week.  He is full f shit.

--
Skydivers don't knock on death's door; they ring the bell and run away... It really pisses him off.

The World Famous Tink. (I never heard of you either!!)
AA #2069 ASA#33 POPS# 8808
EAC Chairman, Division of Skydiving and Sushi consumption.

 -------------- Original message --------------------­--
From: Jeff Wismer <[address removed]>
> http://www.inthes...­
> 
>  Culture > May 20, 2008 Atheism's Unholy Trinity By Jarrett
> Dapier<http://www.inthes...;­
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> 
> Last spring, Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign
> correspondent for the *New York Times*, flew to California to see some
> atheists about God. Over the course of two debates �� one in Los Angeles, the
> other in Berkeley �� Hedges sparred with Sam Harris, author of *The End of
> Faith*, and Christopher Hitchens, author of *God Is Not Great*. According to
> Aneli Rufus, who reported on the Hedges vs. Hitchens debate for AlterNet,
> Hedges was "trounced."
> 
> Atheism 2, God 0.
> 
> Now, out of these debates comes Hedges' latest book, *I Don't Believe In
> Atheists* (Free Press, 2008), a relentless, deeply considered defense of the
> religious impulse.
> 
> The book's title is neither an accurate personal statement nor a reflection
> of the volume's contents. As Hedges has said, he is no atheist.
> Nevertheless, he eloquently defends atheists who are "intellectually honest"
> �� those "who accept an irredeemable and flawed human nature" �� and believes
> "they hold an honored place in a pluralistic and diverse community."
> Intended to provoke, the title sets up false expectations for a simplistic
> "no atheists in foxholes" screed that sells the book short.
> 
> Instead, Hedges' main target is utopia, which he calls "the most dangerous
> legacy of the Christian faith and Enlightenment." And primarily in the works
> of evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins, as well as Hitchens
> and Harris �� the "new atheists," as Hedges calls them �� the author finds a
> morally bankrupt utopian worldview that divides humanity between the
> primitive faithful and the civilized rational.
> 
> According to Hedges, the new atheists argue that once humanity is delivered
> from religion �� what Hitchens has called "man-made filthy propaganda" �� and
> places its faith in science and reason, we will finally advance morally as a
> species. But "hidden under the jargon of reason and science," writes Hedges,
> this conviction is a secular version of religious extremism. To Hedges, this
> makes them dangerous.
> 
> "Too many of the new atheists, like the Christian fundamentalists, support
> the imperialist projects and pre-emptive wars of the United States as
> necessities in the battle against terrorism and irrational religion," he
> writes. To make his case, he cites Harris' justification for a nuclear
> first-strike on the Middle East and Hitchens' continued support for
> democracy-via-bombin­g in Iraq.
> 
> Hedges doesn't mince words about these atheists: They are "suburban
> mutations," "hopeless epicures" and "products of the morally stunted world
> of entertainment." Because many atheists conflate radical, literalist
> religion with all religion �� and refuse to see any good that has come from
> faith �� Hedges sees them as intellectually shallow. To him, one must come at
> faith honestly �� through years of sustained thought, reading, reflection and
> introspection. The same goes for atheism.
> 
> One of the strengths of *Atheists* is Hedges' authority to write on the
> topic. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he witnessed how his father's
> faith inspired him to fight for social justice, even when it was deeply
> unpopular in the rural, upstate New York communities in which he preached.
> It was this model of courage-through-fait­h that led Hedges to pursue a
> degree from Harvard's Divinity School, where he gained his understanding of
> theology.
> 
> Hedges spent the next 20 years covering foreign wars for a host of
> newspapers, including the *Times*, where he served as the Middle East Bureau
> Chief. He has witnessed many of the late 20th century's worst horrors �� in
> Algeria, Bosnia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kosovo and Sudan (where he was
> imprisoned).
> 
> In a 2008 interview with Salon, Hedges said, "I spent so long in war zones
> that I think we don't know what we would do under repression and abuse. ��
> That's the brilliance of the great writers on the Holocaust, like Primo
> Levi. �� They understood the humanity of their own killers."
> 
> Hedges spends the first half of *Atheists* refuting the claim that humanity
> has advanced morally. "The Enlightenment myth �� taught that our physical and
> social environment could be transformed through rational manipulation. ��
> [But] human history is not a long chronicle of human advancement. It
> includes our cruelty, barbarism, reverses, blunders and self-inflicted
> disasters."
> 
> In the second chapter, "God and Science," Hedges provides an engrossing
> history of Darwinism and the Enlightenment, and their dark legacies of
> violence. He cites Friedrich Nietzsche's fear that the British would use
> social Darwinism to justify imperialism, and offers a pellucid argument
> against science's application to philosophy.
> 
> Hedges understands the depravity of which human beings are capable �� be they
> secular or religious. "To turn away from God is harmless. To turn away from
> sin is catastrophic," he writes.
> 
> At the same time, we all experience moments of transcendence �� such as a
> parent's love for his child �� that we are driven to account for. The meaning
> of this contradiction is the domain of religion. Science can never
> adequately grapple with such subjective human complexity:
> 
> Scientific ideas �� are embraced or rejected on the basis of quantifiable
> evidence. But human relationships and social organizations interact and
> function effectively when they are not rigid, when they accept moral
> ambiguity, and when they take into account the irrational.
> 
> Hedges draws from the works of artists like Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus,
> Willa Cather, Joseph Conrad, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Uta Hagen, as well as
> figures like Thomas Aquinas, Sigmund Freud, Reinhold Niebuhr and Arthur
> Schopenhauer. These individuals, who wrestled with �� and against �� faith and
> a tragic worldview, serve as Hedges' touchstones as he seeks to express the
> core limits of humanity and what he calls "the possibilities of religion."
> 
> Hedges' writing has a hurtling, runneth-over quality that can be redundant
> and vague at times (as in his section on the concept of "tempered free
> will"). He is also prone to cranky digressions (as in his section on a
> fashion designer profiled on CNN). And some readers may be disappointed to
> find that Hedges does not systematically dismantle each argument in the new
> atheists' books.
> 
> Instead, Hedges views the new atheists not so much as an organized threat,
> but as indicators of a larger tendency in America toward a dangerously
> simplistic way of thinking. "It is fear, ignorance, a lack of introspection
> and the illusion that we can create a harmonious world that leads us to
> sanction the immoral," Hedges writes. "Our enemies have no monopoly on sin,
> nor have we one on virtue."
> 
> Hedges proposes the radical notions that we admit our complicity in the
> violence of the world and acknowledge the humanity of our enemies. Religion
> �� with its other long history of encouraging compassion toward others and
> introspection about the evil at the center of humanity's heart �� is too
> valuable in this aim to be flatly dismissed. Amen.
> Jarrett Dapier is assistant publisher at *In These Times*.
> 


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