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Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011
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Jawbone54
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Dec 16, 2011, 03:03 AM
 
Christopher Hitchens has died.

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.
I've watched countless debates between Hitchens and theists/Christians/Jews over the years, and although he could at times be overly provocative and even mercilessly demeaning, he was also generous to those who warranted him a polite and spirited debate. His reaction to polite applause from faith-based audiences was always gentlemanly and sincere. His wit and humor were undeniable. And yes, he could flat-out debate.

I've always preferred his debating methodology to that of Richard Dawkins (who seems 1,000 times less generous and 1,000 times more arrogant), and can honestly say that he will be missed by many of all beliefs.

During healthier times:



Near the end of his fight with cancer:

     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 16, 2011, 06:45 AM
 
Sad news, hadn't seen this.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 16, 2011, 10:14 AM
 
I have to profess ignorance to Hitchens. I remember beginning to hear his name a year or two ago (I believe under the tagline of being one of our greatest living minds) and feel utterly lost as to who he was or what he accomplished. Aside from reading a few Slate articles he wrote (That came off as fairly even-handed) I don't feel I know any more about the guy now.
     
lpkmckenna
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Dec 16, 2011, 04:52 PM
 
I haven't read any of Hitchen's books, though I too generally enjoyed reading his articles.

But I do have a fundamental difference of opinion regarding religion. He says "religion poisons everything," when really religion is simply a vector for poisonous ideas. Bad ideas can find a home in religion (and politics, science, education, etc), and that religion can become powerful thru political power. Once a society has embraced freedom of religion and science, religion stops being a serious problem.

If we destroy religion, those bad ideas will just find a different vector to travel on. Religion was wiped out in the Soviet Union, so anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-jew, and pro-censorship ideas just found new ways to express themselves. Attacking religion instead of attacking the specific bad ideas being spread by religion is a poor method of improving society, like attacking the carrier of a disease instead of the disease itself.
     
ort888
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Dec 16, 2011, 05:07 PM
 
He's in heaven now.

My sig is 1 pixel too big.
     
olePigeon
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Dec 16, 2011, 05:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
He's in heaven now.
Not bloody likely.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
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Waragainstsleep
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Dec 16, 2011, 05:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
I haven't read any of Hitchen's books, though I too generally enjoyed reading his articles.

But I do have a fundamental difference of opinion regarding religion. He says "religion poisons everything," when really religion is simply a vector for poisonous ideas. Bad ideas can find a home in religion (and politics, science, education, etc), and that religion can become powerful thru political power. Once a society has embraced freedom of religion and science, religion stops being a serious problem.

If we destroy religion, those bad ideas will just find a different vector to travel on. Religion was wiped out in the Soviet Union, so anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-jew, and pro-censorship ideas just found new ways to express themselves. Attacking religion instead of attacking the specific bad ideas being spread by religion is a poor method of improving society, like attacking the carrier of a disease instead of the disease itself.
And yet people have long suggested eradicating the mosquito to get rid of malaria.

The technical freedom of religion that you have in the states hasn't curtailed the power of religion. The US is a blinding example of that. 'Talking to God' was already used to justify an otherwise illegal war this century. Religious belief/freedom is used daily to defend the spread of demonstrably false, ridiculous and pointless notions like creationism. The power of religion comes with its numbers and the control that it gives so few over so many. You could argue that politicians have that same power but look how we question their every move. Compare that to the questions the flock asks of their clergy who are forgiven sins as grave as institutionalised child rape.

True freedom of religion would require that children born into all religions receive unbiased education that encourages them to think freely and draw their own conclusions and make their own choices without fear of being ostracised by their own families and communities. Such a thing undermines religion so efficiently, that religion will eventually die out under such circumstances. The vector and the poisonous ideas are too closely connected. You cannot really have one without the other. Faith can remain intact without these silly ideas, but religion cannot.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Doofy
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Dec 16, 2011, 07:06 PM
 
Well, that didn't take long before the usual suspects started attacking religion. As per.
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SpaceMonkey
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Dec 16, 2011, 07:17 PM
 
Yes, who could have possibly expected that in a thread about Christopher Hitchens?

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Doofy
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Dec 16, 2011, 07:52 PM
 
Well, I didn't say "Christopher Hitchens was a twat", did I? So if I can hold my tongue in an R.I.P. thread, why can't the usual suspects?
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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SpaceMonkey
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Dec 16, 2011, 08:00 PM
 
It seems natural to talk about the ideas of a public figure after their death. I'm sorry if you feel that a thread about Hitchens was de-railed into a conversation about religion. ("guffaw")

I hope you weren't offended by all of the Apple Computer talk when Steve Jobs died.

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Doofy
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Dec 16, 2011, 08:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by SpaceMonkey View Post
I hope you weren't offended by all of the Apple Computer talk when Steve Jobs died.
Do we keep Apple Computer talk caged in the pol lounge around here?
Stop being ridiculous.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
SpaceMonkey
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Dec 16, 2011, 08:06 PM
 
Of course not. But that's what Steve Jobs was "about" as a public figure (Apple Computer). I'd be fine if this ended up moved to the Pol/War Lounge, since that's what Hitchens was "about" as a public figure (religion and politics). Honestly, you're coming off as kind of ridiculous. What kind of vapid RIP thread are you honestly expecting?

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Doofy
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Dec 16, 2011, 08:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by SpaceMonkey View Post
Honestly, you're coming off as kind of ridiculous.
Only because you're looking through the cloud of ridiculousness which engulfs you.

Originally Posted by SpaceMonkey View Post
What kind of vapid RIP thread are you honestly expecting?
Well, I'd kind have expected a respectful thread continuing in the manner which Jawbone started. Go look at Waragainstsleep's post and see if you can actually spot any mention of the bloke this R.I.P. thread is about.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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Tiresias
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Dec 16, 2011, 11:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
He's in heaven now.
I'm an agnostic, but I believe the above suggestion is not as ridiculous as it seems.

“Which is it?” asked Neitzsche. “Is man God’s mistake or God man’s mistake?”

Proceeding on the second assumption, it is actually possible to reason one’s way to the paradoxical conclusion that belief in God is itself a heresy.

Understanding the heresy of belief begins with a secular explanation for the origin of religious belief.

Sometime after grunting protoman learnt to create tools and totems, he extrapolated an anthropogenic cosmogony ("I created this adze; something must have created me") that has, over millennia, enculturated into the panoply of modern relgions. The subsequent compulsion to worship the postulated Artificer is easy to understand. The difference, in terms of design complexity, between the tool and its creator, and the tool-creator and his Creator, demands a spiritualization of ordinary deference. Thus was born one of the first "scientific" hypotheses, perfectly tenable within the epistemological conditions of its time. That hypothesis is contained in the Old Testament.

But what if it turns out that belief in God was necessary in order for humankind to “feel its way” towards modern science? And what if modern science, in turn, contains the germ of a future worldview that is both scientific and spiritual?

Perhaps rejecting our primitive belief in a God is a necessary step in the progress towards a spiritual science, or scientific spirituality, more subtle, more intelligent, more benevolent that any known religion... Richard Dawkins quips that surely God, whose existence he denies, respects the courage of atheists more than the bet-hedging of agnostics or the blind faith of believers. Perhaps Dawkins is right.

Perhaps it is a heresy to believe in God.
( Last edited by Tiresias; Dec 17, 2011 at 01:00 AM. )
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 17, 2011, 08:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Well, that didn't take long before the usual suspects started attacking religion. As per.
Heaven (!) forbid we should discuss the ideas of the person in question, especially when that person spent so much of their own life discussing and sharing those ideas.

If I attacked anything it was pseudo-freedom of religion.
I'm not remotely surprised that you would consider the expression of opinions contrary to your own as 'attacks' though.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
OldManMac
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Dec 17, 2011, 10:37 AM
 
Sad news indeed. A great thinker.
Why is there always money for war, but none for education?
     
Tiresias
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Dec 17, 2011, 03:58 PM
 
There is no one...
     
SpaceMonkey
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Dec 19, 2011, 02:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Only because you're looking through the cloud of ridiculousness which engulfs you.
Mocking, pithy phrases are not respectful either, smiley or no smiley. Practice what you preach, please.

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Big Mac
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Dec 19, 2011, 03:59 AM
 
So Kim Jong IL and Christopher Hitchens meet up, and Kim Jong says to Chris. . . It's awfully warm in here, isn't it. . .
( Last edited by Big Mac; Dec 19, 2011 at 06:23 AM. )

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 19, 2011, 06:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Go look at Waragainstsleep's post and see if you can actually spot any mention of the bloke this R.I.P. thread is about.
What tribute could be more fitting that to carry on his work in some minor way? He might complain I was going too easy on religion if anything.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Shaddim
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Dec 19, 2011, 10:24 AM
 
Met him once. He was an ass, but not as bad as most of the atheists around here.

RIP Chris
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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lpkmckenna
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Dec 19, 2011, 12:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
So Kim Jong IL and Christopher Hitchens meet up, and Kim Jong says to Chris. . . It's awfully warm in here, isn't it. . .
Riiiight, because mass murdering tyrants and ordinary non-believers deserve the exact same fate. Meanwhile, the philandering, murdering King David is seen as a prophet. That's why religion is dying.
     
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Dec 19, 2011, 01:05 PM
 
You just couldn't keep it regular Lounge material, guys, could you? Moving to the PL … 
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Dec 19, 2011, 02:05 PM
 
Why is it so hard to accept that when you die thats it you are just gone. Like a erased hard drive. You live on through your children.
Blandine Bureau 1940 - 2011
Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 19, 2011, 04:20 PM
 
Yes we atheists are all dreadful human beings and all believers are charming, civilised and well adjusted.

25 Ridiculous Reactions To #GodIsNotGreat
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Shaddim
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Dec 19, 2011, 04:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Yes we atheists are all dreadful human beings and all believers are charming, civilised and well adjusted.

25 Ridiculous Reactions To #GodIsNotGreat
Why are all the Tweeters in that link black? Surely there are some white folks who said some nasty things too.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Big Mac
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Dec 19, 2011, 04:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Riiiight, because mass murdering tyrants and ordinary non-believers deserve the exact same fate.
First of all, I didn't say they deserved exactly the same fate. They may just be awaiting their full judgments in that pseudo-joke, in an intermediate state. Secondly, it was said largely in jest. Thirdly, I'm glad to see I struck a nerve. Hitchens wasn't just an ordinary non-believer, he was publicly, brazenly antagonistic toward the Divine and religion generally and encouraged that sentiment in others.

I do grant credit to Hitchens for being pro-Israel, however, which is unusual for someone of his ilk. That is in his merit.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Dec 19, 2011 at 05:13 PM. )

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Dec 20, 2011, 11:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
So Kim Jong IL and Christopher Hitchens meet up, and Kim Jong says to Chris. . . It's awfully warm in here, isn't it. . .
They're dead. Basic science tells you they can't talk or fell warmth when they are dead.
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2.21 million jobs were LOST after 2 years of Bush Tax Cuts.
     
ironknee
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Dec 21, 2011, 12:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
So Kim Jong IL and Christopher Hitchens meet up, and Kim Jong says to Chris. . . It's awfully warm in here, isn't it. . .
so...do we really want to talk about "hell"?

where it is?

oh right, underground... but, as we know, Earth is 1 of 9 (8) planets revolving around a star in a galaxy containing 400 billion other stars

our galaxy is only one of billions ...etc

in other words, "hell" is relatively small...

not to mention "heaven" is only in the atmosphere of Earth...js

ok hope to have good convo!
     
Shaddim
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Dec 21, 2011, 12:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by hyteckit View Post
They're dead. Basic science tells you they can't talk or fell warmth when they are dead.
and so is the atheist sense of humor.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
Shaddim
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Dec 21, 2011, 12:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by ironknee View Post
so...do we really want to talk about "hell"?

where it is?

oh right, underground... but, as we know, Earth is 1 of 9 (8) planets revolving around a star in a galaxy containing 400 billion other stars

our galaxy is only one of billions ...etc

in other words, "hell" is relatively small...

not to mention "heaven" is only in the atmosphere of Earth...js

ok hope to have good convo!
Hell is underground? You mean it isn't a state of being outside the presence of the Divine? Heaven isn't resting within the eternal luminescence of the Shekinah? Woah, guess I should have just talked with you guys instead of going to God school, you know all about this religion stuff and everything.

Just stick with the secular stuff and stay out of the deep end of the pool.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
Doofy
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Dec 21, 2011, 02:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Hell is underground?
Well, except in parts of east London where it tends to poke through the crust a little.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
Shaddim
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Dec 21, 2011, 02:53 AM
 
There was a club called Gehenna in Knoxville when I was a younger man, great place to pick up groups of cute goth chicks. It was all underground, part of the old town train station.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
Doofy
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Dec 21, 2011, 02:59 AM
 
I believe the collective noun for a group of goth chicks is a "grim".
(Our goth club was the Banshee. Plenty good pickings within the grim.)
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
hyteckit
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Dec 21, 2011, 03:09 AM
 
Hell is a place on Earth.

At least that's what I was told on the radio.
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Shaddim
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Dec 21, 2011, 04:39 AM
 
That's not what Belinda Carlisle said.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 21, 2011, 04:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Just stick with the secular stuff and stay out of the deep end of the pool.
Oh dear.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ironknee
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Dec 23, 2011, 11:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Hell is underground? You mean it isn't a state of being outside the presence of the Divine? Heaven isn't resting within the eternal luminescence of the Shekinah? Woah, guess I should have just talked with you guys instead of going to God school, you know all about this religion stuff and everything.

Just stick with the secular stuff and stay out of the deep end of the pool.
ha you again

oh ok i am happy to discuss the meaning of "hell" with you and anyone else...

as i learned growing up as an evangelical christian, hell is "bellow" with the "devil" fire and brimstone hahahaha ...and heaven was above in the clouds...you know, the three layer cake

most of my christian friends really believe this literally

what you're talking about is more Intellectual and i love that...

YES hell could be being away from god....but hell could be away from the one you love over the holidays...being at a justin bieber concert....etc

as for Shekinah...i had to look it up...it sounds nice but wouldn't you put both in the religion bucket?
     
Shaddim
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Dec 24, 2011, 01:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by ironknee View Post
ha you again

oh ok i am happy to discuss the meaning of "hell" with you and anyone else...

as i learned growing up as an evangelical christian
I stopped reading right there, seriously. I can't even talk with most evangelicals anymore.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
ebuddy
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Dec 24, 2011, 12:47 PM
 
Merry Christmas all my atheist friends.
ebuddy
     
ironknee
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Dec 24, 2011, 03:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
I stopped reading right there, seriously. I can't even talk with most evangelicals anymore.
i hear ya

but i've grown up and don't believe in santa anymore

just to make it clear...i don't believe there is a literal hell or heaven
     
   
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