Another flea having a go at the Gnus

And what do you know, it’s on the ABC religion website ! This time some dude called Joel Hodge gets to try to put the dagger in, and he fails particularly miserably.But this one I have issues with for another reason, namely for the fact that he is a tasteless asshole:

While one can only have deep sympathy for Christopher Hitchens as he fights cancer, the Lateline interview with him shows that Hitchens retains illogical views on religion.

What the fuck does him having cancer have to do with anything, Joel? Let’s hear about those “illogical views” on religion then, shall we.

When asked about whether he thought religion would survive, Hitchens responded like this: “Religion is part of the human make-up. It’s also part of our cultural and intellectual history”.

If religion is poisonous as Hitchens claims, then it seems that the “poison” will remain (despite its contribution to civilisation, as he points out). But within Hitchens’s thinking, does this make sense?

Goodness Joel, how about you ask him ? I love it how the ABC “Unleashed” writers are skilled in erecting strawmen that they then destroy with verve and gusto.It’s just that that doesn’t really count as an argument anywhere outside of logic primary school.

In the background to Hitchens’s view are two ways of seeing religion: as a naturally-occurring phenomenon; and as a socio-cultural construction


If you say so.Oh wait, can you substantiate that? Ah, didn’t think so.

Yet, if religion is naturally occurring and it “poisons” everything, the question remains: what is this religious capacity, naturally engrained in humans, that leads to “religious” evil? It seems that to pinpoint religion as “poisonous”, and to identify its origins in human nature, would lead one to think there is something defective about human beings themselves in their nature. This, then, actually leads us beyond the category of “religion” to contemplate human nature.

Listen, dimwit, yes it leads us to comtemplate human nature.We did that a while ago and found that religion until about 2500 years ago was a way of explaining natural phenomena, when science was not around.We have since moved on.Religion is not a design fault in the human brain, there was evolutionary advantages to religion once, but these days people believing in religion is a result of indoctrination by parents or peers, and there is no benefit to human society in people hanging on to stone age mythology anymore, to the contrary, it is detrimental to our societies, and it leads to violence, war, disease and suffering.

Hitchens (and most moderns) talk as if there is some absolute, free-standing category of “religion” that has a trans-historical and trans-cultural essence. Yet, there is no fool-proof way to define “religion” that will include such belief systems as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism while excluding nationalism, political ideologies, capitalism, pop culture, sport and more.

I am not sure what a “modern” is, let alone a “transcultural essence”, but never mind.I think most people would agree that the word religion means something like, and I’m quoting from

a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Watching Joel shifting the goalposts by trying to redefine what “religion” means is rather pathetic.So no, me being a fan of Shane Warne is not what is commonly understood to be religion.

This is not to say that one cannot argue for some naturally transcendent capacity of the human being, or that Christians or Muslims or others cause violence. It is clear that Christians and Muslims commit violent acts, but so do Americans and Australians, fathers and mothers, sporting clubs and gangs, and many other sorts of people.

Way to completely miss and obfuscate the point.Then again, I expect no less from a theologian.Context matters, Joel.Tu quoques don’t.Why don’t you address the point that Christians and Muslims commit violent acts, and are not in fact above committing violent acts, by ways of their religious beliefs ? Religion is the topic you chose here, not pub brawls or gang violence.Why do Muslims beat their wifes and kill Christians ? Why do Christians kill abortion doctors, or Africans by denying them condoms and thereby making it easier for them to catch HIV ? Why don’t you answer that, you weasly moron, before you go on about “fathers and mothers” ?

What I am pointing out is how the category of religion has been and continues to be used and abused. Hitchens continues the lazy and politically-motivated terminology by claiming religion “poisons”, while not digging deeper. This leaves other people and institutions off the hook.

What I would like to point out is that goalpost shifting apologists like Joel Hodge are an embarrassment to the ABC.

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