Saturday, May 19, 2007

Man created gods in his own image


There is no doubt that Christopher Hitchens is one of the more brilliant minds of our times. His incisive wit, depth of thought and ability to articulate what others would never dare consider is second to none.

His latest book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is challenging, to say the least, for a Christian minister to read, consider and enjoy. (You can read two chapters and the conclusion, here)

The Bible declares that God created man in his own image, however, there can be no doubt that man was not to be outdone by this and so man, in kind, set about to create gods in his own image. Hitchens book offers rich insights into the history of religion, so much so that there may very well be a fatwa declared against him by the Mormon church.

The conclusion, though, is predictable. What should we do when faced with such a tidal wave of irrational, irreverent religious possibilities? Refute them all. Throw the baby out with the bathwater and embrace atheism.

Is there an alternative? Is a belief in God possible without wallowing in the irrational, succoring on emotions and conscience? In the financial realm, when considering an investment move, the wise course is to conduct an impartial audit, to apply due diligence. Perhaps this is the solution.

Catholicism and the celibacy of priests and nuns would stand condemned by I Timothy 4:1-3 where forbidding to marry is accounted the doctrine of devils. In like manner, perhaps in the final analysis of our audit none of the various interpretations and factions would be left standing. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. Perhaps the problem hasn't been God, but misrepresentation. Maybe we would be left with what was originally intended, an actual understanding of both God and man.

I Thessalonians 5:21 says "Prove all things, hold fast to the good." Even in atheism, there is something to learn. Perhaps Mr. Hitchens would find a distilled and purified understanding of the Bible a beauty to behold.

8 comments:

Lord Nazh said...

If you had to rely on proof of G-d to believe, they wouldn't call it Faith :)

Onyx Stone said...

lord nazh, I don't call it faith. I believe. I choose to believe what makes sense (plus I have some crazy stuff unwittingly thrown in - being human and all...)

However, I agree that you cannot prove God in an empirical sense. I think when we open our eyes, God is self-evident. I think a person needs a fairly impenetrable skull to say there is no God. This is not a question of intelligence - there are plenty of smart atheists. I just think atheists are too sure of themselves, and too ready to judge God by looking at people.

Lord Nazh said...

onyx:

Believing in the unproven is indeed what is called Faith :) you just don't call it that.

Through faith and belief are we joined to G-d.

Peter said...

My Lord Nazh,

You're right in that, Biblically, at least, faith (a noun) and believing (a verb) are both different forms of the one Greek Word pistis.

In modern times, "faith" has taken on a whole range of meanings and applications that are not found in the Bible. This is not too surprising as language evolves.

In the 1930's a computer was a profession, like an accountant. The word 'gay' also meant something entirely different in the 1930s. So you can image the amount of transformations 'faith' has been through since 1611.

If you were to read a 1930's news report about "the gay job of computers" it would be tempting to interpret those terms in their modern sense. Yet that would clearly be wrong. In the same way, when I read the word 'faith' in the Bible, I need to keep the Biblical usage in mind, not the current usage.

Biblically, faith is not so much believing in the unseen as believing the testimony of the Scriptures whether seen or unseen.Point being, the unseen element has been exaggerated. Believing isn't seeing, it's the key to seeing.

Anyway, enough ranting for one day :)

Cheers,
Peter

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

The doctrine of celibate priests wouldn't stand condemed, because priests ARE married.
To the church.

Which is why, in Catholic counties, a priest who married used to be tried for bigamy.

james higham said...

...God is Not Great...

What a stupid title for a book and if Hitchens approved this, then he's far from the great mind you purport, Onyx and is just another currier of book sales.

On the question of "poisoning minds", there is no doubt that certain so-called religions do this but a religion based on the Sermon on the Mount and other first hand exhortation could only do the opposite of poison the mind.

This is the fundamental morally equivalent mistake - to lump a clearly different message in with everything else, including satanism and saying religion stinks.

Falwell and that ilk are as Christian as Beelzebub, i.e. he knows of JC.

Onyx Stone said...

James, I basically agree with your argument. And while not wanting to disassociate myself from what appears on this blog - credit where credit is due... my co-conspirator Are You Stuck wrote this piece.

Christopher Hitchens is quite wrong to lump the teaching of Jesus Christ in with all 'religion'. And I think that was the essence of the post.

One day Hitchens may have the privilege to see and appreciate how much of his quality of life is due to the genuine Christian convictions of his forebears. I'm sure his brother would be able to explain.

And yes - crap splashy name for a book. Cheap.

Are You Stuck? said...

The title "God is not great" is a play on current, cultural phrases. The cry of the Muslims is "God is great" or "Allah is great." That's the intended pun. And I'm all to happy for that side swipe to be made toward Islam.

Hitchens is guilty of the very point he promotes, that man makes gods in his own image. For Hitchens, atheism is god. It's the alter at which he worships, and it's very much a choice of his own making.

The point of the post is, not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. As much as I love God and the Bible there is NO denying what a &$#$@-up religion has made of the world.

As much as I detest communism, Karl Marx was right. Religion, whatever form it comes in, is the opium of the people. Mark Twain described the book of Mormon as chloroform in print. (My thanks to Hitchens for keeping that quote alive)

As much as I don't like the conclusions of Hitchens book (as stated in the post) I agree with Marx, Hitchens and Twain. Religion poisons everything.

Check the Gospels, and I think you'll find Christ found religion repugnant too.