Hitchens (2008). Chapter Four: A Note on Health, to Which Religion Can Be Hazardous. (god is not Great: How religion poisons everything.)

Hitchens, C. (2008). Chapter Four: A Note on Health, to Which Religion Can Be Hazardous. In god is not Great: How religion poisons everything. New York: Twelve.

[Religion incompatible with science and modern medicine …]

“The attitude of religion to medicine, like the attitude of religion to [page break] science, is always necessarily problematic and very often necessarily hostile. A modern believer can say and even believe that his faith is quite compatible with science and medicine, but the awkward fact will always be that both things have a tendency to break religion’s monopoly, and have often been fiercely resisted for that reason.” (p 46-47)

[Defining and understanding what is nature and natural …]

“… are humans part of ‘nature’ or not? Or, if they chance to be homosexual, are they created in god’s image or not? Leave aside the well-attested fact that numberless kinds of birds and mammals and primates do engage in homosexual play. Who are the clerics to interpret nature? They have shown themselves quite unable to do so.” (p 48)

[Human revulsion to violence; pathologies “can be understood” but religion absolves responsibility …]

“I do not set myself up as a moral exemplar, and would be swiftly knocked down if I did, but if I was suspected of raping a child, or torturing a child, or infecting a child with venereal disease, or selling a child into sexual or any other kind of slavery, I might consider committing suicide whether I was guilty or not. If I had actually committed the offense, I would welcome death in any form that it might take. This revulsion is innate in any healthy person, and does not need to be taught. Since religion has proved itself uniquely delinquent on the one subject where moral and ethical authority might be counted as universal and absolute, I think we are entitled to at least three provisional conclusions. The first is that religion and the churches are manufactured, and that this salient fact is too obvious to ignore. The second is that ethics and morality are quite independent of faith, and cannot be derived from it. The third is that religion is — because it claims a special divine exemption for its practices and beliefs — not just amoral but immoral. The ignorant psychopath or brute who mistreats his children must be punished but can be understood. Those who claim a heavenly warrant for the cruelty have been tainted by evil, and also constitute far more of a danger.” (p 52)

[Misogynist teachings …]

“The holy book in the longest continuous use — the Talmud — commands the observant one to thank his maker every day that he was not born a woman.” (p 54)

[Restrictions in life but “corrupt promise of infinite debauchery” later …]

“I simply laugh when I read the Koran, with its endless prohibitions on sex and its corrupt promise of infinite debauchery in the life to come: it is like seeing through the ‘let’s pretend’ of a child, but without the indulgence that comes from watching the innocent at play.” (p 55)

[Crimes against children …]

“… those who preached hatred and fear and guilt and who ruined innumerable childhoods should have been thankful that the hell they preached was only one among their wicked falsifications, and that they were not sent to rot there.” (p 56)

[Eschatological claims to spread fear and obedience …]

“Perhaps half aware that its unsupported arguments are not entirely persuasive, and perhaps uneasy about its own greedy accumulation of temporal power and wealth, religion has never ceased to proclaim the Apocalypse and the day of judgment. This has been a constant trope, ever since the first witch doctors and shamans learned to predict eclipses and to use their half-baked celestial knowledge to terrify the ignorant.” (p 56)

[Religion as a tantrum, dragging others down and enjoying their torment …]

“One of the very many connections between religious belief and the sinister, spoiled, selfish childhood of our species is the repressed desire to see everything smashed up and ruined and brought to naught. This tantrum-need is coupled with two other sorts of ‘guilty joy,’ or, as the Germans say, _schadenfreude_. First, one’s own death is canceled — or perhaps repaid or compensated — by the obliteration of all others. Second, it can always be egotistically hoped that one will be personally spared, gathered contentedly to the bosom of the mass exterminator, and from a safe place observe the sufferings of those less fortunate.” (p 57)

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