Christopher Hitchens on the Unalterable Celestial Dictatorship of God

I'm no fan of Christopher Hitchens. Actually, I find him an almost entirely disagreeable figure. But I have to give him points for creativity. Interviewed last week (MP3 - iTunes - Feed), Hitchens, the author of the recent bestseller God Is Not Great, gave his spiel on atheism and offered a unique argument against God. Not against God's existence. But against God itself.

For Hitchens, if there existed a God who answered prayers and intervened in human affairs, "we would be living under an unalterable celestial dictatorship that could read our thoughts while we were asleep and convict us of thought crime and pursue us after we after are dead, and in the name of which priesthoods and other oligarchies and hierarchies would be set up to enforce God's law." Essentially, we'd be living in a supernatural Orwellian world.

In a quick couple sentences, the theoretical virtues of an all-knowing God get turned into a vice. It's a creative and provocative remark, just the kind that sells books in America. Many, many books, in fact.

This bit appears about 41 minutes into his interview. During the rest of the conversation, Hitchens continues justifying his support for the Iraq war and offers his thoughts on who killed Benazir Bhutto. If you want more Hitchens, and if you want to hear Hitchens behaving particularly badly, you can always listen to this other interview from last year.

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  • Hitchens is such a pain in the butt.

    It’s not that there are not good arguments against religion, and it’s certainly not that all relgiion is good.

    But how a man that smart ends up being such a twit when it comes to this is beyond me. He always ends up sounding like a shrill jr. high atheist all pissed at the world.

    Despite what Harris and he may believe, there are many types of religions in the world – and many of them don’t conceive of a god that behaves anything like that.

    What a schmuck.

  • Jon Reiland says:

    I think Hitchens has a very good point and makes his arguement very clearly. He is not attacking the more moderate religions like Buddhism and Hinduism but the major monotheisms like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
    Although Hitchens can come across as very negative, I think his negativity toward religion is well deserved and needed in discussing the major monotheisms.

  • James Harbour says:

    I think Hitchens is smarter than both the people who commented here. Positivity does not make your argument correct. Could you imagine a cheerful Jew walking into a gas chamber? Maybe if you realize how tormenting it is for us atheists to hear constantly about peoples’ imaginary friends and everything they demand of us – you’d be a little more cynical too.

    Obviously you’ve never read the Bible, because Hitchens is being particularly generous towards God considering that fact by simply calling him a Stalinist Dictator.

  • Miina Kenttä says:

    I’d say positive, or should I say spineless, arguments would go unheard and are actually more dull. Hitchens says (or used to) what he thinks and does it eloquently.

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