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 (MP3iTunesFeed), 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.

And don’t for­get to check out our large col­lec­tion of Ideas & Cul­ture Pod­casts.


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Comments (3)
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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.

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