Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:37 am





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Ch. 19: In Conclusion: The Need for a New Enlightenment 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16279
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3549
Thanked: 1357 times in 1068 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Ch. 19: In Conclusion: The Need for a New Enlightenment
God is Not Great

Ch. 19: In Conclusion: The Need for a New Enlightenment

[hr][hr]



Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:40 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6594
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1985
Thanked: 2207 times in 1668 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
I'll just give a few passages from this short, final chapter--since I admire Hitchens' writing--and ask for any concluding comments anyone might have about the book.


"Religion has run out of justifications. Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, it no longer offeres explanations to anything important" (p. 282).

"Meanwhile, confronted with undreamed-of vistas inside our own evloving cortex, in the farthest reaches of the known universe, and in the proteins and acids which constitute our nature, religion offers either annihilation in the name of god, or else the false promise that if we take a knife to our foreskins, or pray in the right direction, or ingest pieces of wafer, we shall be 'saved.' It is as if someone, offered a delicious and fragrant out-of-season fruit, matured in a painstakingly and lovingly designed hothouse, should throw away the flesh and the pulp and gnaw moodily on the pit" (p. 283).

"Above all, we are in need of a new Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a fiew gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by easy electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone" (p.283.



Tue May 05, 2009 8:58 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5908
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2368
Thanked: 2286 times in 1724 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
DWill wrote:
I'll just give a few passages from this short, final chapter--since I admire Hitchens' writing--and ask for any concluding comments anyone might have about the book.
Thanks for these well chosen quotes Bill, they well encapsulate key messages of the philosophy of GING, if I can call it that (not making CH a GINGist tho, he might not like the allusion to the horde...).
Quote:
"Religion has run out of justifications. Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, it no longer offers explanations to anything important" (p. 282).
This is simply false, and shows that Hitchens resolutely refuses to see the good message within Christianity because of the power of its evil message. The story of the gospel is an archetype for the question, ‘if a perfect man lived, how would he behave?’ Jesus Christ gives a model for the confrontation between the sense of eternal divine law and human institutions. Finding this message requires a deconstruction of Biblical doctrine, and seems impossible while it is imbedded in the false teachings such as the virgin birth and creationism. Yet Jesus himself indicated, in the parable of the wheat and tares, that such an effort to distinguish between true and false is a distinguishing mark of salvation. The telescope and microscope can help us to accumulate facts, but cannot determine our choice of values. Science should inform our values, but does not come ready made with a narrative of how we should live, a story for which for better or worse people must still look to mythic sources. Hitchens here is showing his mythic prejudice, with the telescope and microscope standing as talismans for the Scientific Enlightenment, a method – and cultural context - that is far from objective regarding moral judgement. It presents the dubious worldview of logical positivism – that there is no meaning outside science – as absolute and objective. Religion does offer important insights into psychology, politics, mythology and history. Discussion should be more about re-basing these insights in a scientific framework, not deprecating their potential to provide explanations.
Quote:

"Meanwhile, confronted with undreamed-of vistas inside our own evolving cortex, in the farthest reaches of the known universe, and in the proteins and acids which constitute our nature, religion offers either annihilation in the name of god, or else the false promise that if we take a knife to our foreskins, or pray in the right direction, or ingest pieces of wafer, we shall be 'saved.' It is as if someone, offered a delicious and fragrant out-of-season fruit, matured in a painstakingly and lovingly designed hothouse, should throw away the flesh and the pulp and gnaw moodily on the pit" (p. 283).
Here, at his rhetorical best, Hitchens ignores the entire Protestant debate regarding salvation by faith. Yes, his criticism of salvation by works is a reasonable critique of popular folk superstition, but the point of religious practices is not that they save us from damnation, but that they are community rituals which can point us towards a deeper understanding. Some rituals are obsolete, especially regarding physical mutilation, but prayer and sacraments can still offer entry points to a useful dialogue about the meaning of faith. Similarly, the idea that religions offer annihilation is based on a misreading of the Bible. Yes, there is strong apocalyptic language in the Christian creed, but the core message is one of planetary transformation, not total destruction.
Quote:
"Above all, we are in need of a new Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by easy electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone" (p.283.
The ‘corrupt and confected’ sacred texts are themselves central pieces of poetic literature, and themselves contain useful ethical questions and intrinsic merit despite their faults. Yes it is true that treating the Bible as literature does depose fundamentalist interpretations, but it does not ‘depose scrutiny of sacred texts’. Hitchens himself offers some real scrutiny of the Bible in ways that are very informative.

His aim to attempt the divorce between ‘the sexual life’ and ‘fear, disease and tyranny’ seems simply impossible and utopian in a world where sexually transmitted diseases are rampant. Underlying this image seems to be a utilitarian philosophy which places gratification of sensual desire as the highest good. Placing this image of sexual pleasure as an ideal consequence of ‘unfettered scientific inquiry’ seems slightly disengaged from the real big moral questions of poverty, war and climate. To ‘banish all religions from the discourse’ neglects the fact that religions inevitably will intrude into this discussion through their massive captive audiences before the weekly sermon. Much better to enter into dialogue with religion, aiming to change its false beliefs, while recognising the value of its traditions as reference points for social change.



Tue May 05, 2009 5:01 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6594
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1985
Thanked: 2207 times in 1668 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Thanks for that thoughtful reply, Robert. My feeling, as I've said, is that your disagreement with Hitchens is actually not quite as sharp as you are making it out to be. This is because when CH uses the word "religion," he almost always uses it to point out faults in religion that you (and DH) seem to acknowledge, too. Allow me to try to capture the essence of the fault line, as I've viewed it over the past weeks: You and Hitchens are not that far apart on what has been wrong with religion historically. For Hitchens, though, the record of religion's shortcomings (and, indeed, crimes) is a deal breaker, as far as an important role for religion today. He is glad that religion is becoming less able to or interested in doing harm, but also considers it marginalized. Faith is private and optional now. This doesn't imply that he judges ill of those who still want to be involved in this kinder, gentler religion, only that the reign of religion is over.

You apparently feel that with religion at last beginning to shed its superstitious and totalitarian trappings, it is now ready to assume a vital role in the world, to at last fulfill its promise.

You passionately convey the personal meanings you find in Christianity. For me, you exemplify the private faith that Hitchens is talking about. But you also insist that these are more than personal, and should form the basis of a world-altering neo-Christianity. That is going to be difficult, translating your personal vision to the level of general acceptance.



Tue May 05, 2009 7:46 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Announcements 

• Promote Your FICTION Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:33 pm

• Promote Your NON-FICTION Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:18 pm



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank