Uploaded by pangeaprogress on Mar 14, 2009
"In a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. The divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity."
Christopher Hitchens wields the hammer of reason on the glass house of religious dogma. One of Hitchens most basic yet devastating critiques of religion.
"...the final insult that relgion does to our system:
It appeals both to our meanness, our self-centeredness, our solipsism, and to our masochism. In other words, its sadomasochistic. Put it like this, your a clot of blood, your a piece of mud, your lucky to be alive, God fashioned you for his convenience and then your born in filth and sin. And even though every religion thats principially ever been, says we should be disgusted by our own sexuality (name me a religion that does not play on that fact). So your lucky to be here, originally sinful, covered in shame and filth as you are, your a wretched creature, BUT, take heart, the universe is designed with you in mind. And heaven has a plan for you.
Ladies and gentleman, I close by saying, I can't believe there is a thinking person here, who does not realize, that our species would begin to grow to something like its full height if it left it's childishness behind. If it emancipated itself from this sinister, childish nonsense. "
Gradually by the course of evolution, it developed into animals and plants and at last into MAN. Man, so the theologians assure us, is so splendid a Being that he may well be regarded as the culmination to which the long ages of nebula and slime were a prelude. I think the theologians must have been fortunate in their human contacts. They do not seem to me to have given due weight to Hitler or the Beast of Belsen.[iii] If Omnipotence, with all time at its disposal, thought it worth while to lead up to these men through the many millions of years of evolution, I can only say that the moral and aesthetic taste involved is peculiar. However, the theologians no doubt hope that the future course of evolution will produce more men like themselves and fewer men like Hitler. Let us hope so. But, in cherishing this hope, we are abandoning the ground of experience and taking refuge in an optimism which history so far does not support.
There are other objections to this evolutionary optimism. There is every reason to believe that life on our planet will not continue forever so that any optimism based upon the course of terrestrial history must be temporary and limited in its purview. There may, of course, be life elsewhere but, if there is, we know nothing about it and have no reason to suppose that it bears more resemblance to the virtuous theologians than to Hitler. The earth is a very tiny corner of the universe. It is a little fragment of the solar system. The solar system is a little fragment of the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is a little fragment of the many millions of galaxies revealed by modern telescopes. In this little insignificant corner of the cosmos there is a brief interlude between two long lifeless
epochs. In this brief interlude, there is a much briefer one containing man. If really man is the purpose of the universe, the preface seems a little long. One is reminded of some prosy old gentleman who tells an interminable anecdote all quite uninteresting until the rather small point in which it ends. I do not think theologians show a suitable piety in making such a comparison possible.
It has been one of the defects of theologians at all times to over-estimate the importance of our planet. No doubt this was natural enough in the days before Copernicus when it was thought that the heavens revolve about the earth. But since Copernicus and still more since the modern exploration of distant regions, this pre-occupation with the earth has become rather parochial. If the universe had a Creator, it is hardly reasonable to suppose that He was specially interested in our little corner. And, if He was not, His values must have been different from ours, since in the immense majority of regions life is impossible.