Christopher Hitchens

Fact about the Religious Beliefs of Christopher Hitchens


Criticizes Mormons

Criticizes Religion

15 Jul 2007

In an interview with The Atlantic

I think we can say with reasonable certainty that there is no God because all the hypotheses for it have been exploded or abandoned. [...] Well, I’ll put it this way: you can certainly say belief in God makes people behave worse. That can be proved beyond a doubt. Whether it makes them behave better or not, I don’t think is so easy to prove. Because you can’t be certain that their belief is what made them dive in front of a truck to save a child’s life. They might say, “I did it for Jesus,” but they might have done it anyway. [...] I know people who do that. I’ve been to Uganda and to North Korea and to Eritrea, countless horror spots around the world. Everywhere you go, you meet volunteers who are giving up their lives for other people. Most of them are secular. I don’t think that proves anything about secularism. But the ordinary action of helping a fellow creature in distress doesn’t require faith at all. It just doesn’t. [...] Sure. Those people meet my qualifications. They make it a private belief. The place for religion is in the mind, within the individual. If they insist, it’s within the family, as long as they don’t abuse the children. There are lines they shouldn’t cross: no genital mutilation of people who aren’t qualified to sign an elective surgery form. No, not once, not ever. Preferably, no teaching about hell, I think. But you probably can’t stop people from doing that. No denial of medical care on superstitious grounds. Straight to jail for that. No marrying off your daughters to distant relatives, or not so distant, like the Mormons do. [...] Look, religion was our first attempt at philosophy. It was the first and the worst, but it’s still part of our history and tradition. As it is, children don’t know where anything comes from—they don’t know the literary canon or the historical record. So I think to be religiously literate is very important.

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Charlie Latham


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