In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
All cultures have anthropomorphized their gods into humanoid (if sometimes grotesque) form. Were the Jews the exception? Hardly. We know precisely what the Hebrew god looked like. We are, after all, fashioned in his own likeness. He was a man, no doubt looking remarkably like the bearded sage asking us to worship him. He has body parts: eyes and a face (‘they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes’ – Jeremiah 16.17); nose and a mouth (Psalms 18.8); lips, tongue and breath (Isaiah 30.27,33); loins (Ezekiel 1.27); even ‘back parts’ (Exodus 33.23). He also has several ‘human’ emotions, manly appetites, and a worrying disposition towards pathological violence.
Yahweh feels regret for his own evil (‘And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.’ - Jonah 3.10); and grief (at the wickedness of men) (‘and it grieved him at his heart’ - (Genesis 6.6). He actually gets down and wrestles with Jacob, dislocating his thigh (Genesis 32.24). He forgets (he goes on calling Jacob ‘Jacob’ even after re-naming him ‘Israel’ - Genesis 35.10, 46.2). He practises favouritism (choosing the Israelites ‘above all people’ - Exodus 19.5; but he just does not like Cain or Esau!). He holds grudges (‘I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation’ – Exodus 20.5).
For an omniscient god he is surprisingly unknowing (‘They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.’ – Hosea 8.4). And for an omnipotent god he has his limitations (‘The Lord was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots of iron.’ - Judges 1.19).
And after his creation of the world, he even has to rest from his labour (‘And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work’ - Genesis 2.2) – to the endless bemusement of pagan critics, whose own gods didn’t need to rest!
Christopher Hitchens, The Intelligence Squared Debate: Would We be Better off Without Religion? (via cocknbull)
Thank you Christopher, for composing this argument. And thank you CocknBull for bringing it to my dash. I’ve been hoping to find this laid out ever since hearing Hitch elude to it in debate.
Aldous Huxley - English novelist (Brave New World, Eyeless in Gaza, Crome Yellow), poet, and essayist. Huxley was a humanist and pacifistic with interests in parapsychology and mysticism. Posthumously a guru to hippies through his book The Doors of Perception, which described his experiences with mescaline and LSD. (via helvetebrann)