(Investigator 129, 2009 November)


Christopher Hitchens has defined countless people as stupid, guilty, and evil although many are highly educated and have committed no crime.

In his book God is Not Great (2007) Hitchens argues that religion "poisons everything", and to make this case he catalogues crimes and stupidities of people professing to follow a religion.

The world has thousands of Christian ministries that heal, educate, fight poverty, and improve living standards. I have mentioned a few such ministries (#118 pp 43-44, #126 p. 64, and #128 p. 6) but Hitchens mentions none of them.

Hitchens' cataloguing game can be played using any category of people one chooses such as students, TV viewers, scientists, females, politicians, doctors, car drivers, psychologists, etc and then catalogue all the bad and ignore all the good of that group.

Take students. We can catalogue shootings in schools, violence in schools, and youth crime outside of schools. We can catalogue silly beliefs of students, silly actions, and conflicts with parents from ancient times to now. We can catalogue adult crimes of former students.

We then conclude: "Students, studies and schools poison everything."

Subject to context this method of judging and assessing is variously called "prejudice", "racism", "tarnish with the same brush", "bigotry", "false generalization", etc.   

Some of Hitchens' aspersions and attacks focus directly on the Bible. For example he calls circumcision "sexual mutilation" and "hideous procedure" and mentions "boy babies who died".

Someone has argued that simply eating food can kill by choking or poisoning, but if we try to save lives by stopping everyone from eating we’d all die. What is needed, therefore, when evaluating a [medical] procedure, is not horror stories based on rare occurrences but statistics for and against.

The Bible repeatedly states that its ethics are meant to promote life and health and recent research in Africa suggests that circumcision is saving and could save millions of people from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Circumcision reduces the risk of catching HIV 50%, herpes 25% and human papilloma virus 35%.

(The New England Journal of Medicine Volume 360, p. 1298;
Siegfried, N et al, www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003362.html)

Hitchens' book is crammed with titillating facts but his overall thesis is nonsense because his [cataloguing] procedure can be used to demonize any category of people whatsoever.

Hundreds of articles about the Bible: