Richard Dawkins & Christopher Hitchens – cranky, bitchy atheists



Richard Dawkins must have gotten the shit kicked out of him as a kid. Because now, 60 years later, he’s coming out strong and hard against the religious, and he’s not taking bullshit from anybody.

I mean, I am an atheist(I’m Jewish now, but certainly not anti-atheist). I can easily understand the frustration he feels at religious people’s reliance on equal parts faith, deliberate suspension of reason, and sheer stupidity to maintain their beliefs. But he’s not winning any converts. I’d suspect most readers of his best-seller, The God Delusion, are already atheists.

And those few bible-beaters who read it (or at least buy it and flip through it) will just read it as an attack on their belief system. Remember, despite comprising about 75% of the country and completely dominating political discourse, Christians absolutely love portraying themselves as victims (martyrdom is such an important part of the Christian belief system). They really don’t need yet another reason to feel like an aggrieved minority when they’re clearly not.

At any rate, I cringed when I saw Dawkins squealing at that smarmy closet case and drug addict, Ted Haggard. How exactly did he expect Haggard to react? Did he expect an honest response from someone so deeply invested in a long string of myths?

Upton Sinclair said it’s difficult to get someone to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.

Listening to Haggard, it’s obvious within seconds that he’s no intellectual giant. Posing polite but probing questions would have been enough to expose Haggard as a fraud to all but the most gullible.

Instead, Hawkins fell into that common British passive-aggressive trap, and began to snap at him testily after a string of flatteries. Was that really necessary? Do you bother getting in screaming matches with the homeless guy on the street corner that’s convinced you’re the ghost of Elvis?

Come on.

Similarly, Christopher Hitchens muddles his basic message that Jerry Falwell was a corrupt, completely disingenuous person, by calling Falwell “such a little toad”, “an evil old man”, and basically, an illiterate (among many other things). Saying that he couldn’t care less if Falwell’s family’s feelings were hurt by his harsh critique makes him sound an awful lot like…well, an evil old man. Petulantly steamrolling over Anderson Cooper and Alan Colmes, arguably sympathetic figures, doesn’t help strengthen his arguments either.

“How religion poisons everything”? Assholes poison everything. And yes, a lot of them, from Osama bin Laden to Jerry Falwell, face far less criticism than they deserve because people think they’re offending the religion and all their coreligionists if they call these guys what they are. But the point still is that a religion is just a bunch of stories until an asshole imbues them with hatred, destructive thinking and backwardness.

I mean, I understand these guys have books to sell, and I’m sure they’re worth buying and reading (I’ve read about half of The God Delusion, and found it somewhat well-reasoned and it gave me an occasional chuckle). And I know a little controversy will get you the bookings to engage on news channel talk shows that help drive up book sales.

Call me old-fashioned, though. I still think you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And there might be far more honey-loving flies out there than either might think.

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15 Comments »

  1. Great summary discussing Christopher Hitchens – cranky, bitchy atheists! Always love this point of view.

    Comment by Bulletin News — November 12, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by JM — November 13, 2007 @ 12:33 am

  3. […] this guy, who thinks Dawkins and Hitchens are cranky […]

    Pingback by Pablo Picasso Was Never Called An Asshole « Richard Dawkins is a Douchebag — May 5, 2008 @ 7:31 am

  4. Nice! I think you capture pretty well what is so irritating about both DAwkins and Hitchens.

    I mention your post on my blog:

    http://dawkinsdouche.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/pablo-picasso-was-never-called-an-asshole/

    Comment by catlebrity — May 5, 2008 @ 8:01 am

  5. While I can see your point, I would like to point out that he is converting some people. I am one of them.

    Comment by Mark — June 7, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

  6. Hitchens is not do bad, but Dawkins is a vicious, ignorant asshole, and I say that as a fellow atheist who hates his kind of hateful ashiest douchebag

    Comment by Amos — December 21, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

  7. I’ve met a few of the “professional atheists” when I went to those seminars and whatnot, (I was an atheist, but, meh, not anymore, more like a theist). But yeah, I have more important things to worry about Dawkins is a douche. Hitchens was a retard (He’s not so bad anymore now that he doesn’t drink as much). And Dennet… okay, I met Dennet before and he’s actually a nice guy, but his work is lame. But I brought Dennet up. Anyways, I agree 100%, Dawkins makes atheists look bad.

    Comment by Edison Grimwald — November 16, 2009 @ 1:53 am

  8. Amos, I think you got Hitchens and Dawkins switched. Dawkins actually presents intellectual arguments, whereas Hitchens’ arguments are usually a variation of the form: “God is mean.”

    Comment by Mike — December 17, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  9. yeah, i heard a quote from Douglas Wilson, who debated Hitchens (and was so nice and laid-back, Hitchens again came off as a cranky bitch).

    “There are are two basic tenets to Atheism: 1. there is no God. 2. i hate Him.” 😛

    dawkins and hitchens are definitely two to whom that quote applies. all i keep thinking is that dawkins’ sunday school teacher must have humiliated him when he was like, 7 years old, and he’s never gotten over it.

    i’ve had negative experiences at churches and with Christians, but you know what, i agree, the world is poisoned by assholes, not religion.

    Comment by esther — March 14, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  10. Atheists – ALL atheists HAVE TO avoid the application of the strict rules of logic and the demands of facts in ALL their arguments to appear even minimally credible. After all what is Atheism arguing for but the absurdity that EFFECTS can manifest – WITHOUT CAUSES! All you have to do is wait long enough! Or, in a different version, they think that the ridiculous of “cyclic causation” – such as Hawking’s idea of a universe which “creates itself from nothing” is a viable explanation for how things fundamentally come to be and continue to exist.

    These are such absurd and utterly dense ideas that only the most strenuous efforts at mental contortion-ism and gymnastics can succeed in disguising – at least partially – their utter vacuity as a logical premises. Unless it is intellectual and moral depravity that leads one to believe such notions make eminent sense.

    Atheism is defeated – and EASILY defeated with simple commonsense! Insist on commonsense in ANY debate with atheists and you will EASILY put them to the sword intellectually. Concede even the slightest ground to them – such as like tolerating the idiotic concept of “Chance” as a genuine causal agent and you will have them buzzing incessantly around you like invisible and invulnerable mosquitoes.

    Comment by Zaki Aminu — April 30, 2011 @ 4:11 am

  11. 1. The idea that quantum mechanics proves free will is erroneous unless by free will one mean statistical probability. This reduces free will to a metaphorical roll of the dice. One can presuppose that quantum mechanics supports free will, but only on the assumption that “minds” exists, but this is also in question. Zaki must sneak something into his premises which he is yet prove. Zaki’s argument is thus completely circular.
    Quantum mechanics proves free will because minds exists that implement quantum principles according to free will.
    2. Zaki tries to explain one mystery (conscious states) by an appeal to another mystery (the underlying mechanisms of quantum mechanics. Zaki’s metaphysics goes beyond what is justifiable from an empirical standpoint.
    3. Neuro-biology shows that consciousness cannot be anything like the traditional conception of a mind that is unitary and independent of the body. Whatever consciousness is, it requires a complex neural-chemical system to exist (as far as we know) and is affected directly by the chemistry of the brain. Various elements of consciousness can be lost by damage to the brain, and consciousness can be “split” as demonstrated by experiments involving patients whose corpus callosum has been dissected. Thus, there is nothing like a mind that is both both unitary in nature and exists independent of the brain
    4. Zaki uses vague terms like “probability.” It is never clear if he means empirical probability or logical probability.
    5. Zaki uses arbitrary arguments like anything does not display harmony is a “deviation” from God’s plan. Some of the most non-harmonious things in the universe (exploding stars) lead to incredibly complex phenomena (new solar systems).
    6. Zaki’s understanding of biology is extremely primitive. Biology is complex chemistry! At least this is what biology has demonstrated (DNA, a real chemical composition, not the totally inexplicable “life force”) Apparently Zaki wants to ignore the last sixty years of biology.
    7. Zaki appeals to the law of cause and effect as it applies to the universe and claims there must be a First Cause, i.e. his version of God. But why his God? And why should God not have a cause, etc. without special pleading. If God just is the First Cause, one could assume the same for any other host of ontological entities. Since there is not empirical tests between these various entities (unless Zaki can show us what could possibly give empirical verification to his theory and how his theory could give us new information about the universe, then we are just playing an empty game of words) The best scientists can tell us is that the Big Bang occurred, and why it occurred is beyond human knowledge until experiment and evidence can be brought into play. Otherwise a whole host of possible explanations exists that are just as possible (or impossible) as Zaki’s explanation. (Zaki’s claim that Hawkins explanation is “cyclic causation” could apply to Zaki’s explanation. Zaki has to put his First Cause apart from the universe itself and make his god subject to different rules-a being who causes but is not caused—At least Hawkins ideas are tied to a theory that is being developed mathematically and may someday be subject to empirical verification. ) When asked what brought about the universe, the scientist’s best and intellectually honest response is that he doesn’t know. This is exactly how one should respond when one doesn’t know; not just make up stuff that fits your own presuppositions. This is what Zaki does. He reads his ideas into science and philosophy and draws the conclusions he wants while ignoring the science that does not confirm his own pressupositions. This is intellectually dishonest. Science has developed over centuries by constantly questioning basic presuppositions. It will continue to evolve because it demands evidence for its claims.
    8. Zaki’s vengeful, monstrous and comical God makes the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli look like a pussy cat.
    9. Zaki doesn’t understand that a truism can be meaningless. Truism by its nature is something so obvious that it barely needs to be expressed. Zaki = Zaki. This is true but meaningless especially if I don’t know the meaning of the terms, because this true statement has provided no knowledge new knowledge about the world.
    10. Metaphysics is fun! It’s fun to speculate, but to pretend that metaphysics gives us absolute knowledge is to return to the days when philosophy went on language holidays and philosophers generated philosophical systems like artists created paintings. This is the value of Hume and Kant (as well as the latter Wittgenstein). They demonstrated the difficulties of philosophical systems in giving us true knowledge. Zaki ignores Hume and Kant at his peril.
    11. Science, in spite of all its explanatory power and ability to generate wonderful technology that improves the lives of billions, constantly changes. Science is tested, peer reviewed, and constantly revised. Perhaps what we believe today will be disproved tomorrow! Socrates said that he was wiser than anyone because he knew that he didn’t know. Zaki confuses skepticism against his ideas as dogmatism. Skepticism makes us humble. Zaki could use some humility.

    Comment by Zaki II — February 27, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  12. TO POINT NUMBER 7 RIGHT ABOVE
    This comback really serves to show how incredibly biased you actually have to be, because its so confused it doesnt even comprehend the meaning of God.

    This isnt a space time, cause and effect, analogy. This isnt like someone LOOKING FOR THE ORIGIN OF A TOASTER–a toaster is a spacetime object that must have a cause. We are looking for very Origin of spacetime existence. God is the origin of EVERYTHING in the spacetime, cause and effect universe. So this is soooo missing the point and so devoid of logic I almost find myself embarrassed for you that I have to explain this.

    One of the very definitions of God is he is self existent. He is not IN space or Time. The only possible answer to why there is something instead of nothing in a cause and effect universe HAS to be someone who is self existent..hello? So talk about being dishonest?–It is painfully obvious to even atheist physicists now that the creation is too designed, as so improbable they have introduced infinite universes. So we not just looking for a cause of a blob of vomit–which demands a mouth to be projected from. We need the cause of this insanely awesome, intricately designed universe.
    God’s very definition is the ANSWER to the impossibility. Reasoning the ANSWER, God, makes it even more impossible when it solves it –is Not reasoning…its bias destroying logic.

    Science is just your excuse. Your so lost in your own worldview you cant even understand the difference between Mechanism and Agency. Nowhere does it occur to you that understanding *How things work doesnt explain who designed them or why they are there in the first place? You cant be that dense. I took apart my computer and realized its just parts working together to put a picture on the screen–so my conclusion is it created itself?

    The problem for many is the outcome, in your minds it dooms you into paying for all the mocking you have done to God and those who follow him. I understand, its a powerful incentive—but just for a moment consider you have nothing to lose–no stakes whatsoever. Be completely objective and disconnected to the question and think through it logically and you’ll see why all your points are wish making and not logic based. You guys practice the exact opposite of what your claiming. You dont want to turn to God–fine. But your reasons are better than the drug addicts, the porn fiends, the mass murders, and the all the rest who dont want a boss. You’ll accept a trillion to the trillionth power improbability–so lets not pretend your using science for anything but an excuse.

    Comment by James — March 9, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  13. One of the very definitions of God is he is self existent.

    I agree that this is your definition of God. OK. One could argue that the universe itself is self existent. I would not claim the we know if either God or the universe is self existent

    He is not IN space or Time. The only possible answer to why there is something instead of nothing in a cause and effect universe HAS to be someone who is self existent..hello?

    Why. “The only possible…” This is just special pleading. An argument from ignorance proves nothing. We dfo not know, nor may we ever know the the origin of the univers. Just saying that he has to be God proves nothing.

    So talk about being dishonest?–It is painfully obvious to even atheist physicists now that the creation is too designed, as so improbable they have introduced infinite universes. So we not just looking for a cause of a blob of vomit–which demands a mouth to be projected from. We need the cause of this insanely awesome, intricately designed universe.

    The problem is your highly selective perspective on the universe. You forget to mention that in addition to “insanely awesome, intricately designed universe,” we also have a universe that is full of black holes, imploding stars, inertia, entropy, cancer, mass extinctions, pain, suffering, etc . Is this evidence of your God. At most your arguments could ever show is that there is a “first cause” of some sort. So what? This tells us nothing of the nature of that first cause and why we should refer to this 1st cause as a diety,

    God’s very definition is the ANSWER to the impossibility. Reasoning the ANSWER, God, makes it even more impossible when it solves it –is Not reasoning…its bias destroying logic.

    Science is just your excuse. Your so lost in your own worldview you cant even understand the difference between Mechanism and Agency. Nowhere does it occur to you that understanding *How things work doesnt explain who designed them or why they are there in the first place? You cant be that dense. I took apart my computer and realized its just parts working together to put a picture on the screen–so my conclusion is it created itself?

    Scince is not a religion or dogma. As Science is method by which people gather evidence and come to conclusion based on this evidence. scientific knowledge grows, science changes and previously held beliefs are discarded. Reigion starts with its conclusions and then seeks to fit the facts into the conclusions it already

    The problem for many is the outcome, in your minds it dooms you into paying for all the mocking you have done to God and those who follow him. I understand, its a powerful incentive—but just for a moment consider you have nothing to lose–no stakes whatsoever. Be completely objective and disconnected to the question and think through it logically and you’ll see why all your points are wish making and not logic based. You guys practice the exact opposite of what your claiming. You dont want to turn to God–fine. But your reasons are better than the drug addicts, the porn fiends, the mass murders, and the all the rest who dont want a boss. You’ll accept a trillion to the trillionth power improbability–so lets not pretend your using science for anything but an excuse.

    Finally, I doubt that you are anything like the utterly despicable Zaki who believes that God is going to burn eternally all those who disagree with him. I bet you are a nice guyt who cares about my soul. I don’t doubt the existence of your God because I want to believe the universe is cold and without purpose. I believe this is what the evidence shows; the universe was not created for humanity. If you can show me evidence to the contrary.

    Comment by Zaki II — September 28, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  14. Both ,richard dawkins and the late christopher hitchens are sophisticated ,candid ,overwhelmingly knowledgable individuals,and you know what makes me burst laughing is that most of you here who are trying to bash these two gentle men are oissed off religious narrow minded ,who have nothing but your barbaric bestial holy books to cling to. .its better to accept your bigotry and flaws which are deeply rooted in your obsolete ,brutal middle aged religions .strip away the irrational the ilogical and the nonsenses of your religion as i did more than a decade ago by leaving my barbaric religion islam ,and grasp the power of reason ,science ,morality and evidence based facts and theiries ,just dispel the myths ,superstitions,groundless medieval so called holy books
    Dawkins and hitchens merit the title of two of most sophisticated ,illuminating and enlightening characters of our age
    Long live their legacy

    Comment by Sam — May 17, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  15. Sam your statement above, in context, is the same thing you were just criticizing. You display bigotry with what you post, not to mention your spelling is clearly bringing out how “logical and reasonable” you are. Religion has faults, just as Hitchens’ & Dawkins’ argument does. Sadly hatred & non-tolerance is displayed on both sides.

    Comment by Alec — May 24, 2013 @ 2:45 am

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