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Chris Hedges - I Don’t Believe in Atheists (merged)
Posted: 03 May 2008 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Hedges comments were so ham-fisted that I think he serves as his own worst enemy in getting his point across.

Here’s my interpretation of his comments:

1. To ascribe human foibles to religion is to forget those foibles are common to all humans and that we all therefore have the capacity to mess up in a huge way and still find a way to justify it.
2. To idolize atheism as an escape from human foibles thus deviates from logic.
3. The use of the word “Islam” or “Islamic” to describe a culture or nation is so inaccurate as to render such phrasing meaningless. We need to find a better way to describe the cultures & nations that we mean.
4. The idea that secularism necessarily promotes improved human rights is too idealistic, and thus taints a secularists view of the evidence in the same way that fundamentalist religious believers are tainted in their view of the evidence.
5. Some of the Atheists in the news are promoting the same policies as Neo-Con politicians, and to use an atheistic world view to justify those ideas is every bit as emblematic of dogmatism and intolerance as are the other justifications for Neo-Con military policies.

Many of these things I can agree with out of principle; I’ve often made the same points in other forums. However, when Hedges adopted an attack style drawing from his own personal credentials rather than the rationality of his argument, he left behind his opportunity to educate the public. Even if he didn’t like DJ’s questions, he should remember that DJ is not his audience. Again, he has been his own worst enemy.

(I’m new to the forum. And DJ: Good Interview.)

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Let’s count the number of times Chris Hedges told us that we should believe what he says because he lived in the middle east for twenty years and “knows it intimately.”  I was just waiting for this man to say that the presentation of reasons in discussion didn’t matter, and that we should all just shut up and respect his authority.  Typical, I think, of a human animal who believes that he acts on behalf of a god.

Let’s count the number of ad hominem attacks against “new atheists.”  Does he not need to qualify his criticisms?  He even links atheists with neo-con ideology.  big surprise  Last I checked it was an obvious fact that the neo-cons were overwhelmingly, if not rather exclusively, christian.

Chris Hedges’ ability to think and speak reasonably is clouded by his grudge against “atheism.”  And, frankly, he needs to take a deep look in the mirror when he makes accusations of cultural insensitivity about atheists.  He is the bigot.  He is the one who is intolerant.

DJ, you were quite a gentleman with this guy.

I say this as an atheist, borrowing the word from it’s bigoted usage on the title of his book.  But also as a person who agrees with virtually all of his views about what is wrong with the Iraq war.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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NH Baritone - 03 May 2008 07:59 AM

Hedges comments were so ham-fisted that I think he serves as his own worst enemy in getting his point across.

Here’s my interpretation of his comments:

1. To ascribe human foibles to religion is to forget those foibles are common to all humans and that we all therefore have the capacity to mess up in a huge way and still find a way to justify it.
2. To idolize atheism as an escape from human foibles thus deviates from logic.
3. The use of the word “Islam” or “Islamic” to describe a culture or nation is so inaccurate as to render such phrasing meaningless. We need to find a better way to describe the cultures & nations that we mean.
4. The idea that secularism necessarily promotes improved human rights is too idealistic, and thus taints a secularists view of the evidence in the same way that fundamentalist religious believers are tainted in their view of the evidence.
5. Some of the Atheists in the news are promoting the same policies as Neo-Con politicians, and to use an atheistic world view to justify those ideas is every bit as emblematic of dogmatism and intolerance as are the other justifications for Neo-Con military policies.

Many of these things I can agree with out of principle; I’ve often made the same points in other forums. However, when Hedges adopted an attack style drawing from his own personal credentials rather than the rationality of his argument, he left behind his opportunity to educate the public. Even if he didn’t like DJ’s questions, he should remember that DJ is not his audience. Again, he has been his own worst enemy.

(I’m new to the forum. And DJ: Good Interview.)

That was extremely well put.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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My impression, as it relates to Hedges podcast, is that Hitchens supports the Iraq War as a Crusade against Islamofascism.

That would be consistent with labeling Hitchens et al as “Fundamentalist Pseudo-religious-Atheist fanatics”.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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OhioDoc - 03 May 2008 08:06 AM

My impression, as it relates to Hedges podcast, is that Hitchens supports the Iraq War as a Crusade against Islamofascism.

That would be consistent with labeling Hitchens et al as “Fundamentalist Pseudo-religious-Atheist fanatics”.

The thing though, is that Hicthens does not relate this to his atheism.

He relates this to his larger political philosophy.

I would argue that for him to be a fundamentalist atheist in this regard, his atheism would have to motivate his support for the war, he does not link his atheism to his support for the war.

If someone who supports the war for reasons independent of their atheism is an atheist fundamentalist, then that would somehow make atheism something its not.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Why does he support the war, for Oil?

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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OhioDoc - 03 May 2008 08:06 AM

My impression, as it relates to Hedges podcast, is that Hitchens supports the Iraq War as a Crusade against Islamofascism.

I am against the war and have been from the beginning.  But is it really appropriate to label an attack on islamofascism as a crusade when it is not religiously fueled?  And are you denying that there is such a thing as islamofascism, or a fascism that is directly fueled by islamic belief?

OhioDoc - 03 May 2008 08:06 AM

That would be consistent with labeling Hitchens et al as “Fundamentalist Pseudo-religious-Atheist fanatics”.

Who is “et al?”

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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OhioDoc - 03 May 2008 08:11 AM

Why does he support the war, for Oil?

Who cares why.  What does this have to do with the topic?

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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OhioDoc - 03 May 2008 08:11 AM

Why does he support the war, for Oil?

I would hope not.

From what little I’ve heard of Hitchens war support, he feels that Hussein was Despot who needed to be overthrown.

I don’t agree, but I do recognize that he does not use his atheism as an argument for the support of the war.

I protested the war before its start.

I protested it in its first few years.

And I vote for candidates who promise to work for it to end.

But this has nothing to do with my atheism, and I accept that among freethinkers there will be differences of opinion on things like foreign policy.

Hitchens may be a neo-con, this is possible. But not as a result, or in relationship, to his atheism or atheist book.

Just as I am a liberal, which is not a result or in relationship to my atheist work. If so I would have a real hard time with all the Ron Paul people who are atheist activists.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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mindcore - 03 May 2008 08:02 AM
NH Baritone - 03 May 2008 07:59 AM

Hedges comments were so ham-fisted that I think he serves as his own worst enemy in getting his point across.

Here’s my interpretation of his comments:

1. To ascribe human foibles to religion is to forget those foibles are common to all humans and that we all therefore have the capacity to mess up in a huge way and still find a way to justify it.
2. To idolize atheism as an escape from human foibles thus deviates from logic.
3. The use of the word “Islam” or “Islamic” to describe a culture or nation is so inaccurate as to render such phrasing meaningless. We need to find a better way to describe the cultures & nations that we mean.
4. The idea that secularism necessarily promotes improved human rights is too idealistic, and thus taints a secularists view of the evidence in the same way that fundamentalist religious believers are tainted in their view of the evidence.
5. Some of the Atheists in the news are promoting the same policies as Neo-Con politicians, and to use an atheistic world view to justify those ideas is every bit as emblematic of dogmatism and intolerance as are the other justifications for Neo-Con military policies.

Many of these things I can agree with out of principle; I’ve often made the same points in other forums. However, when Hedges adopted an attack style drawing from his own personal credentials rather than the rationality of his argument, he left behind his opportunity to educate the public. Even if he didn’t like DJ’s questions, he should remember that DJ is not his audience. Again, he has been his own worst enemy.

(I’m new to the forum. And DJ: Good Interview.)

That was extremely well put.

Thank you!

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People often argue over the term “god” without defining it. It is almost as if they are using the same term to refer both to a penguin and to a quiche. While both may contain eggs, that’s hardly their most salient characteristic.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Sorry, but I had to turn off the interview about 10 minutes into it.  It was obvious that Hedges was being difficult and insulting and didn’t really wish to have an honest discussion.  So he is able to write-off Ayaan Hirsi Ali because he was a reporter for seven years in Middle Eastern countries?  And it’s funny how he insisted that DJ be so very specific about which Middle Eastern country he wanted to consider and he just couldn’t grapple with the concept of the “secular left” yet he has no problem lumping all these “New Atheist” authors into one category.  And the notion that “New Atheism” is pushing a neo-con agenda is just ridiculous.  My guess is that vast majority of atheists, including the “New Atheists” sit on the Liberal side of the political continuum and probably opposed Bush’s illegal invasion from the start.  Iraq wasn’t about religion, it was about control of resources.  If Hedges can’t even see this distinction, the why should I believe his new book is any better?

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Posted: 03 May 2008 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Note: I knew nothing of Hedges prior to this interview.

My notes from the interview are similar to those listed by NHB above. And like NHB, I agree with many of Hedges’ points. Unlike NHB, I don’t necessarily have a problem with someone drawing upon personal experiences if those experiences are as relevant as Hedges’ and they don’t insult my sense of reason or clash too badly with my own experiences.

Quite frankly, the responses thus far tend to support Hedges’ claim that atheists have adopted a fundamentalist attitude. I’m somewhat surprised by the emotion. Once I know more, then perhaps I’ll understand it. (Honestly, I’m here to learn - not force an opinion.)

Are there points made by Hedges that are particularly disagreeable? I see where some have issues regarding his debating style - or lack thereof - but that’s not what I’m after. IOW, where was Hedges wrong???

Just asking… confused

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Posted: 03 May 2008 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I don’t believe in Chris Hedges.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Pragmatic Naturalist - 03 May 2008 01:59 PM

I don’t believe in Chris Hedges.

I nearly fell of my chair on this one. That was great.

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Posted: 03 May 2008 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I was disappointed by this interview. Hedges was evasive and annoying at times and it seemed like little substantive exchange took place. It seems to me that he has a very distorted view of what Harris was actually claiming in The End of Faith. Though I think that Harris does paint a somewhat black and white cartoon caricature of religion, I would not go so far as to draw a parallel with racism. I tend to agree with people like Scott Atran that Islam is not as large a factor as one might suspect in the violence. Nonetheless, one cannot ignore the utterly violent and intolerant rhetoric in scriptures.

While Hedges points to the use of dehumanization as the main characteristic of fundamentalism, Harris would point to dogma.  Did Harris really advocate bombing the middle east? He did label pacifism as “flagrantly immoral.” I’ll have to skim back through my copy and look at the actual context of those statements.

The difference between the New Atheists and fundamentalists are that I fully expect the New Atheists to be able to change their mind based on evidence ... and I actually think Harris has softened and refined his view of religion a bit since writing that first book. I get the strong sense that Hedges has a postmodernist point of view in which there is no real progress moral or otherwise and that one system of belief is as good as any other. That’s not surprising given someone with a literary background having lived in one of the more violent and hopeless parts of the world. 

I’m glad DJ had him on the show. I only wish there are been more substance to the discussion.

Richard

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