Donald Hank
My challenge to Christopher Hitchens
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By Donald Hank
January 5, 2009

The article "How atheism is being sold to America" by David Kupelian, author of the best seller The Marketing of Evil, discusses how atheism is being sold by well-known atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, to name a few authors whose books have been hot items lately.

A quote from the article:

    .... Hitchens boasts in Vanity Fair that on his nationwide book tour he says to his audiences: "My challenge: Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever. I have since asked this question at every stop and haven't had a reply yet."

Not surprisingly, considering what the Bible says about atheists, Hitchens got it backwards by suggesting that ethical actions by non-believers might somehow disprove the existence of God — because the fact that non-believers imitate believers is hard evidence of what Paul wrote on the subject.

Hitchens chose to use the word "ethical" rather than "good," indicating he does not believe in good or evil. Actually, an atheist cannot believe in good vs evil because those are religious concepts, so if that is the case, he is at least being honest.

So first, let me remind you, Mr. Hitchens, that religion is not about ethics. It is about good and evil, and since you can't define that and could not believe in the concept, you are disqualified to challenge anyone to "name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever," because you don't define "ethical" the way we do. It is apples and oranges and is irrelevant.

Let's look at "ethics" as interpreted by your kind: Peter Singer, a professor of "bioethics" at Princeton, says it is ethical to kill infants after they are born if they have birth defects.

Obviously, ethics in the eyes of atheists has nothing to do with standard traditional ethics or morality and it is misleading for someone like you to use it in a comparison with religious people because it suggests we would accept such nebulous usage, which of course we would not. You are using words randomly, without definition, and even if you defined them, other "ethicists" would certainly eventually challenge your definition in favor of their own. But if, as it would seem by your sterile vocabulary, you are asking your audience to look at the world through an atheist's eyes, then anything can be defined as ethical, so your challenge is meaningless, like your word usage.

The real challenge is defining ethics in such a way that the definition sticks and can't be manipulated at the hands of evil people. You would no doubt say "define evil," and I would then say that evil is a concept intuitively grasped by common people but not understood by the far Left, and only rarely by atheists and humanists. Judging by your choice of the word "ethical," I suspect it is out of your reach.

When you don't believe in God, then all is in flux, eternally, and nothing could ever have a stable definition. That's why atheists like change, and it is why you endorsed Obama. Your definition of an ethical action today may not be the same as your definition tomorrow.

My challenge to Mr. Hitchens: First, define ethical, and then show how the fact that non-religious people can perform "ethical" actions, is evidence that God is irrelevant.

The fact that non-religious people also do good is in fact hard evidence of what Paul wrote about the heathen taking their cue from the very universe to see and understand God (Romans 1:18-20). You can ban the Bible but you can't ban the universe, and it will proclaim Him.

The fact that non-believers are less altruistic (e.g., give less to charities) is hard evidence that religion is a better source of goodness than atheism.

Thus people who advocate atheism are undermining the greatest source of good known to man. Hitler's strongest opponents were leaders of the Confessional Church and also a few courageous Catholics, some of whom were martyred for their stand.

Now, how does undermining the greatest source of good (or ethics) make people good (or ethical if you insist)?

Now it is clear that you refuse to use the word "good" and no doubt think that word is for the uneducated or superstitious.

If so, then in using the word "ethical" you are attempting to postulate an ethical society parallel to the good or godly society conceived of by ordinary people. But in that case, despite your great sophistry and excessive wordiness, you are in fact only imitating what godly people have already discovered 4,000 years ago.

Which leads to the question: If we religious folk are so inferior to you, why do you so slavishly imitate our concepts, while going to great pains to rename them? I therefore further challenge you to construct a philosophical system that does not use parallel terms like "ethical," in imitation of our term "good." Go find your own way. Cut the umbilical cord once and for all. Your writings indicate we are irrelevant in your eyes. Prove you believe that. End this slavish obsession with the religious people whose vocabulary you despise but whose lifestyle you emulate in order to assume a façade of decency.

I admit it troubles me greatly that the people you may influence to adopt your nihilist views may, like you, adopt a fluid definition of "ethics" (fashionably turning up their noses at the word "good") and wind up believing that foolish men can reinvent goodness and godliness simply by renaming them and replacing them with what we have always deemed as evil.

I note that one of the mantra of atheists today is the observation that religious fanatics sometimes kill people (you refer to Muslims but make an absurd leap of logic to include Christians as well, without any evidence to support that leap), and yet I tremble to think that some of your forebears and partakers in your worldview are: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, to name but a few, whose salient contribution to mankind so far has been over 100 million innocent lives sacrificed at the altar of sophisticated atheistic constructs remarkably like yours — a number that far exceeds the number of casualties to any other ideology or religion. A number that could be ignored only through the most fanatically dedicated hatred of God and of all things decent and good. I tremble at the thought that perhaps you attribute to these infamous killers a kind of "ethical" justification of your own design. After all, nothing stands in your way should you so choose. And I note that you do indeed side with the far Left.

Therefore, Mr. Hitchens, here is my most important challenge for you: distinguish yourself, if you can, from these your fellow atheists who killed a record number of innocents. You trumpet the fact that no one ever rose to your childish challenge, predicated on the laughable assumption that completely undefined "ethical actions" performed by non-believers are somehow proof that God is irrelevant, and that the "ethics" of an atheist could be morally equivalent to the goodness of a godly person.

I have now responded.

Now, accept my challenge, which trumps yours. Show me that your definition of "ethics," or your worldview, is substantially different from that of the above cited bloody butchers. I daresay you cannot and I predict that you will pass on trying to respond.

Finally, Mr. Hitchens, in the name of all that is good and holy, I challenge you to wake up and abandon your senseless pursuit of evil!

The secular humanistic gods of your own making may be winking at your artful sophistry. The One that made you is not amused.

© Donald Hank

 

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Donald Hank

Until July of 2009, Don Hank was operating a technical translation agency out of his home in Wrightsville, PA. He is now retired and residing in Panama with his wife and daughter.

A former language teacher, he holds an undergraduate degree in French and German from Millersville State University (PA), a Master's degree in Russian language and literature from Kutztown State College (also in PA), has studied Chinese for 3 years in Taiwan at the Mandarin Training Center, and is self-taught in other languages, having logged a total of 8 years abroad in total immersion situations.

He is also the founder of Lancaster-York Non-Custodial Parents, a volunteer organization that provides Christian counseling for non-custodial parents.

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