The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cal Thomas and Christopher Hitchens' death

Yesterday there appeared a column in the Washington Examiner by Cal Thomas, on the death of Christopher Hitchens. The first words in this column were “Perhaps not since Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Carl Sagan has there been such an ‘evangelical’ atheist as Christopher Hitchens, the writer and social commentator who died last week after a long and public battle with esophageal cancer.” I suppose Thomas has not heard of Richard Dawkins, certainly at least as ‘evangelical’ an atheist as Hitchens. But the bigger problem I have with Thomas' column is that he seems to be trying to convince Hitchens, who is obviously incapable of reading Thomas' column.

It might make sense for Thomas to explain his beliefs, and why he holds them. Bur when he quotes Biblical passages as if they are likely to convince the atheists among us, he seems to be totally unaware of the unlikeliness that they will do so. For his column to contain statements like:

To object to God is to create morality from a Gallup Poll. In Gallup We Trust doesn't have the same authority.

Hitchens was a gifted writer, but who gave him the gift? Why was he not a gifted actor, surgeon or athlete? Why was he not talentless? Was it an evolutionary accident, which would mean his gift and his life were meaningless and merely a “chasing after the wind”? (See Ecclesiastes.) Apparently he thought so.

An atheist will tell you he doesn't need God in order to be good, or perform good works. Maybe not, but the very notion of “good” must have both a definition and a definer. “Only God is good,” said Jesus. (Mark 10:18)

clearly assumes that quotes from the Bible alone will convince someone. But an atheist like Hitchens clearly considers the Bible to be simply the work of men, with no more authority than “Das Kapital” or any other propaganda piece.

Now I write this as a believer in God, who however (as a Jew) rejects the Divine origin of such works as the Book of Mark, which Thomas quotes. (Ecclesiastes, of course, is a different story.) But I certainly cannot see a thing that Thomas says in his whole column that is likely to change the view of a convinced atheist. I am certain that Hitchens would maintain that his talent was “an evolutionary accident.”

No, I think that the world shows the hand of a Divine Guide. But I also believe that it is impossible, by any means I can imagine, to change the mind of someone who believes otherwise. So I will explain my beliefs, and my reasons for holding them, to anyone who inquires. But I cannot condemn those who come up with different ones, based on what they see in this world. And I think Cal Thomas is totally wrong to say what he does about Hitchens.

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