COLUMN: And if there is no God?
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 11:03
I've recently been investigating an incredibly interesting man named Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens has been a columnist for "Vanity Fair" and "Free Inquiry," and has written a number of books, including the highly controversial "God is Not Great." Hitchens seems to have a knack for offending people and doesn't mind doing so; he states his irreverent opinions in a clear, confident manner and is derisively hilarious.
The thing I find most interesting about Hitchens is this: He is dying of terminal esophageal cancer, and does not believe in any form of God. A favorite euphemism of many deists is the widely used, "No such thing as an atheist in a foxhole;" but in Hitchens' case this does not seems to be so. Hitchens is a propagator of "New Atheism," which is defined by CNN as "… a belief that religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises."
Whether or not religion has been a long-time source of violence, bigotry and hatred cannot be debated; it is clearly so. However, there are some interesting points that Hitchens makes against not only religion, but the existence of God.
He states that first and foremost, the burden of proof for God's existence lies on the backs of the believers. Talking to someone that you can't see is often considered a sign of psychological illness; in religion, it is commonplace. And because you can't see, hear, taste, smell or touch God, there is literally no scientific evidence of his existence. It is far easier to defend that God does not exist, simply because there is no proof for such a being.
Secondly, an argument commonly held as evidence in favor of God's existence is the intricate order of the world in which we live: the complexity of the human eye is commonly described as a design that could only have been brought about by divine creation. However, Hitchens believes that our world is as imperfect as it is complicated. It is only suitable for some life, on some parts, some of the time. And while we are living here in relative comfort for now, we can see with our complex eyes innumerable stars, constellations, and galaxies following the Second Law of Thermodynamics and falling into complete entropy. Our own galaxy is on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy and our sun will eventually enter a red giant phase and either swallow the earth or boil its atmosphere away. Observable matter is now only 4 percent of the universe; eventually, everything will disappear.
"Some design, isn't it?" Hitchens asks.
The third and most thought-provoking argument Hitchens makes is that whether or not there is in fact a divine being dictating the workings of our lives, we could expect things to be exactly the same as they are now if there was no God. Things seem to happen according to completely random chance: Sometimes they are in our favor, sometimes not. "Bad things" consistently happen to "good people," and vice versa. No matter how often you pray, fast or study scripture, the people you love will pass away, as will you, as will I. Sometimes people will recover from esophageal cancer; sometimes they won't.
I must acknowledge that I am biased: One of the most powerful tools I have seen used for negative influence and pressure is religion, and I therefore subscribe to no religion at all. I cannot bring myself to believe in the human idea of God, or the definition any belief system gives to it. I would not be so arrogant as to say I know that there is or isn't a God, because there is no way to prove either argument. I hope there is more; I hope that after I pass away, I can remain with my family and find happiness in whatever may come. However, I think we need to be prepared to accept that perhaps there is no ultimate meaning to life, and that we simply settle into dust when we die. Instead of using religion as a crutch on which to lay the difficult aspects of life that cannot be explained, we must use logic and reason to come to an understanding of all things, insomuch as our limited brains will allow us. Besides, if we die and that is the end, it won't really matter to us anyway, will it?
Liz emery is a senior majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.