Christopher Hitchens, shibboleth smasher, is out with his new book smashing the greatest shibboleth of them all. Clearly not having fucked off enough people in his relatively busy life so far, he’s trying to economise in terms of bang for the buck with his latest, god is not Great (note the lack of capitalisation the derivative Baruch-copying whore. The link is hilarious, though), subtitled, How Religion Poisons Everything.
Frankly, with as much sympathy as I have for the book’s obvious conclusion, I don’t think I’ll be buying it. I am pretty godded out, having consumed both Dawkins and Harris recently and followed the Sullivan-Harris blogalogue (which seems to have ended here) quite intensively. Also I am fairly persuaded that some form of ultimate Substance, some essence of information, qua Spinoza, exists, and while we can call it Nature, the Laws of Physics, the DNA of the Universe or even the flying spaghetti monster, we may also call it god, and Spinoza did.
I find Hitchen’s positions quite suspect in many ways, and don’t want to enrich him further. I think he is a very clever man, but fear he is somehow not very wise. There is something about the knee-jerk revisionism of people like Hitch that worries me; it is a common fallacy for British people of a certain generation and education to play the smart alec; the Economist does it, people like Niall Ferguson do it, god knows I have the tendency too it was drummed into me at Cambridge. It impresses the smaller minded, the spoonfed. Americans love it. But while it makes good polemic it does not make good policy, and I have learned the hard way when it comes to actions affecting something serious like someone’s stock positions, or indeed the lives of millions, that we should look quite askance at solutions coming from people who have Revisionism hanging like a bat in the rafters of their minds. Sometimes the crowd really is right.
You will have to do without me for a while, adoring public, I am taking the weekend off and tootling off to Lugano with some friends. I leave you in the capable hands of Bento. Mind you, what his hands seem most capable of is doing bugger all on this blog, the lazy sod. We’ve all got jobs, you know.