Charles Pillsbury III

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Some excerpts from Chris Hedges’s “I Don’t Believe In Atheists”

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I read this book a bit ago, and while I don’t agree with a fair bit of what he had to say (and he managed to run his thesis that “any utopian dream is prone to causing bad action” into the ground so many times it wasn’t funny) there were quite a few passages I found interesting. Below are few of the sections I had marked for later (my favorites are in bold)… they’ll probably come into play in some commentary/essays on one of my sites later.

“I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (Chris Hedges)

Page 15: “The experience of transcendence — the struggle to acknowledge the infinite — need not be attributed to an external being called God. As Karen Armstrong and others have pointed out, the belief in a personal God can, in fact, be anti-religious. But the religious impulse addresses something just as concrete as the pursuit of scientific or historical knowledge: it addresses the human need for the sacred.

Page 16: “God is a search, a way to frame the questions.”

Page 37: “Our enemies have no monopoly on sin, nor have we one on virtue. We all stand in need of self-correction. We do not live in a world where we ever get to choose between pure virtue and pure vice.

Page 39: “The question is never who shall rule. A democratic state begins from the assumption that most of those who gravitate toward power are mediocre and probably immoral. It assumes that we must always protect ourselves from bad government. We must be prepared for the worst leaders even as we hope for the best. And as Karl Popper wrote, this understanding leads to a new approach to power, for “it forces us to replace the question: Who shall rule? By the new question: How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?

Page 42: “Human beings prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets us turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science will bring about our salvation.”

Page 89: “Faith does not conflict with scientific truth, unless faith claims to express a scientific truth. Faith can neither be affirmed nor denied by scientific, historical, or philosophical truth. And this faith can separate the rational world from the powerful nonrational experiences and emotions–love would be one–that infuse and give meaning to our lives.”

Page 95: “The moment the writers of the gospels began to set down the words of Jesus they began to kill the message. The central doctrine of Christianity — something perhaps all great religious thinkers have believed — is, as the Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe said, if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you.”

Page 173: “The passages of most sacred texts in all religions are of little real importance. Believers pick and choose what fits. They discard the rest. The liberal Presbyterian Church, in which I grew up, ignored the violent apocalyptic literature in Daniel and Revelation, as well as the homophobic and misogynist rants by Paul. They were expunged–along with the calls by God to the Israelites to carry out acts of righteous genocide–from the biblical readings at the lectern. These passages might as well have been cut out of our Bibles. Christian fundamentalists, who seek a justification for their bigotry and hatred, trumpet these passages and rarely speak of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ’s call for vows of poverty and His pacifism.”

Page 181: “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books,” Postman wrote: What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.”


Written by cpillsbury

May 17th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Misc

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