Simply Evil

That this was an assault upon our society, whatever its ostensible capitalist and militarist “targets,” was again thought too obvious a point for a clever person to make. It became increasingly obvious, though, with every successive nihilistic attack on London, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad, and Bali. There was always some “intellectual,” however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the “root cause” of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators.

Renowned antitheist Christopher Hitchens writes on the essence of Al-Qaeda as ‘simply evil’.

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Barry L.'s picture

If you are an atheist, how does one define evil and good?

MShep2's picture

I found Hitchens' views on this subject to be well thought out and rather logical, even though I did not agree with all of his conclusions. He is so much known for his caustic attacks on Christianity and wholehearted support for every part of evolution, no matter how ridiculous, that I wondered if he could write intelligently. Of course the problem with his premise, as stated by Barry is:

Barry L. wrote:
If you are an atheist, how does one define evil and good?
If we are just descendants of pond scum and the only law is the "survival of the fittest," why were Bin Laden's goons wrong for what they did? Maybe they evolved that way and had no choice for what they did.

MS
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Luke 17:10

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

MShep2 wrote:
I found Hitchens' views on this subject to be well thought out and rather logical, even though I did not agree with all of his conclusions. He is so much known for his caustic attacks on Christianity and wholehearted support for every part of evolution, no matter how ridiculous, that I wondered if he could write intelligently. Of course the problem with his premise, as stated by Barry is:
Barry L. wrote:
If you are an atheist, how does one define evil and good?
If we are just descendants of pond scum and the only law is the "survival of the fittest," why were Bin Laden's goons wrong for what they did? Maybe they evolved that way and had no choice for what they did.

The only logical atheistic argument is that they were wrong because they weren't as fit as Seal Team 6.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Shaynus's picture

I've seen the "Collision" movie where Doug Wilson interacts with Christopher Hitchens. Here's his critique of the article on TGC. His brilliant point (made by others over time as well) is that Hitchens has to borrow the terms of theism in order to make atheism make sense. These terms include even the word "evil." It's good that Hitchens calls 9/11 attacks "evil," but once you ask "on what basis is this evil" Hitchens will necessarily fumble. He and Wilson have a good, cordial, intellectually honest relationship. The "Collision" movie is an excellent example of how to interact with atheists well.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/09/08/simply-incoherent/

Jay's picture

I was actually going to link to the T4G post, but Shaynus beat me to it. Here was, I think, one of his best quotes:

Quote:

Hitchens began his article by saying that one of the great lessons of geopolitical punditry, one that should be heeded more by public intellectuals, is the need to not overlook the obvious. But the concept of evil has more than one obvious characteristic. Hitchens rightly points out that its facticity is one of those characteristics. There is such a thing as evil, and there are people who are simply given over to it. Thus far we agree. But another obvious thing about evil is that it is the kind of thing that requires a grounded definition. It is the kind of assessment that requires backing. If someone identifies something as evil, the questions why? and who says? are entirely reasonable questions. And the answer has to consist of something more substantive than simply repeating the charge that it is evil.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

By the way, Christopher Hitchens is dying of cancer. Let's pray for him on the one hand, but also that the Christian community will react in a Christlike manner upon his death. As a thinker and writer, I really respect him. When confronted with something he hasn't thought of before, he actually ponders it for a while without answering.