The internet reveals to me more than anything else how little I know about the world compared to how much others know. And how intelligent, wise, wealthy, famous, accomplished, and spectacularly talented some others are. In short, granted that I learn a lot through the internet, the unfortunate side-effect is that it gives me an inferiority complex.
Perhaps it’s not a complex; the blunt fact is that I am objectively inferior to those superstars on the internet. But if I set aside my ego, I am genuinely grateful that I live in a world with the world wide web.
I think YouTube is one of the best parts of the web. Over the years I have subscribed to dozens of channels. I spend lots of delightful hours on them. I have many favorite personalities. Such as? Stephen Fry, Christopher Hitchens, to name just two.
I have met Hitchens a couple of times when I was a student at UC Berkeley. Arguably the greatest polemicist of the 20th century, sadly he passed away in 2011 at age 62. For a brief bio, check out ChristopherHitchens.net.
I am in agreement on most issues that animated Hitchens. He was a militant atheist and was implacably opposed to religion and superstition. Which means that he was opposed to the idea of the monotheist god, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I should note that there are only three major religions in the world and they all originate in one tiny part of the world — the Middle East. It is commonly understood that the other major religions — Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism — originated in India. But that is a major misunderstanding. My contention is that these are not “religions” in the same sense that the Middle Eastern creeds are. India gave birth to dharmas, not religions.
Unfortunate fact is that two very distinct concepts get conflated by pigeonholing the Indic dharmas with the monotheistic religions. It leads to a lot of idiotic confusion and conflict. It is high time that we stop doing that. Words matter. There is a concept of “God” in the monotheist beliefs which is totally missing in the Indic dharmas.
Hitchens’ criticism of religion and god does not apply to the dharmas for two reasons. One, while he was widely read, he could not have known anything about the philosophy and practices of the dharmic traditions. Second, his criticism of god does not apply to the dharmas because that concept of god does not exist in dharma (as I stated before.)
The arguments of one of his bestsellers, “God is not Great — How religion poisons everything”, do not apply to dharmas.
Hitchens was great. He smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish. He had a phenomenal memory and having devoured hundreds of books, he could retrieve quotes and historical details at a moment’s notice. He would write prose faster than most people can read, and he speak at length as if he was reading carefully prepared notes. The man was a force of nature.
His friend Richard Dawkins cautioned, “If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline.” Fortunately for us, some apologists were foolish enough to debate Hitch. Here’s an excerpt from a October 2007 debate with Alister McGrath, “Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World”. It’s the opening argument by him.
I recommend the entire YouTube video. Listen to McGrath’s opening statement but skip the rest of his incoherent ramblings.
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I find him and Dawkins super overrated for this reason. Criticizing Abrahamic religions is like kicking the retarded kid in school – it doesn’t make you special or courageous to do so given how obvious their flaws are and destructive their effects have been.