What Is More Imaginary Than God? Salon’s Version of Atheists

Salon.com just posted the latest in a long line of shockingly lazy articles bashing atheists. Even the title is a straw-man: “What Hitchens got wrong: Abolishing religion won’t fix anything.” True, abolishing religion wouldn’t fix anything – which is probably why Hitchens never argued religion should be abolished.

The fail continues in the article’s first sentence, where the author misuses Marx’s “opiate of the people” line, the actual meaning of which Hitchens was quick to correct. Then the article’s author sets up what he thinks is a compelling thesis:

The fundamental error in the “New Atheist” dogma is one of logic. The basic premise is something like this:

1. The cause of all human suffering is irrationality

2. Religion is irrational

3. Religion is the cause of all human suffering

The fundamental problem with that logic is, well, logic. Here is a pro-tip for the author, don’t presume to critique logic if you can’t form a valid syllogism. Just from a basic logical standpoint, this would be valid:

1. The cause of all human suffering is irrationality

2. Religion causes all irrationality

3. Therefore, religion is the cause of all human suffering

This would be sound logic too:

1. The cause of all human suffering is irrationality

2. Religion is irrational

3. Therefore, religion causes some portion of human suffering

This last example at least approximates Hitchens’ position on religion. The “logic” in the Salon piece reflects the position of exactly no one. Another logic pro-tip: if you write an article attempting to critique the logic of someone you disagree with, don’t straw-man their argument. Hitchen’s never said we should abolish religion, and had the author been intellectually honest and based his “rebuttal” of Hitchens on the man’s actual opinions, I suspect this hack piece would never have been written.

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