Modern Atheism Hitchens

Topics: Atheism, Karl Marx, Philosophy Pages: 5 (1768 words) Published: June 24, 2013
God Is Not Great

Christopher Hitchens is the perfect example of an Atheist, and the perfect orator for it as well. Hitchens is extremely radical with his arguments and he has no problem telling other philosophers that their theories are wrong. Comparing Hitchens to those who have been called, “the founders of modern atheism”, is no easy task. Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche do not hold views that are as radical and morose as Hitchens appears. When referring to the radical style Hitchens encompasses, the founder who holds the most similarities is Nietzsche. At a glance, it would appear that that Hitchens is in no way like the founders of modern atheism, as he is the only one to declare himself an actual atheist. However, as one dives deeper into the works of these great logicians one will find there are a few fundamental values of the four founders, which Hitchens has also adopted as his own and then expands on in a very different direction.

Ludwig Feuerbach, author of The Essence of Christianity, is one of the four founders of modern Atheism. It is a difficult task to compare and contrast Feuerbach and Hitchens to one another, because Hitchens does not mention Feuerbach in his book. Yet, a common theme that can be drawn from both texts is the projectionist theory of religion. Feuerbach is undoubtedly a firm believer in the projectionist theory of religion, which allows him to place materialistic value on certain elements in nature that are directly connected to man. Hitchens renders views that are both for and against this theory. Hitchens quotes his teacher, who had spoken about how powerful and generous god is, “He has made all the trees and grass to be green, which is exactly the color that is most restful to our eyes” (God Is Not Great, 2). Hitchens’ teacher was comparing God and nature together, than bridging the connection to humans. Hitchens goes on to say his teacher is wrong to connect those three entities together, because God had not created neither nature nor man. Contrarily, Feuerbach would likely have agreed with Hitchens teacher on the matter of nature being connected to man. For example, Feuerbach wrote about how the sacraments of bread and wine are byproducts of nature used to alleviate hunger and thirst. Therefore, the sacramental elements are simply elements of nature to which man has given religious value. Both Hitchens and Feuerbach agree that God did not make nature, but where they differ is how nature is connected to humans. Feuerbach believes that nature needs man and man needs nature. He believes religion is made by humans, through a projection of themselves with a materialistic view of nature. This view allows him to place materialistic value on certain elements in nature that are directly connected to man. This materialistic view of nature in connection to humans is exactly where Hitchens does not agree with Feuerbach. Hitchens believes in projectionist theory of religion is human, but does not believe in the materialistic connection of nature to humans as does Feuerbach. One main element the two philosophers can undoubtedly agree on is that religion is human made. It is because of this similarity that Hitchens can be seen to be a projectionist, because he does believe that human made religion as a projection of itself, but not as a positive projection.

Another founder of modern atheism is Karl Marx. Marx, like most of his fellow founders, is also a projectionist. Marx is also a firm believer in materialism, but not in the same way as Feuerbach. Marx developed his own interpretation of historical development, in terms of an economic and sociopolitical view called Marxism. Hitchens at one point in his life also was a firm believer in Marxism. “Marxism I conceded, had its intellectual and philosophical and ethical glories, but they were in the past” (God Is Not Great, 153). Hitchens goes on to explain how he has days where he misses his old...
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