I Don't Believe in Atheists Hardcover – Mar 4 2008
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About the Author
Chris Hedges was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New
York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science
Monitor and National Public Radio. He was a member of the team that won the
2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times
coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International
Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges is the author of the bestseller
American Fascists and National Book Critics Circle finalist for War Is
a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute
and a Lannan Literary Fellow and has taught at Columbia University, New York
University and Princeton University.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hedges is overstating his case here. Yes, there are plenty of scientific utopians who will overstate the "progress" humanity has made in the past 500 years. But the fact is that the Enlightenment and contemporaneous developments elsewhere in the world have accomplished drastic improvements in the treatment of human beings by other human beings. Slavery, once a universal practice sanctioned by warlords and priests like, is now nearly abolished worldwide. Women, long held in brutal submission by cultural mores backed by religious authority, are accorded more freedom and dignity than at any other time in human history. Racial, cultural and religious minorities are protected by laws allowing them to live their lives without molestation or discrimination in most free societies today, a reality almost unheard of in the history of mankind. To associate the Nazis with the Enlightenment is shockingly ahistorical: Hitler's nationalist movement, like Mussolini's, was grounded in mythological romanticism and involved the complete rejection of legal and scientific authority, instead elevating the god-king and the tribe using language strikingly similar to the directions given by Jawhew in the Bible. Far from being a consequence of the Enlightenment, it was a reactionary movement against it and back toward tribal religious fanaticism.
WIAFTGUM was a beautiful and honest account of what war does to people and societies. "American Fascists" was a brave denunciation of one of the most dangerous political developments in America today, made doubly brave by his self-indentification as a Christian.Read more ›
There were a few points I did take from Hedge's book.
One that's repeated in the book is on the march of progress being anything but bloodless and kind. Just as a religious person may forget the atrocities done in the name of religion, people who believe in progress would sooner like to forget such things as The Reign of Terror and scientific racism (Mismeasurement of a Man by Stephen Jay Gould touches on the history of science and racism). This isn't to say that science and reason haven't brought us wonderful things and changed the world in a positive way, but we shouldn't be blind to the fact that it can be destructive as well. For every vaccine and antibiotic, we've also generated new weapons to kill and maim. As Hedges notes, material progression isn't the same as moral progression, although the two are often confused.
Another is an idea that may of be more interest to people who are of a religious bent is on the concept of God. "The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits the Israelites from making images of the Lord. This new deity could not be captured in pictures, statues or any concrete iconographic form. God existed in the world and through the word, a radical concept in the ancient world. To worship God without physical representation of God made it appear as if believers were worshipping nothing. It was to give up security, It was to believe in a God that could not be seen or controlled.Read more ›
While there is a section he rallies against 'reason' it is not reason per say that is being railed against, but reason based on a belief that a personalized reasoning is flawless and totally free of bias. If anything, i gained the impression that he warned against 'careless' reasoning rather than reasoning it self.
It is easy to misinterpret Chris Hedges message, nor have i agreed with everything he has written. None the less, this book is one of the few works of it's kind in popular print media.
He employs too many over-generalizations to attack those who disagree with him on religion. This is so very, very contrary to the clear thinker I know him to be. "They propose a route to collective salvation and the moral advancement of the human species through science and reason." This route, science and reason, is, in my interpretation, the one Hedges follows in his clear-thinking works. That, mixed with anger, indignation, and a sense of moral outrage.
It's unfortunate that Hedges gets downright insulting, as when he confusingly tries to lump together humanists (I'm not avoiding the term "atheist", I embrace it, but I want to use "humanist" to remind us what we are talking about): "These atheists and Christian radicals have built squalid little belief systems that are in the services of themselves and their own power. They urge us forward into a non-reality-based world, on where force and violence, self-exaltation and blind nationalism and unquestioned good..." And so it goes.
As other reviewers have noted, some writers, Christopher Hitchens being an obvious example, are self-important blowhards. These type of people exists in many human groupings and, perhaps unfortunately, get a disproportionate share of attention. It's that phenomenon, in my guess, that grates Hedges and triggers some of his own issues.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I had a better impression of Chris Hedges, and I wanted to give this book a try. Unfortunately, Hedges is fundamentally wrong about the 'new atheists' as he calls them. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2011 by Sebastian Toncu
First of all the people giving this book bad ratings are your typical brain dead Atheists. THe very people who will jump on whatever band wagon that comes along that makes them... Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2011 by Reg
I am an atheist and I don't believe in atheism either. I am because I don't believe. Don't waste your time. There is nothing more to say.Published on July 21 2010 by Pierre Thibault
You got me at "Hello". Or in other words, the title of this book says that Hedges is not that bright. Read morePublished on March 24 2009 by Star Stuff
I Don't Believe in Atheists
Mr. Hedges argues that fundamentalism itself is dangerous. He argues that both religious fundamentalists and new atheists are guilty of the same... Read more
For Hedges, the reknown theologian, this world has become divided between those who accept human limitations and choose to recognize the infinite power of God in the world and... Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2008 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
Hedges's premises are very flawed.
First he believes is that the human society is not perfectable, (perhaps true), then he argues that it is harmful to try, (very... Read more