Have We Forgotten?

Have We Forgotten 1

When the World Trade Center was attacked eleven years ago on this day, the media was buzzing with visuals from ground zero. The most popular clip I had seen was of the second plane hitting a tower, in which you can hear the newscasters saying, “Oh my God.” On a rarer video tape I had seen years later of the first tower being hit you can hear a man behind the camera crying, “Holy shit.” It is obvious that the problem is best identified as more the latter than the former.

Religious moderates and political liberals have characterized the actions of the terrorists as having to do with socio-economic problems due to oppression, poverty, occupation by foreign powers, etc. The people who actually orchestrated the attacks beg to differ. In the aftermath of September 11th, it was a religious organization that claimed responsibility.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a spokesman for Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda group, gave a statement declaring that this is nothing less than a holy war:

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies.

I would like to touch on one important point in this address. The actions by these young men who destroyed the United States and launched the storm of planes against it have done a good deed.

They transferred the battle into the US heartland. Let the United States know that with God’s permission, the battle will continue to be waged on its territory until it leaves our lands, stops its support for the Jews, and lifts the unjust embargo on the Iraqi people who have lost more than one million children.

The Americans should know that the storm of plane attacks will not abate, with God’s permission. There are thousands of the Islamic nation’s youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live.

When a religion is founded on conquest and military strength, the fruits of its actions will not be those of peace. September the 11th was not the first attack and has not been the last. According to the (obviously biased) website thereligionofpeace.com:

Have We Forgotten 2

Facts, however, are not biasedand I encourage you to do research on these numbers for yourself. In my view, the 2,977 victims of 9/11 are fact enough  to support my point.

A counter-crusade is not necessary and should not be an action that crosses the mind of good people — but reason is. For any civilized people, reason is key to their success. It is unreasonable to ignore this problem. Simply type, “Islamist” into Google News every morning for another glimpse into this problem. The destruction of the World Trade Center was not a punctuation mark in a statement of one religion’s turmoil nor was it just a brutal chapter in international, political history; it was a restatement of one religion’s thesis. My thesis is that you should never forget this.

We should and will move on (most of us already have) because that is what reasonable people dobut we should never forget the day that the epitome of unreason was expressed in our lifetime.

He Knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good


(Photo by Stephanie Katz)

You had better watch out, you had better not cry and you had better not pout and in this article I’ll tell you why: If you don’t do good, and are therefore wicked, you’re going to be punished for all of eternity in a lake of fire!

But you’re in luck.

If you remain righteous and accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior you will be gifted with eternal life! (Matthew 25:46, John 3:36) Err.. wait, are we talking about Jesus or Santa? Well.. whatever.  Eternal life and presents are better than eternal hellfire and coal, right? That’s some pretty enticing incentive to be a good person, right? Well… that does make you a good person.. right? Not exactly, but that is what too many Christians believe makes you a good person, or at least a good Christian.. which is the same thing to many of them. Many Christians believe that without God, you simply cannot be good. For example, the Christian Apologist William Lane Craig argues that if there is no God then we have no foundation for objective morality. In this article, I will hopefully demonstrate the opposite, that even with God we have no foundation for objective morality because God is irrelevant and can even push us to be the opposite end of the moral continuum.

So, let us talk about something that is actually moral (or good): generosity. Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. Perhaps the argument could be posed that a Christian who actually follows the teachings of Jesus will feel more of an obligation to be generous than someone who has a worldview that does not glorify generosity and charity. The problem is this: If a generous act is going to be rewarded, and the person acting it out knew it, was it truly generous? How can a truly altruistic act really be met out if a selfish goal is met in the process? How can someone completely remove his or herself from thinking of the rewards and gains he or she is promised while attempting to give freely? I would simply posit that one cannot. If one cannot, he or she also cannot be truly generous.

If a dude does a generous act because he believes he will be rewarded if he does, punished if he doesn’t, or needed to be commanded to do so by some higher authority, the virtue of the person is nonexistent. So a question we are left with is: Can a Christian actually be generous? Virtuous? Good?

What is left then? How can we be generous? For one thing, seemingly being generous is not the same as being generous. If someone does something “generous” for the sake of being recognized as a generous person then he isn’t really being generous at all.

Even if the action is generous, his mindset is actually self-serving which is antonymous.

That being said, I’d posit that only people with an atheistic mindset can truly be generous in contrast to the believers of most theistic religions, because they can actually do something generous without the thought of an omniscient and omnipotent being watching and judging their action. If a Christian was generous without any consideration of God’s grace or wrath, then he or she would have done so in a purely atheistic (or unrelated to God) mindset. This is to say that even if a Christian person who does something that is generous, he didn’t do it because of his Christian-ness. If he took his Christian beliefs into account when doing the generous act, then it seems impossible that he himself is actually generous by the very definition of the wordgiving freely without expecting anything in return.

It does not matter if it’s the promise of eternal hellfire (or eternal reward) by God, the dread of coal (or hope for presents) in your stocking left by Santa, or the fear of looking bad (or good) by other people; if you do a good action for any reason other than the good itself, you are simply not being good.

So, you had better be good for goodness sake!

Merry Christmas!

Christopher Hitchens

What is lost when we die and what remains? Do we leave an impression behind? Will that impression simply wash away? All the rivers run into the sea and still the sea is not filled.

The wisest words I have read on death to were written by Marcus Aurelius.

If any god told you that you shall die tomorrow, or certainly on the day after to-morrow, you would not care much whether it was on the third day or on the next, unless you had a very degraded spirit for how small is the difference? So think it no great thing to die after as many years as you can count rather than tomorrow.

Think continually how many physicians are dead after often fretting over the sick; and how many astrologers after predicting with great pretensions the deaths of others; and how many philosophers after endless discourses on death or immortality; how many heroes after killing thousands; and how many tyrants who have used their power over men’s lives with terrible insolence as if they were immortal; and how many cities are entirely dead, so to speak, Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and innumerable others. Add to the total all whom you have known, one after another. One man after burying another has been laid out dead, and another buries him: and all this in a short time. To conclude, always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are, and what was yesterday a little mucus to-morrow will be a mummy or ashes. Pass then through this little space of time in the way of nature, and end your journey in contentment, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.

Be like the cliff against which the waves continually break, but which stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.

In reading Christopher Hitchens’ last Vanity Fair article, before his death yesterday, you can read the thoughts of a man who lived as such a cliffstanding firm against turbulent waters. Battered by cancer and the radiation to combat it, he pressed on to a bitter end but left behind sweet memories to those, such as I, that regard him as the intellectual hero he was.

Christopher Hitchens will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.