I’m not usually a fan of Ol’ Hitch, but I have to say that God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is a wonderfully satisfying title.
I just listened to him on WNYC. Brian Lehrer asked the question that everyone always asks atheists – does the fact that so many intellectuals don’t believe in god make atheism just an elitist game?
I’ve never understood this question. Yes, Richard Dawkins (swoon!) has pointed out that atheists tend to be smarter than theists. But it is clear that education and knowledge – wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, that sort of shit – lead to atheism. Knowledge and education also lead to speaking in grammatically correct sentences, finding solutions to problems that don’t involve fist fights, etc – and people generally don’t condemn thing like this as elitist.
As well, Hitchens pointed out that this silly argument is handily refuted by pointing out that many children are natural atheists. This point is beautifully discussed in my personal bible (oh the irony of how I have become an evangelical atheist), The God Delusion, when RD (sexy!) makes the case that calling a child “a Jewish child,” “a Protestant child,” etc., is offensive. Yes!
Another interesting point is that while it is certainly true that less education leads to more nutty religious people and vice versa, that fact is due in no small part to the missionary work of nutty religious people, who to this day take it upon themselves to spread their nasty religion germs to people they think are in need of salvation (or whatever the particular religion is espousing) often to the exclusion of real education. So, it is really religious zealots that are elitist, since they think they have the answers and everyone else of lesser brain capacity should follow their idiotic lead.
Oh, and also.
(It just occurred to me that even though I don’t think atheism is elitist – I am an unapologetic elitist, and how awesome would it have been for Hitch to spit that out on Brian Lehrer? My elitism comes from having family members who live unironically in trailer parks, and adds much joy to my life. It is an anarchistic sort of elitism, though – does that make sense?)