Chris Hedges, author of the book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, had this op-ed piece published in the Philly Enquirer.
One hardly know where to start when confronted with such an article. The initial reaction is to ignore it, since no-one can actually take such an emotional tirade seriously, right? However, given the moderate success of Dawkins and Sam Harris, there may be some who actually think that the author has a point.
I will first off say that I have rarely read a single document filled with more logical fallacies in my life. Almost every sentence, starting from the title, has some sort of insult, unproven assumption, circular reasoning, appeal to pity or other logical fallacy contained in it.
The atheist worldview is the authors starting point. He says:“And they willingly walked out on this world for the mythical world offered by radical preachers – a world of magic, a world where God had a divine plan for them and intervened daily to protect them and perform miracles in their lives.”
That statement makes it very clear that the author is biased against Christianity, and in this article is trying to rationalize his position. Of course, he presents his worldview as valid and the generally accepted position, but he never establishes it, even in passing. He merely asserts, as is the trend with atheism.
Also, he provides no evidence whatsoever to prove the statements about mythology and magic. He also poisons the well right from the start, his claims of radicalism and extremism are asserted, yet never proven. His whole article is one long non-sequitor, where his starting assumption of despair among “the working class” is not clearly proven to even exist. It is merely assumed and asserted that there is despair in lieu of any logical or even anecdotal proof. He uses highly emotional language, which I guess his supporters find appealing. However, emotional language here seems to be intended to hide the fact that his argument is very weak.
His main argument is ad-hominem attacks against Christians. He reserves his choice insults for the pastors and ministers, but also manages to sneak an insult or two against Christians, whom he portrays as scared, insecure and unintelligent. However, the real criminal, the real bad guy, the real trash in the article is, of course, God:”…while the rest of us will be tormented with horrors by a warrior Christ and finally extinguished. This obsession with apocalyptic violence is an obsession with revenge. It is what the world, and we who still believe it is worth saving, deserve.”
Yup, there it is. God is just such a meanie, even though He is just a figment of the imagination. (I guess the writers of the Bible should have invented a more loving and merciful God). And Christians are violent, vengeful and stupid. It also contains another logical fallacy, the Argumentum ad misericordiam. It is special pleading at its worst. He appeals for pity, on behalf of those “we who still believe it is worth saving.” Please don’t let those mean stupid Christians and their evil leaders take our rights away.
Now, logically speaking, Mr. Hedges does not even begin to account for his worldview. He establishes no premises for his moral basis, he just grabs outrage from mid-air. This article is a huge circular argument, where he assumes the conclusion right from the start. He employs the fallacy of the slippery slope, where he argues that somehow a theocracy is on the way. His conclusions do not follow any premises, again it is assumed but not logically proven that poor people, and even the middle class, is somehow driven to Christianity by despair.
I can continue, but those are the main objections.
Mr. Hedges is welcome to his opinion. He will not have his head chopped off, or stoned on the streets for his opinion. He will not be put in jail, or chased out of his home and country. Those very Christians whom he so insults and denegrates made, and continues to make that possible. If 10’s of millions of Christians were as violent and full of despair, with nothing to lose, as he described, why is he still alive this morning? Those vengeful “lovers of apocalyptic violence” look at his writing with pity, and pray for his soul.