Guest post: Two HuffPo pieces claim Hitchens for religion

December 22, 2011 • 7:01 am

Reader Sigmund takes on two recent pieces that have implied that, well, maybe Hitchens had some form of faith after all.


The Huffington Post takes on the “religious” Christopher Hitchens

by Sigmund

The Huffington Post and its never-ending supply of buy-my-book religious apologists has decided that now is the perfect occasion to tackle Christopher Hitchens.

More than take him on, they attempt to trounce his most potent argument, the moral challenge, and if that were not enough, go on in a second post to declare that Hitchens was in fact religious!

Back in the real world, we can look on only with a mixture of amazement and disgust at the base antics of those who seek to further ‘moderate’ religion by demonizing and misquoting the non-religious.

In the first piece, “Christopher Hitchens is ‘not great’“, by Kabil Helminski—a Sufi ‘Shaik’—we find an attempt to answer the famous “Hitchens Challenge,” an attempt that is almost breathtaking in the level of arrogance and bigotry it reveals.

The challenge itself is spelled out by Helminski while describing a debate between Hitchens and the journalist Chris Hedges:

During the debate Christopher Hitchens kept offering a challenge to Chris Hedges and to the audience: Show me one moral act undertaken by a religious person that could not have been done by someone who doesn’t believe in God. The challenge went unanswered by Mr. Hedges and understandably by the audience of 800, since there was no microphone for any audience member to counter the interruptions and insults of Mr. Hitchens.

Well, let’s ignore the ad hominem insults and see where we get with Helminski, who says:

I would like to take up that challenge.

Hooray!  Very brave of Helminski to attempt a challenge that has been met with nothing but po-faced silence by practically every one of Hitchens debating opponents.

For starters, I recall something Rev. Charles Gibbs, Director of the United Religions Initiative, said: “Go anywhere in the world, as far down the dirt roads into those corners of the world where there is no civil administration and no government aid, go to the poorest of the poor and you will find there people of faith working to help the helpless and forgotten.” You will not find armchair intellectuals there. You will not find people inspired by Bertrand Russell, or Voltaire, or Christopher Hitchens helping out.

Pardon?  There are no atheists working to help others in the world? There are no humanitarian aid organizations or charities? Medicine Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, Oxfam, The Red Cross?  None of these count?

Does Helminski even realize what he is suggesting, that all charity or humanitarian aid is religiously based or inspired? That no atheist will work to help the poor? If he does realize the implications, he certainly doesn’t act as if he cares.

Helmiski spends most of the rest of the article decrying secular regimes (naturally those of Hitler, Stalin and Mao are the examples chosen) and complaining that Hitchens was somehow cynically tone deaf towards the ‘spiritual’ side of life.

Perhaps Helminski should have spoken to a fellow apologist who tries an even bolder strategy to destroy Hitchens’ atheistic credentials.

If ever an occasion presented when the entire body of a post could be written with just two letters and a full stop, I doubt we’d see a better example than the next one:

Was Christopher Hitchens Religious? 

Instead we have the Huffington Post version of Lady Hope, the Reverend Marilyn Sewell, informing us of her conversations with Hitchens during an interview she conducted for a Portland media site.

According to Sewell, she encountered a surprisingly religious Christopher Hitchens. He ended up using words like numinous and transcendent and soul.”

So, Hitchens was either secretly religious all along or had become so in his final year.

And had, somehow, forgotten to mention it to anyone.

Sewell describes herself as a Unitarian Universalist minister and liberal Christian and as such takes the kind of open-minded, unbiased approach to Hitchens and his views that we have come to expect from modern moderate theists.

I didn’t want to do the interview. As I told editor Randy Gragg, “I don’t like Christopher Hitchens. He is rude. He is a bully. So why should I help get his work before more people?

Unsurprisingly, the original interview doesn’t reveal much other than Hitchens on his usual form, discounting supernatural explanations and humoring Sewell, who comes across as a happy-clappy religious type, desperate to distance her own beliefs from the bad, fundamentalist version of faith, and only too willing to co-opt any artistic metaphor used by Hitchens as proof positive that he secretly believed in a spiritual dimension.

The context in which Hitchens uses terms like “numinous” and “transcendent” defies any religious association but we should know by now that quote mining is standard practice in defense of Jeebus.

It is perhaps best to finish with Hitchens’s original words to illustrate the travesty of using them to paint him as religious:

We know we’re going to die, which gives us a lot to think about, and we have a need for, what I would call, “the transcendent” or “the numinous” or even “the ecstatic” that comes out in love and music, poetry, and landscape. I wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t respond to things of that sort. But I think the cultural task is to separate those impulses and those needs and desires from the supernatural and, above all, from the superstitious.

112 thoughts on “Guest post: Two HuffPo pieces claim Hitchens for religion

  1. Very classy of them to Marilyn Sewell to come out with the article after he’d died, so he doesn’t have a chance to respond. Maybe her goal is to turn this into a ‘yes he was’ or ‘no he wasn’t’ kind of conversation, which would be an unpleasant (and pointless) distraction. Is she basically using the strategy of climate change denialists, creationists, etc, creating a controversy where there isn’t one?

    1. There was not a deathbed conversion, so religious individuals must claim Hitch was really a believer the entire time because he had an affinity for literature. Stupid people. Well, it seems we can add one more article to the trove of posthumous articles about Hitch that have been “written in crayon.”

  2. She actually quotes him in the interview thus:

    “Hitchens: No. I think I may belong to what is a significant minority of human beings, those who are—as Pascal puts it in his Pensées, his great apology for Christianity—”so made that they cannot believe.” As many as 10 percent of us just never can bring ourselves to take religion seriously. And since people often defend religion as natural to humans, the corollary holds, too: there must be respect for those who simply can’t bring themselves to find phrases like “the Holy Spirit” more meaningful.”

    I think that just about answers the headline’s question.

  3. “Go anywhere in the world, as far down the dirt roads into those corners of the world where there is no civil administration and no government aid, go to the poorest of the poor and you will find there people of faith working to help the helpless and forgotten.” You will not find armchair intellectuals there. You will not find people inspired by Bertrand Russell, or Voltaire, or Christopher Hitchens helping out.

    I’m currently working as a crisis counselor in community mental health and contribute a quarterly column to the Nashville Psychotherapy Institute Newsletter entitled “Armchair Deductions.”

  4. Somewhat interesting that the Christianizing is coming from (people in) the moderate sects, not the fundie sects. I suspect “we at least wait until he’s dead before using bad arguments and deception” may not be the distinction they were trying to draw.

  5. OK, Reverend Sewell,

    I’ll see your Christopher Hitchens and raise you Jesus Christ.

    “E’-lo-i, E’-lo-i, la’-ma sa-bach’-tha-ni?”
    My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    Mark 15:34 (KJV)

    The last thing Jesus says (whilst still alive!) in the earliest Gospel.

    Pretty much a knock-down argument, a slam-dunk, as your fellow-Christian, the oleaginous William Lane Craig would claim.

    I don’t count the verses 9-16 which were forged and added in by later Christians, evidently concerned at the ambivalent and stark ending in the original Mark. Forging, quote-mining and cherry-picking; a Christian tradition with a long and venal history.

    While we’re at it, we could claim Mother Theresa; thought why we would want the shrivelled old fraud is beyond me.

    C.S. Lewis, even, whom Hitchens loved to quote; I don’t think that a bloke that intelligent seriously believed in God.

    Parenthetically, one good story about CSL and his Oxford mate J.R.R. Tolkein. The latter asked CSL to read through ‘The Lord of the Rings’, as JRRT was writing it; at one point CSL exclaimed, “Not another f__kin’ elf!”

    1. Are you aware of the fact that Jesus’s last words in Mark (and Matthew) are a quotation (the first verse) from Psalm 22, a prayer of lament and supplication that ends with the confident proclamation of God’s imminent help and deliverance (and that this Psalm is quoted from or referred to repeatedly in all the Passion narratives including John’s)?

      1. Yes,

        “But I am a worm..” (Psalm 22:6) might not have had the same theological resonance. Then again, knowing the religionists’ ability to make any old tosh mean anything they want maybe the dying Anointed One should have quoted that.

          1. So does the Koran, according to Hamza Tzortzis. Good grief, these monotheists are miraculously perspicacious.

            I wonder what Jesus has to say about the punctuated equilibrium controversy. Oh yeah, that’s it, “But I am a worm…”.

        1. Actually, “I am a worm” does have theological resonance with Philippians 2: 7, which is crucial to the Christian understanding of the crucifixion (“he made himself nothing” or “he emptied himself;” see also 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”). There is a parallel between the structure of Psalm 22 and Philippians 2: 5-11. The Psalm (though not the “worm” line) and the reading from Philippians are both included in the readings for Palm (or Passion) Sunday in the Roman Catholic Lectionary.

          This isn’t about making “any old tosh” mean “anything they want.” These are absolutely fundamental linkages in the history of Christian thought. Even if you don’t believe a word of it, you might try to understand it, if only because of its cultural and historical importance.

          1. Well yes, but the linkage is all a posteriori. Jesus sent his followers off to find a donkey on which to ride into Jerusalem IN ORDER TO fulfill a prophesy. That’s kinda fraudulent, in my book.

          2. Yes, this is the idea of kenosis; of self-emptying our own will and giving ourselves to God’s, to the divine will.

            ‘With the entire and perfect nature of man, He who was true God was born, complete in His own nature, complete in ours.’

            The idea of Christ being born and although being God, assuming a human nature.
            That Jesus emptied Himself and lived as a human entire, of low birth, powerless and subject to human laws; of assuming the flesh of mortal man and suffering an agonising death for our sins; that He emptied himself so for our sakes.

            Furthermore, that He was God before the Incarnation and after it. This being what it means to empty oneself. And like the Christ, we are to empty our will and seek the divine will. Like this humility of Christ, we are to be subservient, yes, subservient, as He was. I hope I have clarified that I know a little about the subject.

            Now, to the ‘tosh’.

            `To self-empty our own will´. I don’t think that actually means anything. The will is not free. It is a product of the chemical reactions in our brains. How can you self-empty – why not just say empty? – your brain? I call that death.

            And then Christians posit that Jesus was God before, during and after His Incarnation. Evidence? None. I call that making it up.

            And then you have the nerve to conclude, in kenosis, that we should all be as slaves? Of whom? Of those who would take advantage of and oppress us? What on earth for? Where is the goodness in that? Unless, of course, subservience is one of the characteristics that an all-loving God, and by extension, your Church, expects of the believers.

            1. And furthermore, if you want, in some speculative punt, to accuse someone of being a philistine, it usually helps to know a little something about them.

              1. @Dermot:
                So you’re not a philistine. I’m glad to know it. But your previous posts hid this pretty well.

                Given that the last words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel are in fact a quotation from Psalm 22 — and the reason those words are there, and not “I am a worm,” is that they are actually the first words of the Psalm, suggesting that Jesus is in fact beginning to pray this very Psalm, which has been referenced repeatedly in the preceding narrative of the Passion (Mk 15: 17-19 ~ Ps 22: 12-13, 16; Mk 15: 24 ~ Ps 22: 16, 18; Mk 15: 29-32 ~ Ps 22: 7-8) — and given that this Psalm which Jesus is praying ends with a confident affirmation of the power of God (“He has done it!”) — it is a mystery to me why you should think they are a “knock-down” or “slam-dunk” of… what exactly? Perhaps you could explain.

                Then, given that the idea of kenosis is a central thought in Christianity, it is fairly obvious that “I am a worm” would indeed have great theological resonance. But you suggested it wouldn’t. Why?

                Given all this I am pleasantly surprised that you turn out to know more than you let on. But I don’t understand why you wrote your previous posts as you did.

              2. Michael,

                I’ll take your substantive points in order.

                It’s a new one on me that Jesus intended to intone the whole of Psalm 22. So I did. It took me, a relatively healthy middle-aged bloke, 2 minutes 40 seconds; admittedly in the wrong language, but it gives us some idea of how long it takes. Say the Messiah, in His severely weakened state, would take 4 minutes. Now, you would have to believe that He meant to do it and that He thought He could do it. It’s not necessary to your theology, but that seems to be what you are left with. Do you seriously believe that?

                Secondly of course Mark parallels the Old Testament; it was a new work of theology – and the least anti-Judaist of the 4 Gospels – seeking authority from an older revered text. This is what new religions do. I note with concern that only some of the verses of Mark, which you cite, refer back to Psalm 22; perhaps they are mistakes, but there are rather too many of them. The point is this; that Mark refers back to Psalm 22 merely demonstrates Mark’s knowledge of Psalm 22, nothing more, nothing less.

                In parentheses, you made an earlier comment that Matthew also has Mark’s ‘My God, my God…’ speech. But you must know, as well as I do, that in this case Matthew is using Mark as a reference; so, we have not 2, but 1 source for the dying words.

                Mark was writing a theological text to point to a theological truth. But you are making historical claims. Now if you were a historian, you would know that any story in the Gospels, which presents itself as fulfilling a prophecy, is automatically to be treated with scepticism – the a posteriori argument. You also know that Mark 16: 9-16 are later additions, describing Jesus’ afterlife, which the writer ‘Mark’ omitted. This is one of the few examples I can recall of a text being censored, by being added to.

                Thirdly, do you seriously think I was trying to claim Christ for the atheists? It’s my attempt at satire, a form virtually invented by one of your fellow-religionists, Dean Swift. If I can not match the great Jonathan, that’s my fault; the alternative explanation is that you have no sense of humour.

                Fourthly, to claim “But I am a worm…” as the kernel of kenosis is stretching it too far. I suspect that the sentence, which contained the words ‘worm’ and ‘self-emptying of the will’, has never been written, apart from this one. Hah! Hapax legomenon, or nearly.

                Finally, a thought experiment. Imagine the host of this site, Jerry Coyne. What if he declared tomorrow to great media fanfare that he had cracked a fundamental problem in evolution, say, abiogenesis. Consider how fêted he would be throughout the world, declared a genius, up there with Newton, Darwin and Einstein, a secular god. Now imagine if, a few months later, some nerdy biologist had checked his data and experiments and found them all to be false; further that Jerry had forged the data and lied and lied and lied about it. He had, yes, made it up.

                Would you believe any word he said? Would you go back over all his published work and check it again? Would you treat all his works with scepticism?

                And you, Michael, how could you not do this with the plagiarised, censored, internally contradictory, forged and, frequently, morally repulsive set of books which constitute the New Testament?

  6. It’s odd that Helminski included Voltaire along with Bertrand Russell and Christopher Hitchens. According to Wikipedia, although Voltaire complained about specific religions, including Christianity, he considered himself a deist, saying “It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”

    In spite of the fact that Voltaire did believe in the existence of God, he gave us one of my favorite sayings: “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer” (“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”) Maybe that’s what confused Helminski.

    1. ‘Voltaire…gave us one of my favorite sayings.’

      And one of mine. In reply to Leibniz’s idea of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient God ruling over this, the best of all possible worlds, Voltaire wondered,

      “Si c’est ici le meilleur des mondes possibles, que sont donc les autres?”

      If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others like? – Candide

  7. Yay! Lets claim that Plantinga and WLC converted to atheism when they die….Ho wait.
    I have just notice a massive flaw in my plan and that is we don’t funking want them.

  8. My take on Sewell and her ilk is that they know they can’t claim a death-bed conversion, so they opt for the next best thing: imply that Hitch was really religious all along.

    I don’t think anyone can really believe Hitchens was religious. I’d sooner believe the Pope is an atheist. It’s a lame attempt to dismiss Hitchens so that they don’t have to engage the content of his arguments.

  9. Hitchens’ moral challenge always struck me as rhetorically forceful, but ultimately empty (and one could even say disingenuous) for it’s vagueness:

    “Name me a moral action committed by a believer or a moral statement uttered by one, that could not be made or uttered by a non-believer.”

    What does he mean by a “moral statement or action” and by the description “COULD NOT be made or uttered by a non-believer?’ Since these were never really stated, I felt a No True Scotsman fallacy lurking in Hitchens’ challenge. I’m amazed more of his theist opponents in debate were cowed by his challenge and didn’t push him on this. Sure enough, when faced with a canny debater (i.e. W.L. Craig) this got exposed.

    As Craig pointed out, on a Christian worldview there are various statements and actions that are morally obligatory which an atheist could not confirm – e.g. tithing, worship, evangelism etc. Hitchens’ response was to say “Well, I don’t think giving money to a church (tithing) is moral.” And hence he thought his challenge still stood.

    Then, what was the nature of the challenge in the first place? If Hitchens was only going to accept that a statement or action was moral within his own un-believing worldview, then what was the point? He just rules out the possibility of a Christian answering the question from the outset. Hence a version of the No True Scotsman fallacy:

    Hitchens: “Name me a moral action committed by a believer or a moral statement uttered by one, that could not be made or uttered by a non-believer.”

    Christian: “Here are several Christian moral injunctions that would not make sense
    for a non-believer.”

    Hitchens: “Well, those aren’t TRUE moral actions or statements.”

    Head he wins, tails believers lose.

    Never was very impressed with that challenge. He was much better in other areas.


    1. As Craig pointed out, on a Christian worldview there are various statements and actions that are morally obligatory which an atheist could not confirm…Then, what was the nature of the challenge in the first place?

      I think the nature of the challenge is to show that morality doesn’t come from religious belief.

      Now if you want to respond by saying certain moral acts like tithing to a church or worshipping God do come from religion, even if the vast majority of morality doesn’t, I think that’s a perfectly legitimate point. I also think its a bit of a pyrrhic victory for religion, but that’s just me.

      1. (Sorry, missed your post Eric)

        — “Now if you want to respond by saying certain moral acts like tithing to a church or worshipping God do come from religion, even if the vast majority of morality doesn’t, I think that’s a perfectly legitimate point. I also think its a bit of a pyrrhic victory for religion, but that’s just me.”

        But that’s only from our unbelieving viewpoint.
        If the Christian’s understanding is true, and morality derives from God, and a God that desires our worship and love exists, then what seems like trivial moral injunctions to us are
        hugely important, central moral injunctions if Christians are right.


        1. So, the argument is that while charity, mercy, self-sacrifice, etc. may not come from God, tithing to the church and worshipping God do…BUT since worshipping God is so very very morally important, one might as well say all important morals come from God?

          I suppose that argument holds together internally for someone who accepts the premise that worship is that important a moral value. But that argument isn’t going to change any minds. No theist attempting to convince a CH of the theistic foundation of morality is going to get very far with that one.

        2. Are wives to subordinate themselves to their husbands? Have I correctly read and remembered that there is a biblical warrant for that, and for slavery? Do you agree with these biblical warrants, these “moral injunctions”?

    2. You ignore that atheists also can put money into the collection plate — which demonstrates you are in error and Hitch was right.

      In fact, Dennett has written about the ministers who are atheists who LEAD worship, do evangelism, and do not believe. Again, demonstrating you are in error and Hitch was right.

      -1 for you.

      1. The morality of worship and evangelism is beneath comment.

        The question on tithing is that it is a form of blackmail by organised religion. The unstated (and often articulated) deal is, ‘You give me a tenth of your income, and I’ll grease the hinges of the Pearly Gates for you. Heaven anyone? Step right this way. Eternal damnation? Keep your money to yourself.’

        To request a tithe is extortion with menaces; to give a tithe is a form of bribery. Moral? I think not.

      2. That’s rather thin.

        Of course an atheist can PHYSICALLY put money in a collection plate, and is PHYSICALLY CAPABLE of mouthing the words of worship and evangelism. Surely Hitchens wasn’t making the trivial, absurd challenge suggested in your post that Christians show they can perform merely PHYSICAL acts and statements that are PHYSICALLY impossible for atheists to do. As if Christians and Atheists maybe live in two different physical worlds. If THAT were the nature of Hitchens’ challenge, it would deserve ridicule anyway.

        For his moral challenge to have any force it would be about justifications. In other words, show a moral act or statement that requires the moral believe system of a religious person to justify it, and hence is unavailable to the moral world of the atheist.

        And, on that more likely sense of the challenge, it also fails for the reasons I gave earlier.

        I just don’t think Hitchens fully thought his challenge through.


        1. I once had such a hypothetical objection to Hitchens challenge that went something along the lines of:
          “But a believer can tell a terminally ill person that they will go to heaven after they die, while a non-believer cannot”

          I then realized that this is untrue. A non-believer CAN say that to the dying person.

          “But they would be lying” comes the objection.

          “Why would they be lying?” I ask,

          “Because they don’t know that there is a heaven awaiting the dying person”

          “And the believer? Aren’t they in exactly the same position?”


          1. “But a believer can tell a terminally ill person that they will go to heaven after they die, while a non-believer cannot”

            I don’t consider that a moral act, so I don’t see it as fitting Hitchens’s challenge.

          2. Sigmund,

            —““Why would they be lying?” I ask,

            “Because they don’t know that there is a heaven awaiting the dying person” —–

            You’ve equivocated there. The pertinent point to lying isn’t knowledge, it’s belief.
            If you believe X is true but it’s not true, then you are mistaken, not lying. Lying is generally held to be: making a statement you actually believe to be untrue.

            An atheist telling someone they will go to heaven would be lying (he doesn’t actually believe it).

            A sincere Christian would not be lying.

            Again, it would be silly if the challenge involved demanding a Christian show he is physically capable of doing physical things, like producing the words “you will go to heaven when you die” where an atheist can not.

            It is more reasonably concerned with underlying justifications. If the Christian is right about someone going to heaven, then the Christian is not lying and has rational justification for his sincere claim. An atheist would not have sincere, rational justification for the claim.


            1. A Christian belonging to any of the mainstream denominations could not honestly tell a dying person that they will go to heaven after death. All of them teach that only God knows who will go to heaven, and that professing to be a Christian does not guarantee entry.

              1. TS

                That is not quite accurate.

                Most theologies empnasize a personal knowledge and relationship with God. And in all of those theologies, it is taught that you can know your salvation. Yes, there are others, but a portion does not equate to a whole.


        2. Vaal, you are confused about what “tithing” means.

          Please provide evidence to support your thinking that it is somehow different from the mere PHYSICAL act of putting money into the plate.

          The same with worship and evangelizing.

          Be careful, this may be an atheist trap!

          1. Xuuths,

            I’m going on Christian descriptions of their moral injunctions.

            As for tithing in particular, the point is whether it is morally condoned or prescribed within whatever relevant sect we are talking about.

            If it is (and it was an example given by W.L. Craig) then that would be the point: A Christian could say tithing is the right/moral thing to do because God wants us to, whereas this would not be motivated or supported on the view that such Christian claims are false.

            As to other religious moral injunctions, if it is the case as many Christians hold that God commands our worship and that we “ought to love God with all our heart”…and in other cases evangelize, then those are moral injunctions WITHIN the Christian worldview that an atheist can not logically require in thinking Christianity is false.


            1. Vaal, thank you for not answering my specific questions. (It would have been fine to admit you don’t know what “tithing” means.)

              Your statement is about what motivates tithing, not what tithing is.

              You are splitting the hair about “ought to” and “have to” — when I’m talking about what is actually being done. You’re stuck on the motivations, and I’m talking about what the actions are — as Hitch described.

              Taking your position, the proscription to “do everything as unto the Lord” would mean that ALL actions by christians are moral actions — which is clearly rendering the word useless, and clearly untrue.

              1. Xuuths,

                It is apperent, you do not know what “tithing” means ….

                Don’t you just love your logic used against your own argument?

                A discussion should be just that. If neither of you have a horse in the race, you shouldn’t get excited when the “horse” you are not betting on falls behind ….

                Btw, how do you define “tithing?”


              2. Xuuths,

                I’m afraid you are missing the points I’ve made and not addressing them. If, as you seem to want to say, Hitchens’ challenge really did concern ACTIONS rather than any motivation,
                what exactly does such a challenge ask?

                If the result of Hitchens’ challenge only concerned actions (including statement making) that humans can make, then ALL he would be establishing is that both Christians and Atheists are human beings capable of similar PHYSICAL actions. Sure…both a christian and an atheist could physically help the needy in Africa. While we’re at it, an atheist could get up in church and physically recite God’s commands from the bible, or evangelize. A Christian is physically capable of reciting the creeds of Ayn Rand as well.

                Whoopdedo! As if anyone, Christian or atheist,
                is ever disputing Christians and atheists aren’t both human beings and capable of the same physical actions!

                Seriously, what is it you’d actually find enlightening?

                I’d like to grant Hitchens at least more intelligence than that, and suppose that he’s trying to make a deeper point about atheists having a basis for most moral actions as well.

                It’s just that I think how he phrased his challenge actually turns out to be problematic.

    3. Actions such as tithing, worship and evangelism which have only to do with religion are themselves the illustration of the No True Scotsman fallacy (and I speak as a true Scotsman). Obviously none of those can be considered a moral action, since they refer only to religion, and more importantly only to A religion. I’m sure animists in PNG don’t tithe, Jews don’t evalgelise, and somebody somewhere probably doesn’t worship. These are not moral actions, but religious ones. It therefore goes without saying they’re only performed by the religious. And only a very narrow slice of the religious at that.

      1. Alan Hope,

        —“Actions such as tithing, worship and evangelism which have only to do with religion are themselves the illustration of the No True Scotsman fallacy (and I speak as a true Scotsman).”

        That would only be the case if the theist asserted that the only “real moral actions” are
        theistic. But typically they don’t. Things like tithing are only some of the moral actions
        acknowledged by a theist. In fact a standard theme from theists in debate with the New Atheists is they are not saying atheists can’t undertake moral actions – that atheists CAN be moral. Right there, the No True Scotsman fallacy is negated. Rather, they argue that the reasons’ WHY the action is moral is provided by the existence of a God. But that is not the same thing as saying atheists can’t perform moral actions.

        —“Obviously none of those can be considered a moral action, since they refer only to religion, and more importantly only to A religion.”

        Yes they can. On the worldview of a particular religion/sect, things like tithing or evangelism or worshipping God with all your heart ARE moral injunctions.

        Pointing out other religions may not share the same moral injunctions is no response to this, any more than pointing out that atheists don’t believe in any particular religions moral injunction. IF a particular religion is true THEN they come with some moral injunctions that an atheist could not affirm on an atheist worldview.

        And that satisfies any real challenge Hitchens may have had.

        But as I said, Hitchens’ challenge was never made particularly coherent, from what I’ve seen of his writing and the many debates I’ve watched.


        1. Plato taught us this in his Euthyphro dilemma. Is an action morally good because God commands it? Or does He command it because it is morally good?

          Well, I think I can make a case from a Christian perspective for an apparently evil act being ordered by God.

          The Holocaust. From a Christian and indeed from a Jewish point of view, you can argue that it was God’s Judgement.

          The liberal concensus forbids this sort of thinking but it makes perfect sense through the lenses of theology and eschatology. You can view the Nazis as being the instrument with which God judged and condemned the diaspora for straying from Orthodoxy. If God could use the Babylonians and the Assyrians to punish his Chosen People, then he could also employ the Hitlerites as the administering angels of His wrath. And you could claim that the Jews did indeed learn their lesson pretty quickly. When was the state of Israel founded?

          1948, not long at all after the Second World War. And isn’t the Messiah supposed to come when the Jews have built the Promised Land? Only then would the Second Coming occur, so wouldn’t Christians be absolutely right to support Israel? As Lenin said, `Like a rope supporting a hanged man.´

          If you believe that whatever God commands is by definition good, then you can mould your theology to fit any set of events you want. It has an infinite elasticity. Sooner or later some good will turn up; and you can make a gigantic logical leap to say that without evil `A´, good `B´ could never have happened, without the intellectual requirement to prove the one thing from the other.

          For isn’t theology a content-free zone? Hence its chameleon ability to shift shape, to change under the impact of real events and of, to be blunt, facts.

          William Lane Craig, whom you quoted above, defends this divine command theory; his answer to the Euthyphro dilemma is
          at least theologically consistent. He propounds that an action is moral because God commands it. He therefore, on his website, defends God’s injunction to kill the Canaanites, men, women and children, an injunction which still holds for all people of the Book, if they should come across an Amalekite, Moabite etc. today.

          To demonstrate the depths of moral depravity to which this ghoul descends, he goes so far as to feel pity for the poor Israelite soldiers who had to commit this genocide. But to glory that at least the Canaanite babes are now with their Maker.

          In this scheme, the morality of a particular action is entirley incidental and mysterious to human reason; it is the theology of ‘God told me to do it’. It is the sanction for the most base of crimes and degeneracy.

        2. I don’t see how his challenge is not coherent, since he’s clearly saying that a moral act as he defines it is one that does not depend on religion for its morality. There are many moral acts which fit that bill, but tithing, worship and evangelism are not among them. I see no moral worth whatsoveer in worship of a being which does not exist, for example, whereas I am fully able to comprehend the moral injunction against theft or, indeed, adultery.

          1. —“I don’t see how his challenge is not coherent, since he’s clearly saying that a moral act as he defines it is one that does not depend on religion for its morality.”

            You don’t see the incoherence and Scotsman fallacy to such a challenge?

            If it is as you just stated, Hitchens is saying:

            I define a moral act as one that does not depend on religion for it’s morality.

            Now, show me a moral act that depends on religion for it’s morality!

            Uhm…he would have ruled such a request out by his own definition, hence it would be a trivial, incoherent “challenge.”

            Same as if I said:

            I define a long distance runner to a runner who is not born in the USA.

            My challenge is to show me a long distance runner who is born in the USA!

            If someone produced any number of long distance runners from other countries, what would he expect but for me to say “Sorry, since long distance runners are only born in the USA, that isn’t a long distance runner!”

            Who would bother with such futile silliness?
            Yet that is essentially what you are saying Hitchens has done.


            1. Ugh, so sorry for typing too fast again:

              Same as if I said:

              I define a long distance runner to be a runner who is born in the USA.

              My challenge is to show me a long distance runner who is NOT born in the USA!

              If someone produced any number of long distance runners from other countries, what would he expect but for me to say “Sorry, since long distance runners are only born in the USA, that isn’t a long distance runner! You fail my challenge!”

              Who would bother with such futile silliness?
              Yet that is essentially what you are saying Hitchens has done.


            2. Of course not. There’s no way his definition of “moral act” could ever encompass one which was only moral to adherents of certain religions, and not even all of them. I’m sure any definition of morality that was broadly acceptable would not include tithing. The suggestion is simply ridiculous.

              Contrary to what you suggest, it would surely be simple for most people to come up with an example of a moral act which does not depend on religion for its basis: do not steal, do not kill, do not lie, care for the needy, prevent evil and so on. Hitchens’ point was that those moral injunctions do not need Jesus for their authority: they’re actually more or less universal in application. You don’t have to be a Catholic, for example, to think it wrong to make children suffer.

              1. What is missing from this debate is the corollary poser, which Hitchens always appended to the question being discussed.

                Namely, ‘Think of a morally bad statement or action that a person could make or do, only because of their religion.’ Or words to that effect. In that light, it represents Hitchens’ almost unvarying attempt to introduce the Euthyphro dilemma (which I notice, Vaal, you have not addressed) into the debate.

                I repeat: Is an action morally good because God commands it? Or does He command it because it is morally good?

                And the obvious point to raise regarding both ideas is this. How do you know what God commands, yet I don’t? One is therefore led to the pay-off, ‘You can believe this, if you want to…’ with which Hitchens concluded so many arguments, having led the assembled through his usual reductio ad absurdum.

                Pace Vaal, Hitchens is not quite saying:

                “I define a moral act as one that does not depend on religion for it’s morality.”

                The point is that s/he who determines the morality of an act or statement is the human family, through our conversation. If the religious, through their belief that God commanded this act or statement, happen to agree, then we can say this. It is entirely coincidental from a theological perspective; completely to be expected from an ethically normal human point of view; not contingent on their belief in God; and a function of their sharing the same earth as the rest of us.

                He is wresting from religion its attempt at monopolising the right to define the moral, truth and the good city. And reminding us of the only being we know of which has ever made or done a moral statement or act; we ourselves.

              2. Alan,

                I think we all know broadly the type of point Hitchens would like to have made.

                The issue is the way he tried to make it, which
                is the phrasing of his challenge which, unfortunately, left him vulnerable to charges of incoherence or special pleading etc.

                You’ve got him saying “Show me a moral act that an atheist can’t do”…but apparently hiding in
                there caveats that…this only covers moral acts we agree are moral….you know all those other things in your religion you consider moral acts? I’m not going to count those as moral.

                So those acts your religion holds to be moral, but that an atheist viewpoint wouldn’t support…ruled out of the game.

                Well, that’s rather a rigged game, isn’t it?

                Tithing…or evangelizing, or worship, or loving God with all your heart may not be moral in OUR view, but they are some central prescriptions IF you are a Christian (and depending on which brand of Christianity).


    4. “Name me a moral action committed by a believer or a moral statement uttered by one, that could not be made or uttered by a non-believer.

      That’s not his challenge. You added the bolded bit. This is his challenge:

      “Show me one moral act undertaken by a religious person that could not have been done by someone who doesn’t believe in God”

      An “injunction” isn’t a a moral action, it’s a statement.

      1. truthspeaker,

        I googled Hitchens’ moral challenge, found a video of a debate where in his opening he gave the challenge, and I typed it verbatim.

        So I’m certainly not misrepresenting Hitchens’ challenge, given that was it in his own words.

        Obviously he would state it slightly differently here or there. I’m not sure what difference you think the version you provide makes to the argument I’ve made.



    5. I think I’ve got to side with Vaal on this one. The logic does seem circular. I think the impact that Hitchens got from making his challenge probably came from the fact that many of his religious audiences didn’t think such things through very carefully. Most of the religious folks I know pretty much go with the voice of authority rather than carefully thinking through moral issues themselves. Otherwise a lot of them wouldn’t be religious in the first place.

  10. Because, y’know like man, everyone has faith in something, like their friends and family, and all uses of the word faith mean exactly the same thing.

    Therefore Jesus. Simples.

  11. I don’t care if someone is religious. If they are, it is on them to prove their own integrity. Sewell has destroyed all of hers by speaking for Hitchens only after he died. How disgraceful.

    1. Well, to be fair, not merely speaking for him, since Salman Rushdie, Bill Bruford and many others have done that since he died. She misspoke for him, but made the stupid error (which I point to above) of misquoting him in an interview she herself had published. We’ve grown used to Christians cherry-picking quotes to suit their purposes, but it’s a new low when one misconstrues her own published interview.

  12. I am ceaselessly impressed by the sheer dishonesty of religious apologists. I am coming to think that religion itself has made them incapable of distinguishing what’s true from what they’d like to be true.

  13. Ironically, your author mentions “The Red Cross” as support for his atheistic agenda. The Red Cross was started as a Christian relief society not as an Atheist relief society ….

    Who do we convert to atheism next to support our agenda?

    George Washington? Christopher Hitchens?

    It would be rather difficult to convert either of them …

    I have asked this before, why do you care? I have significantly less angst towards atheists who attack my Religion than do many atheists have towards my ‘God.’ They EXIST. I find it odd that atheists would let a ‘god’ they consider imaginary consume their lives ….

    If ‘god’ does not exist, then get on with your life.

    The behavior of many atheists is not unlike someone who lost a child. They wander around looking for their child. Even after the funeral …..

    1. Read the context of the post and the comments, Wayne.

      It is precisely the opposite of what you say; the context is this.

      The religionists are claiming atheists as their own.

      How many times? This is dishonest. People do not like to be lied about.

      1. There’s the religious extremists, lying again. The ICRC’s own website states that the founders were author Henry Durant (who wanted better care for soldiers after wartime), plus several doctors and military personell. The organization began as a *neutral* group to help injured military personell. Here is a link, Wayne. See? That’s what we call evidence. Want to try it sometime?

            1. LOL! Still on with this,eh? Fair enough. I have no religion and do not bother considering what is possible I that area. So far as evidence goes, gods and goddesses are very unlikely. But my beliefs do not affect that fact one way or another.

              1. 😉

                But surely you’re rational enough that your beliefs are informed by that fact, ne?

                And you seem bothered enough about religion to consider that fact…


      2. Guys,

        Some of you keep doing these tautologies …. It is confusing, and in MHO represents very circular reasoning. No pun intended, right?

        If you can reason that the IRC was not a Christian organization founded by “Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross,” (*) because it is NO longer a Christian organization; then you can reason anything you want to ….

        The sky is pink, the moon is red, you had no mother, nor father, and you will not die.

        But, a tautology is a very simple and basic logical error. Regardless of your world-view or Religion.

        And, IMHO, no one involved in any public discussion should make tautological errors on a regular basis. Just like spell-check, you should use it once in a while.


        Specically, what I wrote was to the OP. If you would like to change the direction of your discussion, you should not need my help.

        But, to state that I meant something different than what I wrote because “you read something” is both: tautological and dishonest.




        1. Wayne,

          This is simply ungrammatical, incoherent and beneath rebuttal. I suggest you look up ‘tautology’ in a dictionary; I don’t think you know what it means.

          While we’re at it:

          Are you happy with your extended metaphor?

          “The behaviour of many atheists is not unlike someone who lost a child. They wander around looking for their child. Even after the funeral …..”

          What would you think of me if I had written that to you? Would you think me amoral and willing to use any rhetorical device, no matter how tasteless, to make my point? Would you think that I had lost my moral bearings because of my anti-theism? Shame on you.

    2. The Red Cross was started as a Christian relief society not as an Atheist relief society

      Was started as, yes. But is it still one now?

        1. Here is their mission statement, sounds right to me:

          “The ICRC’s Mission Statement

          The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance.

          It directs and coordinates the international relief activities conducted by the Movement in situations of conflict. It also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.

          Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”

    3. We only “obsess” over it because other people do. We are concerned about it because many atrocities are caused, and much progress impeded by the presence of religion and in the name of God. We care, because the belief in a god does not make one more moral than another, but does allow one to justify anything from human sacrifice to the embracing of the idea of thoughtcrime.

      Leave aside the Red Cross if you so desire. Mark it down as a mistake; it happens. None of us are inerrant, or claim to be. But the point stands, however, that there is a vast amount of charity and good done in the world by humanists and atheists-a rebuttal of the claim made that only religious people help the helpless.

    4. Jean Henri Dunant, who who campaigned for and helped to found the red cross, was himself a Christian and was involved in several Christian organizations such as the YMCA. However the Red Cross was specifically set up as a neutral organization in terms of religion, nationality etc. The symbol has nothing to do with religion but is merely the Swiss flag with colours reversed. Switzerland had been neutral in European wars for centuries so my guess is that it was meant to symbolize “world neutrality”.

    5. Wayne,

      It’s not that we atheists are obsessed with god, but that religion can deeply affect us every single day. It can often feel like its being rubbed in our faces.

      1) I grew up in central Texas, the belt buckle on the bible belt. I currently live in Dallas. I came out as an atheist while in 6th grade. I was told by many of my classmates and a few adults that I was damned to hell forever. One kid told me his parents wouldn’t let him be friends with me anymore.

      2) Religious right and the republican party are telling me my gay and lesbian friends who risked their lives beside me in Iraq are second class citizens and can’t get married, adopt children or generally be as miserable as the rest of us.

      3) The Army oath of enlistment ends with “So help me god”. Title 10, Section 52 of the US Code doesn’t make any part of the oath optional. Luckily, Army regulations do, but the law trumps the Army regs so if someone wants to press the issue…

      4) I often receive a “bless you” when someone finds out I’m an Iraq vet.

      5) People wish you a “Merry Christmas” several times a day this time of year.

      6) Religious themed Christmas music is played on all the radio stations and in every store when out shopping during this time of year.

      7) When testifying in court, you may be asked to swear on the bible that you will tell the truth so help you god. Non christians can refuse this and make a solemn declaration under penalty of perjury to tell the truth.

      8) “In God We Trust” is printed on every dollar bill in my wallet.

      10) The Easter holiday, like Christmas also brings out the religious symbols and greetings.

      11) Sneeze and someone says “God bless you”.

      I could go on for quite a while Wayne. Religion permeates our lives here in the US. If your not religious or the ‘wrong’ religion, you can feel like you are living in a perpetual ‘hostile work environment’ similar to the definition used in sexual harassment (I was a sexual assault response coordinator during my last deployment to Iraq).

      1. Foxhole,

        Thank you for your service.

        Then you are aware that what you felt has little to do with what the Army Regs told you to do. You did them without regard to your feelings, just as I did before you.

        What you feel in responce to the society around you, should not direct you to do anything …. unless the society is threatening you, your property, etc.

        Personally, I get given the ‘bird’ while driving 100 times more often than I receive a ‘God bless you.’

        Regardless of how it makes you feel, profanity intended to cause anger is much worse than a simple ‘God bless you’ for a ‘god’ you do not believe in. That it would make you feel otherwise hints at something I cannot see, or touch within you.

        As for permeating our culture?

        It is a breath of fresh air for me when I go abroad. And everyone tells me, “God blessed America. Don’t you think so?”

        Ironically, even in Europe, there is a much more tolerant view of American history than there is here in the USA.

        As a test, walk up to 10 of your friends and say, “I think God saved my friends life.”

        See what the responses are …. most of them will be generic …. most of them will be sadly generic.

        Why? Because Americans, and even Texans, no longer NEED a god. Once we got irrigation to a relative level, and we outsourced all the extra men to jobs in the city, the Country no longer needed ‘God.’

        Go visit Russia ….. tell people in the land of the great atheists that America is no longer a Christian country, and then tell me what they tell YOU ….

  14. As a UU, I don’t agree with what Sewell reportedly did. UU clergy should be neutral on dogma.

    The ending quote of Hitchens is perfect.

  15. @Ant, yes you are right, and my beliefs are quite set against any type of god. However a handful of atheists’ obsession with calling ME an atheist rises to the level of fundamentalism and makes me start to believe that some atheists are as cultish as any of the religions they criticize.

    1. Amélie,

      ‘Fundamentalist’ – not enough fun, too much damn and too little mental. © Bart D. Ehrman

      No doubt, the good Dr. Ant will have something to say about ‘fundamental atheism’.

      1. If “fundamentalism” is “strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology” [NOAD] then “fundamentalist atheism” just doesn’t exist, since it is neither a religion nor an ideology (“a system of ideas and ideals”): Atheism comprises only one idea (not a “system”): “belief in no god or gods”. (I think that phrasing is sufficiently ambiguous to encompass both weak and strong forms.)

        To say, “I believe in no god or gods,” is logically (and fundamentally!) equivalent to saying, “I am an atheist.”


          1. “sects” of atheists? What? I’m an atheist and I have no idea what you’re actually talking about here.

            (I’m picturing atheists failing to gather in order not to worship a lack of a god.)

            1. Before I answer, David, tell me one thing. I do not really believe in any god but I do not consider myself an atheist. Would you insist on calling me an atheist, though?

          2. “Sects” of atheists? That you felt the need to use scare quotes suggests that you know that this is spurious.

            What else do you think comprises this “set of ideas,” then?

            As I mentioned elsewhere, atheism is really an outcome of an underlying worldview or attitude, be it scepticism, philosophical naturalism, humanism, &c. — or sheer bloody apathy. It is not a belief in its own right: It is meaningless to say, “I’m an atheist because I believe in no god or gods.” It leaves unanswered the question, “Why do you believe in no god or gods?”

            And people’s rationales for believing in no god or gods differ – the utter lack of evidence (about as close to “gnostic” atheism as you can get), the out-and-out incoherence of the concept (“ignostic” atheism), unknowability (“agnostic” atheism), or apathy (not, strictly, a rationale! “apnostic” atheism or “apatheism”) – as do their degrees of conviction – strong (disbelief) vs weak (lack of belief).

            But none of these create sects or (more neutrally) factions of atheism! There’s no schism or heresy, because there’s no divergence from the one defining idea of atheism: “belief in no god or gods.”

            Nevertheless, there clearly are different social groupings of atheists – or, more precisely, people who are atheists (in differing degrees for different reasons) – humanists and gnu atheists being the most visible or vocal. But nor are these sects or factions – it’s quite possible to be a humanist and a gnu atheist, say (e.g., one whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun, and who also self-identifies as a sceptic and a naturalist).

            From your earlier comments, it seems your reluctance to accept “atheist” as a descriptor (if not as a label) stems from people who do appropriate atheist as a label and present themselves as “Atheists” with a capital-A (quite literally if they wear a “scarlet letter” badge), and, yes, they have lots of other ideas, but none of them are inherent in atheism (or, therefore, shared by everyone who is an atheist); rather, they are sociopolitical ideas that are a reaction to negative attitudes towards those who believe in no god or gods. On of the goals (and the explicit goal of Dawkins’s Out Campaign) is to demonstrate that it’s OK to be an atheist. Ironic then, that such advocacy makes others less accepting of the descriptor… 

            But – like Neil deGrasse Tyson — you don’t get to redefine words to distance yourself from groups you don’t want to embrace!


              1. I’d be “more comfortable” if you got off your creepy high horse and understand that people have the right to decide their own labels. If asked, I say I have no religion. Period. I am not an atheist and not really an agnostic either.

                Intersting term you set forth, but the word “skeptic” is problematic. In science, methods to eliminate bias are built in. No need to add “skepticism” unless you disagree with a study’s methods.

            1. Simple, Ant. You and others have demanded that I call myself an atheist and “embrace”, as you put it, the group. That makes atheism at best, a sect and at worst, a cult. Go ahead and deny it

              1. Sorry, comment box fail. Anyway Ant, I accept most of what you say. But if you want to be among a handful of atheists who,represent themselves as pushy cultists who demand scientists like myself call ourselves atheists, go ahead. You guys are already reviled by a several,prominent scientists, now I see why.

              2. ( In reply to all three comments above. )

                OK, then, Amélie: I deny it!

                I deny that I’ve demanded that you call yourself an atheist.

                Nor any other scientists like you, nor anyone else like you for that matter.

                In fact, I’ve explicitly stated elsewhere that that is exactly not what I’m doing. If you infer something different, I apologise for not being more clear.

                Of course people have the right to decide their own labels, to decide what they call themselves. But people don’t have the right to redefine words that accurately describe them simply because they don’t like the connotations. 

                Saying, “I believe in no god or gods,” or some variant thereof, “but I’m not an atheist,” is as nonsensical as a (wo)man saying, “I’ve never married, but I’m not a bachelor (spinster).”

                All I’m pushing for is for you to acknowledge that. (And if I’m on any high horse, it’s not an atheistic one, but a logical or linguistic one… )

                But by all means say, “I believe in no god or gods, but I wouldn’t call myself an atheist,” or “…, but I’m not one of those ghastly gnu atheists.”

                Btw [1], re scepticism, isn’t science really “applied scepticism”?

                Btw [2], which prominent scientists already revile (good word, but rather strong – strident, even!) “us guys”? 

                I deny that I’ve demanded that you “embrace” the group.

                I was referring to a specific group of atheists – a group of people who are openly atheists and more besides, which is a relatively small subgroup of all atheists – that, as a matter of fact, you (like NdGT) do not want to embrace. I was in no way suggesting that you were wrong not to embrace the group, nor did i urge you to do so – let alone “demand” that!

                I deny that, whatever else I did or did not do, that that “makes” atheism anything.

                Atheism remains all that it is, belief in no god or gods, and no more. 

                You might have a better shot at gnu atheism, but, as previously noted, that’s a loose-knit community that embraces far more that atheism qua atheism.


  16. @Ant – Thank you. That was my main objection. That two (three, if I include you) atheists seemed to be suggesting that I must call myself an atheist,,or they insist on calling me one which is obnoxious and pushy.

    However I seem to have misunderstood your point, so I apologize too.

    I wish to refrain from mentioning scientists by name. I am not trying to be deceptive; I merely, as I’m sure you understand, think it immoral (and a lousy career move to boot) to speak for those scientists. But at some point I may write a post on the topic and I will link to their talk in which they made those statements.

    Please note that, so far as I can see, regular dictionaries state that atheists are ones who “actively deny or discredit” belief in gods. (Allow me to leave the page and look that up, iPad will erase my comment otherwise).

  17. @ant okay, Mirriam Webster actually mentions “doctrine”, and other dictionaries seem to imply there is an active denial. Maybe it’s a fine line but to me it’s still enough that it is not merely someone vaguely not believing in gods. I myself have hardly ever even thought about it. I just don’t care.

    Being married is a legal state. Aside from seperations or divorce proceedings, really the line is pretty clear.

    Re: Scepticism, I think that science is either theory, law or hypothesis, and testability. Not really anything that assumes stuff from the outcome. My thesis in grad school tried to detect a relationship, for example. 🙂

    1. For a thoughtful discussion of the various definitions of atheism, you might want to take a look at the article “What Is the Definition of Atheism?” on You might find “Myth: Defining Atheism as a ‘Lack of Belief in God’ is a Cop Out” to be helpful also.

      I don’t think the line is any clearer. Is an until-now unmarried man who marries a woman who is already married no longer a bachelor?

      I’m not quite sure what your point about scepticism v. science v. assuming stuff from the outcome was… ?


Leave a Reply