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Hitchens and the Myth of Socrates

This guy was so close but yet so far.

He correctly realizes that it’s worthwhile to discuss the philosophy of Socrates without getting bogged down in the historicity of the guy.

Yet when it comes to the lilies parable in Matthew 6 a few centuries later (which is the verse he quotes), he gets hung up on census data and specific time and date.

He overlooks the poetry, the koan, the yoke lifted, the instant salvation, the moon pointed to by the finger in:

Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Aren’t y’all of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are you all so anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

He gets hung up on misreading “don’t be anxious” as if it said “don’t plan” or “have no thrift”. No-one said to stop chopping wood and carrying water. Just to stop fretting about it. Just to stop wondering why why why and instead just live in the world fully without getting attached to the dust of the world.

C. S. Lewis is to blame for a lot of this, with that hideous trilemma. Lewis had such disdain for the holy writ that he could only stomach to take it seriously if he could convince himself it was signed off by a literal sky bully, instead of engaging with the text qua text and the world in a grain of sand.

Hitchens was being obtuse. It’s as if I were to misinterpret Socrates’ “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” as “Knowing nothing? Not even knowing that humans need to breathe!? We will suffocate and die with this madness! Only someone who can be convinced by the utter myth that Socrates founded Western philosophy and died for our sins by the cup of hemlock could listen to such tripe!”

Except with Socrates, Hitchens wouldn’t do that because Socrates has the signoff of the ivory tower whereas the lamb has been appropriated, corrupted, and re-crucified daily by a hate-machine claiming his name and his throne as they’re strapping on the ever-stomping boot from the pulpit. And you know, I kinda can’t fault him too much for wanting to distance himself from that machine, from the Phelpses and Chicks of the world.

Just as the four Horsemen—Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett—has led many souls 180˚ from them and their dorky Carrot atheism, far from them, and straight into the breath of life.