”That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence”This has been referenced to his book, “God Is Not Great”, although I have not found it there in my quick re-perusal of my underlinings throughout. Hitchens' book is a study in bias generation and prejudicial selection of anecdotes in order to form an ideological argument. In that book, Hitchens cherrypicks selections which he adjudges evil under his own moral standard of evil, and he selects quotes which are colored toward his own Atheist hatred of religion.
An example is his selection of quotes from Einstein which would leave the uneducated reader to think that Einstein was a rabid Atheist: he was not, he was a deist after being introduced to the universal red shift by astronomer Hubble. The same cynical manipulations are done for Jefferson and others, and he specifically manipulates the concept of totalitarianism into the idea that it is theist in nature despite the secular Atheism that inheres to Marxism and to its bloody social experiments in China, the USSR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Cuba, etc. He purposefully conflates “dogmatic” with “religious” in order to define totalitarianism with theism. The Atheist dogmatic pursuit of total control becomes the religious pursuit of total control (falsely biasing the reader to consider theism to be the issue and ignoring the actual Atheist roots).
Examples of statements made in “GING” by Hitchens:
Regarding historical Atheists: ”We cannot know the names of all these men and women because they have in all times and all places been subject to ruthless suppression.” p254He cannot possibly support that statement: it is emotionally based.
”It was never that difficult to see that religion was a cause of hatred and conflict, and that its maintenance depended upon ignorance and superstition.” p255This is stated as a universal, without any corresponding support.
”The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals , can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts which have been found to be corrupt and confected.” p283This is false, on its face. Literature does not produce moral positioning, nor does poetry. That is not their purpose. Further, the validity of certain texts has continued to be validated more and more by archaeological findings; in fact, many archaeologists use those texts in their investigations.
”If I cannot definitively prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past, and that its foundational books are transparent fables, and that it is a man-made imposition, and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry, and that it has subsisted on lies and fears, and been the accomplice of ignorance of guilt as well as slavery, genocide, racism and tyranny, I can most certainly claim that religion is now fully aware of these criticisms” p229Evidence? Here Hitchens admits that he actually has none. He admits that what he actually has is criticisms without evidence. In fact, his criticisms are prejudicially intended, and purposefully inflammatory all while admittedly being without proof. And he salts all this with the next:
”It [religion] is also fully aware of the ever-mounting evidence, concerning the origins of the cosmos and the origin of the species, which consign it to marginality if not irrelevance.”
Hitchens has completely misrepresented the existence of impending knowledge of the origins of both the cosmos and the species. Neither is claimed to be addressed by science. Neither the cause of the Big Bang nor the cause of first life can be addressed by empirical science. So if he means empirical evidence of the originating source for either the universe or life, then he is making a false statement. And if he doesn’t mean that, then his implication is still false. So in fact, Hitchens has again violated the Hitchens Razor, and in fact has made false claims.
Hitchens is still without any evidence which is pertinent to the fundamental theist arguments and evidence; he has produced no evidence, just accusations and those cherrypicked for effect.
I point this out about Hitchens claims and intellectual methodology in order to give a flavor for his type of intellectual processing and integrity. Hitchens does not hesitate to give just one side as Truth, to assert opinion with the aura of fact, to assert non sequiturs freely, and to use non-coherent assertions as if they are rules. In fact, the assertion which he made above is now called a rule of logic by Atheists (not logicians), and is called Hitchens’ Razor, after Ockham’s Razor.
It should be noted that Ockham’s Razor is not a rule of logic either, and was roundly defeated by Einstein, who said that “everything should be made as simple as reasonable, but no simpler” when his use of Brownian motion to demonstrate the actual existence of atoms disproved a published theory of Bohr which depended on theoretical oversimplification.
What, Exactly Is Hitchens’ Razor?
With that background, then what of this assertion which is called Hitchens’ Razor? Is it an irrefutable logic statement? Is it a universal? A meta-universal? What exactly is it?
The statement is more completely expressed thus:
IF [evidence is required in order to consider an assertion], THEN [ I assert that “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”].
The premise shown here is presumed and is an opinion, not a valid premise for a truth statement. Hitchens makes his assertion with no premises given.
So the statement is merely an assertion without premises, a conclusion which is declared as Truth, yet is without evidence of its own Truth value. It is presented as universal, and it is taken that way by Atheists who intend to deny any responsibility for giving rational reasons for their rejection of theist evidence (either disciplined deduction, or material empirical evidence). Yet it is possible to conceive of exceptions to the Razor, so it is not a incontroverible rule of either logic or universal epistemology.
The Demonstration of Non-Coherence:
A statement which self-refutes is paradoxical, i.e. non-coherent. Hitchens’ statement not only cannot prove itself, nor is there any evidence of its universal truth, it has the unfortunate characteristic of providing the means for its own dismissal: If the statement is true, then it is dismissable as without value. If it is dismissed without value, then how can it be true and valuable? It cannot. Paradox and non-coherence render a concept to be non-logical and irrational, and that is the fate of Hitchens’ Razor.
Consequences For Atheists Who Attempt to Use Hitchens’ Concept:
Hitchens’ comment regarding dismissing without evidence backfires directly into the faces of Atheists who try to use it in defense of their denial of intellectual responsibility for their rejection of actual theist evidence, both material and non-material.
The Atheist denial of the intellectual burden to rationally defend their rejection is never accompanied with any evidence in its support of the denial, just as their rejection itself is never accompanied with any evidence.
Because Atheists have no evidence to support the position that there is no god, that position also is dismissable under Hitchens’ decree. In fact, any and all Atheist positions are dismissible under Hitchens’ Razor – see Hitchens’ very own admission of lacking proof for his accusations, above. Thus, his accusations may be dismissed without evidence, in fact without any reasoning at all, under Hitchens’ Razor.
If Hitchens’ unsupported (non-coherent) statement is declared valid, THEN all Atheist positions can be dismissed immediately, because:
(a) Atheists cannot produce any evidence whatsoever that basic theist positions are incorrect;Atheists can make exactly no truth statements and can produce no evidentiary findings regarding either theist deductions of the existence of a creating agent, or theist claims of material evidence (e.g. the miracle at Lourdes, France).
(b) Atheists cannot produce evidence which proves that they can rationally deny the validity of an argument without showing why the argument is not valid (denial of Burden of Rebuttal);
(c) Atheists cannot produce evidence which proves that there is no creating agent for the universe;
(d) Atheists cannot produce evidence which proves that there cannot exist a creating agent for the universe.
(e) Atheists cannot support with evidence the claim that there is no evidence for theism.
Intellectual Emptiness: Rational Death Blow To Atheism:
Any assertions made by Atheists, then, are made without evidence, and can be dismissed… WITH evidence, evidence presented for theism, which Atheists cannot disprove or refute. (note 1) When Atheists attempt to use Hitchens’ Razor to defend their avoidance of giving reasons for rejecting theist evidence, they have to ignore the fact that evidence has been given to them, and that Hitchens’ Razor – aside from its non-coherence and self-refutation – cannot possibly apply. The attempt is futile. And to insist upon it is intellectually dishonest.
This is far more damaging to Atheism than trying to apply Hitchens’ non-coherent demurral of intellectual responsibility to empty rejections of theist evidence. An Atheist rejection without evidence is a rejection without reason or reasoning: intellectually empty.
It is possible that Atheists might insist that it is unreasonable to demand such evidence from them (that is false, of course, but let’s go with that claim to its conclusion and consequence). What the Atheists are then claiming is that they can declare a truth value (the theist claim is without merit) without any evidence to support that truth claim.
But under the Hitchens Claim, since they have no evidence – regardless of any adjectives considering the reasonability or any other modifier of the term – then their claims are dismissible out of hand (without evidence).
No matter how they logic-chop it, they wind up with completely dismissible claims (especially claims of dismissibility).
Hitchens was a virulent Atheist; his comment was expressly intended to address the Burden of Rebuttal problem which Atheists have: dismissal of arguments and evidence without giving any reason because there is no reasoning attached to the dismissal process. But the entire concept fails, because there actually is evidence, and it either can be refuted with contrary evidence (logical or material), or it cannot be refuted.
Hitchens and his Razor wish to deny the existence of that evidence, and dismiss theism without even addressing the evidence which is given to them with either rational deductive argumentation, or material, empirical evidence as disproof.
Because they cannot. They have no rational arguments to offer, and no material empirical evidence to present, either proof of Atheism or disproof of theism. They are without evidence. Atheism is empty. Atheism is just a VOID, entered via emotional rejection without either evidence or argument in support. And that is what Hitchens was trying to protect, even if it took a non-coherent assertion to do it. He and his Razor attempt to justify rejection-without-cause, which is a purely emotional response to evidence which Atheism cannot refute.
Being without rational arguments or material, empirical evidence on their side, Atheism is seen to be a purely emotional decision which results in claiming both reason and science when it actually has none to offer in its support. This is non-coherent and irrational.
For these reasons, the emotional basis and the irrationality of Atheism, there is little chance of encountering a rational conversation with an Atheist. This is demonstrated frequently here on this blog.
The follow-on claim by Atheists is that it is absurd to require the proof of a negative. This claim is easily falsified by demonstrating that if the claims are false, material claims can be empirically falsified by material, empirical techniques, and logical claims can be falsified by submitting them to the rules of disciplined deductive logic, including form analysis, premise analysis, Reductio Ad Absurdum, and testing against First Principles. Regarding the deductive arguments made in this blog, and the claim of the Miracle at Lourdes, no Atheist to date has made any of the required analytical assessments; all have merely complained about them, and offered excuses such as the Hitchens Failure shown above.