But to say these things requires an account of what I mean by "religion." Instead of offering his own account, Hitchens' strategy seems to be this: if it is good, noble, or tends to inspire compassion, then it isn't "religion." It is "humanism" or something of the sort. With no clear definition to guide him, Hitchens is free to locate only what is cruel, callous, insipid, or banal in the camp of religion, while excluding anything that could reliably motivate the heroic moral action exemplified by Bonhoeffer and King. When "religion" is never defined, but in practice is treated so that only what is poisonous qualifies, it becomes trivially easy to conclude that "religion poisons everything."
IS GOD A DELUSION? A REPLY TO RELIGION'S CULTURED DESPISERS (WILEY-BLACKWELL: DEC. 3, 2008), P. 19.
Essentially, if you set out to state a thing is bad, and then remove all the good from it, you're left with the bad. Hitchens's logic on this count is rancorous and amounts to nothing more than affirming the consequent; that is, if religion poisons everything then religion is bad; religion poisons everything, therefore religion is bad. Hitchens does nothing to either define religion, or allow for any of the good that religion provides (that fellow atheists like Dennett and Dawkins freely admit) to be part of his definition of 'religion'. He simply removes everything that stands in the way of his assumed conclusion that 'religion is poisonous' and works from there. A very disingenuous move to say the least.
Thanks to Afterall.net for this one.