Secular Sunday: Christopher Hitchens v. evangelical sophistry

Ah, Christopher Hitchens: so flawed in so many ways, but he sure knows his way around arguing theology. For anyone frazzled by the ramped-up proselytising around this time of the year, this radio interview offers some solidly logical responses to many of the common arguments you may come across.

The religious radio talk-show host here can’t quite deal with the fact that when he wants to play his “what-if game” with Hitchens that Hitchens actually plays it strictly as a game, totally by the rules, and hits home run after home run off the host’s supposed-to-be-unhittable sneaky pitches. The host tries and tries to fake him out, but Hitchens keeps his eye on the ball the whole time. (I’m using a baseball analogy because it’s a US radio show and for the benefit of our US readers – Hitchens’ performance reminds me more of a Don Bradman toying with an overconfident club spin bowler who thinks he’s got the moves of a Shane Warne).

Audio via youTube after the cut (no transcript yet, if I find one I’ll post the link):

For anyone uncomfortable with swearing, the first recording is fine. In the second one, as the radio host’s questions become more personally intrusive, Hitchens does swear a couple of times. In my view, he is totally justified in doing so.

I particularly like the way Hitchens makes some points without driving them home e.g. the idea that God owns us, where Hitch asks some questions of the radio host where the answers make it absolutely clear that the radio host thinks that his claims of what humans owe to God (praise and obedience no matter what God demands, because God is allegedly the provider of all that sustains humanity) are his model for his relationship with his own children. Hitch just lets those in the audience “with ears to hear” draw their own conclusions about how this main is raising his children, especially in light of other comments from the host that Hitchens’ agreeing that sometimes his parents were angry with him as a child counts as Hitch breaking the biblical commandment to “honour thy father and mother”.

Via Pharyngula, where in comments many other classic objections to typical proselytising claims are offered. One of my favourites is the basic concept of Jesus’ sacrifice as a “gift” that compels a fawning response from us: what sort of “gift” comes with an obligation?

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, Life, media, religion


8 replies

  1. Good stuff there.

    Happy Eostre to you!

  2. Bloody hilarious. Friel is like some kind of bot incapable of reason. Instead of responding he just resorts to more and more gratuitous qualifiers.
    Loved the part with “jesus died for you”, “but he didn’t, apparently he was seen again after that”…lol

  3. Randomly, anyone insisting that Easter has been celebrated as a Christian religious event for “a couple of thousand years now” really irritates me.

  4. Speaking of sporting metaphors (for people who don’t follow cricket or baseball) it reminds me of an arrogant striker making fancy shots that inevitably end up at chest height for the goalkeeper.

  5. Your spot on in your first sentence Tig re Hitchens. But he does have a way with words.
    But I think that one over confident radio host is nothing for Hitchens. Try Hitchens taking on 4 theists. Worth listening all the way through.

  6. I like P.P.’s description of Friel as some kind of bot… that is exactly how it sounds.

  7. Oh dear god that was both funny and painful to listen to… so hard to believe there are people out there who are as unquestioningly dogmatic and credulous as that interviewer… i find that whole religious universe to be bizarre in the extreme…
    I don’t know why he bothered, but so glad that Christopher Hitchens kicked his ass… athiests 1 – dogmatic fruitcakes 0.

  8. I had this open and waiting til either my partner woke up or I got around to getting some headphones then I forgot about it until now. Anyway, it was awesome, what an idiot 🙂

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