Christopher Hitchens, author of the recent book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. While I haven’t yet read his book (it’s on my list, though), in this YouTube web cast, he takes on Al Sharpton on the topic of atheism vs. religion: Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton on Atheism and God – The Full Debate. Personally, I think Hitchens makes an excellent case.
Sharpton’s arguments tend to focus on irrational and illogical positions. Overall, it’s a typical exposition of pro-religious arguments (or the lack thereof). He tries to use “science-like” thinking to confuse less-critical listeners. Interestingly, Sharpton seems to be just as pessimistic about religious texts, churches, and their followers. I’m surprised that he wants to focus on whether or not God exists (an almost secondary argument). I certainly would not want to be in the shoes of someone who had to defend the teachings of the Bible.
The age-old argument that it’s not religion that’s at fault for injustices in this world – it’s the people that do “bad” things in its name. Hitchens’ position on the topic is not that religion is almost always misused or misinterpreted. Rather, people are following the teachings of scriptures (even those that are horrific and non-sensical (app. 30:00 into the debate)). This isn’t simply a matter of blaming the ideas on people who implement them poorly. There’s something fundamentally flawed in these religious teachings.
I really like hearing Hitchens call out issues such as eternal torture (Hell) and severely outdated thinking and inaccuracies in the Christian Bible. It’s refreshing to hear people think clearly and make logical arguments. The timing for this debate is also excellent (if not a little late), especially when speaking to the United States – a place where “intelligent design” and other initiatives are corrupting education.