Christopher Hitchens vs. Al Sharpton on God and Atheism

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I really like hearing Hitchens call out issues such as eternal torture (Hell) and severely outdated thinking and inaccuracies in the Christian Bible.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.

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5 Comments

  1. September 1, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    […] Christopher Hitchens vs. Al Sharpton on God and Atheism 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. … […]

  2. September 27, 2007 at 1:37 am

    […] Atypical Guy: Christopher Hitchens vs. Al Sharpton on God and Atheism […]

  3. bob said,

    August 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    So let me get this straight…You hate religion…You consider America to be stupid, and blame it on the party which has had only 9 years of any bit of a majority as opposed to the democrats 41…You don’t blame the democrats or the media which let’s face it, educates the people on the same aspects which you are…Which everyone in this country always talks about…You believe that everyone is stupid and it has something to do with three things which are all minorities these days:

    Bush
    Republicans
    Religion

    Sad. It really is. Every war in modern history has been as a result of a non-religious assault on religion in an attempt to take over. All communist countries are non-religious. North Korea, WWII, WWI, Vietnam War, all the largest wars in history were against religion. I’d say that proves the benefits of religion.

    Over 50% of marriages end in divorce…Since we made it a “government” issue and not spirituality.

    No religious zealots listen to “dated” parts of the bible because there is no such thing to them. They prefer the new testament, that is true. So please list the dated sections. Gay marriage doesn’t even begin to count. It’s a bit hard to explain why. Gay marriage has always been consistent and was “god’s law”. God supposedly said “no”. Sacrifices in the bible and “rules” so to speak with cleanliness were replaced with Jesus. They were never “changed” the bible never “changed” You need to stop being biased.

    Here’s a true review: Religious logics: People don’t realize just “jesus” dying with christian logics is nothing and changed nothing. With the way the new testament is written you are to confess your sins, yes, and then you are to fix and improve yourself, that is what “changed” the matter of atonement which is based on what would be perceived as “atonement” by the sinner. Jesus was the common sense. “No more sacrificing, it’s empty. Fix what you do.” Was the concept. So while people say the old testament is “dated” it’s not. Anything to do with slavery rules were based on public norms and how one should treat a slave if they had one. Anything to do with uncleansliness had to do with how the society would treat someone, and how one should make society accept them (sacrifices and scrubbin’ was popular back then in all religions) The key in studying the bible is in knowing what was made due to society’s quirks, knowing what were god’s laws and what was based on man. The ten commandments were based on god’s laws. Almost everything else, was God’s traditions based on man’s society. Gay marriage wasn’t a society issue, it was law.

    Then one must separate it out. Religious people do a horrible damn job of it. Non-religious don’t care to study it. A cross breed is needed to be fair to both people, and that surely is not you or the writer of that book.

    You are not a fair unbiased review in anything. You seem like a dog attacking everything you can. To conclude this: THAT is the affect of athiesm. People come to look at nothing else as higher than themselves, and seek to destroy religion. That’s the way it’s worked the last 100 years. Get with the picture bud. Religion was the start of man’s rise, not their fall. I’m not talking about whether religion is real or fake, true or false. I’m talking about what it causes. You can argue the crusades and the spanish inquisition…

    Then I can argue Japan trying to sack China to take over their land and people. Then I can argue the land hunger in the 1800’s. It was not religious zealot spawned, it was the greedy. Religious factions were against it. All people have is the spanish inquisition and the crusades over 2,000 years. I can list a hell of a lot more than that for aethism including no incentive for loyalty to a partner, cheating, no incentive for truth at any cost, and not nearly as much incentive to help others outside of your immediate bubble of friends.

  4. Kenny said,

    January 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I saw this debate and the audience was clearly pro-Christopher (who’s name means “Christ bearer”) and the seats were occupied by 99% Caucasian intellectuals that clapped most of the time Hitchens commented and even booed Sharpton for some of his personal views.

    I think that both men made good points but neither were conclusive in their rebutting. But, as usual it seems that ignorant people ( the word ignorant is derived from the word ignore) don’t really think for themselves (as shown in the applauses of the audience for Hitchens) borrow their beliefs from other so called intelligent men just as the religious borrow their beliefs from someone they believe is sharing a truth.

    This debate clearly shows the prejudice that this country is still infected with. And before you cry “race card” (another clever saying that people have so liberally borrowed as their own rhetoric), there is a difference between racism and prejudice. Prejudice and racism are not the same..

    Prejudice means to pre-judge. And although racism is always accompanied with prejudice, most people do this habitual everyday merely because of one’s appearance, looks, mannerisms, sexual preferences, or diction. Racism is race based and is properly defined as one race that deprives, excludes, and hinders another race from attaining the same economic and social privileges and status they have. Racism is foundational in the fear of not having sufficiency, prejudice, and, first and foremost, the control and greed for money.

    The US will remain a racist society until other races besides the whites own and control every utility, media, business, and educational system that makes the country function.

    I think that both Sharpton and Hitchens failed in their attempt to substantiate their fews.. Think for yourself.. It’s in all of us..

  5. David said,

    July 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I was really dissapointed by Christopher Hitchens in this debate. I don’t think Al Sharpton has any ability to debate at all. He kind of used school-boy tricks to get around the questions and divorce himself from “religion”. I was waiting the whole time for Hitchens to deconstruct Sharpton’s logic, yet it never happened. I think most people would say Hitchens won the debate as Sharpton never really took a pro-active stance on anything and just said he didn’t believe anything. Hitchens never asked him where he got his ideas of God in the first place and that you can’t divorce belief in God from religion.


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