Thursday, November 25, 2010

God Needs A Quality Control Department 2.7

This is Part VII of my thoughts on the debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Dembski on November 18, 2010, in Plano, Texas. The focus of the debate is this question: does a good god exist? This is the final clip in the series; I'm mostly finished commenting on the debate, but there are a few highlights near the end.

Dembski, concluding his rebuttal, assumes that his goal of demonstrating the goodness of his god has been reached, and spends the remainder of his rebuttal time stumbling around various concepts of metaphysics and morality, making unsupported assertions throughout. His overall point seems to be that without a god, no system of morality has any value. He wastes the entire five minutes, with one possible exception:

<Clip 05 05 - 09.49 - 09.56 - Derail>

Here he is confirming a suspicion that has been growing in my mind for a while. Religious people really do think that we're lying, that we believe that their god exists but are rebelling against it. Dembski insinuates that Hitchens (1) believes that Yahweh is real and (2) is an immoral man, trying to derail your trust in Yahweh. Hitchens does not believe that your god exists. How could he intend to derail your trust in it? I say that religious people have this belief about atheists. I also say that Dembski doesn't really believe it, nor does he really believe in that god. Otherwise he wouldn't have stood here lying to us for half an hour.

Hitchens has some thoughts on morality too. My favorite part is here:

<Clip 06 - 06.43 - 07.00 - Socratic morality>

Long reflection. That's where a true morality comes from. I claim that this is the reason we have improved as a society, as in abolishing slavery, fighting child abuse, empowering women. People kept thinking and talking, and the truth found its way to the surface. This is one of the few reasons I can find for having a little bit of hope for our future as a species.

The rest of the debate is more of the same, including the Q & A portion. Hitchens presents a clear case, while Dembski brings up irrelevant points one after another, defends the savagery of his god, makes false insinuations, and tells some more outright lies too. He even claims that Steven Pinker wrote an article that justifies infanticide. Read the article and judge for yourself.

The emcee invites Hitchens to take five minutes for a closing statement, but Hitchens requests that the five minutes be used for another question from the audience. It is finally decided that Dembski will make his closing statement, and Hitchens responds to that. There's a bit of sparring over Mother Theresa that's marginally interesting, and Hitchens has a few words about the relationship between the Nazis and the Catholic Church. Hitchens makes a beautiful, 90-second statement at the end, which you've probably seen, but I liked it so much that I'll show it again, at the end of this video. Before that, I have one comment about a statement made by Dr. Larry Taylor at the end of the debate.

<Clip 10 - 09.28 - 09.38 - Civility>

He claims that civility has occurred here. William Dembski has spent half an hour lying, deceiving, slandering, distorting, and insinuating. The fact that he never used any swear-words and never shouted angrily does not equate to civility. That's the end of Part II(h) and the end of the series. Thanks very much for watching. I'll leave you with Hitchens' final comments on the debate.

<Clip 10 - 05.27 - 07.04 - Hitchens close>

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