In a hommage to my atheist blogosphere opposite number, Lukeprog of the now-archived Common Sense Atheism, who compiled a review of all William Lane Craig’s debates, I publish here a similar collection of my thoughts of the debates of my intellectual hero, the late Christopher Hitchens: journalist, literary critic, author, scourge of the faithful and proud member of the Four Horseman with his international bestseller against the forces of theocratic fascism, god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Hitchens did many debates and I have mainly included formal debates and panel discussions in front of an audience. I have mentioned some of Hitch’s many TV and radio interviews and discussions, but only where there was a single topic on the agenda, as opposed to the zillions of time he appeared on C-SPAN and Bill Maher to discuss the general politics of the day.
I may have missed out on some; suggestions in the comments section, please!
Since there are 69 70 71 debates in total, I have divided the piece up into three separate posts as follows:
The Good; and
The Not So Good (for the remainder of this post).
The Not So Good
Craig, “Does God Exist?”, Biola University, Los Angeles, 4 April 2009 (Video / MSP review / MSP review one year on in three parts). This one hurt quite a lot. While not the massacre that the first blog reports had us believe, Hitchens simply did not prepare to take on “professional debater” (© Richard Dawkins) Craig and wanted to debate whether religion was good for the world, as opposed to the actual topic under discussion. Craig showboats in front of his home crowd and Hitch lets him get away with smugly asserting that his five “arguments” are irrefutable.
D’Souza Round I, “Is Christianity the Problem?”, King’s College, New York, 22 October 2007 (Video / Audio). Hitch lands a few punches, but overall he was not on top form on the night. D’Souza is loud, longwinded and gets the last word on many points through filibustering. There is also plenty of disingenuous quote-mining of authorities and misrepresenting of Hitch’s arguments.
Hitchens/Jackson –v- Arkes/Markson, “The Death Penalty Debate”, National Review & The Nation Institute, 7 April 1997 (Video). Hitchens shares a platform with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who he was later to throw in the same damning category as the “Reverends” Jerry Falwell, Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson as someone who can get away with offences to truth and morality by virtue of calling himself a man of faith. Hitch speaks against the death penalty persuasively, however, he is up against two equally convincing opponents and the clash is best described as a draw. The Q&A section descends into farce due to a strict moderator and hapless audience members straying off topic. For Hitchens completists only.
Galloway, “The Iraq War of 2003 was just and necessary”, Baruch College, New York, 14 September 2005 (Video). I have consigned this one to the lowest category, not because Hitch loses the debate, but because it’s deeply unpleasant watching him share a platform with such an unsavoury, hard-left demagogue who openly supports brutal Islamist regimes. Things get pretty personal and Galloway resorts to schoolyard name calling. At least he gets his comeuppance from the NY crowd by suggesting that America brought the 9/11 attacks on themselves. Sully your eyes and ears by watching it if you must.
Click below to see:
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