a debate on atheism with christopher hitchens, author of "god is not great," and david berlinski, author of "devil's delusion." this event was hosted by the fixed point foundation in birmingham, alabama. >> good evening. i am the executive director of fixed point foundation, and we welcome you to tonight's debate. the resolution being debated this evening is a fee is some poisons everything. now again, this is the resolution. this is the question being discussed. it is of course a plea on the title to christopher hitchens best-selling book, "god is not great" how religion plays and everything are doing the
resolution as dr. david berlinski, a scientist, professor of mathematics and author of any book's most notably "devil's delusion atheism and its scientific pretensions," which is available in the lobby and afterwards there will be a book signing so you'll have the opportunity to meet dr. berlinski. arguing that negative of the resolution is christopher hitchens, journalist, cultural critic and best-selling author and most recently he is the author of the memoir "hitch 22," this is a best seller and available in the lobby, you will have the same opportunity to meet christopher hitchens and have your book signed by him. now just a bit about the format for tonight's debate. first of all, there will be 12 minutes of opening statements by each of these men to read dr. berlinski will be the first to speak and then of course,
christopher hitchens. and then we will have a free bottle, six minutes each, and then a speaker recap that is to say some final remarks for that portion of the debate, three minutes each. malae will be time keeping as we move along, and i'm asking these gentlemen brought to trample those time limits, and then we will move into a question and answer time line. i have some questions here which have been submitted and i will read them to the two of them and then signal that the end when they have received their last question that they should give some sort of closing statement and since dr. berlinski is going first, he will have the opportunity to go last. so that being the case, we will now begin our debate. dr. david berlinski, please open for us. >> thank you her very much for
being here. [applause] i would like to thank larry thompson and the fixed weight foundation for their understanding hospitality. [laughter] and two christopher hitchens, my pleasure of being allowed to bask in the radiance of reputation and lihaem. the representation of religion poisons everything i perfectly aware and you should be, too, that is fully compatible with the proposition that religion plays in something. christopher hitchens and richard dawkins tomorrow to announce that they will prepare to invade hell in order to rise to the
priests i would wish them well also for reasons of personal inconvenience to could not join them. [laughter] in some respects, as dr. johnson once said the proposition that atheism blazons everything hardly requires the inquiry isn't needed, he said. the last day of which atheism was a possibility and which it was a possibility i ask you to cast your mind back around 79 mechem 7091 in france, paris, in front of the cathedral of notre tom, and standing there somewhat elaborated by my historical imagination is a fan on a bit fanatical and a large boisterous remarkably eloquent and they are watching in looking at notre
dame and wondering what should we do with this in gothic pile of junk, and the answer is let's rename it. good idea. what should we call it? each man was hoping they would quit after themselves and he came up with a wonderful idea we will call it the temple of reason. good thinking, his companion said. that will explain, but it will explain we might as well have called it the temple of evidence, the temple of rationality. what should we do it next was the question and the inevitable answer known for historical circumstances with school out and kill a whole lot of people and that is exactly what they did. once they had regained notre dame the temple of treason and was relatively easy to go out and kill 50 boss and innocent men, women and children and that i submit is the nature of the proposition we are discussing.
1851, 60 or 70 days later in the age of remarkable progress, enlightenment, wonderful sense of material possibility reflected on the decline of religious faith in europe. the melancholy withdraw. he didn't see anything particularly optimistic and not withdraw, and he could think to say with himself and to his readers only this, my beloved, let us be true to one another. my beloved, true to one another through the world lies about like a land of dreams so beautiful, so new has neither really jolie nor wife or
certitude or health for pain and we are caught in the plains swept by confused alarms of struggle and flight clash by night. this is a prophetic declaration for the heart of the progress of enlightened 19th century. a 1940 survey in the carnage that was to come before and secretary of great britain said again prophetically the lights are going out all over europe. what a strange word. we shouldn't see the look and in our time. ladies and gentlemen, the 20th century was a record in germany, russia, china, cambodia and elsewhere, not the remarkable stability and brutality and violence, but to the unparalleled brutality some of violence, and each of the
regime's, each of the regime behind this remarkable decay of civilization had to features in common, to characteristics we should bear in mind, and in the first place the man guiding these regimes and their entourage did not believe for a moment there was any power higher than their own, and they acted on that assumption. and in the second place they were aided and supported buy any member of crackpot scientific disciplines. that makes for a characteristic combination. it is a scientific discipline especially from the darwinian biology in 1937 having murdered 70,000 handicapped men, women and children the nazis release a film and on the background of the film it says in terms of
solid incomprehension, my goodness, we have sinned against the law of natural selection. the law of natural selection. what could that mean? we have sinned against the law of natural selection. the communists had equally crackpot theory for the economics. the two crackpots going in one deeply republican stream. as all of you know, atheism today is not simply the doctor of a handful of individuals of the social movement, and as a social movement it has been advanced chiefly by the scientific community certainly in the united states but to a large extent in europe, too if you popular writers such as freakin' chirred watkins discovered that by writing the book and the king science has shown god does not exist.
welcome to could make a fortune to the country sorry i wasn't there to join them. i didn't think of it at the time. i'm quite sure that someone now is writing a book how large in science it shows that god does not exist, but the inevitable consequences of this degree of atheism within the community has involved scientific thought quite striking in its character and its extent. after all, the sciences, if we restrict our attention to the fury of science, and mathematics or mathematical physics and no other place, then we must recognize they have nothing to say about the existence of god either in the premises or in the conclusion. what a remarkable fact people writing physics the show god does not exist but they have nothing to say about the assistance of god.
the 18 questions that trouble the human imagination about which the science is seriously considered or resolutely silent these premium of just where they were coming and the religious tradition especially the judeo-christian religion has offered a coherent body of believe in the doctrine by which they can be explained. do we understand why the universe rose 40 million? no, we don't. to be interested why it's there at all? we have no idea. do the understand how life emerged, earthquakes not a prayer right now. do we understand the complexity of life? we can't even begin to describe a living creature and everything resembling precise terms. recent articles, and i just requires for the listened coordinator of proteins acting together. what a remarkable statement what we possess about biology, what an abundant lack of understanding we have about
living systems. to be designed with the laws of nature are true? we have no idea. we in pursuit of the miracle of analytic continuation and six-point certain kind of functions could be pushed forward to the future contrary to experience? do we understand why the universe remains stable for the moment to moment? the came to the conclusion and i quote a medieval theologian god is everywhere concerning the world. what a remarkable declaration? can we do without it? do we have an explanation for the continuity of stability of the universe? there is one peter i know in the literature by freeman dyson that addresses the stability of matter. how could we propose seriously and solidly to rule out of court in advance a hypothesis to the human heart in many respects,
with answers to the genuine intellectual needs and other respects. when one sees the american scientific community like a herd of wildebeests plotting a crossed the plate and it's reasonable to ask are they going someplace, or the fleeing from simply squawks and i think the overwhelmingly obvious answer is they are fleeing from an idea that they reject for a variety of reasons. molly is the inquiry but atheism not necessary in terms of the history of social thought, it's not necessary in terms of the outlines of scientific thought there is a last question to be addressed perhaps the most important for you and me. the cosmologist asked an interesting question. he asked causes them to follow the law of nature? good question. but he who presided over the destruction of churches and
synagogues throughout europe and the mastermind behind the extermination of the jewish people ask a very similar question and 1944 when confronted with the onerous treaty obligations the germans had adopted with respect to its own speed traps he asked pride mentally after all what compels us to keep our promises? moral relativism is very often derided as an unhappy consequence of atheism. i don't think of moral relativism is particularly atv issued a think the deeper issue -- i do think the issue of what compels us to keep our promises is very relevant. i have in front of me a rather remarkable button. if you should press it commodores would be an untold
riches and whatever else you decide. the only consequence beyond your happiness is the death of an anonymous chinese tenant. who among us would you trust with this button? sit still, christopher. [laughter] thank you. [applause] >> but can you give me three minutes? >> thank you, professor berlinski come for the very generous introduction. thank you, ladies and gentlemen for coming. at short notice i can only hope to match my rival in knowledge of some cosmic implications and in the ready access to 20th
century perjury. well, let's take instead of notre dame erection of the paris, the when you see from the airport, the grand wedding cake style of sacred heart built on top of the commanding heights. and build why? to celebrate the massacre of workers and intellectuals after the paris communists of the team's 51 trying to defeat could tried to save the honor that had a brilliant self and was thrashing at the feet of bismarck and the invaders. many more people were killed in that massacre in the terrible reprisal than in the terror, and it wasn't enough, that was the case, the whole church had to be consecrated by the french
religious and puerto establishment and their political allies to celebrate the massacre of their fellow country, and does this prove that religion wasn't anything? by no means does it do so. as it pulled the curtain raiser and understand the terrible century which professor berlinski and i both study? yes, to a degree it does. the clerical right wing goes on to the terrible agreement of the captain alfred dreyfus, the most serious in this kind of justice most and fans by the political establishment in his new -- history and determining who will be to in the terrible war mike of 1914, which among others is a historian of christianity and generated by me, it is magnificent history in the first 2000 years of christianity describes as a theocratic war as
we used to understand as our fathers and grandfathers used to understand it, and in 1914 when every country in europe goes to war in the name of god or church. king george vi is the head of the church of england. russia is the head of the russian orthodox church considered not to be a lot more than a human being. you know the rest of it. is the first time that he is put on the belt buckles but not the last time of the german army and this is the end and the curtain reduced to fascism without the turtle war it's impossible to tell the hand movements could have arisen in the first place and just as they would with france it is the collaboration regime of france's jews, the massacre agent in the collaboration with of the third
reich that strikes from global words and replaces them with the catholic slogan and onto this france fell to the lowest point of its history. so i would be well of a dividing argument about atheism from the clintons of french ecclesiastical designs. but i am with you on the larger point that you made and trying to illustrate from the work of a great anglo-catholics' american who discourse asked questions. where is the knowledge it lost in information? this question has to preoccupy. when i am told, and i suppose one way you could accuse me of taking it because i couldn't prove it for myself and having had it demonstrated to me i probably couldn't repeat the demonstration.
but having been in the league of physics a total of 400 billion galaxies that's not universes', 400 million galaxies. and after the question with one son every second since the big bang, we on the call our own star the sun and a proceeding way that comes from terrorist and sisters. a star that size goes out every second. so this quite a lot while i am talking. and has been blowing out and going up ever since the first moment of the big bang. this is more than we can handle. we cannot say we know about this. it can be argued that all but was indeed set in motion with the intention of producing on a very small planet and a very
small solar system in a tiny neglected suburb of a relatively unimportant galaxy race of beings, primate, could believe they made the right propitiation stick live forever. you could say that all that gigantic explosion was with that in mind. but i wouldn't be able to teach your word for it. and it seems to me that the burden is not on me. i don't have to prove that kind of thing. i don't make the equivalent claim that the religious person has to make. the religious person doesn't just have to say of course wanted it that way and that's the way it is because a design of that kind doesn't just imply a designer, it implicates the designer and means there is such a designer he statistically destructive and wasteful. as he is 99.8% of all species of
from this earth have already become extinct. this is a wasteful capricious design. i can't prove this isn't the way that he wanted it to be, but i can say that there was an implication for the design. but again, it isn't me saying that if you believe in it you have the means of grace and the hope of glory and the possibility for redemption and zakaria selfish and forgiveness of sin through human sacrifice. we can't attend and don't try anything like that, so the -- excuse me, the ideas ascent arbitration between sequel kind of certainty. those who are certain in the face of this uncertainty are the strongest ground for agreement. about to see of the arbitration is proper the first people to leave the island are those who say they already know enough,
they know why this is happening, they know the mind of god. those who claim are out of the argument, the argument then goes on the 20 agnostics and atheists how do we know and how can we be true to the great principle been created isocrates which is this, you must educate yourself by striving constantly -- excuse me -- as hard as you can to get to the point of understanding your own incurrence. only then can you claim to have any acquaintance with knowledge at all. that's the appropriate modesty the founder of our school of thought brought to the question, and there is no proof that socrates ever existed will tend to think from the eyewitness accounts that he did. it would be hard to confect such a personality but it doesn't matter to me whether he exist or not. we have the method.
he taught us how to think. if i was to tell larry after our drive through shenandoah yesterday and the joint reading of the first passengers of saint john that the jesus who is so real to him is in fact or could proven to be a fictitious person, the mythical individual. not just his day, his life. extinguish his hope. is their something not slightly fanatical in placing such large claims, remember the size of the claims i'm talking about on such a slender and narrow basis. now we will get to the nazis in my rebuttal if that's all right, that want to cut long, and we will have to do can we be morrill without fantastic things the would take too long and we can do a number of things i've
left and forgotten. if i could just for once a new element into this argument. he must, when you go to washington, go to the nearest museum called human origins in the smithsonian museum of natural history. by the way paid for by mr. coke the former of order today for president and paymaster of the movement, so i invoice you to join mcginn as saying in some way this is a great country. this is the greatest gallery getting the proper account of evolution in our true origins that has ever been the right to do in any country. the bid that was fascinated me and to give me back again and again is until 17,000 years ago only in one case and not many more than that and others or of least three of her, the human
species, primates like us with capacity and the case of the neanderthal some decorated graves which suggested it doesn't insist on the idea of a ritual and religion. the of genes in common with us. the are of our species and they lived import increases and weren't all well understood in the case is of the indonesian and toll-free recently. but there they always were. they were our brothers and sisters and our work in -- our kin and they are not in genesis, and they have had no one to visit their graves or do him honor until recently and as a result of scientific innovation and curiosity at wood river god they had abandoned them. and so i just think it is worth
reading since the talk about ourselves as the object of a tremendous cosmic and biological process that was set in motion supervised and if this believed designed and intended i just think we should take them in silence and think of over fellow humans, fellow creatures and extent already extinct members of our species to whom we might spare a little fought before we go on. i will be back. thanks. [applause] >> we now move to rebuttals. six minutes, dr. berlinski. >> thank you very much. it is a disturbing area of agreement that i sent between mr. hitchens and myself which i
will do my best to minimize. [laughter] please remember, ladies and gentlemen, that when it comes to the wickedness of religion feed the point it's no longer argumentative. i would remind you, however, of a remark dr. johnson made about original sin and i paraphrase him, he said it's not necessary for all the laws of heaven and earth are unable to prevent men from their crimes. now mr. hitchens is in the mind of watching someone painfully walking with to crutches moving arduously and singing to himself and to you i've got an idea. kick one of the crutches away. everything will be better. that seems to be a weak
argument, not impossible argument. i would welcome the defense of the argument. but it is no able to my position that atheism plays since everything and that religion plays in something. there are plenty of plays and in the world. we don't lack an abundance. second point i would like to mention is the strange enchantment with the views of sir laurence cowles or steven hawking speed you know stephen hawking is just published a book and i don't know whether any of you have yet seen, again, a book explaining how everything began, why it's there, why we shouldn't worry about god and a multitude of other subjects he published in collaboration with a friend of mine, leonard, and the lines are very deep in the book, and to paraphrase the claim he now makes having given up in fury claims he now makes the universe
just blasted is often to existence following the law. the universe just last of the self into existence. we don't deny what steven hawken has said. i haven't read the book all the way with his other books i expect he is reputable and his great work 40 or 40 years ago but i can tell you what is lacking in every one of these discussions is the spirit of skepticism which christopher hitchens or richard hawkins will bring for the religious claims and the lapse is absurdly when it comes to scientific claims surely we should have to come sophistication to wonder if any subornation is performed at the university that is plastic itself into existence following the law, the f-series no one can understand as a mathematics haven't been completed and which have never once been tested in any laboratory in the face of the earth.
fair and final point of real, the fact is the rebuttal, our home is a small part of the physical universe doesn't mean -- it does not mean it is not the center of universe. after all, no one but argue least of all mr. hitchens that the doctrine at home is where the heart lies is rendered false by distance. we should be very careful about making these claims. the universities have lots of galaxies, amazing things, and there is certainly a point of continuity between human beings, but as for the central religious claim the particular place is blessed and important is quite different. no doctor about physical science. thank you very much. [applause]
>> i would like to get two points about atheism. well, here's one point and some perhaps negative preface, "devil's atheism by itself isn't a moral position of any kind simply is the refusal to believe and a supernatural dimension or supranatural supervisor or dictator. and it is the view though there cannot be disproved, no good evidence or any good argument put forth. that is where it ends. you can be an atheist and say as is said in the famous passage with our god anything is possible and thinkable. of course i would say that is the objection of anyone who says they have gone on their slide
also you can see it happening by opening the newspaper, the right to commit any crime however ghastly. there is no escapes from the existence of certain psychopathic human beings who for want of supervision or by invoking the idea that they are the agents of the divine supervisor will do anything at all. you can be a a feast and a fascist, you can be an atheist and communist, most are by definition you can be an atheist and perfectly indifferent to your fellow creatures, but there is a human is some within atheism. it starts i think with lucretius put the atomic theory of a wonderful column that suggested lot of people were using religion as a crutch as you domesticated in the very well put it but instead of our very hot day they were putting on a huge, heavy overcoat and
dragging a ball and chain. my crops have failed. i didn't make enough sacrifices. god, i have had a filthy fought, now i'm going to hell or my children are because i didn't baptize them. man after her and ignorance and stupidity. the emancipation of which our species have been met treacly slow but in which the fingers of creating a lot without lucretius he's inspired by what he considers himself to be a very lucky that was not destroyed in the christian centuries in the hope of putting an end to such terrible and why is speculation to that has so much of their representatives. on the threat is passed on by
the greatest jew who ever briefed changing his name to become name from the synagogue and said if there's a god he is in nature there's no personal god. prayers are not answered and divine intervention does not occur. people get the enlightenment on which not only ladies and gentlemen have their share but thomas paine and jefferson and the founders of this great republic in the philadelphia enlightenment. this isn't a tradition of which anyone on my side need be ashamed and of course not all of it is atheist but it becomes more atheist as einstein and others approach with their mind altering findings. and you perhaps will think it is a coincidence that einstein is expelled along with anyone else who understood anything about
biology or physics as the practitioners of jewish science i'm sorry the area of agreement has just contracted so. for you to say that it was the implementation of the work of charles darwin is a filthy slander undeserving of you and an insult to this audience. darwin's fonts' wasn't taught in germany to leave to germany along with every other form of a belief the great purists would like by the national isasi get regime and i believe it is a misprint in one of the species for which the statement the evolution requires st in the statement never made by darwin who asks anyone who knows says that adaptability is what is likely to give voluble luck or an advantage we better say in
the struggle. just to take the most in some notorious, the most famous example, the most protected one, the most ruthless and refined, that of national socialism, the one that fortunately allow the peacekeepers the greediest thinkers and others to the united states, country of separation of church and state benefits of. if it is an atheist regime then how come in the first chapter he says he's doing got's work in destroying the jewish people? how come every officer of the party in the army had to take making hitler into a minor god as i swear in the name of almighty god how come on the belt buckle of every nazi soldier it says god is on our side? how come the first treaty made by the dictatorship, the very first is with the vatican
exchanging political control of germany for calf look, how come the church celebrated the birthday every day, every year on that day until democracy put an end to this clause i religious superstitious barbour is reactionary system clocks again this isn't a difference between us to suggest that there is something fascist about me and mike beebe is something i won't hear said and you shouldn't believe. thank you. [applause] >> dr. berlinski, your recap, you have three minutes. >> thank you. i would assert the following proposition. first the general proposition
that atheism place and everything and second, the ancillary proposition that religion plays in something. these propositions are not the conflict and the beginning of the discussion i said there were conflict commesso supervision to the contrary introduced to the discussion neither are interesting of the dinsmoor the the argument. in terms of the social history of atheism, it seems to me when i began this debate and still seems to me now overwhelmingly clear that while nazis in germany and communism in russia, communism in china, communism in cambodia certainly have religious elements, who would deny that? why is that an interesting claim? the governing apparatus of audiology, no matter what hitler has to say about his devotion to
a warrior christ involves the proposition among those who ruled these states and their entourage that no power, no power is greater than their own, they acted on that proposition. they were restrained by nothing and we saw the consequences. you may say some catholics adopted the rituals of the communion after an especially arduous day of murdering innocent women in the fields of poland could be true. i don't deny it. but we must ask ourselves if this is to be intellectually serious discussion is not whether there will infiltrations of mankind, of course there weren't. it goes without saying. but whether something fundamental has changed that made these atrocities possible i would say yes, there was. i've argued as well atheism as a
position as a foreign influence on science and i've given you my views in -- reason. finally i've argued that atheism, insofar as it removes from the union context a sense of obligation based on feeling, the brutal sense of obligation based on fear removed from the moral calculus profound and powerful reason and not to do evil. there is no peacekeeping this. it's unpleasant. i don't particularly like it and i haven't lived my life that we but i recognize as a fact, and i think we all must. that said, i think you for listening. [applause] >> i think i can help close the gap a little that he complains
of in my closing remarks. i came across a comment by george orwell who nine a great admirer and a little-known s.a. recently of which he said at root or totalitarianism must be theocratic, and i thought of my and thought that this rather stretching it. it is certainly possible to identify totalitarianism that are not explicitly religious. he went on to clarify a bit and said the reason i say theocratic is there must be certain unchallengeable assumptions beyond discussion that are not available for debate deals be taken as statements of faith for example under fascism. the leader is always right.
of course the culture. the views that started could bring the great potential of people to worship of mao and the other access cover of japan, the emperor was actually god, couldn't have been more theocratic them that the we have a secular appearances as well. now, if you think of it utilitarianism in that way, and if you think of that is the greatest plays in some time accusing, then you will see that the charge that is essentially theocratic is true because it depends on the unchallengeable statements, dogma and faith. i don't necessarily know named to the or if david will take up the challenge a state of atheism is a statement of faith, independent of evidence requiring their reasoning and above all punishable if challenged.
i don't believe you can come up with anything of this sort to the contrary the faction with which i am honored to be identified as a junior member is adamant for doubt, is resolved to be skeptical and certainly of the principal of uncertainty and so what we have to get to know is enormously greater than anything we've discovered or known so far and a family that is the test of the education of intellectual integrity of inquiry, and so forth of the emancipation of humans from man-made, and i would stress man-made delusions' including hopeful once and thus i will close by repeating myself, i have done worse -- [laughter] it is only those who claim to know things like the mind of god
and the origin and destination intention of the universe. it is the only explanation and haven't cared to finish it. thank you. [applause] >> we now move to the question and answer form of time for this evening, and we begin with christopher hitchens, and christopher, your first question what are the weaknesses of pascrell's major? >> some point times known as gambit, for those of you who don't know who might be watching i will just state i hope not too correctly he's one of the founders of probability and a great mathematician, and great
catholic of the 17th century priest like this. he was addressing the people he called those who are so made that they cannot believe. that's me, forks and will come and he said if you can't believe, think of it like this. if you bet that making the right adjustments to your relationship with god will save you in a future and you are right, you would win a lot. if you are wrong, what have you lost? what have you got to lose? the reason i say wager and again it appropriate to this is it is a very hucksterish plame come it is pretty cheap and folder, and i would say especially so when offered to people who are lobbying or ill or frightened or extremis. i think it is sharp practice to try it on them but you will notice that it apostolates in
its other weaknesses to things. one is very cynical and global god who will if i say to him i will devote the convictions of a lifetime of freeing myself for which i believe, hope that you're impressed, would say yeah, that's good, that's progress. in other words, you get no reward for intellectual consistency, courage, honesty, anything of that sort, and of course with all of these made, ideas of divine tribunals, no lawyers represent you, no appeal or produce any evidence. i pass over that lightly and say it asks for someone to be a christmas, cringing, unprincipled who says sure, what are principles for if not to be solved in the hope of the future. well, those are the largest i think shortcomings pascell and
other religious reasoning about the duralast things. thank you. [applause] >> dr. berlinski, what are the strengths of pascell's wager? [applause] >> a distinguished mathematician >> christopher hitchens, would you agree with the following statement made by sam harris, and i quote, some propositions are so dangerous that it might even be ethical to kill people for believing them? >> you would be idle in dismissing the the first reading
put most blunt, but i will give you very practical example. of the theocratic dictatorship we have all wondered at least everyone in my age has since they were small, what will happen if a nasty guy gets a hold of a really bad within? i thought about it when i was seven. why would now say what happens when the regime holds an apocalyptic weapon? well, we're about to find out. and the people who have plagiarized the ingredients of the weapon from piracy on the high seas broken every international wall, every agreement come every treaty they signed with the u.n., the energy authority, the e.u. and so forth are governed by the to tell terrie and peery called the guardianship of the tourist supreme leader notice that in another supreme leader. another dictator whose word
can't be challenged and wants to bring on the end of days. it's not the least of my dislike of religion but it has openly or covertly and expressed the one for the end of the world. it doesn't like this world once it is finished. people who want the process of acquiring the secular weaponry for which to bring about genocide desert i think to have the ideology treated as toxic and its characters as dangerous and like terrorists people it is unlawful to destroy. so sure. [applause] >> dr. berlinski, you are not a christian, and indeed, you're not religious, as understand it. why do you argue for the influence of christianity or
judeo-christian influence in society? >> i presume you're not asking that in the hopes of a personal declaration. i argue for a great many things in my personal involvement and topics 48. this question strikes me as more important and more demanding of a personal involvement than most. i think the issue is tremendously significant. i think if we are honest of the times in which we live, quite right what matthew suggested besio face has been reseeding under the power of a variety of forces, and the results have in a certain way been catastrophic for the human race. i should not say that a secular jew has a remarkable degree of
authority when it comes to discussing these defense. after all, i have lived my own life under the impress of the maxim to have a good time all the time. but on the other hand, it doesn't hurt to hear these words from someone such as myself, because at least you would hear in these words for someone with no conceivable bias in their favor. i count myself as an objective observer of the circumstances. so perhaps that is the only reasonable answer redican gift. these are important questions that have part of the consequences and they continue to have terrific consequences a specially in intellectual history, and in response to why should it be the secular jew opens his mouth on questions pertaining to the christian religion. i am presuming it would be
welcomed. thank you. [applause] >> christopher hitchens, what specific teachings of jesus do you believe to be evil or poisonous? >> the concept of the karina's redemption is the most repulsive i think, and the most central. i could take a lot of peripheral actions in the nazarene, but the inescapable one that none follow is the trouble to be my that he is -- the idea that by throwing your sins onto a scapegoat you could have them polished. it is a disgusting and a moral doctrine. if i care for you enough's i can pay your debt even if you enter it out of your own responsibility to be i can, if i
wish and it's been done offered to take your place in prison though not many people would allow the exchange or the hostage, and there are eight samples of people willing to put themselves forward as the substitute for someone's execution i suppose in a tale of two cities is the best folklore when the to count relief people of their responsibilities and it is immoral to offer them to do so and would be discussed in if they could be done. so the rot of christianity is exposed its central vicarious forgiveness. it is an abdication of moral responsibility. i think the idea of taking noeth off from the instructions now abandoned your family. if you don't, you are one who hates me. given the investment and fought a future with children, architecture or anything of the sort, forget all that and
followed me on one condition and it's the condition that i refer to before. the world is about to come to an end, and only those who stick by me are familiar from the devoted profit are going to get out of it. again, i would say in multiply wicked thing to say and offer to be making. we would be so much better off. you would think so much more clearly about the questions. thank you. [applause] >> given this choice and no other, would you prefer a secular or islamic europe? [laughter] >> what, sir, makes you think it's the choice right now? [laughter]
large portions of europe are already islamic. how would i adjust, i have no idea. why should i judge the european continent as far as i can tell i have no objection. >> david, do you mind if i reach to 1 degree [inaudible] >> sure. >> if it is your view that atheism poisons everything, and i think this was the intention of the question anyway, the firewood did -- i would be better off as a atheism. do you seriously maintain such thing? >> you mean with respect to europe? >> what year it be better
religious, islamic or without god i think is the question as i take it. i invite you to take another run at it. [laughter] [applause] you can have it out of my time. >> this is a first choice. which would you prefer? and islamic europe, would you like to live in an islamic europe or would you prefer to live in -- >> the trouble of the question is it has no provocation for me. it has known whatsoever. it's like asking which i would prefer to be dressed in gold or silver. it's not a living issue. >> christopher, do you believe -- by the way, this is the last question, so at the end, take an extra minute or so to summarize
your argument to make a final statement. do you believe that all religions or equally poisonous? >> my beloved john grew daughter today became a senior at school in washington, so at least i know that she's under serious police guard during the day come and as the name implies it is a quaker foundation where is she hasn't understood the story of frederick douglass and elizabeth cady stanton and many of the people buy now, it isn't not for want of trying, and so what i not be fatuous or demagogic if i said that the quaker is and to be the same as wahabism or the shiite pherae to become theory
of course not different religions take their turn at that i think to be -- to show how dangerous the religious proposition is. quakers, fort example, a spill from the ranks those who support the american revolution because they fought the had taken an oath and that it was it transcended all of the principles and there had to be another quaker meetings and in philadelphia. people had been shut down. it's the ross -- betsy ross was thrown out for making an episcopalian. you realize these are only innocuous because they become so by having their fangs drawn by civil society over the years. when jefferson says to the baptist of danbury connecticut, don't worry, you live in a country that has a wall of separation between church and state and it will ever be thus.
claim that science and christianity are an opposition to one another? i would need to hear the claim articulated properly. the claim of point of opposition in general seems to me unhelpful. the claim points of opposition in particular seems to be rather in it's largest aspect, western outlook perhaps only to the extent that it's committed to the principal that the manifest universe contains the late structure that can be discovered by the intellect of man. i think this is true. i don't think this is very far from mr. hopkins declaration, they represent the same position in the world of thought. the world is charged with the rander. therefore, it can be rationally
comprehended. please notice, this is very different from the muslim, and islamic tradition in which god is assigned a rather reasonable role. it did come to an end. and it can be traced back to the muslim theological writings. yes, i would say the judeo judeo-christian religion, revealed in nature but points to the super natural order has been a powerful influence on the development of western science. one by the way, recognized by every significant scientist, every single one of them. what do i have next? >> one minutes for closing remarks. >> i certainly have no objection to repeat myself. weather you are as equally as willing to hear myself, i don't
know. i've offered three considerations. i've listened very respectfully to what mr. hitchens has said, i have found myself as he has said immeasurably approved. i've heard nothing that discourages or persuades me from confirming the ideas that i have. atheism has been poisonous for 300 years and especially poisonous in the 21st century. alaska separation that there is no god has had falling influences on the sciences because it leaves open unanswered questions that press you on you in heart. third that atheism in the moral sphere leaves unanswered the question what obliges us? what forces us? not what persuades us, what
forces us to believe as we should. thank you. [applause] [applause] >> i want to thank both of these gentleman for participating in this debate. and it seems appropriate at this time now the debate is over to say a word about fix point foundation. fix point foundation is a christian organization and unshamedly so. we engage to seek in the realm of the ideas. some wonder why we should sponsor a debate like this, as the christian organization, we have represented, neither of these men are christians. we think these are questions, ideas, that are real vent -- real -- relevant to everyone.
that said, i want to be honest and said that our position, our sympathy certainly lie in the direction that a robust christian influence in society is a good thing. now christopher said, and is seems appropriate to me to respond to him that it would ruin my life if it were -- if i were to learn that jesus christ was just a figment of my imagination and millions and billions of other people. to that i must confess, he is correct. it would ruin my life. it would. because it would suggest from our perspective that this life is, in fact, meaningless. that it's a hoax, sham. that is with our perspective. now if you are interested -- if you are interested -- [applause]
[applause] >> if you are interested in knowing more about fixed point foundation, you can find that on the web. this particular debate will be aired on c-span. i'm not sure of the dates or times. but i think it will be aired a number of occasions. you can find it there and on our web site well. we almost want to welcome somewhat debatedly 60 minutes, someone is here doing a piece on christopher hitchens. please join me in thanking these men for their participation this evening. [applause] [applause] >> christopher hitchens is the contributing editor at vanity fair. david berlinski is the former
fellow at the institute for applied system analysis, and senior fellow at the discovery institute. the fixed point foundation hosted this event. for more information visit fixed-point.org. >> a new book out by bloomsberry publishing "blur." mr. consideration -- mr. kovic if your boom, it says we've been here before. what does that mean? >> that means we've gone through this information with time and expansion throughout history time and again. in fact, newspapers were born at such a time when the printing press came into being and distributed information to people who had never had information about the people and the institutions that, you know,
controlled their lives, and it took decades for the public and the industry of information sharing to develop what we call newspapers to create a basis on which people could find information they could trust. and we've gone through this time after time which each new major change in technology. we've gone through a period exactly like this. >> mr. rosenseal, why the name "blur"? >> i think it's because information moved fast and there's so much of it, people feel confused. when information is in greater supply, knowledge is actually harder to create. because you have to sift through more things that make sense of it. so there's a feeling that things are more of a blur, more confusing even though we have
more information at our fingertips. >> so how do we cut through that blur and find what we need? >> well, we hope that the way consumers will do it and consumers are more in charge now than they've ever been. we were in control of our own media in a way we've never been. we hope what people will do is develop the skills to know what's reliable and what's not. and that's what the book is about. it's the trade craft that once resided in newsrooms shared with consumers. but it's also true that when things are uncertain and confusing, that a lot of people just gravitate to news that they agree with. and so part of what we are looking at in the information culture now is something of a war between people who want to be empirical, and people who
want to have opinions and mass an audience that way. >> you are also the co-authors of the "elements of journalism." what's your background? >> excuse me. my background is going on 60 years in print journalism. i began in a little town in upper east tennessee and covered the civil rights movement and poverty, then worked for "the new york times" for 20 years, eight years as chief of the washington bureau. then i was editor of the atlanta journal constitution, spent the last years of my active life as curator at a program at harvard. i'm now retired but working with tom off and on and running an organization that he and i created called the committee of concerned journalist. trying to preserve the values of
journalism that we can all trust. >> mr. rosenseal, your background? >> i was a newspaper man also. 12 years at the "l.a. times." ten of those as a press critic for the paper. i worked for "newsweek" and i was approached about creating a think tank, which we created in 1996, called the project for excellence in journalism. that's part of the pew research center here in washington. we have the largest content analysis operation in the united states studying what the media actually produced. on the theory that sort of conventional press criticism where you wag your finger at the press and say you shouldn't do that really isn't effective anymore. if you offer an empirical look,
you decide that has more leverage. >> is it an average that people can get any types of news that they want when they want rather than wait for the morning paper? >> absolutely. it's marvelous. it's a wonderful system that we have now. the only problem is people are now as tom said their own editors of what they are going to bring into their report, and their own reporters of who's producing this that i'm bringing in. so people have to become much more aware of the information they are bringing in, how it's produced, what it produced to information or to propagandize? to help them understand or to recruit them to a cause? this is what this book is designed to do. to help them use the process, the methodology of verification it's the best truth seekers use to