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← The Future Forum Presents: Christopher Hitchens and Marvin Olasky

The Future Forum Presents: Christopher Hitchens and Marvin Olasky - Comments

banzaib's Avatar Comment 1 by banzaib

I wonder how long religious moderates will keep lining up to be embarrassed in these debates. Whether it's Hitchens, Dawkins, or Harris debating with the faithfulÂ…the faithful never fair well. In a way, I'd like the faithful to do better just so it could be more interesting. If they haven't been able to perform by now I don't think it's going to happen.
This shows so clearly how little it takes to let the air out of a balloon that is already basically empty. It also seems to support the notion that these faiths have only been able to exist through protective shields. Violence and threats of it in this world and the next have been effective but have lost their viability in the moderate world. Silence and "respect" have been the replacements. What a breath of fresh air to see these begin to be eroded in our public discourse. I hope it lasts.

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 22:45:00 UTC | #46857

Michael P.'s Avatar Comment 2 by Michael P.

I'm watching this right now (Olasky is yapping, so I can divert my attention away) Olasky was definitely right on one point: Hitch wipes the floor with him. Banzalb, you mentioned letting "the air out of a balloon"; I think Olasky gave him the pin.

It's almost not fair, and I'd love to see Hitch going up a stronger opponent. I'd pay hard cash to see him debate a nut like Bob Enyart.

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 23:01:00 UTC | #46858

jwoodcould's Avatar Comment 3 by jwoodcould

The fundie was completely out of his league. He even went so far as to justify the jewish led genocide of various tribes in the middle east on basis that the already present tribes were "the terrorists" of their times. I half expected Hitchens to say, "At this point you are talking completely out of your ass." He was too kind to the segmented being beside him.

Hitchen's rebuttal of Pascal's wager never gets old either.

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 23:07:00 UTC | #46860

flashbaby's Avatar Comment 4 by flashbaby

I'm watching this too and the argument against Hitchens boils down to: God does not poison everything. The god botherer points to one or two examples of good religious people and that's it. So lame and misses the point, a poisoned well may not kill everyone who drinks from it but it is still a poisoned well.

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 23:11:00 UTC | #46861

torgosPizza's Avatar Comment 5 by torgosPizza

I just finished watching it (although I had to skip past the god-believer's comments several times as they became unbearably redundant).. Agreed that this guy was way over his head, and the senator's invocation of Pascal made my jaw drop. Maybe I'm getting too used to hearing these things debunked in quick fashion!

A fantastic video, though, thanks for the submitter for sharing. It was also a nice touch to learn the moderator was also an "unbeliever."

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 23:26:00 UTC | #46865

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 6 by Shuggy

Olasky's argument boils down to "Religious people do good things, therefore religion is good." Sometimes the atheist argument looks like the mirror image of that so we have a stalemate. In fact, we need to argue more clearly that good people would do good anyway, just as bad people do bad anyway, whether religious or not. (And as Stephen Weinberg [sp?] said "but for good people to do bad, that takes religion")

CH did not say "Religion annihilates everything" but "poisons" i.e. taints, a much milder claim.

CH is not a gracious person: he could at least have acknowledged the applause for taking US citizenship.

I like "The ad hominemer the better!"

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 00:42:00 UTC | #46876

GodlessHeathen's Avatar Comment 7 by GodlessHeathen

Olasky is mind-numbingly redundant. I give him credit for all those straw men he beat up at the end there, though.

I don't understand why CH didn't nip Olasky's primary misunderstanding. It seems it would have been easier to say "Where so much if not all of the good religions brings can be had with secular morality, why tolerate the profound evil religious dogma brings?"

meh

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 01:00:00 UTC | #46879

Liveliest Crib's Avatar Comment 8 by Liveliest Crib

3. Comment #49856 by jwoodcould on June 14, 2007 at 12:07 am

The fundie was completely out of his league. He even went so far as to justify the jewish led genocide of various tribes in the middle east on basis that the already present tribes were "the terrorists" of their times. I half expected Hitchens to say, "At this point you are talking completely out of your ass."

Heh, I actually thought that that argument, despite its absurdity, could mark Olasky's one moment of rhetorical skill -- simply because it could have trapped Hitchens into defending his unapologetic stances vis-a-vis those religious people with whom he wants war. Olasky could have gotten Hitchens to contradict himself if he played it right. It still would have been rather difficult to trap Hitchens that way, but he could have used that angle.

But this Olasky guy was just loopy. So little of what he said made any sense. Rarely do I listen to one of these programs and actally blurt out loud, "What?!?!?!" multiple times when I'm alone.

I love how he argues that the Bible isn't about what it so plainly says it is, but insists that merely the title of Hitchens' book must be taken as strictly and literally as possible. I half expected Olasky to say, "Religion poisons everything? Really, Hitch? Everything? Does it poison the soap in my bathroom? Does is poison the corn flakes I eat in the morning? These things seem unaffected by religion."

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 01:34:00 UTC | #46887

gcdavis's Avatar Comment 9 by gcdavis

That was on of the best performances on any subject that I have ever seen... and Hitch was good as well. No seriously without notes, Hitch is an orator second to none. I am glad he has become a US citizen as it might give him a bit more street cred "over there".

It is always frustrating that the religious apologists never confront or even debate the arguments presented, Olasky was an exceptionally poor opponent. 10 : 0 to Hitch.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 01:47:00 UTC | #46890

GodlessHeathen's Avatar Comment 10 by GodlessHeathen

I love how he argues that the Bible isn't about what it so plainly says it is, but insists that merely the title of Hitchens' book must be taken as strictly and literally as possible. I half expected Olasky to say, "Religion poisons everything? Really, Hitch? Everything? Does it poison the soap in my bathroom? Does is poison the corn flakes I eat in the morning? These things seem unaffected by religion."
Didn't he? He mentioned some troubled children being brought food by some Christian charity and they ate it and failed to drop dead, didn't he?

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 01:50:00 UTC | #46891

The Wee Flea's Avatar Comment 11 by The Wee Flea

Whenever a debate is put on this site can I suggest that the standard responses are just posted up. It would save people time.

I actually thought it was a resonable debate and that Olasky spoke well. Hitchins is of course an excellent debater and orator. But I found his arguments very unimpressive.

A couple of other points -

flashbaby - a poisoned well does poison everyone. It does not pick and choose who to poison.

And whilst it is suggested that Olasky spends a great deal of time pointing out the good that religious people do, I think it is only fair to point out that Hitchens book (which I am half way through) although entitled 'God is not Great' is actually not about God at all, but about all the evil that some religious people do. Olasky is only responding in kind.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:14:00 UTC | #46896

rnewson's Avatar Comment 12 by rnewson

For those using Linux, you can save the whole stream to a file using mplayer:

mplayer http://128.83.78.9/media/futureforum/Hitchins-Olasky.wmv -cache 16384 -dumpstream -dumpfile Hitchins-Olasky.asf

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:29:00 UTC | #46899

howtoplayalone's Avatar Comment 13 by howtoplayalone

I'm glad I got in before someone mentions "drunk" or "slurring" or "rehab."

Who'd be up for some variation of Godwin's Law (it is Godwin, right)? The first person to mention Hitchen's drinking (if it does not fit the context, and if he's not actually slurring, something he gets accused of but never does) if someone mentions booze out of context then... Well, I don't know. Maybe they have to write "I will not bring up Hitchen's drinking out of context" 100 times on the board?

Ideas?

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:30:00 UTC | #46900

howtoplayalone's Avatar Comment 14 by howtoplayalone

"He is also editor-in-chief of World magazine, the fourth most-read newsweekly in the United States."

What the hell is that?

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:33:00 UTC | #46903

doodinthemood's Avatar Comment 15 by doodinthemood

That's the first American I've ever heard say "Y'all"...

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:37:00 UTC | #46905

Logicel's Avatar Comment 16 by Logicel

Excellent debate. While Olasky was stating the positive actions of Christians of which he personally knows, I was wondering how Hitchens could respond without appearing to be a lout. And Hitchens did not disappoint by emphasizing that religion is superfluous to good deeds.

Some phrases of Hitchens which I particularly appreciated were:

Wonderful faith-based nightmare (regarding the situation in Uganda/Sudan.)

necromancy (describing the North Korean government)

Mr. Jefferson, build that wall. (referring to the separation of state and religion)

I also really appreciate the way Hitchens handles how religion unjustly and unfairly regards women, especially their sexuality. His voice usually booms magnificently when describing the religious delegating of females to semi/non-human status.

Olasky is undoubtedly one of the good Christians, one who can use the religion to his advantage, or thinks he is using the religion that way. However, it always is a disappointment when such a good person starts stating his non-evidential beliefs concerning original sin and salvation via crucifixion. He then appears quite unreasonable at that moment.

Liveliest Crib, nice post and great point about how Olasky could have trapped Hitchens.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:50:00 UTC | #46907

Logicel's Avatar Comment 17 by Logicel

Regarding Hitchens not verbally responding to the applause of his becoming an American citizen, he was born and raised in Britain, after all, and can be a bit reserved in the regard of accepting compliments, or maybe I am just talking out of my hat. However, his facial expression showed clear pleasure at the applause.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 02:58:00 UTC | #46908

Logicel's Avatar Comment 18 by Logicel

13. Comment #49897 by howtoplayalone on June 14, 2007 at 3:30 am
I'm glad I got in before someone mentions "drunk" or "slurring" or "rehab."
_______

So true. But the other jab that can be relied upon to be unfailingly hurled at Hitchens, is his support for the Iraq War. And he was called upon that during the question-and-answer period. His response was right on the mark--that for him, the Iraq War is a war against religion, and therefore, it is more ironic for the religious supporters of the war to be grouped with him instead of the other way around.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:01:00 UTC | #46909

CJ22's Avatar Comment 19 by CJ22

Maybe he's finally cottoned on that while HE thinks it's great to have become a citizen, some of his British audience might feel a slight sense of implied criticism if he makes too big a deal out of it. But Hitchens knows the primary rule of being a foreigner in the US - you don't make any enemies telling Americans how great America is.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:10:00 UTC | #46910

Titus's Avatar Comment 20 by Titus

Another excellent and highly articulate performance from Christopher Hitchens. This site has become, over the last few weeks, a place I visit every day.
This is the first time I've ever joined a forum of any kind and I look forward to future discussions with you guys and girls, whose comments I have come to enjoy hugely. It's gratifying to find a space where rationality and intellect are prized above dogma and blind faith.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:10:00 UTC | #46911

BMMcArdle's Avatar Comment 21 by BMMcArdle

Hitchens is wearing the American flag on the lapel of his jacket.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:20:00 UTC | #46912

Titus's Avatar Comment 22 by Titus

On the contrary, I'm inclined to agree with CH that religion does poison everything. There is no doubt that those who are religiously motivated can do 'good things', but it's the religious motivation that taints their actions. To paraphrase RD, to do something good only because you fear the consequences of not doing it, is a pretty shabby kind of morality.
Olasky was quick to point out in defence of religion all the cases he could muster of members of the christian church doing good works, but at what price to the beneficiaries of those charitable actions?
I would be prepared to bet a substantial sum that every one of those people is evangelising to those they are purporting to help.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:33:00 UTC | #46915

howtoplayalone's Avatar Comment 23 by howtoplayalone

Logicel said: So true. But the other jab that can be relied upon to be unfailingly hurled at Hitchens, is his support for the Iraq War.

Yeah, I think that's a jab that's worth hurling, though. But the first posts here about Hitchens were almost entirely about his Iraq position (zzzz) and sounded like "How dare Warmonger Hitchens get a post on this site?"

But have you noticed that as people watch and listen to his interviews/debates (and presumably read his book) they realize there's a lot more to him than what he thought or thinks about Iraq. One guy, can't remember who, said in an early post something like "I used to detest him because of Iraq, but after listening to him, I like him, and even get some of his points on Iraq now." I thought that was pretty big of that poster to say. (I'm not prepared to go that far, although the modified tune he's singing these days makes more sense to me. Maybe I just went that far.)

TITUS: Right on.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:34:00 UTC | #46916

howtoplayalone's Avatar Comment 24 by howtoplayalone

Hitchens is wearing the American flag on the lapel of his jacket.

Good for him. He alternates it with a Kurdish one. I'd bet he's worn a Palestinian one too.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 03:37:00 UTC | #46917

banzaib's Avatar Comment 25 by banzaib

Olasky resembled Al Sharpton in this debate since neither one of them spent much time off just the cover of Hitchen's book. Olasky tries to make the point that since religious people at times do altruistic things, religion therefore does not "poison everything."
The problem is that the discussion then moves to altruism and there is a strong case that our altruistic tendencies do not have a religious origin. If that is indeed the case, falsely attributing them to religion is a form of poisoning.
The notion that we are inherently bad and need to be rescued by religion needs the same treatment as putting faith on a pedestal.
We have entertained enough false shame and guilt to last an eternity...no more of this nonsense.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 04:04:00 UTC | #46920

Skeptic Jim's Avatar Comment 26 by Skeptic Jim

I've seen better and quicker debunkings of Pascal's Wager. I can't believe people still consider that ridiculous argument. That guy claims to never have heard a good answer to pascal's wager??? He obviously has never typed those words into a search engine.

Pascal's wager is a false dilemma. It assumes the choices are only the hole in the ground or the christian afterlife. What about all the religions that claim christians are going to have an unpleasant afterlife? For that matter, what about all the subsections of christianity who believe that all of the other christian sub-sections are going to hell?

Pascal's wager assumes one can lie to an omniscient being and pretend to believe or that they can make a conscious decision to change and all of a sudden believe the opposite to what they currently believe.

It's a ridiculous argument and there is no excuse for anyone to fall for it in this day and age.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 04:25:00 UTC | #46923

jaytee_555's Avatar Comment 27 by jaytee_555

"Olasky.....could have trapped Hitchens into defending his unapologetic stances vis-a-vis those religious people with whom he wants war. Olasky could have gotten Hitchens to contradict himself if he played it right."

All Hitchens would have needed to do would have been to point out that Moses was the agressor and the 'Bin Laden' figure in that situation. In any case, Olasky could not have denied that God instructed Moses to kill everything, except of course, the virgins. A god who instructs anyone to do that is either a god one should avoid like the plague, or a man-made excuse to rape.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 04:36:00 UTC | #46924

konquererz's Avatar Comment 28 by konquererz

This was an unfair debate. Really, Hitch is so much stronger in debates than this clown. He really outclassed his opponent. He was right of course, but it was like watching an adult wipe a child in basketball, it held no interest.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 04:51:00 UTC | #46926

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 29 by phasmagigas

25 mins in Olasky challenges hitchens assumption that the 9/11 hijackers werent the the most devout people on the planes. Aside from the possibility that hitchens was wrong (and maybe he was, but how do you measure devoutness anyway?) im not sure why olasky even made this comment, yes, one of those moments where you say 'EHHHH???' maybe he was suggesting that there were more devout poeple on that plane who werent trying to fly it into a building. What hitchens suggests is that if you do fly yourself into a building then you are very devout, not that all devout people fly into buildings by choice.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 05:22:00 UTC | #46931

donny's Avatar Comment 30 by donny

Having read Christopher Hitchens book and just finished watching the debate it seems to me that Olasky has missed the entire point. By continuously sprouting the "Religion poisons everything" line he is dodging the main argument. (At one point he even misquotes by saying "Christianity" poisons everything). He could reel off a telephone book full of people who do good deeds for others and claim to have done so because they are religious, this still would not validate his argument. Do they require religious belief in order to carry out these good deeds - I think not - shame on them if they do.

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 05:27:00 UTC | #46933