This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza

Debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza - Comments

maton100's Avatar Comment 1 by maton100

Oh please, D'Souza is a twerp of the lowest order.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 10:09:00 UTC | #77433

Aequitas12345's Avatar Comment 2 by Aequitas12345

I really wish D'Souza would educate himself in rational arguments and critical thinking.

A little disappointing that Hitchens didn't tear him in half, instead adopting a defensive/passive approach. Especially in the face of so many ad hominem arguments directed at him.

Frustratingly biased and poorly structured 'debate'.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 10:10:00 UTC | #77434

Zakie Chan's Avatar Comment 3 by Zakie Chan

D'souza doesnt seem to understand methodological naturalism at all.

And correct me if I am wrong, but isnt the whole "Christianity is compatible with science, because early scientists were Christians" a genetic fallacy?

But in the end, I really dont think Hitchens did too bad at all. D'souza had to rely on the same old cop out answers that apologists have been using forever, such as "hell is locked from the inside." I mean seriously, I dont see how anyone can actually view the idea of "love me or burn" as a nice idea.

Never forget that Hitler burned Anne Frank to death because she was Jewish. We call Hitler evil. God burned Anne Frank for eternity because she was Jewish. Christians call God loving.

Also, lets try and not stoop to just insulting D'Sousa and using ad hominems.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 10:56:00 UTC | #77449

Pin_Cushion's Avatar Comment 4 by Pin_Cushion

Okay, my mind is reeling from his sloppily strung together logic regarding Hume and miracles.

1) Scientific laws may not be universal. We can't see everything at once, so we can't know.
2) Since we can't know everything then miracles might be possible (something quantum physics is quite plain about).
3) Since miracles might be possible then everything in the Christian Bible must be true because its contents are miraculous.

And he makes this claim by referencing HUME?! ::boggle::

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:01:00 UTC | #77450

TAG's Avatar Comment 5 by TAG

I went to this debate here in NYC. I wrote about it on my blog. Here's part of what I said:

Last night I went to the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinseh S'Souza. Hitchens wasn't in top form, and D'Souza probably won the debate in terms of audience support. But the audience was stacked against Hitchens with 80 to 90% being Christian in my estimate.

D'Souza threw out numerous mischaracterizations of atheists, and statements such as atheism and belief in scientific laws requiring a leap of faith just like Christianity, which Hitchens never properly attacked.The final audience question period favored D'Souza as well, since most questions went to Hitchens, D'Souza got the last word in almost every time. Hitchens often made arguments that seemed to go over the heads of the audience. Once he made the point that the so-called designer didn't do a very good job since most of the solar system and universe is uninhabitable. However he made this argument with too much literary flair since I saw the young Christians sitting in front of me shaking their heads in confusion, not because they disagreed, but because they plainly did not understand what Hitchens was saying.

When Dinesh mentioned Hitchens book on Mother Theresa "The Missionary Position" the young Christians in front of me freaked out. Their eyes were bugging out and their jaws were hitting the floor! After all the things Hitchens had said so far, I couldn't believe that book title getting the biggest reaction.

The rest is at:
http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/hitchens-vs-dsouza-debate.html

I also linked to the Hitchens Watch blog which has a more thorough report.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:04:00 UTC | #77451

JerryD385's Avatar Comment 6 by JerryD385

Again, D'Douza uses half truths and made up statistics to "debate". These deceitful tactics are akin to those of creationists. While I think ripping their arguments to sheds in print is a useful method, engaging in debates with these con-men are doing atheists no good.

As Dawkins never gives credibility to creationists by engaging them in public debate, people like Hitchens and Shermer should have avoided these liars and continued debating the murkies like McGrath. While those murkies may be irrational and wrong, I can at least believe they honestly believe what they say. D'Souza is obviously being deliberately deceitful and should not be given the time of day. It only gives him more clout and power ("Ive gone toe to toe with Hitchens, therefore I'm legit")

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:06:00 UTC | #77452

Aequitas12345's Avatar Comment 8 by Aequitas12345

I'm fairly certain D'Souza's debate consisted of many ad hominems directed at Hitchens.

For example, after cutting Hitchens off, D'Souza then blasts him for not citing every example of secular crimes against humanity. How is that constructive? How is that not seen as a childish and immature tactic?

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:08:00 UTC | #77455

BicycleRepairMan's Avatar Comment 7 by BicycleRepairMan

Firstly D'Souza has completely misunderstood evolution and its connection to morality and consciousness, apparantly, he has not understood any works on evolution published since "The selfish Gene" and still takes up a social-darwinistic view of things, thinking that all living creatures are selfish etc. Specially stupid it gets when he seems to think that we are (or can be) programmed by evolution to only treat our immediate next of kin good..

He is quite annoying in his misrepresentation of scientific facts, Lets see him debate PZ Myers or Dawkins on these issues of origin of morality.

Hitchens is great, but sometimes I feel that his answers are pre-made statements and not direct debunks and responses to the opponents claims, that would work if the audience is inside your own head, (or perhaps in your book) but they are not.

It is of course difficult to answer all the half-truths and idiocy D'Souza manages to cram into one sentence, but atleast the following ought to be said:

D'Souza keeps on with his "We both assume laws" nonsense that "proves" a law-giver, Well, our assumptions of universal law first of all is not a baseless assumption. ALL the evidence, whether it be daily life things (sun goes up and down-stuff) or deep science, it all seems to follow laws. Secondly, this discovery is not a RESULT of modern christian thinking, it is the SOURCE of it. The bible is overwhelmingly NOT a "all humans are equal" type book, this is an interpretation that came LATE, as a result of continual opposition to the Christian doctrine.

I'll give Christianity this: Unlike, say, Islam, Christianity is diffuse and inconsistent and self-contradictory enough to leave much to interpretation and guesswork, this ALLOWED for much of the science to florish, not because of, but despite of, a dominant religion.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:08:00 UTC | #77454

Aequitas12345's Avatar Comment 9 by Aequitas12345

On Comment #4:

Syllogistic fallacy

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:11:00 UTC | #77458

JammyB's Avatar Comment 10 by JammyB

D'Souza must have either a very bad memory or be a serial liar. I've not watched all of this yet but please:
- You might have thought it was the religious blowing up skyscrapers, abortion clinics and each other who are "militant", but oh no, turns out it's us book-writing atheists. The pen is mightier than the sword I guess.
- We have all been lied to, burn your history books and unremember all those facts and photos you've seen, Hitler was in fact an atheist! Presumably the non-God didn't tell him not to kill those jews then.
- The laws of physics are not consistent, perhaps D'Souza could help to demonstate that gravity is not consistent by jumping out of the window.

D'Souza asks how particles "know" how to interact - obviously they must have souls duhhhh!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:12:00 UTC | #77459

Aequitas12345's Avatar Comment 11 by Aequitas12345

On Comment #6: "engaging in debates with these con-men are doing atheists no good. "

Dawkins wont debate regarding Intelligent Design as he does not want it to be seen as a "Science". Dawkins does take part in religious debates.

I do agree that D'Souza may feel validated by simply engaging in debate with Hitchens, but written arguments are only read by so many people and can only go so far. There does need to be a push Vocally against theism, IMHO.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:15:00 UTC | #77460

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 12 by Diacanu

"D'Souza must have either a very bad memory or be a serial liar".

Given everything else I've read about him, I'll go with the latter.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:18:00 UTC | #77461

Gymnopedie's Avatar Comment 13 by Gymnopedie

I can't figure out if Dinesh prefers to misrepresent his opposition's arguments or ignore the arguments. His arguments clearly show he hasn't understood Dawkins's, Hitchens's, and Harris's books that he claims to have read. IMO Hitchens might as well be debating a Bobo doll here.

I am a bit surprised that Hitchens received the large support he did in this venue.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:23:00 UTC | #77463

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 14 by robotaholic

ok im getting irritated - if you saw the other debate with mr despoeirj203jfa then you were just waiting for Hitch to tear him apart - i am sad that he didn't do that-

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:27:00 UTC | #77464

JelloWasabi's Avatar Comment 15 by JelloWasabi

The argument that 'Christianity wins by default' since science doesn't explain everything needs to be exposed and dismantled whenever it is displayed.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:27:00 UTC | #77465

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 16 by Diacanu

"I can't figure out if Dinesh prefers to misrepresent his opposition's arguments or ignore the arguments. His arguments clearly show he hasn't understood Dawkins's, Hitchens's, and Harris's books that he claims to have read".

Keep in mind he's before an audience that likely hasn't read or understood them either.
Therefore, all he has to do is shovel lovely sounding bullshit, soak up the applause, and ignorance wins the day.

He worked for Reagan, and that old reptile was all about lovely soundbites.
"There you go again", "it's morning in America", "tear down that wall", "whheellll".

Four more years!! Four more years!!
D'uhr!!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:30:00 UTC | #77466

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 17 by Diacanu

*Crickets*

....too soon?

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:42:00 UTC | #77467

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 18 by oxytocin

D'Souza is the most challenging debater we have thus far encountered. He is extremely intelligent and in possession of superior verbal abilities. He wins many arguments because he is able to assemble a vast array of "factoids" that appear to back his claims. These factoids often have the effect of overwhelming his opponents; since his opponents likely cannot remember all the inaccuracies, and they do not have the time to refute them, he often comes out on top. This may be mendacious, but it also may be that he is so biased that, as Hitchens says, D'Souza actually believes what he's saying.

Often we see D'Souza using a sophisticated "god of the gaps" ideology. For example, his argument that science does not know everything [or cannot prove universal, unwavering laws], and therefore miracles are possible. Ken Miller uses this line of reasoning when he asserts that because there is inherent indeterminacy at the quantum level [and it is impossible to create tools that would eliminate the indeterminacy], this is the space that god can occupy, where the laws of the universe can seemingly be broken.

I think many debaters fail to educate the public [and their opponents] that scientists don't claim to have all the answers and that's ok. We're working on it, as Dawkins says. Most of us admit our ignorance when we don't know something. We must strive to fill in the gaps with facts, not fairies.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:43:00 UTC | #77468

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 19 by Alovrin

D'Souza's opening statement, goes something like this
Im going to use the atheist's tools of reason logic and evidence to outsmart the atheist's.

..Well I suppose that's easier than using them to prove god exists.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:54:00 UTC | #77471

JelloWasabi's Avatar Comment 20 by JelloWasabi

Don't you think that most of D'Souza's arguments could have been completely ruined if the the 'Jesus wins by default' pov was hammered on. That just seems like such a great point to make over and over.

Are there any debaters out there who can think of a better way to address the issues (nonissues) brought up by D'Souza?

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 11:54:00 UTC | #77472

Mango's Avatar Comment 21 by Mango

Bill O'Reilly and D'Souza think it denigrates scientists to remind them that they don't know all the answers to life's big questions. Scientists are happy to say they don't yet know, yet theists see that as a weakness and feel comforted by their own revealed Truth.

It's a basic misunderstanding of how science works that D'Souza exploits to win over a scientifically-ignorant audience.

D'Souza says it's as big of a leap of faith not to accept God as to accept him. I can't accept that he actually believes the bile he vomits during a debate.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:02:00 UTC | #77475

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 22 by Fanusi Khiyal

Can we get a loud cheer for the Hitch? And can we all agree that D'Souza is a bufoon?

Honestly, the man reminds me of nothing so much a monkey who has been placed in a suit and strategically shaved. I've seen him thrashed in debate by other Christians, serious, intelligent ones such as Robert Spencer, and believe me, he doesn't come off much better even among his coreligionists.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:03:00 UTC | #77476

Roll's Avatar Comment 23 by Roll

As entertaining as I find these debates, I can't help but think that they give too much credence to theist view.

This reminds me of the creationist v science, 50/50 possibility of being right point of view, attempting to lever itself into our classrooms.

By offering these nutters equal air-time, as it were, the rationalist is accepting that the nutter may have a valid argument that needs debating at all.

I assume this prostitution of rational thought in this context, is usually done with the intent of exposure to ideas, or to line the back-pocket, in the hope that they are exposed as the fools they obviously are.

Is the only forum for atheistic and rational views to be expressed in the public arena to be in debate with more deranged lunatics? They have the pulpit, countless television opportunities to fleece the vulnerable and pseudo news channels to bang on about their worthless, crass and childish notions. What do normal people have? Forums preaching to the converted and...

D'Souza seems to have one hugely inflated opinion of his own worth. But he comes with well prepared and researched bullsht.

I wonder if derision, spiced with humour and a refusal to take to the stage on equal terms is not a more appropriate way in which to to deal with these over-inflated, self-congratulatory, charlatans and twits.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:04:00 UTC | #77477

PN.Shreeniwas Aiyer's Avatar Comment 24 by PN.Shreeniwas Aiyer

Everyone one of D'Souza's arguments was complete rubbish. He was conveniently hopping between reason and belief. The quality of the audience was pathetic! These guys need to be really taken on. They are preaching ignorance very effectively and in a very convincing manner.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:05:00 UTC | #77478

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 25 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

I giggle like a school girl in anticipation of Hitchens savaging some unsuspectng theist, but he seemed a little rough around the edges here.

However, the original article completely misrepresented the exchange, given the environment, he more than held his own.

Still, the McGrath thing was glorious. I'd love to see another one of those.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:08:00 UTC | #77479

oxytocin's Avatar Comment 26 by oxytocin

Mango, I agree with you. This is where the wishful thinking argument for religion comes in [as was briefly discussed in the Shermer debate]. If science does not have answers to a particular question, one gets the impression that that gap in our knowledge MUST be filled with something, even if it's a rice cake. People need to understand that gaps in knowledge are ok and that we are in the business of seeking facts, not pumping Novocain.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:10:00 UTC | #77481

ironman's Avatar Comment 28 by ironman

I think the article in The Observer doesn't do justice to what I've seen in the video footage. I think the barrage of D'Souza's quasi-thruths are hard to disprove, regarding the assumption that Hitchens would only receive equal time.

Furthermore, the odds of christians versus non-christians were quite stacked I think regarding the applause D'Souza received from his theistic rants. Especially I was struck that D'Souza posed that Hitchens didn't try to disprove God. Whereas D'Souze didn't even defend his existence in the first place! How could a rational human being assume his existence by default? How could he forgo the burden of proof? Christianity needed a prophet for Christ sake!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:11:00 UTC | #77484

cowalker's Avatar Comment 27 by cowalker

If I were going to debate the existence of God with a believer, I wouldn't allow him to cite the RESULTS of humans HAVING religious beliefs as proof that the beliefs themselves are true. If you can demonstrate that kids behave because they don't want Santa to leave coal in their stocking, it doesn't prove that Santa really exists. It just proves that belief in Santa has a good effect on their behavior. Of course you might also be able to demonstrate that it has a bad effect on the behavior of some kids, making them more greedy and gift-focused than they would otherwise have been. And what if children who don't believe in Santa behave or don't behave? None of it addresses the question of whether the jolly old elf comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

So no body counts allowed.

If D'Souza is happy to stand up there and argue that it doesn't matter if Christianity is true because it's good for society, then there's no point in arguing about whether it's true. Then we can have the argument about whether it is good for society. They are two separate arguments, and mixing them up is an approach that helps people like D'Souza avoid clear thinking on the subject.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:11:00 UTC | #77482

PN.Shreeniwas Aiyer's Avatar Comment 29 by PN.Shreeniwas Aiyer

Ignorance ALWAYS wins. Look there is empirical evidence: nearly 1.5 billion Muslims, 2.5 billion Christians, .... + other followers of other faiths. They have all voted with their feet and they have surrendered to ignorance.

I wonder why science never wins, even though it is science that provides food, shelter and explanation for wonderment.

Fear, insecurity, fear of unknown, fear of after death, fear death, decay, disease.... are much stronger than desire for truth.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:12:00 UTC | #77485

Thor's Avatar Comment 30 by Thor

What oxytocin said: as much as I dislike D'Souza, he is the most able debater I have seen go up against Hitchens or any of the others on our team yet.

One more point I'd like to make
we atheist are sometimes at a disadvantage when debating Christian who tell us how Christianity ended all kinds barbaric traditions that had existed all over the world: human sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery etc... (as if these were prime examples of humanist thinking and not often functions of religous believes themselves - sometimes even the earlier forms of Christianity)
Even if we accepted this claim at face value - and I don't, but let's assum it for the sake of the argument - an atheist should not feel the necessity to praise or endorse Christianity. We have to remember that all the Christian is saying is that his religion is better than that of some prehistoric stone-age culture. If that's the standard you want to measure yourself on...

Christianity is but one of a huge number of religions that have existed in the history of mankind mankind. History, however, is nothing but the long march of cultural evolution of humanity. That some religions/traditions, in this case Christianity, contained values and practices that proved superior in terms of social cohesion and civilizational advance to those of other religions, like those of the Celts or some African tribes does not mean that we have to embrace Christianity - no we should embrace that which has proven even more beneficial, in terms of explaining to us the truth about the world and in its effects for how we live together in society: a naturalistic worldview that leaves all those irrational bronze-age myths behind.

Just to give you an example: I have no problem stating that globally speaking the tradition of Christianity as it exists nowadays in the world is one I prefer over Islam. That doesn't make me a Christian - on the contrary: I strongly dislike many parts of the so-called Judeo-Christian morality and there countless exapamples of deeply troubling developments among Christian fundamentalists.
However, the tooth of time has simply done its work on Christianity than it has on Islam.

So when people like D'Souza say that Christianity is better than the cult of headshrinkers on the island of Tonga I am charitable enough to grant him that. I would still insist on pointing out that my worlview, which doesn't include the possiblity of people rising from their graves or the earth stopping it's orbit around the sun if god happens to wish it is one I very much prefer over a tradition based on the belief in a 2000-year old middle-eastern sky-god.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:15:00 UTC | #77486