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Interview with Christopher Hitchens - Comments

GSP's Avatar Comment 1 by GSP

I do have to say... great outgoing music!

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:22:00 UTC | #89305

Carl Champagne's Avatar Comment 2 by Carl Champagne

He seemed awfully afraid to let his kids see Hitch's book. How can you take someone seriously when they not only admit to denying their children access to knowledge, but are proud of it?

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:23:00 UTC | #89307

Fouad Boussetta's Avatar Comment 3 by Fouad Boussetta

That was an excellent interview. Hitchens gets his points across really fast and really efficiently.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:27:00 UTC | #89308

blasphemer's Avatar Comment 4 by blasphemer

Nice interview but couldn't really tell if the interviewers were being sincere or slightly condescending and disingenuous.

I've heard from a friend that the book is already available on (though I haven't verified this for myself yet.) If so, I'll have another heathen book to listen to on my way to work :-)

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:41:00 UTC | #89316

gyokusai's Avatar Comment 5 by gyokusai

Carl Champagne sez:
He seemed awfully afraid to let his kids see Hitch's book. How can you take someone seriously when they not only admit to denying their children access to knowledge, but are proud of it?

Do you really think he was serious? To me, he seemed rather deadpan.


Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:42:00 UTC | #89317

Carl Champagne's Avatar Comment 6 by Carl Champagne

Perhaps you're right gyokusai, but something about their demeanor put me off. No matter, though, because HItchens kept plowing as usual and made his case clearly and concisely. It's always fun to see him in action.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:55:00 UTC | #89320

eXcommunicate's Avatar Comment 7 by eXcommunicate

Sometimes I wonder if Hitchens and Dawkins get a little miffed by all the condescending (to me) comments about their accents. Are we really that childish here in America? Nevertheless, this is a very good interview. Hitchens is quite agreeable when not confronting an enemy talking head.

And despite being a Christian Conservative, Joe Scarborough is very agreeable as well. He's one of those "old school" conservatives that a liberal can at the very least reason with. Last observation/question: Do you think some of the chuckles and giggles from the female anchor indicated discomfort with the discussion topic?

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 18:59:00 UTC | #89321

plastictowel's Avatar Comment 8 by plastictowel

I thought the female interviewer was titillated by his voice!

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 19:21:00 UTC | #89325

FreeThink25's Avatar Comment 9 by FreeThink25

I was actually rather impressed....this is the first time I feel like an atheist author has been interviewed rather respectably. I would agree with eXcommunicate though....the giggles were not only annoying, but they were completely void of intelligence. Rather than pose a question or rebuttal, just laugh's sure to help mock Hitchens, right?

I rather wish Hitchens had asked WHY he would be keeping the book away from his sons. Afraid of letting them make up their own minds, are you??? Have you ever seen the media end an interview and not paint the author in a tone of "there's those crazy atheists for you!" I wonder how far away we are from that...

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 19:21:00 UTC | #89326

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 10 by helen sotiriadis

the giggling was ridiculous. she's insulting herself.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 19:23:00 UTC | #89328

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 11 by Rob Schneider

Blasphemer: I think this is one of the most fair treatments Hitchens has received.
Scarborough is generally a yutz, but if you notice his tone changed over the interview, and he DEFINITELY set Christopher up with softballs AND gave him time to hit them out of the park.

The lady repeatedly responded (off camera) with "Hmmm... interesting point."

And the other fellow, again, just lobbed a softball. This was a pretty darn good showing. Or, as Larry David might say, "Pretty, Pretty, Prettty, Prettty, Pretty Good!!"

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 19:29:00 UTC | #89329

DAVE1618's Avatar Comment 12 by DAVE1618

Amazing Interview, once again. His argument on whether only the faithful can commit acts of kindness or not is brilliant.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 19:37:00 UTC | #89335

darlets's Avatar Comment 13 by darlets

As someone that doesn't live in the U.S, I'm always curious with interviews like this how popular/mainstream is the show the atheist author is appearing on.

How successful do people think we have been in raising the profile of atheism?

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 20:43:00 UTC | #89346

stevebremner's Avatar Comment 14 by stevebremner

I am surprised that Joe wasn't convinced by Christopher's singularly straightforward points.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 20:53:00 UTC | #89347

AJ Rae's Avatar Comment 15 by AJ Rae

It troubles me that they must treat common sense views as novel, shocking, or the most rude thing they've ever heard. Accept when it involves someone else's beliefs, then they readily agree, applaud even.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 21:13:00 UTC | #89351

hughlomas's Avatar Comment 16 by hughlomas

That was a surprisingly fair handed interview.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 21:23:00 UTC | #89354

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 17 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

Hey, that was the very epitome of mainstream. Is Joe pandering to the atheist lobby? Trying to snag all the best interviews? Brilliant if he is:-)

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 22:32:00 UTC | #89366

ADH's Avatar Comment 18 by ADH

I find myself agreeing with a great deal of what Hitchens says. This is a book that needed to be brought out. As a Christian I have no doubt whatever that some of the most enlightened and enlightening minds down through the centuries have been the minds of atheists and agnostics, just as an atheist can have no doubt that some of them have been Christian minds. Christians need to engage with writers like those that Hitchens has brought together in this anthology. In another of the talks accessible from this youtube interview he speaks out compellingly in favour of free speech. He says that the voice of the dissident, even if there is only one, must be heard, because hearing alternative views will make the "convinced" less complacent in their convictions. It will make them reexamine the foundations of their own belief (or non belief). Hear hear! This itself is an idea that Christians (and atheists) need to be able to engage with. Maybe they will realise that there may well be at least a grain of truth in the views that they so ardently oppose. I'm sure (from what I've heard) that Hitchens himself is humble enough to realise this, despite his apparent self assurance. I just hope that contributors to this forum are willing to take this view on board. Sometimes this forum seems like such a "hate-fest", with atheists racking their brains to out-do each other in parodying or lambasting faith and its various representatives, knowing that there is no one there (or virtually no one) who is going to spoil their party by speaking up in defense of their prey. All very entertaining I'm sure, but not all that challenging intellectually. It's no better than when Christians get together to tear the stuffing out of their atheistic straw-men. There needs to be the odd "nigger in the woodpile" (sorry about the political incorrectness!). Yet on these forums I always get the impression that dissent is not welcome, theists have no business even listening in, let alone contributing here. I've learnt a lot from you guys. In the spirit of Hitchens' talk, I have found myself having to re-examine my beliefs, and my attitudes towards people who disagree with me. I hope some of you will eventually be able to say at least the same thing.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 22:51:00 UTC | #89373

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 19 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

18. Comment #93683 by ADH on December 3, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Yet on these forums I always get the impression that dissent is not welcome, theists have no business even listening in, let alone contributing here.

I'm not convinced this is uniformly the case. Certainly theists, get short shrift if they trot out the same tired carnards we've heard a million times, but many here are willing to listen to someone who is not duplicitous or disingenous, and engaging in a genuine spirit of intellectual exploration.

You strike me as someone we can talk to, and as an ex-theist I can certainly appreciate (and recognise) honest doubt. I must confess from time to time, the dishonest have infuriated me and I've gotten temporarily nasty and insulting. However, given my own decades long history of theism, and ministry I know that facile and cheap claims of "retardedness" do nothing to explain the religious experience.

Keep thinking, but be warned, it could be the undoing of your faith:-)

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:06:00 UTC | #89377

Skip Church's Avatar Comment 20 by Skip Church

Anyone else notice the outro music? "Sympathy for the Devil." Just when I think morning shows can't get any cleverer...

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:12:00 UTC | #89378

ADH's Avatar Comment 21 by ADH

"Keep thinking, but be warned, it could be the undoing of your faith:-)"

I will. And I could address exactly the same words to you! :) :)

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:15:00 UTC | #89379

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara


Yet on these forums I always get the impression that dissent is not welcome, theists have no business even listening in, let alone contributing here.

All I can say is 'welcome to the internet'!

However I really can't understand though why you say dissent is not welcome. There have been major issues of dissent here in recent times - intense debates about libertarianism, the role of activism (such as the RSS).

The problem with religion is that it is not used to being debated. So what can seem like normal conversation on another topic can appear like fierce criticism when applied to religion. This is why people like Dawkins are sometimes labelled as 'militant' in terms of religion, when the equivalent level of discussion in another area would be considered mild.

Religion needs to grow up and accept that it has to deal with the same level of robust discussion as any other aspect of life.

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:31:00 UTC | #89380

briancoughlanworldcitizen's Avatar Comment 23 by briancoughlanworldcitizen

21. Comment #93689 by ADH on December 3, 2007 at 11:15 pm
"Keep thinking, but be warned, it could be the undoing of your faith:-)"

I will. And I could address exactly the same words to you! :) :)

You could, I suppose:-) My experience (so far at least) has been that the traffic tends to be one way. The specifics of ones faith fade away as they contradict life, experience, and reality. One makes constant efforts to crowbar the new wine of reality into the constricted old wineskins of faith, but eventually they burst.

One twists and turns trying to get religious detail to dovetail with the exponential flood of information being uncovered every day, and eventually the modestly intelligent is left with a choice, faith or reason. I chose to abandon the rationalisation, the apologetics and opt for reason.

Thinking deeply about the specific tenets of my faith was the fatal foot in the door, I can personally atest to Luthers injunction to "put out the eyes of reason". Alas, too late:-) Short of Jesus appearing directly to me (and perhaps not even then), it seems unlikely that I will ever pick up those threads again. However never say never, it just seems improbable:-)

This does a better job of explaining it :

Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:35:00 UTC | #89383

monkey74's Avatar Comment 24 by monkey74

I take your point well. I enjoy talking to theists on matters of world issues and religion and believe that examining why we think the way we do is very important. We have to truly question ourselves and answer honestly. This either reinforces or weakens your point. You have to understand that although most religious people are almost completely ignorant when it comes to the serious points of atheism and what atheism really is. Most atheist were once theistic and know much about christianity or other religions. I as well as others have read the bible and done observations on it. It is after we observe both sides of the god issue that many arrive at atheism. But most religious people have a completely unrealistic and bigoted view of atheism. We atheists are hated in all religions; we are common bad guy in all of them. We are constantly reminded of burning in hell, told many hurtful things, and have verse after bible verse thrown at us and that truly becomes very tiresome. That's why many lash out and sometimes respond angrily. I think that we all have to be as honest as possible and also be respectful. If a theist posts a difficult question that could be difficult to answer, I don't push it away. I engage that question and do research on it and the subject that it relates to such as biology, psychology, history, etc. and then try to answer it. You'll find that most of us here are open to honest questions as long as it is done in a constructive manner.

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 00:05:00 UTC | #89388

Johan's Avatar Comment 25 by Johan

Listening to Hitch always makes me jealous, not of his blue eyes, but of his beautiful baritone voice and his mastery of the English language. That I agree on what he says goes without saying.

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 00:22:00 UTC | #89389

Paine's Avatar Comment 26 by Paine

Hahahahahaha.......fading out with 'Sympathy for the Devil'. Fantastic!

Scarborough makes me smile.

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 00:32:00 UTC | #89391

passutoba's Avatar Comment 27 by passutoba

My beady eye picked up a misspelling of 'atheist' on the screen showing the quote from the book! Subterfuge or slackness??!

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 01:16:00 UTC | #89397

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 28 by Tyler Durden

Reading "The Portable Atheist" at the moment. Amazing crop of articles, essays and commentary from the likes of Darwin, Steven Weinberg, George Eliot, Twain, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Dennett, Sagan, Victor Stenger and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with Hitch's own comments before each chapter.

And a very short but concise piece from Penn Jillette. Worth a read.

As for the "portable" bit, it's bloody huge, nearly 500 pages ;-)

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 01:48:00 UTC | #89405

Corylus's Avatar Comment 29 by Corylus


It is great that you are willing to think and question. Yes, I can understand your following comment:

Yet on these forums I always get the impression that dissent is not welcome, theists have no business even listening in, let alone contributing here.
I would make a couple of points about that. I would concede that we have a couple of people on here who can be rude. However,

1) We fight each other too :) I have disagreed with several people on here, but I really don't hold a grudge against any of them*, (and I hope they would say the same of me) because discussion helps you to learn. The trick is to disagree civily.

2) You might want to compare this site to a few others. I know this does not excuse bad manners, but, this is a remarkably polite site compared to the competition. It is also self-moderating. If someone says something completely out of line, they will get told off.

Can I make a suggestion?

On the top right hand side of the home page is a 'search' box for the site. Because new stuff gets added so often, it is easy to miss some amazing material. There are a huge amount of videos, interviews and articles to look at. Search via your interests. (Brian has done several good videos the You-Tube star that he is :)

Also, if you find a poster on here that you like, why not have a look at their other comments? There is a function at the bottom of their posts for doing this.

While there are many people on here that I enjoy reading (too many to name!) I would particularly recommend _J_ for general reading and poetic use of language, Dr Benway for humour, Steve99 and Epeeist for learning about science , Russell Blackford for philosophy and Philip1978 for sheer cheerfulness.


*Actually, there is one that I continue to dislike. Not because of his faith, but because of his lack of humanity, but that's another tale :(

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 01:52:00 UTC | #89406

BMMcArdle's Avatar Comment 30 by BMMcArdle

I have a suggestion for ADH:
Stop distancing yourself from the rest of humanity by labelling yourself as a (insert religion here).

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 02:19:00 UTC | #89410