Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hitchens v. Sharpton

Andrew Sullivan ran an excerpt today from a debate about God between a real Felix and Oscar duo, Christopher Hitchens and Al Sharpton. This debate really happened. It was not a Saturday Night Live sketch.

I think Sharpton is nine kinds of crazy, but he's (gulp) on to something here, in the part of his presentation that Sullivan reprinted:
We are sitting in a room that because of lights, we assume that there is electricity in the building. Electricity can light the room or burn it down; it does not mean electricity does not exist because it burns a building down, or that it is inherently wicked. Clearly people have misused God, as they have misused other things that are possibly positive, but its existence is not in any way proved or disproved by you giving me a long diatribe on those that have mishandled and misused God ...

I would say that many people, I among them, in our own lives have had experiences that make me believe that there is a God. And make me believe that my seeking God and seeking the guidance of a supreme being is real to me. I’m not going by Moses, I’m not going by Peter, I’m not going by the man that you said was a legend, Jesus of Nazareth. ... I’m not here to defend Scriptures. I didn’t write those Scriptures. I live my life, and in my life the existence of God has been confirmed to me in my own personal dealings and in my own faith being vindicated and validated. That has absolutely nothing to do with Scriptures, whether they are right or wrong.
I still think his logic has some truck-sized holes in it -- and don't try to diagram some of those sentences; you might pull something -- but he's right to point out that Hitchens and the rest of the nouveau athées aren't very often engaging with the foundation of all religion, which is the human capacity and instinct to imagine a god in the first place. They're mostly tearing down the specific gods that we've imagined, and while that's fun, it's really not all that difficult. The general tendency and the specific details are much more closely linked than someone like Sharpton wants to admit, but they're not identical. Thus, among other things, the existence of agnostics.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Where in the transcript does Sharpton mention how much money God saves him in not having to pay taxes every year?

I think I missed that part.


3:37 PM  

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