December 16, 2011

5 Great Christopher Hitchens Debates

christopher-hitchens-debates-blog.jpg Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens passed away yesterday at the age of 62. Hitchens was known as a polemicist and contrarian and his skills in rhetoric made for very engaging debates which he participated in. We’ve picked out five of the best debates on audio & video from the past few years in which Hitchens debated a worthy opponent. Since the publication of his bestselling book God Is Not Great in which he argues against religion, Hitchens has been one of the more vocal advocates of atheism in today’s world. Four of the debates we feature here are about religion. Hitchens also stirred controversy with his support of the Iraq War and his sympathy for neoconservative ideas, and in one debate we feature Hitchens argues his political stance. Enjoy these debates from the late Christopher Hitchens:

1. Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens Debate Religion

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate “Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?”. Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, uses his oratory skills to passionately argue that religion motivates a great deal of good in the modern world, and that a world without religion would be worse off for many reasons. Blair concedes that a great deal of harm has been committed by religious fanatics throughout history, but that this is not a reason to get rid of religion anymore than bad politicians are a valid reason to get rid of politics. Hitchens agrees that religion is not going away, but counters that the world would be better with a great deal more secularism and less religion. He focuses on problems which are compounded when religion intrudes such as poverty and its relation to the subjugation of women. They field over an hour of questions from the audience. It’s an excellent debate from two very talented rhetoricians. It is available on streaming video from the C-SPAN video library.

2. Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe: The Great God Debate

In this debate Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe take a look at many aspects of religion starting with answering “What is God?” and then arguing the various merits of the religious and secular worldviews. Rabbi Wolpe argues that religious belief leads to more basic goodness for the individual and for society as a whole as believers are more charitable and do more good works than non-believers. Hitchens argues that much of religious practice is wicked such as missionaries who prosthelytize to those who are weak and vulnerable. It’s a very well conducted debate with both sides contributing strong arguments. This debate is available on MP3 audio download and streaming video from the Forum Network.

3. On Whether Christopher Hitchens Was Wrong

In this 2008 Hitchens debate liberal author and blogger Eric Alterman talks with Christopher Hitchens via webcam on bloggingheads.tv. The majority of the hour long debate revolves around Hitchens’ support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Both argue many points about foreign policy in the Middle East. Alterman argues that liberals have become the true conservative and common sense party in America and the neo-conservatives to which he feels Hitchens belongs are the true radicals. Hitchens begs to differ. In the end they do both agree that they are voting for Barack Obama in 2008. This debate is available on MP3 audio download and streaming video from bloggingheads.tv.

4. The God Debate: Hitchens vs. D’Souza

Christopher Hitchens debates conservative author and Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza in this debate from the University of Notre Dame. D’Souza argues on the grounds of reason that God is best explanation for the origins of life, the human moral compass, and our capacity of good and evil. Hitchens argues that the universe isn’t as ordered as D’Souza would like to believe and that science can prove how the universe came from nothing without the need of a Creator or intelligent design. This debates is available on for free on streaming video on YouTube.

5. Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens Debate

Listen to a stimulating debate between the Reverand Al Sharpton and God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens provides many arguments against religion, arguing against religious texts, dogmatic beliefs, and a creator God. Al Sharpton contends that Hitchens cannot prove the non-existence of God and argues that if immoral acts are performed in the name of God that they have no relation to the great character of God. They both reflect on the modern implications of a belief in God, as Hitchens denounces the intrusion of religion into politics and culture (particularly in the Middle East) and Sharpton emphasizes the role of religion in positive social change such as in the American Civil Rights Movement. The whole debate is handled with good humor, even if neither Sharpton nor Hitchens are able to change one another’s minds. This debate was held at the New York Public Library and is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.

And if those aren’t enough, here are four more Christopher Hitchens debates:

Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Debate at 92nd Street Y

Does Atheism Poison Everything?: Christopher Hitchens Debates David Berlinski

Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World: Christopher Hitchens Debates Alister McGrath

Christopher Hitchens and John Haldane at Oxford – We Don’t Do God?: God in the Public Square

And for more great audio & video from Christopher Hitchens check out our author pages for him: Christopher Hitchens Audio & Video