Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Collision by Christopher Hitchens

Slate.com published an article by Christopher Hitchens touting his new DVD and book.

This week sees the opening on various cinema marquees of the film Collision: a buddy-and-road movie featuring last year's debates between Pastor Douglas Wilson, who is a senior fellow at New St. Andrew's College, and your humble servant. (If I may be forgiven, it's also available on DVD, and you can buy our little book of exchanges, Is Christianity Good for the World?)

Mr. Hitchens, a leader in modern atheism, has made a career in recent years debating religious conservatives.

I have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once have thought, or than most liberals believe.

Now that's a fascinating observation. What do you think? Do most liberals have the wrong impression of these religious right-winger?

He closes with this:

...the secular movement in the United States is acquiring a confidence that it has not known in years, while many of those who put their faith in revelation and prophecy and prayer are feeling the need to give an account of themselves. This is a wholly good development, and it is part of the pluralism and polycentrism that distinguish the sort of society that we have to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

When he says "secular," does he mean atheistic? is it possible to be described as secular without going all the way into atheism? What do you think?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Hitchens is a scumbag.

    His nasty, elitist grudge against religion can be summed up thusly: His mother died in a double-suicide with her lover, who was also her priest.

    What would Freud say?

  2. While I don't know the answer to your last question, I think the biggest problem is certainty. That is why I prefer calling myself agnostic to atheist. Atheism, to me, carries the same certainty that religious faith does. I don't understand why people have so much trouble admitting they just don't know for sure. I happen to believe in reincarnation, but I know I can't prove it and I understand that I may be wrong. I don't feel like my beliefs are diminished by the presence of uncertainty.

  3. Some guy, that has become a very popular argument against atheism, but it's not very logical. You would not tell me that I shouldn't be certain that the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist, or Thor, or Zeus, or any one of the many other gods humans have created throughout history. To me, it's no more probable that the biblical god exists than that any of those others exist. And I don't think the existence or non-existence of a god are equal propositions. Of course I don't know "for sure" as in 100% sure, but I don't think the label atheist requires I be 100% sure as opposed to 99.999%. Any good scientist or rational thinker leaves open the possibility their current understanding of the evidence could be proven wrong.

  4. Claiming to be agnostic has a built in humility which I find attractive. Most atheists I read could use more if that, S being an exception.

  5. I have to take exception to this idea that claiming to be agnostic is somehow more humble (and, therefore, more noble and superior) to claiming atheism. I'm also rather annoyed at this notion that atheists are lacking humility on the whole. You wouldn't think someone who laughs and says, "Of course I don't believe in Isis," was lacking in humility. We all agree that Isis does not exist and was a figment of some Ancient Egyptian's imagination. It isn't a lack of humility that lets me say there is no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

    I don't think there is any obligation on my part to hold out for the possibility that some god exists (that "humility" of agnosticism) because I think it's a fantastical claim.

  6. S, You're an exception to what I've come to think of as the hallmark of internet atheists. The mockery and sarcasm of guys like P.Z. Meyers is what I'm talking about. I don't see that in agnostics, and I think the reason is in the definition of agnosticism, the I-don't-know admission.

    However, I see you're right that this nasty attitude that is common among atheists is not necessarily part of the package.

  7. Interesting, I don't know for sure if Mudrake claims to be atheistic or agnostic --or just a lapsed Catholic--but in any case, he is the nasty, arrogant blogger you describe as atheistic. I don't know why you blog with him. Can't be because he's such a nice, open-minded, tolerant, lovely gent. I agree with you totally about PZ Meyers --obnoxious in his mockery of those who disagree.

    Mike, you posted at Mudrake's about the gay teacher arrested for assigning students to write about homosexuality found in nature. I didn't find that thread here.

    As a co-blogger, Do you get all the comments before moderation, in your email, as Mudrake does?

    to this, I wrote there and edited here, but it won't be printed there:

    The dog humping your leg is natural, and good people teach their dogs not to do that. Just as it may be "natural" to "get off" any way you can, doesn't mean it is GOOD or RIGHT to do so, now, does it? Finding homosexual behavior in nature doesn't mean homosexuality is good or immutable or inevitable.

    Not everything animals do is good. Some eat their young --and some eat their muck. And many are dangerous and violent.

    A gay teacher assigning such a paper hopes the students will CONCLUDE that homosexuality is good, natural, inevitable and immutable --just because homosexual behavior can be found in nature. He is propagandizing with his assignment. And I'd be right down there in the principal's office wanting my kid to have a straight teacher or one who did not propagandize for homosexuality.

    The photo of the teacher embracing the student --highly suspect. Homosexuals already do not observe the basic traditional boundaries for sexual behavior. Thus, it is true that a disproportionate number of teacher/student sexual relationships are homosexual in nature. That was reported in a 9 state study of molestations between students and teachers. A disproportionate number --1/3 to 1/2 were homosexual in nature. Yet gays are 2 or 3 per cent of population at most. (I'm looking for my source for this --and so I am inexact as to whether the percentage were 1/2 or 1/3.)

    Homosexuality is entered into during adolescence quite typically, and most of us normal parents want our kids to mature before they have sex with anyone --instead of experiencing it during their years of immature emotional psycho/sexual volatily, social insecurity, low self-esteem, and insecure self-image regarding their normalcy and attraction to the opposite sex. I don't want anyone suggesting to my kids or grandkids that they just might be homosexual if they happen to be unsure of themselves in any way where their sexuality or attraction to the opposite sex is concerned. I don't want anyone of the same sex to give them their first sexual experience. It is so normal for people to admire and want friendship with people of their own sex during adolescence that I think confusion is quite possible in today's gay-advocating climate. Though the most NORMAL among us cannot be confused, some can. Addiction to abnormal sex can be acquired.

    It is interesting to note that US Dept of Justice in 1991 reported that 7 % of rapes are homosexual in nature -- 25% of white gays admitted to sex with boys 16 or younger when they themselves were aged 21 or older. That's 1 out of 4!!! Almost half of lesbians in one study were heterosexually raped. Masters and Johnson Institute reported that a 25 year old man had had his first sexual experience when he was 13 years old. It was arranged by his lesbian mother with an older gay man. After that, his imagery and interpersonal sexual experience were exclusively homosexual.' Another guy, 22, felt his change in preference was related to having been raped by 2 men --after which he voluntarily sought out similar experience. (Goyer and Eddleman)

    The research is out there from various sources to suggest that homosexuality is not a doorway you want your kids to walk through. So let's not have teachers propagandizing for it.

  8. PS to my article --I see that this teacher is reportedly straight --when I went to the Psych today article. I reported on it at my blog.

  9. Barb, You're quite welcome to comment over here. I'll double post from now on. I wouldn't mind a little more brevity, to be honest, but that's really my only complaint.

    I disagree with your position on homosexuality. My belief, and the one I'll pass on to my kids, is that some prople are gay and more than the small percentage you mentioned. I believe for them it's right and natural and to deny it is wrong, to supress it is contrary to nature.

  10. Tell me, Mike, what is natural about what homosexual males do to have sex??? How do you dignify it and make it harmless, aesthetically artistic, romantic, sanitary, and consistent with how we are designed for procreation and love-making? How do you explain the promiscuity? or the tolerance for something like anal/oral contact --which was reported to be experienced by nearly all gay men and many lesbians, as well.

    I feel like their sense of SELF and dignity must be shot to heck! to endure such indignities, smells and tastes! I weep for anyone with such a loss of their sense of SELF to escapism in search of orgasms with anyone and everyone by disgusting methods at the probable expense of their health. I wonder how many were molested as children.

    By 1970, by Kinsey reports of 1940 and 1970, only 1 % of gays and 63% of lesbians said that they had never had a one night stand --while 42% of the gays and 7% of the lesbians said that "over half" of their partners had been 'one night stands' 70% of gays and 29% of lesbians reported that they had had sex only ONCE with over half of their partners. This represents a big increase in these numbers from 30 years earlier --Yet there was much more openness and acceptance for gays in 1970.

    Still their suicide attempts were very high in 1970 when gays were starting to have pride parades and attributed to problems with lovers --not society's lack of approval. In 1991 there was a survey by the San Francisco Dept' of Public Health and the LA Times reported about it that "each successive generation is taking more risks than the one before." This recklessness in the wake of the AIDS crisis -the continuing failure to use safe sex --accounts for the fact that more than half of all new AIDS cases every year are among homosexuals --the other figure representing other promiscuous and IV drug-using people.

    Whether it's 10 percent or 2, do you want anyone to entice your kids into same sex activities --at ANY age??? And do you think that a good percentage of them are NOT enticed and lured --who could have otherwise been straight??? Considering the impact of self-image --vs. peer pressure --and charismatic older men or women or more confident adventurous peers taking the insecure, uninitiated under their wing.

    I know what it is to have a child influenced by another family's pornography --to have a teen whose friends would con me into thinking they were good friends and take my kid to a strip joint. by the grace of God, no crises now. But if we think we can protect our teen and young adult kids in Sodom and Gommorrah without getting out of town when the culture gets that bad, we are probably kidding ourselves. The facts explain why some people home school and form their own Christian schools. But even then, culture has many inroads for Satanic influence from others, from media, from schools, from liberal hawkers on the internet --from internet porn,etc.
    The natural rebellious tendency of the young, the natural challenge to parental teaching and tradition, puts all young people at risk. I, for one, don't want any teachers who aid and abet that rebellion or risk-taking in the name of education.