'God or No God?': A Report

November 10, 2010

By Larry Taunton

"As many of you will know, I recently
debated Christopher Hitchens in Billings, Montana.  I have been slow to blog about it for two reasons.  First, it is a more difficult thing writing about a debate in which I was a combatant.  I want to be fair.  Second, I have been a bit busy."


Read Larry's post here. (fixed-point.org)

22 comments:

Laker said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this debate. Mr. Taunton's blog was interesting if one-sided. I would be very surprised if I agreed with him after watching the debate, based on Hitch's past performances. Hitchens never fails to come out on top.

Ryan said...

Wow! If I'm not mistaken, Tauton implies Sam Harris and Hitler are cut from the same cloth.

Tauton writes:

"By contrast, philosophically consistent atheists are a frightening lot. There one finds Stalins, Maos, and Hitlers. Peter Singer and Sam Harris are philosophically consistent atheists. What they are advocating is chilling stuff."

This is a sick statement.

Either Tauton is afraid of reason or... hmm... that's all I can come up with...

For anyone who follows Harris's twitter feed, one can quickly tell his "agenda" is light years away from that of Hitlers or Stalins. I guess Tauton sees The Moral Landscape as a present day Mein Kampf?

I hope Hitch got paid well, because Tauton is a douchebag and he's wrong.

Hitch 22, page 422

"...I feel absurdly honored to be grouped in the public mind with great teachers and scholars such as Richard Dawkins (a true Balliol man if ever there was one), Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris."

I guess this makes Hitch up there with Hitler too in Tauton's absurd mind.

tatianalarina said...

Hitch has also said he'd be glad if everyone were as kind as Mr. Taunton, so he can't be that much of a douchebag :)

Antoneeo said...

You can be both kind and a douchebag, if you carry a holier-than-thou attitude hidden behind that indulgent smile. Something that Mr. Taunton and a great many Christians are most certainly guilty of. On the other hand, better his ilk than the openly hostile ones.

Anonymous said...

Larry Taunton is a great guy, and a friend of the Hitch. I don't think CH would think kindly of anyone calling him a "douchebag." Very bad form, and pretty nasty to say that about someone you don't know.

Anonymous said...

If you try to discredit atheism with people like Hitler then yes, then you are a (major) douchebag.

/ 1984

Anonymous said...

Friend of Hitchens or not, equating the views of Hitler and Harris is beyond the pale.

Harris believes that science can provide answers to minimize human suffering and promote human flourishing, and that there's many avenues to flourishing but yet more roads that lead to suffering. Science can and should inform the social discourse around this topic.

Hitler believed in the racial superiority of the Aryan race, and an inherent right to dominate others. Obviously, he was not concerned at all about human suffering in furtherance of this goal. The Nazis attempted to justify this belief by appealing to corrupted psuedoscience, the occult, and religion (God is with them, remember).

You'd have to be either really deluded, intellectually dishonest, or downright stupid to argue that these viewpoints have any fundamental similarities. Apparently, once the word 'atheism' comes into play, assertions like this are shamefully pronounced and accepted by the religious. It's disgusting.

/turbo

tatianalarina said...

Folks, I think we should trust Hitch to pick his own friends. We don't have to agree with everything they say (just as we don't agree with everything he says), but we shouldn't insult people he's clearly fond of.

Anonymous said...

"but we shouldn't insult people he's clearly fond of." - Why not if they're obviously deluded and/or intellectually dishonest?

tatianalarina said...

Because he doesn't like it when people insult his friends. Remember what happened when MA took him to see Saul Bellow and Bellow said something about Edward Said? Hitch felt *compelled* to defend him.
I can't pretend to understand all of Hitch's friendships, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't need our input.

HJ said...

The Nazis attempted to justify this belief by appealing to corrupted psuedoscience, the occult, and religion (God is with them, remember).



Gott Mit Uns was inscribed on German belt buckles well before the arrival of the Nazis. Hitler is a red herring that both sides like to sling at their opponints at eh God debate and best left out in my opinion. It's stupid of anyone to think the atheist position is that if everyone gave up believeing in God then there could be no Hitlers. Serious atheists shouldn't pretend that religion is the cause of all wars and wrongs and atheists shouldn't bother trying to argue that Hitler was a really serious believer in God to strengthen their position. It should be irrelevent. The problems of theism and acting with divine warrant is a big enough hurdle for the God squad to surmount anyway.

HJ said...

but we shouldn't insult people he's clearly fond of.



Why shoulnd't we insult people he is claerly fond of?

Just because he likes someone doesn't mean you have a duty to hold your tongue.

I think we should trust Hitch to pick his own friends

Yes, and you should trust yourself enough to pick yours and trust yourself enough to pick your enemies and not allow Hitchens personal feeelings obstruct you from doing that.

If I don't like someone I should be able to say it and feel free to insult them without having to first think, "Oh, but I wonder if Mr Hitchens is fond of him/her."

You know I am right!

HJ said...

Because he doesn't like it when people insult his friends. Remember what happened when MA took him to see Saul Bellow and Bellow said something about Edward Said? Hitch felt *compelled* to defend him.


What is this? Is this a recital from the hadiths????!??!?!?

The Prophet heard a friend being insulted and didn't wait for the cock to crow, feeling a compulsion to defend a friend. How strange that one would feel compelled to defend a friend! If you insult one of Hitchens fiends you may make the baby Jesus cry!

That story sounds a bit weird anyway almost as if he were apologizing to Bellow fans for defending SAid and asking them to understand that it was purely out of an old-fashioned honor code or something.

Anyway, if he wants to defend Larry Taunton let him come on here and do it. He shouldn't need cringing handwringing fans determining what is and isn't off-limits in a debate. Or else you can choose to defend Taunton through reason or whatever and not just some weak-ass emoting.

tatianalarina said...

For those who are interested, Mr. Hitchens describes this episode in some length in the chapter "Edward Said in Light and Shade" in Hitch-22.

Anonymous said...

HJ Said...

"Serious atheists shouldn't pretend that religion is the cause of all wars and wrongs and atheists shouldn't bother trying to argue that Hitler was a really serious believer in God to strengthen their position. It should be irrelevent. The problems of theism and acting with divine warrant is a big enough hurdle for the God squad to surmount anyway."

If you read my post carefully you will find nowhere where I state or imply that religion is what caused Hitler. I stated that he started off with a belief in an idea of racial superiority and searched for post-hoc justifications for this position.

While not responsive to my post, I agree with everything you said and would only add that divine warrant, in some form or another, is at least an exacerbating condition when considering the greatest of human atrocities. One can even argue that it's a necessary condition when the concept is widened to include dogma and absolute certainty (divine warrant without God but with the same results). Jacob Bronowski makes this argument far better than I can here in Ascent of Man ("Dogma or Science" episode).

/turbo

HJ said...

"If you read my post carefully you will find nowhere where I state or imply that religion is what caused Hitler."

Hi Turbo,

My resonse to you was only about that particular "Gott mit uns" thing which I sometimes hear being brought up as evidence that the Nazis were a religious organization or on a religious mission.

The rest of it was supposed to be directed mostly at those such as Larry Taunton who thinks Hitler is a trump card in the debate but also at those atheists who sometimes use Hitler for similar reasons.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Having not much cared, I had previously assumed that Taunton was a rather good guy given his connection to CH. On reading his article I suspect, and I accept I could be wrong here, but I do strongly suspect that CH's friendship with Taunton is due to Hitchens enjoying the banter.
Nothing to do with the goodness or not of Taunton.

Reading the article by Taunton, he is clutching at straws and in my mind is a shallow and deceitful man. He is knowingly doing wrong to achieve what he thinks is right - the defense of Christianity.

It makes me think of Douglas Wilson saying that the murder and slavery of the Amalekites was a moral and right act.

Which in my view supports the Athiest position.

FGFM said...

Friend of Hitchens or not, equating the views of Hitler and Harris is beyond the pale.

Indeed, Harris would actually kill far more people than Hitler if it was up to him.

Anonymous said...

FGFM says, "Indeed, Harris would actually kill far more people than Hitler if it was up to him."

Indeed, Taunton would actually kill every atheist if he could legally get away with it. Isn't it neat to just pull 'truths' out of our A$$e$ and post them whenever we please.

FGFM said...

Isn't it neat to just pull 'truths' out of our A$$e$ and post them whenever we please.

Indeed.

Response to Controversy

In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.

Ryan said...

Um, FGFM, you do realize Harris starts his Response to Controversy with the following statement:

"A few of the subjects that I raised in The End of Faith continue to inspire an unusual amount of malicious commentary, selective quotation, and controversy. I’ve elaborated on these topics here:..."

FGFM, you then go and prove Harris's point; while also providing the evidence (link)? Yours is an odd reply indeed.

For those who want to learn what "Mein Führer" is up to, I recommend The Great Debate; there, Harris spreads his "evil" to a simple crowd of scientists, philosophers, and public intellectuals. They discuss what impact evolutionary theory and advances in neuroscience might have on traditional concepts of morality.

Harris is spreading his "chilling" agenda through discourse and debate with philosophers, academics, and nerds...

Be afraid, be very afraid.

FGFM said...

FGFM, you then go and prove Harris's point

I proved that Harris entertains the idea of dropping nuclear weapons on the bulk of Iran's population and killing more people than Hitler when that wouldn't necessarily stop Iran or anyone else from exploding a bomb if they had it. You people are monsters.

"Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them." - Mad Sam Harris

 
 
 

Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir