The brothers have publicly argued over faith for years. But now that Christopher Hitchens has been diagnosed with cancer, the theoretical argument has become real.

Just how real was apparent at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, where the brothers were having a public conversation about God.

Read and listen here.

Comments

  1. #1 6EQUJ5
    October 13, 2010

    Peter required that a source of morality, to exist, must be permanent and unchanging for all time.

    I wonder how he would have expected unicellular organisms billions of years ago to embrace the morality of modern christians, muslims, jainists, hindus, jews,mormons, evangelicals, rastafarians, pastafarians, and wiccans. I wonder how he would explain where dinosaurs got their morality — some did build nests, protecting their eggs, feeding their young — before their species died out, which was long before mankind came along. I wonder how he would explain the morality of housecats, polecats, leopards, lions, and civets.

    I suppose he would fail utterly, but sputter a good bit as he exercised his vocabulary.

  2. #2 Virgil Samms
    October 13, 2010

    He (Peter) says his work as a journalist in Somalia and the former Soviet Union convinced him that civilization without religious morality devolves into brutality.

    Pardon me, but isn’t Somalia a heavily Islamic country?

    His brother, Peter, is equally blunt: “There is actually no absolute right or wrong if there is no God,” he says.

    Has he really never heard of the Euthyphro dilemma? The existence of God and the existence of absolute morals are entirely separate questions. I happen to think that neither exists. Another common mistake is to assume that no absolute morals means no morals at all. But that’s another argument..

    “It seems to me to be very, very, very hard to come up with an atheistic explanation of conscience any more than you can have a compass with a magnetic north,” he says. “If the magnetic north kept shifting, then it would be very difficult to steer your boat or your plane across the Atlantic.”

    Oh please. Does he really believe that morality has not shifted over time? Does he share that belief with his slaves? (The Bible condones slavery.)

    Peter Hitchens is much too ignorant on this topic to be spewing in public.

  3. #3 Rich Wilson
    October 13, 2010

    You really must watch the clip

    http://www.atheistmedia.com/2010/10/hitchens-brothers-debate-if.html

    and pay attention to Peter at the end. “There are lots of things I would do if I didn’t believe in God”

    As Ozzy would sorta say, “If that’s the only thing that keeps the peace, then God for Religion”

  4. #4 Rich Wilson
    October 13, 2010

    sigh

    “then thank God for Religion”

    I wonder if Peter had a stack of ‘missed call’ messages waiting for him after their mother committed suicide.

  5. #5 Lester Ballard
    October 13, 2010

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t magnetic north shift over time?

  6. #6 The Science Pundit
    October 13, 2010

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t magnetic north shift over time?

    You’re not wrong! The magnetic poles are generated my motion of molten iron within the Earth, so they are constantly moving around (and occasionally totally reversing).

  7. #7 Ender
    October 14, 2010

    And that’s why there’s no ‘absolute’ magnetic north that is always the same.

  8. #8 IanW
    October 14, 2010

    It’s quite evident that Peter Hitchens has no more of a clue than any other theist.

  9. #9 Pesto
    October 14, 2010

    Pardon me, but isn’t Somalia a heavily Islamic country?

    I’ll spare you the trouble of actually reading his ridiculous book and paraphrase the argument he uses:

    The example of Somalia proves that society would dissolve into chaos without religion.

    But isn’t Somalia acutally highly religious society that has nonetheless dissolved into chaos? How does that support your thesis?

    Yes. So don’t you see? Just imagine how much worse the chaos would be if it weren’t religious. QED.

    I wish I were exaggerating.

  10. #10 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 14, 2010

    And once again, minimal question about which is the smarter of the two brothers.

  11. #11 opony
    October 16, 2010

    I love the surprised (dismayed?) look on the Eremopezus’ face!