Pharyngula

Hitchens on The Daily Show

Eh.

It wasn’t bad. Hitchens declared some laudable objectives for his book: he wants to end the idea that calling someone a person of faith is a compliment, and he laid out his position on the origins of religion. It’s built on fear of the dark, fear of death, and hatred of sex, and those aren’t sound bases for rational thought. So the sentiment was good.

Presentation … well, that wasn’t so good. I know Hitchens can be eloquent, but he wasn’t. He bumbled about and couldn’t quite manage to put two coherent sentences together.

I’m still getting the book, but I don’t think his performance tonight would have persuaded anybody who wasn’t already one of those uncompromising atheists.


You can watch the interview yourself over at onegoodmove.

Comments

  1. #1 Christian Burnham
    May 1, 2007

    It would be a bit like Dawkins writing a book on evolution whilst on crack. It’d probably still be pretty accurate and even have lots of good bits, even if some parts seem a little on the paranoid side. You’d get the feeling though that the prose could have been better if he had put the crack-pipe down.

    Uh… of course Dawkins isn’t actually a crack addict, whereas Hitchens is an alcoholic.

  2. #2 Cain
    May 1, 2007

    Uh… of course Dawkins isn’t actually a crack addict, whereas Hitchens is an alcoholic.

    He’s not an alcoholic, he’s just British.

    But seriously, I didn’t think he did that well, and I agree with others that it was probably more the Hitchens/format mismatch than the boozing. Though, sometimes having Jon Stewart crack a joke every 30 seconds, however funny, doesn’t really help things either.

  3. #3 G. Tingey
    May 1, 2007

    Two points:

    #12: But Dawkins is also English ……
    #13 The essay about Orwell is plain 150% WRONG.

    But, although we are much more relaxed about alchohol consumption, it is obvious that Hitchens can no longer hold it, and isn’t fit to be allowed out without a minder ….

    Coming back to the essay – Orwell really was an anti-imperialist, and Kipling was NEVER a racist, no matter what anyone with a special agenda tells you.
    The give-away to the last is the story “The Village that voted the Earth was flat” – where one of those exploited by a corrupt local court is Jewish, and get their revenge, in best Kipling fashion.

  4. #4 rebecca
    May 1, 2007

    If you ever get the chance you ought to read When God Was A Woman by Merlin Stone. It’s an interesting book about pre-Christian/Judeo religions and makes a lot of interesting points of why todays religion is what it is today.

  5. #5 Rienk
    May 1, 2007

    Hitchins’ arguments for the Iraq war support are as incoherent and blind as the arguments of a Christian apologist. And seriously, he’s not the best role model for the atheist movement. You can be a hardliner, yes, but a pr*ck? I’d go with D.D.H. any day (That’s Dawkins, Dennet, Harris… and okay, just to make your day I will add an M. too!)

    By the way, what was the deal with the, I premuse, Muslim guy during the Q&A on BookTV? Hitchins going “I will not answer questions of crackpot fascists!” Did I miss something?

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    May 1, 2007

    The familiar image of Mary cradling the infant Jesus is widely seen among scholars as an adaptation of a traditional Egyptian theme, Isis holding her infant son Horus. (You know, adopt the iconography which works. Same reason we say Jesus was born round about the winter solstice.) Isis gave birth to Horus after reassembling the pieces of her husband’s corpse (fashioning a replacement for one key member out of wood, since the original had been eaten by a fish). Doesn’t sound like a virgin birth to me.

    Isis was the daughter of Nut (sky goddess) and Geb (Earth god), who had to separated by Tefnut (moisture), since otherwise they would have gone on humping for all eternity.

    Again, not exactly a virgin birth.

    It goes without saying that Isis was one of the most widely worshiped divinities of the ancient world, with active temples in operation centuries after Christ.

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich
    May 1, 2007

    Will E

    I found more out about the ancient world’s mythologies, and how Xianity is a deceptive patchwork of many of them. *That* made me conclude that all religions are false. So Hitchens is on the right track with this type of comparative thinking.

    That kind of did it for me, but I also leared to separate referential truth (literal truth) from the sort of truth learned in myth and fiction. Myths are useful in building fluid solidarity in social groups, whether the facts of the story are true or made up. Religions that use mythology for theology make the mistake of thinking that the story that they carry to validate their religion has referential truth.

    Campbell made a pretty good career of making this point:

    Chief Seattle’s Sales Agreement

  8. #8 Cwarren
    August 13, 2007

    Christopher Hitchens is only human. Atheism is not to be a fabled ‘higher ground’, where mistakes are disallowed, and opinions suppressed. Leave piousness to the religious and allow our fellow animals their quirks. Everyone seems to be concerned with a PR issue regarding Hitchens representation of atheism. Why? I would not expect anyone to defend his behaviour, but nor would I expect this personal attack and a practical repudiation of his work.

    P.S – I really enjoyed the book. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennet, have all showed me in the last year, that I am not alone.

  9. #9 bunnycatch3r
    September 19, 2008

    P.S – I really enjoyed the book. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennet, have all showed me in the last year, that I am not alone.

    Du Er Ikke Alene

  10. #10 bunnycatch3r
    September 19, 2008

    P.S – I really enjoyed the book. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and Dennet, have all showed me in the last year, that I am not alone.

    Du Er Ikke Alene

  11. #11 Holly Judd
    January 7, 2009

    If you read my post again, you’ll see that I said “the original written language …” If you can find me a Xian writing in Hebrew or Aramaic that pre-dates Paul (of Tarsus, not Zach Meyers), then I’ll concede the point.

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