Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Breakthrough in the Brothers Hitchens' Great Religion Debate?

Peter reports on "a conversation with my left-wing atheist brother Christopher, sponsored by a fine body of men and women called the Pew Forum" — Rather interesting, but they all missed it:
    What struck me most forcefully about the occasion were some words my brother said. Those of you who have followed the great religion debate will know that he has many times issued a challenge. ‘Can you name any moral action or ethical statement that could be made or performed by a believer but could not be made or performed by an unbeliever?’

    He has maintained that it could not be answered.

    During this Washington conversation, he answered it. And all those distinguished scribblers and broadcasters, in their accounts of the event, completely missed it.
Click on the link to learn Christopher's "attempt to win my own prize," which Peter calls "a remarkably generous concession, as well as an interesting choice." Says Peter, "I personally wish that I had come up with this answer to the conundrum. But Christopher came up with it instead." Peter also mentions "some fascinating earlier remarks by my brother about Isfahan... which had unaccountably not been noticed by anyone else, perhaps because his admirers would rather that he was as inflexibly dogmatic as they are."

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

8 Comments:

Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Reminds me of St. Peter before the Sandrehen in the Acts of the Apostles!

3:25 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

The obvious brotherly affection between them is heart-warming.

9:18 AM  
Blogger van said...

“I'm not frightened of anything but God or anyone but God.” -- bold, courageous, impressive, but not moral or ethical.

Who is to say that this man's cause was right or just?

And are godly men more courageous, generally, then non-believers? No. Each man finds his courage in different ways. Pat Tilman found his in love of his country. The godless communist armies of asia found theirs in ideology. And history records that they were far braver than their god-fearing would-be conquerers, in Vietnam and Korea at least. The Russians at Stalingrad were not motivated by god - nor were the Spartans at Thermopolae.

Not that it matters when we're talking about morality. Courage, vested in supernatural belief, has often been used as motivation for wicked deeds. Men who are "not frightened of anything but god" have also used their faith to lend them courage when they detonate themselves in public squares, or during the crusades, or whilst erasing whole civilizations in South America.

Christopher Hitchen's contention that there is no moral action or ethical statement that could be made or performed by a believer but could not be made or performed by an unbeliever, is entirely correct.

9:52 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I, too, found Christopher Hitchens' statement unconvincing, but I'll let him be the judge.

That "there is no moral action or ethical statement that could be made or performed by a believer but could not be made or performed by an unbeliever" may well be "entirely correct," but I have not seen much evidence of moral actions or ethical statements that are made or performed by believers being made or performed by unbelievers.

11:08 PM  
Blogger van said...

I have not seen much evidence of moral actions or ethical statements that are made or performed by believers being made or performed by unbelievers.

You need to get out more, brother. Entire secular nations full of good secular people are currently doing many good things. Shocking, I know.

Check it out. Interesting that the most generous nations in the world are also the most secular.

Of course, I understand that lots of Christians don't approve of government-funded aid. And many Christians give through private church NGOs. But rarely without religious strings attached. After all, poverty is caused by sin, so it necessarily follows that preaching is an essential part of charitable process, right?

9:17 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I don't deny that secular folks give to charitable organizations, but I know of no atheist who has given his entire life to working with lepers, for example, as many in the Church have done and do.

9:31 AM  
Blogger van said...

Well, I personally knew of a man who spent his whole life making the blind see again.

Sounds almost biblical, doesn't it?

His name was Fred Hollows.

His guiding philosophy?

"I believe that the basic attribute of mankind is to look after each other."

This man gave sight to over a million people. Go ahead and read about it.

There is also an article on him here.

The winning quote?

"Fred Hollows, who once studied for the priesthood, died an atheist. In the end he cared too much about humans to devote his life to God."

9:49 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

A great man indeed. Thanks for sharing his story.

Not to take away from his greatness, but I was setting the bar to the altitudes of a Saint Joseph de Veuster, a.k.a. Saint Damien of Molokai, who literally gave his life to Hawai'ian lepers.

Admittedly, his likes are extermely rare, but I cannot imagine such total sacrifice being motivated by anything other than religious faith.

6:31 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.