Saturday, June 30, 2007

Christopher Hitchens on CNBC with Tim Russert

I'm watching Tim Russert on CNBC tonight and Christopher Hitchens is on pushing his new book, God is not great. He is paired with Jon Meacham from Newsweek. Meacham isn't doing a good job taking Hitchens' assertion on directly. Instead, Meacham is pushing his own book and is talking about how faith in America (conveniently the same name as his book) in a vital part of American culture.

During this conversation, Hitchens threw out an argument tonight that turned the standard "argument from morality" on its head.

He asked a version of this quotation from the London Times:
You have to come up with a moral statement made, or a moral action performed by a believer or a person of faith, that could not have been uttered by an unbeliever. I haven’t so far had anyone come up with an answer to this and I’m genuinely interested to see if they can. My point is therefore that religion is optional and if you say, “Well I think we should free the slaves because Jesus wants it”, I think it is a fatuous thing to say but it is not a wrong thing to say. It ought to be enough to say “I think we should free the slaves.”

Mrs. Expat Teacher and I kicked the idea around and our conversation turned to the source of morality. We never really got around to the actual challenge. I know there are plenty of smart and well-versed folks in the audience who might be up to this challenge. Anyone care to kick it about in the margins with me?