The definition of atheist

The following was one of the highlights of the Hitchens-Craig debate at Biola University Saturday night.

Craig: Mr. Hitchens, this is very interesting!  It’s as though you’ve re-defined atheism to mean a sort of a-theism

Hitchens: That’s what it means.

Something about this very simple exchange made everyone in the audience (over 4,000 people) laugh, and made me call Craig a dumb-ass under my breath.  Besides, Craig knows very well what an atheist is, and along with other points that he purposefully mis-represented and along with the other strawman fallacies he presented, I am sorry to say that I found him less-than-truthful.  But I guess that’s what debaters do.

Anyway, while I very much enjoyed hearing Hitchens speak, I was disapointed (as I knew I would be) by his lack of debating skills.  His main argument was something like this:

You are all free to believe whatever you choose to believe.  But your “evidence” for God is not evidence, it’s arguments.  There are non-supernatural explanations for life and the universe and suffering, but you choose to ignore them.  Similarly, I find your arguments for a god unconvincing.  That’s why I’m an atheist.

Biola should have found someone who was willing to lay out actual arguments against the existence of a god.  You’d think any godless philosophy professor would be willing.  But then, the average godless philosophy professor is not famous.


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3 Responses to “The definition of atheist”

  1. temaskian Says:

    Oh, so you attended this debate? I’m very interested in this debate too.

    I’ve been looking all over for this video, but so far have found only snippets of it.

    In any case, Hitchens is always very entertaining, and his arguments make a whole lot of sense to me, but he doesn’t go about it mechanically, which I appreciate, actually. But I understand that there are many who would prefer that debaters be more systematic.

    • notreallyalice Says:

      I appreciated his arguments, but I’m not sure the Christian audience could understand it as I did. Hitchens didn’t exactly go out of his way to make his points understandable by a Christian audience. He made some good points, but contrasted with an organized, American, Christian preacher, his presentation was unimpressive.

      I loved when he suggested to the audience that if they renounce their religion, it will be their first step toward true freedom.

  2. temaskian Says:

    Well, the intellectual tack has not garnered too many recruits into our camp, so Hitchens can be thought to be trying to beat the christians at their own game, i.e. to use emotions to win them over. Win them over by emotions first, talk sense to them later.

    Put in another way, Hitchens probably realises that there’s no point in winning the debate technically. Who cares about that, most christians are not intellectual. If he carries on in this way, perhaps he will gradually be able to draw more christians to the crowd who are not so interested in intellectual arguments, but are willing to come for the laughs and the innuendos. At least they’ll talk about him.

    At the same time, he’s also very entertaining to atheists like myself. Which is all I care, really. = p

    Yeah, he’s very good with his one-liners. He’s my favourite atheist, actually. I love it that he’s so out there all the time debating everyone. If his book sales soar, he has certainly earned it. There was one time he continued debating even when the opponent didn’t turn up. He’s the man.

    Know most of his lines by heart; I’ve watched so many of his talks and debates.

    Still have yet to find the complete Hitchens vs Craig

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