Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Does God Exist? at the 92 St Y

I will direct you to the original post, because there is more discussion happening on the 92nd Street Y's webpage (NYC), and it would be inappropriate to direct you to watch the debate between Rabbi Boteach and Christopher Hitchens without the context.

I will warn you, the full video is an hour a half long. However, I found it to be an invigorating bit of, I don't know, spewing between two unlikely fundamentalists. Though they are diametrically opposed in their beliefs, I find Hitchens to be as extremist in his atheistic tirades as I believe Boteach is in his monotheistic rants.
It is a hoot, and while Hitchens is much more entertaining to watch than Boteach (and potentially fundamentally more brilliant), I am disinfranchised by his most glaringly intellectual discrepency.

Here, I refer to the Rabbi's assertion that evolution (as put forth in Hitchens' writings) is actually a very cold exercise which would say that those who are poor--poor in body, poor in mind, and poor in soul (although that may be a bit anachronistic here)--do not deserve to be: these should be annihilated (so the logical conclusion of an evolutionary mindset believes).
However, the Rabbi contends, because Hitchens is such a defender of the rights of man (Humanism, let's call it, for a bit of shorthand), he obviously is deriving an ethical code from somewhere other than evolution (survival of the fittest), and that indeed this ethical code, which expresses ideas like charity and justice and equality, seems to be informed by the ethics of religion, long known champions since the time of Abraham of ideas like charity and justice (and equality if you were born into the right circumstances).
Hitchens is unable, however, to even acknowledge that his Humanist beliefs (my nomenclature, not his) and the society in which he lives have in any way been informed by the ethical code of religion. He is such a fundamentalist that he cannot even cope with this concession; and a concession, such as it is, that admits he lives among other human beings.

That's the problem with having such a big brain. You tend to think reductionism is your enemy. Me? Not a problem. I am firmly right in the middle (well, at least, between these two).

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