Peter Hitchens on the Existence of God

As compelling, enjoyable and emotive as Peter Hitchens’ argument here is, I would be self-deceptive if I would sign up to this argument without first taking it to task.

I like how Peter puts the argument in a more existential framework–this appeals to my Kierkegaardian leanings. It is a very important question he brings up, because he allows the ethical, existential content of theism (especially Christian theism) to collide with the argument which seeks to undermine it. What I find admirable is that here Peter insists on arguing for Christianity with an awareness of the reality created by that faith.

He demolishes the divide between the abstracted hypothesis of God, and the reality of theism in the world. Rather like his brother, he remembers the real experience of Christian life and affords that weight in argument.

Many Atheists will reject this methodology. Now, it might be perfectly acceptable for Richard Dawkins to throw together a few anecdotes about the cruelty of those who have belonged to religious communities and call it evidence against the theory of God. Yet when a Christian seeks to address the questions brought against their beliefs, then suddenly they must become experts on everything from subatomic physics to the interpretation of history in order to defend against the abstracted segments of rhetoric hurled from the excerpts of famous non-theists.

No, in this instance I agree with Peter Hitchens (when he writes in the Mail on Sunday or appears on Question Time, it’s a different story). It is not a hypothesis which is opposed. It is a reality. Christian belief is a new existence, it is not an extra thesis tacked on to the end of our Enlightenment Liberalism.

However I do have an objection to this video:

He insists that Atheists want there not to be a God because they are immoral.

Being a friend of both Atheists and Christians, I must protest the complexity of the ethics of an individual person. I know Christians who are greedy, power-hungry and manipulative and I know Atheists who are generous, self-giving and compassionate. To argue that Atheists reject a God out of some urge to be unaccountable due to their essential amorality is too simplistic.

And citing Laplace here is a depressing slip into an Ad Hominem fallacy.

The fact is that Atheists can’t help but be moral. And Christians can’t help but be sinful.

Herein might be a far more accurate exploration of the existential depths of Theism. It’s just a tragedy that Peter was so smugly self-assured that he chose to simplify both sides.

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