He’s an amazing speaker — was the opening address for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. I couldn’t take notes cause they turned down the lights and I can’t recollect his whole arguments — he’s extensively thorough on each point, with numerous tangents. So these aren’t his exact quotes — there’s a telecast on the ABC site.
I’d thought there would be argy bargy as I saw some Traddies in the foyer (traditional Catholics) but only the MC, Tony Jones, was asking questions.
Hitchens covered the angles of “I don’t need supernatural supervision to do good deeds” and gave an example of how he likes to donate blood.
Also, he said religious people have to accept that the Abrahamic God took a long while to intervene in people’s history — only 3000 years ago — and yet there had been a lot of wars and raping and kids killed before then. He said that had to be acknowledged, andhe doesn’t buy the arguments: “God’s ways are greater than ours, He works in mysterious ways, his ways are opaque.”
He criticised the Jewish celebration/remembrance of Abraham offering to slaughter one of his sons as a sacrifice to God, but God intervened at the last minute.
He said: “If someone on the bus today starts saying they are hearing messages from God, do we run towards them? No. They’re schizophrenic or epileptic. We move away.”
He said people wouldn’t take notice of a burning bush nowadays. And that religion was the human race’s first primitive attempts at philosophising and we’ve moved on since then.
He acknowledged that religion will always be around because a lot of people are genetically programmed to believe in it. But he felt reason and inquiry should be used instead of being told what to do. He supports religion being taught in schools because “it’s a sure way of producing atheists”.
He said he was the last person to ever play the Devil’s Advocate role for the sainthood of Mother Teresa — the role was dropped so more saints could be fast-tracked through. There used to be a Catholic office for this role but it has been abolished. So he said it was the first time he said “Yes, I will Holy Father” when he agreed to do the role, and he figured he was the last person to be doing pro bono work for the Devil.
When he dies, he said he won’t change his mind at the last minute — becacause if there’s a God and they meet, he hopes God will say: “You were honest.” “I’d hope God would have that much integrity. But Christians don’t believe he has — they insist you have to convert before death or it’s eternal damnation.”