Hitch vs the Godly, again

Yo Bento, check it. You love this stuff, believing as you do that the division between the religious and atheist is the great divide of our time. Hitch has a “there is no god/oh yes there is” debate with some old rabbi, and were I to momentarily forget I am an agnostic and were I to pretend I had an open mind, I would probably not be able to tell who won. Actually I am not sure whether I am an agnostic or not — ha ha geddit? Seriously, is there a word for someone who actually doesn’t care whether there is a god or not? Perhaps I am a dontgiveafucktheist.

Maybe not even that is right; it’s more like I am fairly sure there isn’t a conventional kind of god, one who likes beards, thinks about answering our little prayers and enjoys tambourines, listening to hymns and renditions of kum by yah. No, the thought is ridiculous, but there is literally no proof I can come up with to persuade the godly to abandon their silly ideas. As Taleb would put it, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Epistemologically, it is impossible to prove the lack of existence of god. Or “g-d”, as I would write if I was a complete numbnut. On this reading, I would be a ohwhocarestheist.

Similarly, I think that in the Ethics Spinoza was trying to free his generation from all the same crap: to try and find some sort of synthesis on the great argument on god’s existence or not, an argument constantly raging below the surface, belying the sometimes lukewarm declarations of piety of the time. To come up with some statement about god everyone could agree on so we could go off and discover and debate useful things instead; optics perhaps. Not have another fucking circular, endless rehearsal of the same tired rhetorical formulations. None of his friends would have to go to prison any more; finally the religious and irreligious would be able to march hand in hand into the broad sunlit uplands of the 18thC.

I get the impression from this transcript that even Hitch is bored, just going through the motions. On the verge of the end of the era of Rove, the supposedly imminent elevation of Obama (and I share the suspicion with the republican base that he is a secret agnostic), are we sure that we really care, Bento?


5 thoughts on “Hitch vs the Godly, again”

  1. Baruch, you apatheist!

    But seriously, are you also agnostic about the spectral beings that inhabit Mars? Sure, you can’t prove that they don’t exist, but should your inability to convince the credulous of this turn you into an agnostic on the matter? Isn’t that giving rather too much weight to the unfounded beliefs of others? You apply the credo of not believing in something without evidence to everything else, so why not extend this to the concept of a supreme being?

    Spinoza was clever in that he semantically made the problem disappear by equating god with nature. As sentient beings, the one thing we can know is that there is something out there rather than nothing, and Spinoza chose to call all of this nature/god. That works for me.

  2. Yes, you make my point. Spinoza tried to make it all go away.

    As it happens I AM agnostic about the spectral martians, in exactly the way I am about gaad. I cannot a priori disprove their existence or non-existence. But, and this is what you don’t seem to grasp, like gaad, their existence or non-existence is of such screamingly small importance to me, of absolutely no smidgeon of relevance to anything I do or think, that to all intent and purpose I am in fact an effective non-believer.

    However note “effective”, use of — the fact that I can’t disprove their existence is enough for me to claim definitional agnosticism.


  3. Dear Baruch/Bento — I wish you fellows would just come to me in the first place with these questions. I have a very neat and irrefutable proof for the existence of a (humor loving) Supreme Being in my most recent post 11 Nov 2008. It is so concise, compelling, and irrefutable that I have consigned it to a footnote, not wishing to detract from the more important and troublesome matters discussed in the main body of my post. You are welcome.

  4. I have an equally neat and irrefutable disproof of your humourous deity theory — Jerry Lewis.

    It may be that the name of the Harvard President is merely a coincidence, like our existence on this planet.

  5. “…another fucking circular, endless rehearsal of the same tired rhetorical formulations.” Great line.

    The Hitchens debate you should be following (as it’s aimed dead-center at the amer-evangelicals) is the one with Douglas Wilson.

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