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?