Christopher and Peter

Okay. Got home from work, and caught the second part of the Hitchens/Hitchens debate. Christopher posed a set of questions which he claims to have asked a lot, and also to which he claims to have heard nothing in response but the sound of crickets in the distance. His central question here was: can anyone state a good deed done by a true believer that could not also just as easily been done by an unbeliever? His implied answer to his rhetorical question was no.

As it happened, Peter answered his question in principle just a few moments later. And then a young questioner asked him a question just after about the nature of truth which revealed Christopher’s fundamental problem. He is a thunderstorm of moral indignation who doesn’t believe in anything that would justify any kind of fixed morality. Kind of like a thunderstorm with lots of lightning that unfortunately didn’t believe in electricity.

But actually, as it transpired, I had answered this question of Christopher’s a number of times in our CT exchange, but he must have forgotten it. Here it is again, in short form so that he can write it down and keep it in his wallet in case he forgets again.

The issue is not what believers and unbelievers can do. The issue is logical consistency. When believers do evil, are they being consistent with their premises? No, they are not. When unbelievers do good, are they being consistent with their premises? Yes, but only in the sense that they would be equally consistent doing evil, and equally good with some kind of creative mix of the two. The reason for this is that they cannot give an account for the difference between the two; when one questioner asked him whether he believed in truth, and how he accounted for it, for a few moments, before he got a case of the cutes again, Christopher was effectively pole-axed.

The issue is — ad nauseam here — what is your rational justification for what you believe people ought to do? That Christopher wants everybody to stop behaving in undesirable ways, and to start behaving in desirable ways, is something he is very good at communicating. What nobody appears to be able to get him to do is give a rational accounting for the difference between desirable and undesirable. They can keep trying, but he won’t do it. And he won’t do it because, given atheism, there is no way to do it. But, as I said, we have covered this territory before –despite Christopher’s mystified wonderment over Christians not answering this question of his.

What Christopher did was spirals and pirouettes around the ceiling in his glibness; Peter did a good job remaining on the stage and answering the questions.

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