The High and Low Road of the Atheism Debate

These days, there is no shortage of public thinkers launching a vigorous defense of atheism. Most recently, Christopher Hitchens has come out with God is Not Great. And, holding true to form, he has used this book and related media campaign as an opportunity to fight out the ugly culture wars once again. All of the expected ingredients are there — the bluster, bad behavior, and general unwillingness to engage in a civilized and substantive debate. To get a quick taste of Hitchens’ M.O., just listen to this NPR-ish interview. The longer the interview goes, the more he hits his stride.

On the upside, there is always Richard Dawkins. Yes, the man has strong opinions and can sometimes sound smug. But you can’t deny this: he goes out there, takes the debate seriously, thinks through the angles, and answers critics’ questions with crisp, intellectually precise arguments. It’s all a welcomed reprieve from the style of debate that we’ve become accustomed to in the United States. Below, you can get a little taste of what we’re talking about, or click to watch the video here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.