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.