A Debate: God Is Not Great with Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens.
Taking on possibly the greatest issue of our time - the malignant force of religion in the world - Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion through a close and learned reading of the major religious texts, citing numerous historical instances in which sexual repression and outrageous acts of violence have been committed in the name of God. He argues for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.
Join The New York Public Library as the Reverand Al Sharpton and author Christopher Hitchens debate faith, religion and God.
Christopher Hitchens is an author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in 2008.
Reverend Al Sharpton
Reverend Al Sharpton is one of the nation's most-renowned civil rights leaders and the founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), a not-for-profit civil rights organization based in Harlem, New York. Rev. Sharpton’s strong commitment to equality and progressive politics has had an irrefutable impact on national politics, as evidenced by his noteworthy presidential run as a U.S. Democratic candidate in 2004 and his compelling speech at the Democratic National Convention. Throughout his career he has challenged the American political establishment to include all people in the dialogue regardless of race, gender, class or beliefs. He is a nationally-syndicated radio host, T.V. personality, and columnist. He has three popular radio shows broadcast throughout the country, a regular television show featured on TV One, and a column that appears in national newspapers across the country. Rev. Sharpton says his religious convictions are the basis for his life and he preaches throughout the country most Sundays.
Relation of human beings to God or the gods or to whatever they consider sacred or, in some cases, merely supernatural. Archaeological evidence suggests that religious beliefs have existed since the first human communities. They are generally shared by a community, and they express the communal culture and values through myth, doctrine, and ritual. Worship is probably the most basic element of religion, but moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions also constitute elements of the religious life. Religions attempt to answer basic questions intrinsic to the human condition (Why do we suffer? Why is there evil in the world? What happens to us when we die?) through the relationship to the sacred or supernatural or (e.g., in the case of Buddhism) through perception of the true nature of reality. Broadly speaking, some religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are outwardly focused, and others (e.g., Jainism, Buddhism) are inwardly focused.
It is hoped, or feared, that someday computers will become so sophisticated that they will attain sentience. Some theoretical physicists are inclined to theorize that there exists an entity *in* the universe that may very well be aware of its own existence. This implies something separate from, above, or outside the â€œcreation.â€ Theoretical physics is communicated as mathematical formulae. Imagine a mathematical formula so sophisticated that, like the future computer, it is aware of itself. Mankind has not begun to approach the level of sophistication to understand mathematics at this level. But that does not mean that this will not happen eventually. I would rather have the opinion regarding this possibility from Stephen Hawking than the Pope, Mr. Hitchens, or most certainly the â€œRev.â€ Al.
I was in the audience at this debate and while Hitchens was interesting there weren't enough "sparks" between them to make it the brawl one would expect. Sharpton mounted a fairly garden variety defense of "God" and was too generally in agreement with Hitchens' criticisms of religion. Hitchens' refusal to refer to Sharpton as "Reverend" notwithstanding, most "clashes" there were between them were more in the line of friendly jabs.
Of course, there WAS Sharpton's Mormon comment.