Hitch in Birmingham

September 8, 2010 • 10:49 am

(The title reminds me of Fitzgerald’s original title for The Great Gatsby: Trimalchio in West Egg).  Last night Christopher Hitchens debated the dour David Berlinski in Birmingham, Alabama: the topic was “Atheism poisons everything.”  A short account of the debate has already been published at Al.com.  My friend Leslie Rissler, a professor at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) went to the event and sent me extensive notes: the debate was far more interesting than Al.com reports. I thought of putting her notes here, but now it looks as if the complete debate was taped by CNN and will be online soon.  But I will put up two photos she took at the book signing:

Hitch, looking dapper though less hirsute than usual (is that a silk shirt?):

Her prize!!!

Hitchens is still turning out his weekly column for Slate; the latest explores why religions need to be restrained.

19 thoughts on “Hitch in Birmingham

  1. Nice plaque!

    But wouldn’t it be a shame to waste such extensive notes? (Read: I’m too lazy to listen to the whole lot/disinclined to listen to Berlinski’s voice.)

  2. He is absolutely incredible.
    I can only hope the day I am facing my death I can have a fraction of his courage. I don’t know that I will.

    1. It should also be pointed out that Berlinski is a man who, for several years, lied about his credentials, calling himself a mathematician. His PhD is in philosophy and several of us were unable to find any articles by him in any peer reviewed mathematical journal. Several years ago I outed him as a faux mathematician on Prof. Rosenhouses’ blog and he admitted in a follow on comment on the same thread the truth about his degree. Of course, he then proceeded to lie by claiming that he never claimed to be a mathematician.

  3. Hitch is looking good, but the remaining wisps of hair are unbecoming. He should shave his head and Kojak the crap out of the next religious apologist(s) he debates.

      1. Me? Am I unaware of something about Kojak? or Telly Sevalas (sp?). Or is itthe shaved “skinhead” thing? I was just suggesting that he might look better just shaved rather than the chemo-hair. My girlfriend’s sister-in-law is going through chemo and she shaved her head. It’s what I’d do too. Nothing to diss on him having cancer either. I think lots of men pull off the shaved head well and it’s a reasonable answer to male pattern baldness as well as chemo-hair.

  4. Is Berlinski religious or what? He says he is a secular Jew, but then I can’t wrap my head around:

    “…secular Jew who defends the religious worldview because of its moral imperatives”


    “Atheism leaves unanswered the question, ‘What obliges us, what forces us, to behave as we should?'”

    Am I not understanding “secular Jew” correctly?

    1. No, you understand the phrase fine.

      The cognitive disconnect is with Berlinski, who is compelled to defend faith and religion by virtue of being a pseudo-intellectual whore for the Discovery Institute.

      Loathsome toad. Certainly on my short list of people I would not piss on if they were on fire.

    2. I would imagine he plays the moral double standard beloved of many faitheists: “*I* have the integrity to live well without faith, but I fear that the unwashed masses may not have what it takes to behave themselves without religion’s guiding hand.”

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