CNN has a short excerpted video of Tuesday’s debate in Washington, D.C. between Christopher Hitchens and his brother Peter. The topic: Can civilization survive without God? The excerpt deals with the question of whether one can be good without God. Nothing really new here, but it’s sad to see the toll that the treatments have taken on Hitch.
Michael Gerson, an op-ed columnist at the Washington Post, judges Peter’s argument—that one needs religion to be moral—the stronger:
But Christopher Hitchens is weaker on the personal and ethical challenge presented by atheism: Of course we can be good without God, but why the hell bother? If there are no moral lines except the ones we draw ourselves, why not draw and redraw them in places most favorable to our interests? Hitchens parries these concerns instead of answering them: Since all moral rules have exceptions and complications, he said, all moral choices are relative. Peter Hitchens responded, effectively, that any journey becomes difficult when a compass points differently at different times.
I find it absolutely unbelievable that a thinking person can, in this day and age, think that Abrahamic religion is a source of morality. Yes, it may buttress morality, but it can’t serve as a source of moral dictums, if for no other reason than scriptures sanction a lot of behaviors we now find immoral. We reject those behaviors, and accept others, based not on faith but on some antecedent views (be they learned or evolutionary) about what is moral. And if you realize that, then you know that there are non-God-based reasons to be moral.