Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hitchens’ Challenges

Here is my challenge. . . . name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. . . . think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith. The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first — I have been asking it for some time — awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.
— Christopher Hitchens, An Atheist Responds, Washington Post, July 14, 2007.

There are statements that believers make and actions that believers perform that are not uttered or done by unbelievers. Given the easiness of the second challenge, Hitchens may find an answer to the first.

In the most important matters persuasion is an offense.
— Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect