Dennis Prager gets hitchslapped from the grave

Objective Morality: Christopher Hitchens & Dennis Prager Debate

This is the transcript for the Sapient Saturdays episode, “If There Is No God, Murder Isn’t Wrong – Christopher Hitchens responds from the grave,” in which a cartoon Christopher Hitchens comes back from the dead in order to Hitchslap Dennis Prager one last time in an epic debate.


Cartoon Thomas Westbrook:
What is up skeptics, Thomas Westbrook here. Dennis Prager, of PragerU, who has a history of bashing atheists, is at it again. His most recent, woefully dishonest, PragerU video attacks the moral character of atheists without any kind of provocation. I could dismantle this little toad’s drivel about morality, as Cosmic Skeptic and I have already done.

Cosmic Skeptic Collab Video Clip:
It’s an ad hominem attack on character and nothing else. Asking how you can have an objectively moral framework without God is like asking how you can have an objectively good economic framework without the Monopoly guy.

Cartoon Thomas Westbrook:
But, since Christopher Hitchens, back when he was alive, made a habit of refuting Palpatine Prager’s taradiddles, I figured it would only be fitting to let him do the honors. You ready to get the hitchslapped, Pumpkin? Take it away, Hitchens.

Dennis Prager:
Do you believe that good and evil exist? The answer to this question separates Judeo-Christian values from secular values. Let me offer the clearest possible example – murder. Is murder wrong? Is it evil? Nearly everyone would answer, “Yes,” but now I will pose a much harder question. How do you know?

Christopher Hitchens:
We know that we can’t get along if we commit perjury, theft, murder, rape. All societies at all times, well before the advent of monotheism, certainly, have forbidden it.

Dennis Prager:
But what photographs could you show? What measurements could you provide that prove that murder or rape or theft is wrong? The fact is, you can’t.

Christopher Hitchens:
Our self-respect is impugned in the most, deep way by the suggestion that we would only do a right action out of hope of reward or avoid an evil one out of fear of punishment. This is to undermine the very basis of human ethics and human solidarity which predate religion, of course. Religion is very new. We are expected to believe that God only bothered to start trying to reveal Himself about 6,000 years ago in your tradition, 2,000 in the Christian one, but for all of the rest of the time, the human race just had to rub along for tens of thousands of years without this revelation, just managing somehow, not always to be slaughtering each other, or always stealing, or always lying. I think it’s a fantastically stupid belief and a very immoral one.

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Dennis Prager:
There are scientific facts that, but without God, there are no moral facts.

Christopher Hitchens:
I think there’s an enormous amount of evidence that that’s not the case, that morality is innate in us. And solidarity is part of our self-interest in society as well as our own interest, very much to the argue of the contrary that when you see something otherwise surprising to you, such as a good person acting in a wicked manner, it’s very often because they believe they’re under divine orders to do so. Steven Weinberg puts it very well. He says, “Left to themselves, evil people will do evil things, and good people will try and do good things. If you want a good person to do a wicked thing, that takes religion.”

Dennis Prager:
In a secular world, there can only be opinions about morality. They may be personal opinions, or society’s opinions, but only opinions.

Christopher Hitchens:
Is it not said of God’s Chosen People, and is it not said to them by God in the Pentateuch that they can do exactly as they like to other people. They can enslave them. They can take their land. They can take their women. They can destroy all their young men. They can help themselves to all their virgins. They can do what anyone who had no sense of anything but their own rights would be able to do. But, in this case, with divine permission. Doesn’t that make it somewhat more evil?

Dennis Prager:
Every atheist philosopher I have read or debated on this subject has acknowledged that if there is no God, there is no objective morality.

Christopher Hitchens:
What is it like to lie to children for a living and tell them that they have an authority that they must love – compulsory love – what a grotesque idea, and be terrified of at the same time. What’s that like, I want to know? And, that we don’t have an innate sense of right and wrong. That children don’t have an innate sense of fairness and decency which, of course, they do.

Dennis Prager:
Judeo-Christian values are predicated on the existence of a God of morality. In other words, only if there is a God who says, “Murder is wrong,” is murder wrong? Otherwise, all morality is opinion.

Christopher Hitchens:
Divine permission, given to people who think they have God on their side, enables actions that a normal, morally normal unbeliever, would not contemplate. The mutilation of genitalia of children – who would do that if it wasn’t decided that God wanted it? The suicide bombing community is entirely faith-based. The genital mutilation community is entirely faith-based. Slavery is mandated by a Bible. Given only faith, mountains can be moved, and millions of people, who would never normally acquiesce an evil, are brought to it straightaway and with ease and with self-righteousness.

Dennis Prager:
The entire Western world, what we call Western Civilization, is based on this understanding. Now, let me make two things clear. First, this doesn’t mean that if you don’t believe in God, you can’t be a good person. There are plenty of kind and moral individuals who don’t believe in God and Judeo-Christian values.

Christopher Hitchens:
Why don’t I just concede this to you now? An atheist can be a nihilist, or a fascist, though most fascists were actually Catholics. They could be a national socialist, though most national socialists were pagans and worshippers of odd cults and, of course, many of them were Christians, too. An atheist can be a Stalinist. An atheist can be a sadist or a masochist. It doesn’t say anything about your morality or your intelligence to be a non-believer.

Dennis Prager:
But, the existence of these good people has nothing, nothing, to do with the question of whether good and evil really exist if there is no God. Second, there have been plenty of people who believed in God who were not good people. Indeed, more than a few have been evil and have even committed evil in God’s name.

Christopher Hitchens:
Well, I’m happy to agree with that. I think that’s true.

Dennis Prager:
The existence of God doesn’t ensure people will do good. I wish it did. The existence of God only ensures that good and evil objectively exist and are not merely opinions.

Christopher Hitchens:

We’ve gone no further than Deism – than the suggestion that because so many things are the way they are, there must be some kind of authorship or design. How does Deism help you to get to Theism? How does the Big Bang lead to answered prayers, or virgin births, or miraculous interventions in human affairs? All of these things remain to be proved or, so far, on the part of my antagonist, even argued for.

Dennis Prager:
Without God, we therefore end up with what is known as “moral relativism,” meaning that morality is not absolute but only relative to the individual or to the society.

Christopher Hitchens:
Let’s just hear that again. Secularism must mean moral relativism. Your ethics are situational. Isn’t it true that all the leading religions of the world are Abrahamic? Yes, we love to stress it. And, what was Abraham most famous for, apart from having a wife who had a baby when she was 101, which is an advance over dying in childbirth when you’re 11. Abraham’s most famous for saying, “If God wants me to kill my boy, of course I will.” And, the only difference between the monotheisms is that some say it was Isaac, and some say it was Ishmael. I don’t particularly care. But, there are annual festivities on the part of the faithful to say, “We wish we, too, were capable of such faith, and we want to beat our breasts in sympathy with those who are.” Why do the Jewish people blow the ram’s horn, the shofar? Because the shofar symbolizes the ram who is sacrificed instead. The blood sacrifice is the main thing, and there has to be a child involved.

This seems to me to be disgraceful, and what’s taken for granted that goes with it, because it was practiced on Isaac, too, in the form of a covenant and imitated by others: the genital mutilation of the young, to seal the pact with God, to say, “Nothing matters to me – not the life or health or bodily integrity of my child. Never mind that. What has to be proved is, without God I am nothing. I’ll kill for it. And, I’m not just willing to say that. I’m willing to prove it, and I’m willing to use my children’s bodies as the theater of this enactment of faith.” Well, civilization, in my submission, Ladies and Gentlemen, begins where that evil nonsense leaves off. And, we have to advance the time when more and more people will be able to civilize themselves by outgrowing religion and leaving this awful nonsense behind.

Dennis Prager:
Without God, the words “good” and “evil” are just another way of saying, “I like,” and “I don’t like.” If there is no God, the statement “Murder is evil,” is the same as the statement, “I don’t like murder.” Now, many will argue that you don’t need moral absolutes. People won’t murder because they don’t want to be murdered. But, that argument is just wishful thinking.

Christopher Hitchens:
Which of us would say that we will believe something because it might cheer us up, or tell our children that something was true because it might dry their eyes? Which of us indulges in wishful thinking, who really cares about the pursuit of truth at all costs and at all hazards? Can it not be said, do you not, in fact, hear it said, repeatedly, about religion, and by the religious themselves, that “Well, it may not be really true. The stories may be fairy tales. The history may be dubious. But, it provides consolation.” Can anyone hear themselves saying this or have it said of them without some kind of embarrassment, without the concession that thinking here is directly wishful, that, yes, it would be nice if you could throw your sins and your responsibilities on someone else and have them absolved? But, it’s not true, and it’s not morally sound.

Dennis Prager:
Hitler, Stalin, and Mao didn’t want to be murdered, but that hardly stopped them from murdering about a hundred million people.

Christopher Hitchens:
My former colleagues and ancestors of the new school produced a very comprehensive edition of Mein Kampf. I think it’s at the closing pages of chapter 2 where Adolf Hitler says that his work against the Jews is done on the direct instruction and inspiration of Almighty God. It’s certainly a trope that’s repeated throughout the book. And, there was no reason for someone brought up in Catholic Austria/Bavaria, not to think that. Centuries of Christian instruction in the poisonous nature of the Jewish people – the verminous character of the Jewish people. An uncontroversial remark. The Vatican at that point was willing to ban books by Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, to say nothing of books about evolution and the Big Bang. They were invited to ban Mein Kampf. Did they? No, they didn’t. Instead, the Vatican made its first ever political treaty with the Third Reich, exchanging complete control over education, on their part, for complete control of the rest of the State by the Nazi Party. What did it say on the belt buckle of every single member of the Nazi Army? What did it say? “Gott mit uns”. It says, “God on our side,” in German. If you took your oath to the führer, how did it have to begin? “I swear on the Name of Almighty God, my undying fealty to Adolf Hitler.” You may not call it “secular.” Fifty percent, according to Paul Johnson, the Catholic historian, of the Waffen-SS were confessing Catholics. None of them was ever threatened with excommunication, even threatened with it, for taking part in the final solution. But, Joseph Goebbels was excommunicated… for: marrying a Protestant. You see, we do have our standards.

Dennis Prager:
It’s not a coincidence that the rejection of Judeo-Christian values in the Western World by Nazism and Communism led to the murder of all these innocent people.

Christopher Hitchens:
How much do you think the export of Russian Orthodox anti-Semitism cost us in point of lives, and war? And, have you ever counted up what happened in the wars that Czarism started and carried on, and the persecutions, and the famines, and the tortures, and the starvation and the people who just died of neglect? Come on. You want to do this accounting? I’m here. I’m really here for you.

Or what the Serbian Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox have just done in the Balkans. The most recent genocide we’ve seen in Europe, entirely done by Russian and Serbian Orthodox fascists and Catholic Croatian Ustaše, grinding a whole part of civilized Europe into nothingness and bloodshed for their filthy, stupid medieval quarrels. How dare you say that any secularist, we who have opposed this kind of barbaric stuff, are on all fours with these creeps. You should take it back. You owe me an apology.

Up until 1917, the Czar of Russia was not just the absolute ruler and owner of all of Russia and all the Russian people and everything in it, but he was also the head of the Russian Orthodox church. He was considered by the Church and the people to be something a little more than divine, excuse me, a little more than human. Not as high as Hirohito but a bit higher than the Pope, in secular and temporal power.

If you were Stalin, you’d be crazy if you didn’t take advantage of a people who had centuries of indoctrination of that kind. Of course, you would want to see if you couldn’t replicate that and to see about reproducing it, emulating it, trading on it, taking advantage of it. You’d be nuts if you didn’t do it. So, the answer, I think, is to try and move people up to a cultural and intellectual level where they are above that kind of appeal, where they’re not credulous, where they don’t take things on faith, where they don’t make gods or idols or images out of anybody, including fellow human beings. And, they learn the pleasures of thinking for themselves. How about that for a modest proposal?

For your argument to have any force at all, you’d have to point to a society that adopted the teachings of Lucretius, Spinoza, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Albert Einstein, and then fell into famine, dictatorship, torture, and genocide.

Dennis Prager:
It is also not a coincidence that the first societies in the world to abolish slavery, an institution that existed in every known society in human history, were Western societies rooted in Judeo-Christian values.

Christopher Hitchens:
It doesn’t derive from Christianity. A Christian may do these things, just as an atheist may be a slaveholder. But, in the British Empire, and in these United States, the justification for slavery was Biblical.

Dennis Prager:
Partially Biblical and particularly…

Christopher Hitchens:
No. Wholly Biblical.

Dennis Prager:
Well no, but that, that… fine.

Christopher Hitchens:
Just as it is…. In all surviving cases, of which I’m aware, where slavery persists, it’s justified from the Quran which does, indeed, justify it.

Dennis Prager:
And so were the first societies to affirm universal human rights. To emancipate women.

Christopher Hitchens:
According to the Jews, God tells them to pray every morning. The men have to say, “Thank God I am not a woman.” And, the women have to pray, “Thank God I am the way I am.”

Dennis Prager:
And, to proclaim the value of liberty.

Christopher Hitchens:
Name me an action, a moral action, taken by a believer, or a moral statement, uttered by one, that could not have been made or uttered by an infidel or non-believer. I have tried this everywhere on a large number of people. I have not yet had even one reply. But, if I was to ask you, “Can you think of a wicked action that could only have been performed by someone who believed they were on an errand from God,” there isn’t one of you who would take 10 seconds to think of an example.

Dennis Prager:
Today, the rejection of Judeo-Christian values and moral absolutes has led to a world of moral confusion.

Christopher Hitchens:
Suppose without the dictator, people would just do what they liked. Well, isn’t it just as true, Dennis, that with that dictator and his orders, everything is also permitted because if God orders you to do it, you may have to go and kill all the members of the other tribe and not spare even their children, and be rebuked if you even spare some, as is countlessly enjoined in the Bible? You may find that you’ve got to go and blow yourself up in order to get to heaven and take as many unbelievers with you because… (to do things that no secularist would think about doing), because God’s instructions require it. In other words, with God, it seems, that an incredible number of things are permitted as well. If not just permitted, actually ordered of you, required of you.

Dennis Prager:
So, then, whatever you believe about God or religion, here is a fact. Without a God who is the source of morality, morality is just a matter of opinion.

Christopher Hitchens:
I do not believe that my Palestinian friends, I’ve known for years, think that to blow yourself up outside an orphanage is a moral act, or inside one is a moral act, or in an old people’s home in Netanya is a moral action, that anything in their nature makes them think this. But their mullahs tell them that it is, and that the person doing this is a hero. I do not think that any person looking at a new born baby would think, “How wonderful. What a gift. But, now, just let’s start sawing away its genitalia with a sharp stone.” Who would give them that idea if not the godly, and what kind of argument for design is this? Babies are not born beautiful. They’re born ugly. They need to be sawn a bit, because the handiwork of God is such garbage. Well, honestly, this is what I mean when I say that those who think there’s any connection between ethics and religion have all their work still ahead of them. And, after thousands of years, still have it all ahead of them, more and more.

Dennis Prager:
If you want a good world, the death of Judeo-Christian values should frighten you.

Christopher Hitchens:
If it could be shown to you that the figure of the Nazarene was, in fact (as we believe) entirely mythical, as was the figure of his mother, as was the figure of Vishnu, as was the revelation supposedly given to the illiterate, Arabian, merchant, peasant Muhammed, the man calling himself the Prophet, as was the existence of Moses and the legend of the Exodus. If all of this can be shown, as it can be, to be an entirely man-made legend, would you really look at your neighbor differently? Are you telling me, or are you willing to be told that you would then become a thief, that you would then become a liar, that you would then not condemn a rapist, that you would then have no knowledge of the difference between a right action and a wicked one? I don’t think there’s anyone in this room who could be so abject, so wanting in self-respect, so masochistic, so servile, as to believe any such thing. You could tell me if you wanted, that you would do all those things, if you weren’t God-fearing. But, I would choose not to believe you. I have more respect for you, if not for your opinions, than that.

Dennis Prager:
Christopher Hitchens, his book, “God is not Great.” I’m Dennis Prager.

Christopher Hitchens:
Don’t you dare bring this up again!

“One of the greatest tragedies in mankind’s entire history may be that morality was hijacked by religion.”Arthur C. Clarke

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Objective Morality: Christopher Hitchens & Dennis Prager Debate
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Objective Morality: Christopher Hitchens & Dennis Prager Debate
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Dennis Prager gets hitchslapped from the grave by cartoon Hitchens: Christopher Hitchens returns for the grave one last time in order to respond to Dennis Prager's absurd assumptions about morality and atheism and he busts Prager's misconceptions wide open. #pragerfail
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