Several years ago, before the New Atheist books were ever published, I saw video of a debate between Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz and right-wing nut and former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes over the question “Does Organized Religion Have the Answers to 21st Century Problems?”
Now that C-SPAN now has their entire archive online, this was one of the first things I searched for.
They won’t let me embed it, but here’s the link to the video.
If you’ve never seen a debate on this topic, this is a fantastic one to start with. Keyes recites the usual Christian soundbytes and Dershowitz (also using typical points) knocks him down left and right.
This is my favorite bit, coming from Dershowitz, in a particularly passionate moment:
Organized religion is always having to say you’re sorry for misunderstanding God’s will in the past. That has been the history of organized religions.
We’re sorry for the Crusades.
We’re sorry that we slaughtered babies and children in the name of Jesus.
We’re sorry for the Inquisition.
We’re sorry for the pogroms.
We were wrong then. God didn’t speak to us clearly then.
But he speaks to us clearly today!
If you have some time (two hours), it’s worthwhile to watch the whole thing. If you don’t have that time, just watch the Dershowitz bits.
I love the intensity and the back and forth in the second half of the video. And take special note of Dershowitz’s statement at the 30:10 mark, made a full year before 9/11.