Where did Christopher Hitchens say he doesn’t want to get rid of religion, because he likes arguing with believers too much?

I seem to be on a roll as far as getting work done on the book this week. Yesterday, I got a cleaned-up version of chapter 2 up, and I’m most of the way done with a revised version of chapter 3. One minor thing I’m stuck on: where did Christopher Hitchens say he doesn’t want to get rid of religion because he likes arguing with believers too much?

Here’s one example, from a video taped conversation Hitchens had with the three other “horsemen”:

Do we, in fact, wish to see a world without faith? I think I would have to say that I don’t. I don’t either expect to, or wish to, see that…

Would I want this argument to come to an end, with all having conceded that ‘Hitchens really won that round, now nobody in the world believes in God’? Now, apart from being unable to picture this, I’m not completely certain that it’s what I want. I think it is rather to be considered as sort of the foundation of all arguments about epistemology, philosophy, biology, and so on. It’s the thing you have to always be arguing against, the other explanation.

Because, I think, a bit like the argument between, Huxley and Darwin. Sorry, excuse me, Huxley and Wilberforce, or Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, I want it to go on.

I want our side to get more refined, and theirs to be ever more exposed. But I can’t see it with one hand clapping.

But that’s not quite as snappy or quotable as I was hoping for. Can anyone suggest another example of Hitchens saying this?

  • Dorfl

    He expands a bit on the same subject here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9TMwfkDwIY

    But I don’t think its extremely quotable either.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Hmmm… I think I can fairly cite this as Hitchens saying if he could convince everyone to give up religion, he wouldn’t do it, in part because “there’d be no one left to argue with.”

  • OnyxOny

    I cant see that youtube link, but he does mention it during the movie Collision.

    • Dorfl

      The clip is from Collision, it seems to be placed right at the end. I’m not sure why the link doesn’t work for you – it works fine for me.

  • Blessed Jim

    I think you are missing something basic. Science often advances by debate over the data that requires reevaluating the data with new experiments. So I see Hitchens saying he doesn’t want the debate over religion to end because then that would be the end of progress in understanding religion. I don’t think he wants some people to be religious just so he can have a good argument.

  • Annatar

    Hitchens unquotable? Never!

  • Amakudari

    Video (starting 1:07:47 in):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTjHf77FqTI#t=1h7m47s

    Transcript (search for “world without faith”):
    http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org/fourhorsementranscript

    While it’s true that Hitch likes arguing, I think that saying only that makes him appear as though he just enjoys the sport. His point is that religion is always the adversary, whether speaking of empirical science, philosophy, etc. By having that opponent, we refine our reasoning, and with unanimity we lose the ability to suppose of counterarguments.

    I disagree a bit with that, but the video’s great in any case because Dawkins looks horrified.

    • Amakudari

      …aaaand, I scrolled right past the bottom half of the post. My mistake.

  • Rain

    If there were no religion then he wouldn’t be able to spam his religious opponents with his trademark “Available at fine book stores everywhere”. Somehow we didn’t mind being spammed by Christopher, especially when he was spamming religion.

  • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

    I think it is rather to be considered as sort of the foundation of all arguments about epistemology, philosophy, biology, and so on. It’s the thing you have to always be arguing against, the other explanation.
    If I understand this sentence properly, Hitchens was saying that theism is indispensable for any science to exist: epistemology, philosophy, biology, and so on, if only to argue contrary theories. Looks like he was forced to admit that theism is necessary to rationality itself, for if one wants to argue the devil’s side, god’s side has to exist first.

    • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

      Sorry for the bold type on the last two lines; only the word ‘rationality’ should have been in bold character.

    • Rain

      I love the irony of that analogy, because in this case the devil’s side would be theism and god’s side would be rationality. It’s as ironic and as complexly puzzling as Christopher’s explanation itself. It’s as if it wants to go around in circles upon itself. Very apt!

      • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

        There was no complexity intended. What I mean — and what I think Hitchens meant — is that theism AND rationality go hand in hand and that atheism is the contradictory side. Indeed, as implied by the privative prefix, a-theism needs to borrow on theism to gain rationality and to subsist.

        • hf

          I haven’t studied your religion in a while, but isn’t lying supposed to be bad?

    • Dorfl

      “Hitchens was saying that theism is indispensable for any science to exist: epistemology, philosophy, biology, and so on, if only to argue contrary theories.”

      I really don’t see how that works. Scientists argue about contrary theories all the time, without ever bothering with the ‘godidit’ hypothesis.

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