Christopher Hitchens Plays the "What If" Game

Christopher Hitchens plays the “what if” game with a fundamentalist radio host:

The arrogance of the radio host reminds me of my own not too long ago. He’s talking to Hitchens like he’s a 7 year old kid who has never heard the basic Jesus pitch.

I thought Hitchens answered pretty well, except for the last question — Hitches does not disbelieve in God because he wants to live the way he wants to, he does it because of the lack of evidence. It just plays into their little self-righteous game to answer that kind of question positively.

I also wish Hitchens would have turned the tables a bit. You can ask someone if they’ve broken any of the rules of the Koran, and then get them to agree that according to the Koran, Allah should send you to hell for breaking his laws and not being a Muslim.

But that doesn’t further anyone’s argument, because it hasn’t been established that Allah exists, that the Koran was written by him, or that there is a hell. And it’s the same with the Bible.

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  • LawnBoy

    I love how uncomprehending the radio host is that the script isn’t working. He simply can’t believe that someone sees through his leading questions.

    • Daniel

      It’s funny how the radio host managed to miss all of Hitchens hooks just through brute ignorance and poor listening skills.

  • DDM

    I absolutely love Hitchens. He’s crude sometimes, but he’s always straightforward with who he’s talking to. The part where he said he’d try to save someone whether they wanted to be sacrificed or not is exactly what I’m talking about: It highlights how silly beliefs are with just a little bit of(what should) be common sense.

    • Alex

      This guy is a telemarketer for Jesus. Hitchens throws him off the script, so he gets all confused and tries to keep going with his prepared questions.

      I love how Hitchens always throws off the people he debates, because they all seem to have their own assumptions about how he’s going to respond, and they’re almost always wrong.

      • Personal Failure

        I’ve done this to people in person. They’re all prepared with the Way of the Master bs, fully expecting me to respond the way they do in every prepared WOTM video, and they just have no idea what to do when you refuse to play along. Good times.

  • atimetorend

    It sounds like the radio host is preaching to his choir with his script and doesn’t care too much where Hitchens is going with the conversation. Certainly he is receiving the amens and head nods from his audience.

    I guess it is part of the “fantasy game” the host is presenting, but it seems too bad the conversation doesn’t focus more on the veracity of the biblical account, rather than the the implications if the bible if it is assumed to be true.

  • Jing-reed

    This ‘What if…’ game is one of Todd Friel’s favorites. He is an arrogant evangelical prick who usually manages to browbeat those he chooses to interview on the air;. With Christopher Hitchens he seems to have met his match, since Hitchens refused to play his idiotic ‘what if…’ game.

    Here is part 1 of the entire radio interview:

  • John C

    “Religious” types, ie fundies will always be easy targets for unbelievers because their internal nature has not yet undergone the transformation into Christlikeness (not that I have arrived either, nevertheless I press on), they are living by external rules so there is a measure of hypocricy that will always be felt, known even though it is not admitted for no man (flesh) can fulfill the law, can live the “Christian” life, its impossible because its Christ’s life in us and it takes Him to live it through us. We are merely containers for His presence. We choose what or Who we will contain, Christ or Self and He is much preferred, much more gracious, merciful and loving than we (self) could ever be in and of our own (old) Selves.

    So this whole “interview” was a fruitless endeavor for nowhere was God glorified, meaning His true life and nature (love) was not expressed/seen thru either participant. Christ was/is described as being the “express image of the Father” in radiance/effulgence, ie “when you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father”. That is a picture of the true “Christian” experience, man radiating, projecting the life and nature of the Father. Peace is the consequence of transformation for the truth of every man is Christ perfected in Him.

    Jerusalem…Je (Jehovah) Ru (rules) Salem (in peace)…within.

    • DDM

      So basically that didn’t count because the interviewer wasn’t a true Christian.

      • John C

        That’s not necessarily the case, “that he wasn’t a true Christian” but we are all at various stages on the journey, He is still in the “religious” phase, ie trying to keep up appearances, etc.

        • DDM

          And when he forsakes all his worldly possessions can he finally be a true Christian and ascend to Nirvana. Oh wait, but when that happens he won’t be able to evangelize. I guess it’s up to non-true-Christians to do all the evangelizing.

      • Bryan

        he wasnt a true Scotsman either

    • fftysmthg


      What you just wrote(12:52pm), I must admit, reflects much of what I use to believe.
      Sincerely – good luck with it.

  • trj

    > “The arrogance of the radio host reminds me of my own not too long ago. He’s talking to Hitchens like he’s a 7 year old kid who has never heard the basic Jesus pitch.”

    Probably because the host just can’t believe that anyone would disagree with his totally reasonable premises. “Hitchens must be some kind of simpleton. I better repeat everything in a way that he can understand it.”

  • trj

    BTW, this is not the full interview, which is around 19 minutes long.

    Here it is, in two parts:

    I recommend it. Hitchens is in rare form.

  • Jing-reed
  • Custador

    Painfully obvious that the host is trying to get Hitchens to say something that could be quote-mined later.

  • James

    What a useless conversation. The host barely batted an eye at anything Hitchens said.

    • DDM

      You need to listen closer. He not only batted an eye, but he tripped over himself more than once at Hitchen’s responses.

      • Custador

        Indeed. When Hitchens responded in ways that he either wasn’t expecting or just plain couldn’t handle, he just repeated the same question. Over, and over, and over again.

        Religion: Killer of original thinking.

  • Kodie

    “I’m not as slow on the uptake as you think.” About sums it up.

    • Alex

      When I was a believer I didn’t think anyone seriously still bought into that old crap that anyone who didn’t believe in Jesus must not have heard of him. Even when I believed in God, I seriously never thought someone could be told about Jesus and be like “Oh, wow! Everything makes sense now!”

      • Ty

        I had a co-worker find out I was an atheist and try to give me a bible. When I said that I owned a dozen or more bibles, as well as bible study aids, concordances, and interlinear translations, his reaction was amazement that I could have read the bible and not believe in Jesus/god.

        • DDM

          Reading the Bible(the entire way through) is probably the most likely reason someone would turn Atheist.

          • Ty

            Well, at least reading it without a mental excuse list running in the background.

  • chaosof99

    I think the worst part is when the host basically tries to collect evidence in an attempt to have god convict Hitchens of a thoughtcrime. Yes, some christians love thoughtcrime, don’t they?

  • Michael

    God I love Hitchens…

  • Shein

    At the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Hitchens said something, with which I don’t agree, but I certainly understand. He said that he wouldn’t want religion to be abolished, because it wouldn’t be fun for him, he would have nothing to do.
    He has a charisma, dealing with ignorant people, and I really appreciate it and find it interesting. The way he can deal with them is simply stunning. I would prefer a world without religion, but as long as we are not there yet, people like him make the debate amusing.
    I love the way he cancels the radio-guy, dismissing every stupid proposition.

    • bondgrrl

      I’ve heard Hitchens say that (about not wanting religion to die), and even the other three Horsement were confused by it. I understand what he’s saying, but I also wonder what *good* a ridiculous “interview” like this does. If it was just for the sake of argument, there really was none. There aren’t a bunch of atheists listening to this program. What the radio guy has done is sexed-up Pascal’s wager (thinking Hitchens hasn’t already heard every incarnation of it) and then tried (unsuccessfully) to make him look stupid.

  • Mike

    I get so embarrassed listening to people like the host because I used those exact same arguments at one point in my life. Man, I was such a douchebag.

    • Ty

      I did too, man.

      We weren’t douches. Just misinformed.

    • Shein

      And a bit brainwashed perhaps?
      If the majority of the people were atheists, and the minority religious, then you might say that you could have know better and that it probably was your fault.
      Since this isn’t the case, I believe that people who overcome all the norms, other people’s expectations etc, and manage to get rid of religion, are truly exceptional.
      It proves morality, because you are being true to yourself, critical thinking, and because atheists are not a cult, you have nothing to gain, I mean things like paradise and virgins, in a way you give that up. And I truly believe this takes courage to do. All these sound so comforting. But you saw that they can also be dangerous. You have to give yourselves credit for that.

  • Michael

    Hitchens’s answer to the last question was honest but misleading. It is hard to say why we believe what we do. There is a concept called the “introspection illusion,” that we cannot directly introspect our own mental processes. Rather, we infer our own rationale based on the illusion that we can know our own thoughts. In this case, in wondering why I am an atheist, I may think of good rational reasons why God does not exist, and mistakenly believe I am actually remembering my reason for disbelieving in the first place. I may, by chance, be correct, but there is also a good chance that the real reason I first deconverted was because I did not agree with Christian morals and did not like the idea that God was using me like a pawn in a huge game of chess.

    Hence, Hitchens says that he very likely is an atheist because he doesn’t want to be held to the (ridiculous) moral standards of Christianity. He does NOT say that this is a good argument against the existence of God.

    • Shein

      Or maybe, just maybe, he got tired by this guy, and chose the simple answer, because he didn’t want to bother himself anymore. It not typical of him to do that, I am just saying that in this case he may have given up in a way, because of the “retardness” of the answers.

      • Michael

        He might not have put it the same way I did, but I do think that was the logic behind his answer. He probably became an atheist because he didn’t want to follow the Christian rules. That’s an honest answer, and a good one. You don’t subject yourself to such extreme tyranny without a damn good reason.

        Of course, apologists will probably spin that into “Atheists know God exists, they just don’t want to be responsible to their actions,” which is pretty much like saying “I know it’s raining, but I don’t believe in rain because I don’t want to get wet.” Somehow they think this is a good argument for something.

  • Andrew Skegg

    What IF Islam is true? Then this smug radio knob jockey is going to burn in hell as well. What if?

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    • Ty


      • Custador


        • Michael

          Custador, what’s the web site to set your avatar? I thought it was, but I guess not.

          • Michael

            Never mind, I found it.

            Apparently gravatar’s not GNU . . . GNGNU.

  • Michael

    LOL – very random….

  • VidLord

    Hitchens is amazing. I love it when he said ‘what is more likely, that the whole order of the universe came to a sudden halt, or that a jewish author should tell a lie?’