Hitchens Knocks Intelligent Design [Excerpts]
During an animated debate in a packed Dinkelspiel Auditorium, atheist Christopher Hitchens and intelligent design advocate Jay Richards clashed over the evidence for God’s existence.
“There are no atheists in foxholes, but there are plenty in universities,” said host Ben Stein, famous for his role as the dull economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, during “Atheism vs. Theism and the Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design.”
“We are lucky — blessed, I would say — to have two extremely smart people here today,” Stein said, giving both participants 14 minutes for their opening remarks.
“I can’t imagine it’ll take me 14 minutes to demolish intelligent design, as I refuse to call it,” began Hitchens, the author of the 2007 bestseller “God is Not Great.”
He cited the existence of evil as evidence against a benevolent designer.
“If everything was designed,” Hitchens asked, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery and early death?”
He added that any person who looked to nature as evidence for design must contend with the fact that 98 percent of all species that have ever existed are extinct.
“Whose design?” asked Hitchens, to applause from many audience members, including a dozen wearing “Atheists of Silicon Valley” T-shirts. “What kind of design? What kind of caprice, what kind of incompetence, what kind of cruelty?’
Richards congratulated Hitchens on his rhetoric, but dismissed the atheist’s perspective.
“A sneer is not an argument,” said Richards, a program director for the intelligent design think tank Discovery Institute.
[TBC: In military terms, Hitchen’s remarks are more indicative of a fighting retreat than an assault. He consistently avoids the question “What is man’s responsibility for ’misery, ignorance, slavery and early death?’” In short, he blames God for man’s failures, selfishness, and the results of our own self-centered behavior.]