John Waters & God v. Hitchens & Reason
Well, it’s Book Club Day again for fans of the Bible, who gather every week to hear more of the adventures of their favourite characters. But next Sunday in the Gate Theatre they can hear a real debate, between Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great – the Case against Religion and John Waters, author of Lapsed Agnostic and They Can’t Stop the Spring. >>>
God is not Great retells the revealing story of Mother Teresa of Calcutta coming to Ireland to campaign against divorce in 1996, the same year that she told Ladies Home Journal that she hoped that her friend Princess Diana would be happier now that she had escaped her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles.
Waters’ new opus on returning to faith is still in creation, so to speak, but Hitchens’ latest offering has evolved well. At its core is his plain assertion that
Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody – not even the mighty Democritus, who concluded that all matter was made from atoms – had the smallest idea what was going on.
It comes from the bawling and screaming infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs).
Today the least educated of my children knows more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell.
Hitchens may be on shakier ground when it comes to another of his references to Ireland, when he states that
In Ireland alone – once an unquestioning disciple of Holy Mother Church – it is now estimated that the unmolested children of religious schools were very probably the minority.
Well, I hope that Hitchens has the evidence to back up that claim. Actually, I hope that he hasn’t, because of course I hope that it is not true. But, if it is true, then I would like to see some more evidence than a bald unattributed statement.
Because one of the problems of arguing rationally against faith is that if you leave any doubt, however small, in the factual side of the rational argument, then the faithful can pounce and make that doubt the focus of the debate.
Anyway, it should be an interesting debate. Next Sunday, Gate Theatre, 5 p.m., tickets cost 10 euro each. Further details from the organisers, Dublin Writers Festival.