Hitchens wins this debate (video below) handily: Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World from the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Hitchens wrote the bestseller, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. McGrath claims to have been an atheist in his youth in Northern Ireland. McGrath admits that some forms of religion are pathological, then goes on to attribute the problems with religion to fringe elements.
McGrath presumes to know what God, a purely hypothetical supernatural entity, is like and what God actually wants us to do. McGrath's arguments, like all apologetic smoke and mirrors, rest upon insistence that there is a God and that Christianity as a religion is excused by this belief. McGrath goes so far as to accuse atheism of being 'wishful thinking' to excuse laissez faire immoral behavior. He fails in this argument because the evidence strongly suggests that atheists are just as moral, if not more moral, than theists, who often behave very badly indeed. In short, McGrath troops out all the tired old apologetic fallacies of logic and appeals to emotion. There is, as ever, something truly pathetic about any argument that claims that we cannot find meaning without resorting to verbiage growing out of mythologies.
However, I repeatedly observe that theists are swayed by emotion. In fact, many theists seem unable to decipher the difference between an emotional argument and logic. Instead, theists feel convinced by any emotional arguments that delivers the desired message. Having been told what they wish to hear, theists then assume that appeals to emotion are logical. Atheists respond more to logical arguments than to emotional arguments.
Alister McGrath is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Evangelism and Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, and Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University. Evangelism and apologetics translates as concocting excuses for fundamentalist religious dogma. Wycliffe gained some recent notoriety following release of a damning report that recommends ending the admission of school-leavers to some of Oxford's colleges. The study, conducted by a university panel headed by Sir Colin Lucas, a former vice-chancellor, particularly noted that Wycliffe does not resemble “an Oxford experience in its essentials” and is not “a suitable educational environment for the full intellectual development of young undergraduates”.
The full video is posted at Google.
Commentary: Watch Alister McGrath Take a Very Long Time To Say Very Little . Chrisopher Hitchens versus Alistair McGrath . Onward, Atheist Soldiers . discussion (mostly derogatory of McGrath rather than edified) on RichardDawkins.net .
McGrath's critique of Dawkins' book The God Delusion in McGrath's article The Dawkins Delusion? and book Dawkins God : Genes Memes and the Meaning of Life : Deluded about Dawkins (Part I) & Part II .
On YouTube, the presentation is broken into byte size chunks: Christopher Hitchens Debates Alister McGrath 1 of 11 . 2 of 11 . 3 of 11 . 4 of 11 . 5 of 11 . 6 of 11 . 7 of 11 . 8 of 11 . 9 of 11 . 10 of 11 . 11 of 11 .
atheismaudiovisualreligionvideosChristopher HitchensAlister McGrath