Tuesday, June 27, 2017


If you are interested in doing dramatic presentations to highlight key social, religious, and philosophical issues to jump-start some meaningful conversations,  you might want to take a look at this one.

Please feel free to hijack this dialogue. I just ask for feedback – How did it go?

This one builds upon the fact that most of us believe in being true to ourselves and to our conscience. However, we differ regarding what this entails.

HITCH: “To your own self, be true!” You believe this, don’t you, Christian?

CHRISTIAN: Of course, I do.

HITCH: And so you believe that it is right for me to follow my own conscience? Even for an atheist like me?

CHRISTIAN: Yes! For an atheist, Hindu, Jew, or even a Nazi!

HITCH: Okay, let me try to restate this. Then you are agreeing that I am my own standard of truth, the captain of my own ship. And you are admitting that I have the right to navigate my ship into any port where I want to navigate it.

CHRISTIAN: Certainly, you have that right, and the law is even on your side.

HITCH: I am really surprised at you, Chris. I thought that you believe that there is one moral law and that everyone has to live according to this law?

CHRISTIAN: You are right again, Hitch. I do believe that there is one moral law. Consequently, we shouldn’t rape, abuse others, torture babies, or take what doesn’t belong to us. To be true to ourselves is to acknowledge these internally perceived truths and to live accordingly. When we fail to live accordingly, we damage ourselves and others.

HITCH: I certainly agree with you, Chris. But I don’t need your daddy-in-the-sky to know these things.

CHRISTIAN: I agree, and that’s why I agreed with you when you quoted Shakespeare. When we are true to ourselves and what is written in our conscience, we recognize the same moral truths.

HITCH: Well then, you believe that it is enough to follow our own conscience?

CHRISTIAN: This is only the beginning, although inadequate in itself.

HITCH: This is what turns people off to your Christian faith. You are always moralizing for others, telling them how they should live. Don’t you see how offensive this is?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, but then the law is also offensive. It also tells us how we should live. Are you also offended by the laws of the law?

HITCH: Perhaps I am. We should live and let live as long as the other guy isn’t stepping on our feet.

CHRISTIAN: Then you too are telling them how to live.

HITCH: Perhaps, but I think that there is great wisdom in evolution which has taught us how we need to live in harmony with one another and how to build community.

CHRISTIAN: Well, it seems that evolution has also taught us to believe in God. After all, the great majority of humanity believes in God.

HITCH: True, but we have evolved from that primitive belief. Clearly, it is no longer necessary.

CHRISTIAN: Then evolution isn’t the basis of your morality.

HITCH: I don’t understand what the heck you’re talking about.

CHRISTIAN: It is clear that you are unwilling to believe in the “wisdom” of evolution because it is always evolving. Here today, gone tomorrow. Besides, there are many “evolutionary” human traits that neither of us would want to embrace, like denial, zenophobia, warfare, murder, rape, lust, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness… Therefore, there has to be a higher standard by which you decide what it means to be “true to yourself.” You certainly do not agree with everything evolution has handed down to you. You don’t believe that you have to be “true” to your resentments and lusts, do you?

HITCH: Of course, not. But being true-to-yourself involves a lot of other things like the accepted values of society.

CHRISTIAN: Hitch, if being true-to-yourself is just a matter of conforming to an assortment of socially created standards, then you are not true-to-yourself but are merely conforming to society. If society tells you to hate blacks or whites, will you conform to this also?

HITCH: Of course, not! I’ve already told you that there are many factors involved, not just evolution and social values. There is also a matter of intelligence and freewill.

CHRISTIAN: Well, what kind of role do they play?

HITCH: Intelligence tells me that racism is not right and freewill gives me the ability to go against the crowd.

CHRISTIAN: I’m certainly glad to hear that. You are, therefore, claiming that intelligence is more authoritative than evolution and social standards. I am also assuming that you are referring to the inner moral light, the “intelligence” of your conscience?

HITCH: Exactly!

CHRISTIAN: However, if your moral intelligence is simply the product of evolution and social standards, then there is no compelling reason to live according to this “intelligence.” For one thing, it is no more than a product of biochemistry, according to your worldview. Besides, it is evolving. Therefore, even if it is wrong to kill your wife today, it might conceivably be right tomorrow. Why then not get ahead of the trend and just kill your wife today?

HITCH: You’re being ridiculous. I know where you are going with this. You are building a case that your sky-daddy is the only answer.

CHRISTIAN: You’re right.

HITCH: However, Socrates had put the kibosh on your “Divine Command Theory.” In Euthyphro’s Dilemma, he decisively asked: “Is a thing pious because the gods will it, or do the gods will it because it is pious.” In either case, his dilemma does away with your pious theory. If it is good because your god wills it, then it is arbitrary. If your god wills it because it is good, it means that there is a higher standard of good than your god, making him irrelevant.

CHRISTIAN: Hitch, you are forgetting one thing – that there is another alternative, the biblical one. Morality is good because morality and moral law are God Himself, the foundation of all reality, including even you and the moral law written upon your conscience.

HITCH: You have no right to talk for me. I didn’t give you that right. Being true-to-myself also involves the fact that I am in charge. I can simply decide what morals I want to follow.

CHRISTIAN: Well, you can simply decide. You have that ability. However, rather than God being arbitrary and subjective, it is you who are then arbitrary and subjective. If you can decide how to live, you can also un-decide. What then makes your decisions any more decisive or weighty than what you don’t decide to do?

HITCH: That’s my freedom, and it’s what it means to be me.

CHRISTIAN: Excuse me for observing this, but it seems that what you are advocating is like playing chess without any rules or only with rules you dream up at the moment. Isn’t this meaningless and utterly unsatisfying, even if you are being true to yourself?

HITCH: Let’s consider this conversation officially closed.

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