Hi, readers. This was inevitable. I couldn't resist incorporating the so-called "Four Horsemen" into a blog post or a title, at least. I just found this video of a two-hour discussion between these guys. It's good. To me atheism isn't worth talking about all that much, but that's because atheism has been around for thousands of years and all the arguments against the supernatural have been made and the type of religion that is used to control people has been shown to be a paper tiger and a naked emperor1. People still believe it because of the self-perpetuating nature of faith. So I don't see the need to keep talking about the same things repeatedly. Once you study the facts, you'll know that there are a lot of things that we can't really know. To me, questions that are beyond the realm of what it is possible for us to know don't really matter all that much. On some level, who cares whether or not there is a higher power? Is that higher power going to do anything? Is s/he/it/them going to tell us how to cure malaria or solve the oil crisis if we fall to our knees in worship? And sure, "religious experiences" are great, but don't tell me that you have the only way of attaining something like that. As they say in the video, "religion isn't the only game in town" for that sort of thing. P.Z. Myers had a great post on Pharyngula recently in which he was saying that religion as it is practiced by most people makes claims of a God who interacts with the physical world. These are claims that can be tested scientifically. In science, faith (in the religious sense... we can talk more about that later) isn't necessary because we have ways of testing claims and the scientific method is self-correcting. It's ok that we can't be absolutely sure of anything. The point is that positive claims require evidence. And "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
But maybe you'll find this discussion informative. If anything else, you'll see that these people don't want to eat babies or rape your children or anything like that... Sure, Hitchens is a bit too "America, Fuck Yeah!" for my tastes... but my point is that people are people. Let's remember that.
P.S. If you are so inclined, you can buy the DVD of this conversation here
1You can say that I'm going to hell, but neither of us really knows that for sure, and we can't really know until we're both dead. But by that time, I'll be dead, and by then, it doesn't seem like it'll matter to me all that much. Will there be no other sign given to me to indicate you're not completely bullshitting me?