Quotable: Hitchens, on the Bohemian lifestyle

The late Christopher Hitchens on his drinking and smoking in light of his father’s own death from cancer:

I always knew that there is a risk in the Bohemian lifestyle. And I decided to take it because whether it is an illusion or not (I don’t think it is) it helped my concentration; it stopped me being bored; it stopped other people being boring to some extent; it would keep me awake; it would allow the evening to go on longer, to prolong the conversation, to enhance the moment. If I was asked, would I do it over again, the answer is probably yes. I’d have quit earlier possibly, hoping to get away with the whole thing. It’s easy for me to say, not very nice for my children to hear; it sounds irresponsible, if I say, yeah, I’d do all that again to you. But the truth is, it would be hypocritical for me to say no, I’d never touch the stuff, if I’d learned, because I did know. Everyone knows. And I decided, all of life is wager. I am going to wager on this bit. … I almost don’t even regret it. They I should. Because it’s just impossible to for me to picture life without wine and other things fueling the company and keeping me reading and traveling and energizing me.

LINK, about 30 minutes in

Also note the fascinating words about acedia just following this. I do miss Christopher Hitchens, in spite of his vitriol to religious belief.

Quotable: William Lane Craig

Andy Naselli posts recent article which just came out by William Lane Craig outlining the five arguments for God. I’ve not read through the whole argument yet, but I had to comment on the first paragraph.

It’s perhaps something of a surprise that almost none of the so-called New Atheists has anything to say about arguments for God’s existence. Instead, they do tend to focus on the social effects of religion and question whether religious belief is good for society. One might justifiably doubt that the social impact of an idea for good or ill is an adequate measure of its truth, especially when there are reasons being offered to think that the idea in question really is true. Darwinism, for example, has certainly had at least some negative social influences, but that’s hardly grounds for thinking the theory to be false and simply ignoring the biological evidence in its favor.

It seems to me that Craig is underestimating the force of their argument. Their argument is to criticize Christianity on the basis of taste. It sounds like a pragmatic argument about social impact. But the real point is about a moral/aesthetic argument, which I am calling taste. I think that the average person makes most of his decisions concerning metaphysical beliefs on the basis of moral/aesthetic reasons (taste). I think the New Atheists intuitively get this and attack along these lines. The New Atheism is a movement directed toward average people to be sure.

Let me illustrate, in a recent debate Christopher Hitchens attacked the Bible on the grounds that God’s test of Abraham in sacrificing Isaac was morally reprehensible. Obviously one could ask Hitchens on what does he base this view of morality? But that would be to miss the point. Moral intuitions actually exist whether or not Hitchens can give a basis for them. As with Nietzsche, criticizing Christianity on the basis of taste is precisely the point. What Hitchens fails to see is that Christianity is most beautiful (in a moral sense and otherwise). The reason he fails to see this is because he fails to see how giving over his personal sovereignty to God could be good/beautiful.

See also