The Berlinski-Hitchens Debate

On September 7th, 2010, Christopher Hitchens and David Berlinski squared off at the Fixed Point Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama before a capacity crowd of 1,200. The question being debated was whether or not a purely atheistic society is preferable to a religious one. Overshadowing the debate was Hitchens' recent cancer diagnosis (as you can see from the above picture, Hitchens has lost his hair due to chemotherapy). The debate was filmed and will be released on DVD in November, just in time to make it on to your philosophically-inclined Christmas wishlist.

I'm especially interested in listening to this debate because, while many debate opponents are mismatched, I think Berlinski and Hitchens are well suited to debate each other. Both men are rhetorical, witty, iconoclastic public figures. This decreases the chance that the debate will be won or lost based on one debater out-talking another.

Click here to read an overview of each debater's main points, as well as some issues raised by the debate. Click here to read a newspaper review and see some pictures of the debate. Finally, click here to read Fixed Point Foundation executive director Larry Taunton's reflections on the evening.


Anonymous said...

I would have liked to see this debate. Berlinski certainly matches Hitchens in wit. At times I think Berlinski's wit overshadows his arguments (as is the case with Hitchens) but if you go into the debate aware that it will more likely be equivalent to a WWE wrestling match than a scholarly debate, you probably won't be disappointed. Both are fine debaters who spark imagination and careful thinking even if they emphasize the former more than the latter.

Anonymous said...

The debate is on Youtube.