As it is quite obvious at this point, I am a Christian in addition to being a Platonist. As a Christian, I believe God exists (my powers of observation are unprecedented, I know). However, I most radically do not need to use my Christian knowledge in order to conclusively refute Christopher Hitchens’ argument against God.
I am usually a little candid to people I am writing against, but I cannot be candid to a person like Christopher Hitchens, because he fails not only at arguing against the existence of God, but he fails at being an atheist. On these grounds, he seems to be only a caricature of wiser men that are and have been atheists who, though freezing my blood with what they say, demand more respect for their courage to follow their argument to its logical end and for saying what they believe, though it would turn a lot of people against them.
Let me explain, first of all, why C. H. fails to argue against the existence of God. I have recently watched a debate of his on Youtube and all I saw is arguments, machine gun apologetics at that, about how different religions are unreasonable and, even more of a wonder, immoral. I do not see how this proves that God does not exist. The classic definition of the Being that philosophers argue about (and C. H. is no philosopher) is an All-Good, All-Poweful, All-Knowing Being. Obviously, a religion which professes that it is divinely revealed may seem illogical at times, especially if you pick and choose what parts to speak about and what to leave off. All that proves is that this or that religion is wrong, if his arguments are true, but I will not choose to address that. The problem is that God can exist without any religion being true. His argument, therefore, makes two jumps. The first is that, if no religion gets God right, God does not exist, which is not only silly, but presupposes that God can only exist if there are people who worship Him. The second is that believers always act in accordance to their religion, which is also preposterous and false. It stands, therefore, that he has made no argument that disproves the existence of God, he has simply jeered and sneered about different religions and their believes. However, beyond all rules of logic, this man claims that religion is immoral.
Now, here’s a problem that I have as someone who likes people like Nietzsche and Sartre. Obviously, I disagree with their undoubted premise, if you will, that God does not exist(Nietzsche argues: “If God does exist, how could I ever bear to not be God!”). However, I think that their logical process after said premise is sound. Because of this, I am dumbfounded at C. H.’s argument that any number of religions which he mentions are immoral. Objectively immoral? How did you figure that out, if I may ask? As far as I know from Nietzsche and Sartre (et al), there is no such thing as objective truth, because humans cannot create objective truth (obviously this does not include physical laws). How one proceeds to create an objective code of morals without a Divine being is beyond me and, as far as I can tell, beyond logic.
Due to this, I argue that his argument can be disproved conclusively by Platonism. Either morality is objective or not. If it is not objective, then there is no foothold for C. H. to stand on, because what is good for me is good, so if I choose to paint my cell into a sunny green field and then proceed to behave as if I was in a field, then well and good, if I choose to pain everything with blood, which I got by killing everyone around me, well and good; there is no objective basis to tell me I am wrong in killing people or in wearing rosy-colored glasses. If, however, morality is objective, then, pray tell, where did it come from? It could not have come from man, otherwise it would not be objective. Humans can discover objective truth, but they cannot create it. There is no way in which I can make it objectively true that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla ice cream, no matter what I do. There is no way it could come from any being less than human, for obvious reasons. There is no way that it could have grown out of nothing, whatever one’s beliefs about the origin of the world are, because non-physical things don’t work that way. You can’t “grow” an ethical system. Therefore, the question stands, where do we get objective morality other than a Divine Being. That is, incidentally, why in the Timaeus Plato found it necessary to posit the Demiurge, an All-Good, All-Powerfull, All-Knowing Being that created the Universe according to the Forms. I challenge anyone to make an argument for how an objective system of morality can be made to work without positing a Divine Being. I, for one, am all ears.
Lastly, C. H. said there are two questions which no one has been able to answer to his satisfaction concerning religion. They are: 1) name one action of a believer that cannot have been done by a non-believer and 2) name one evil action that a non-believer could not have done which a believer has done. In one debate that I saw he argued that the best response he ever got from the first was “exorcisms,” which he found funny. His brother (Peter Hitchens, a theist) gave him a very good specific example when he mentioned that when a newspaper he wrote for was bought by a man whose primary occupation was pornography, he quit, whereas C. H. later accepted a job from the very same man. However, that won’t do, I want to answer the questions objectively and generally and in a way which turns these two questions into a philosophical enquiry, not into what C. H. wants them to be, which is a vague question (he has asked for a “believer” while knowing that there are differences between different religions and will probably use that into the response to ridicule it) for non-philosophical childish banter. I won’t even talk about the fact that arguing for theism does not have to include arguing for a specific religion or for religion in general, but I digress. Anyway, back to the answers:
1) Have and potentially fulfill his meaning of life. An atheist cannot have a final cause and, therefore, cannot fulfill it.
2) In the mind of the non-believer, he cannot sin. The believer, on the other hand, can sin. Whenever a believer knowingly sins, that is an act (on top of whether the action is evil) which the non-believer cannot commit. (That said, within that evil action is also the root of a good action, i.e. that the believer (knowing that he has sinned) can work to fix his sin, whereas a non-believer cannot fix his sin, because he does not believe that he has ever sinned.
In short, concerning C. H. and others like him, who have no philosophical training and who do not even keep to the topics they say they will debate, but rather use any opportunity to badmouth religion in general and Christianity in particular, I say just ignore them. I can’t do much about the other religions he ridicules, but I could defend Christianity against him. I, however, choose not to. I sincerely do hope, however, that he and others like him will eventually fly away and allow the real philosophical debate to continue.