Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Does Science Make God Obselete?
The luncheon crowd at The Pierre roared with laughter as Christopher Hitchens, atheist and author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” debated whether science makes belief in God obsolete with Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, former physicist and author of “God at the Ritz; Attraction to Infinity”. Surprisingly, the two were in agreement so often that Hitchens ultimately stated that he would “…not accuse Monsignor of being a Catholic,” and further grumbled, “I protest! I was told I was going to argue with a person of faith.” Whether Monsignor could be classified as a “true Catholic” or not, they disagreed enough to keep the debate interesting.
Monsignor talked of unexplainable love, while Hitchens compared Jesus to Kim Jong Il, whose deceased father is actually still the official ruler of North Korea, making it a necrocracy. “They’re one short of a Trinity,” declared Hitchens, who went on to explain the similarities of how North Koreans are in a similar predicament as Christians, who are required to love God, even when He appears not to take good care of his people. Hitchens even went so far as to point out one important point of difference in his example, which is that one can escape North Korea by dying, but a Christian is condemned, conditioned, and forced to love and thank God for all Eternity.
Over the course of an hour and a delicious three course lunch, the Monsignor and Hitchens also covered superstition, condoms, homosexuality, and thousands of years of history– it was a mouthful for everyone, to say the least. In sum: the purpose of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete’s faith is to make sense out of life, just as science fills that role for Christopher Hitchens.
The panel moderator, Washington Post’s Sally Quinn, kept an even keel by opening the panel with a reading of both panelist’s horoscope and ending it by quoting a bumper sticker: “I don’t know, and neither do you.”