The Evening Went Without a Hitch

Well, I’m a tad chopfallen tonight. My friend Duncan Werner had mentioned to me yesterday that there was going to be a debate this evening, at the 92nd Street Y, between Christopher Hitchens and one Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the question Does God Really Exist? I thought this would be a good scrap, so I went online to buy a ticket, but found that they were sold out. Not giving up, I went up to the Y (it’s a short hop on the 4 train from my office), and stood in the “Ticket Cancellations” line for the better part of an hour, but, sadly, failed to get in.

The worst part? Now I’ll have to wait till I die to find out the answer.


  1. No problem, Malcolm. Here’s the answer:

    The world is theistically ambiguous, so you are within your epistemic rights to believe or disbelieve.

    Of course, the game is rigged. We just don’t know . . . not for certain, anyway . . . in which direction it is rigged.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted January 31, 2008 at 5:16 am | Permalink
  2. bighominid says

    Now I’ll have to wait till I die to find out the answer.

    There’s a technical term for this in theological circles: eschatological verification. The term is associated with philosopher and theologian John Hick, who uses it as shorthand for “what we’ll find out when we die.” The word eschaton refers, as you know, to end times, and is normally associated with apocalyptic events, but in this case it refers to the chronological end of each individual’s earthly existence.


    Posted February 1, 2008 at 2:14 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Jeffery, I think that the fact that the world is theistically ambiguous weighs heavily against theism.

    Kevin, speaking of John Hick, about whom I learned a great deal from your book, have you read Sam Harris’s critique of religious pluralism in The End Of Faith?

    Posted February 1, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  4. bighominid says

    I can’t say I’ve read any of the New Atheists. I need to get cracking. I’ve read online articles by Harris; I’ve read a paper or two by Dennett and several essays by Pinker (and I’ve seen the Pinker and Dennett interviews over at Meaning of, but I haven’t read any of their monographs.

    What does Harris’s critique of pluralism consist of?


    Posted February 2, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  5. bighominid says

    Ah — I just found this essay. Perhaps I’ll have to respond to it, as it hits closer to where I live than most atheist writings do.


    Posted February 2, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Hi Kevin,

    Yes, that’s the gist of it, though it has been edited down considerably for this reprint.

    You should indeed read these books, Kevin; given the unusual combination of your interest in religion and your nontheism, I’m surprised you haven’t read them already. Harris’s is perhaps the best treatment of morality and mysticism; Hitchens’s is a delightful screed, and Dennett’s has the most intellectual depth. Dawkins’s is probably the most mean-spirited of the lot, but still worth reading.

    And I very strongly recommend David Sloan Wilson’s somewhat controversial Darwin’s Cathedral for what I think is the best account yet of why we have religions at all.

    Posted February 2, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  7. Peter Moran says

    I am trying to get in touch with Duncan Werner. I worked with him years ago at Integration Wireless and need to contact him.


    Posted February 6, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Peter, I’ll send Duncan your email address.

    Posted February 6, 2008 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  9. Maven says

    Praise Buddha:)

    Here’s the Youtube of which you seek…

    Posted February 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Wow! Thanks, Maven!

    Posted February 22, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

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