What Would You Ask Hitchens?

March 3, 2011

I will have the profound pleasure and honor of hosting Christopher Hitchens at his upcoming March 8 lecture at Stony Brook University. Hitchens will speak about the main arguments in his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything , then sit down with me for a conversation about his views on religion, morality, politics, and more. While I already have a good set of questions, I am wondering:

If given a similar opportunity, what would you ask Christopher Hitchens?


#1 Joseph McDonald (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 10:36am

You’ve lived one of the most fascinating lives in human history. What, if any one event or period, is your favorite memory?

#2 Michael De Dora on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 11:52am

That’s a good one, Joseph. Thank you.

I should add: the event is sold out but I believe it will be recorded. I’ll pass along the video if/when I get it.

#3 SocraticGadfly (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 12:05pm

Having a fair idea of George Bush by the time he was elected, how could you still support his planned invasion of Iraq? Do you have regrets today?

#4 Becky (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 12:56pm

Ah, Mr. Hitchens and his razor-sharp mind. He is such a pleasure to hear in a debate, especially a religion-based one!  I can’t aspire to Mr. Hitchens’s level of intellectual prowess but I’m wondering: how can I, a slightly brighter-than-average, publicly educated, middle-aged American, become more worldly and intellectual?  Is it mostly a matter of voracious reading?  If so, what should I read? 

Do wish I could attend the lecture.  I love Hitch.  Thank you so much!

#5 Tom Gibbs (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 1:03pm

Describe the process you use to assimilate and integrate into your thinking new issues emerging from the domains of science, politics, philosophy, and religion. Simply put, what are your methods?

#6 Daniel Schealler on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 8:22pm

Have you ever had a strong opinion that you eventually changed because of a persuasive argument?

If so, what was the argument that persuaded you?

#7 Daniel Schealler on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 8:26pm


I’ve noticed that hitchens has a standard line he likes to use when he has recently been introduced. Typically he gets very long, complimentary introduction. Then he stands up and one of the first things he says is:

“Thank you X for that suspiciously brief introduction.”

The audience chuckles, and on the back of that Hitchens flicks over to forceful-orator mode.

I’ve been waiting to see a video where Hitchens is introduced in this manner and the introducer closes with something like: “So I now welcome Christopher Hitchens to take the podium - and I hope he didn’t find my introduction suspiciously brief in any way.”

I just have to wonder how the hell he’d open after that.

#8 Duncan Heath (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 10:18pm

“What is the most important thing that will keep America a force for good on the world in the next decade? Consider anything ranging from policy to cultural engagement. The floor is yours, Mister Hithcens.”

#9 asanta on Friday March 04, 2011 at 1:53am

I would like to spend a day shadowing him and just be a drooling fan girl, *sigh*. If I could only aspire to a sliver of his intellect and wit….

#10 Adam (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 8:36am

To my knowledge you have never written about your thoughts on Lucifer’s personality and his role in the Christian religion.  In Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ he is an an anti-authoritarian figure approaching heroic stature, more interesting and sympathetic than an unreasonable and capricious god.  Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason is witty on the convoluted function of the devil in Christianity. What are your views?

#11 loneremily on Friday March 04, 2011 at 8:47am

I would ask him why he hasn’t tried vitman c to cure his cancer. Although he’s a skeptic, he could certainly try to find the studies that these scientists claim to have. And if using extreme doses actually works—then he gets to live longer. It really doesn’t seem like it could hurt anything. 100,000 mg. In some cases—that’s the whole bottle in a day. According to some doctors you can super dose on vitamin c without anything happening negatively. Sounds like it’s worth a try. To save the smartest man in the world!!!

#12 Madelyn Freeman (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 9:31am

I would ask Christopher, whom I consider one of the most intelligently informed voices to be heard and given the discourse regarding the insane cruelty inflicted upon humanity by means of following and believing in religious ideology, does Christopher foresee a real possibility that a third world war will culminate out of this clash of civilisations?  Thank for giving us the opportunity to pose our thoughts and questions on site. Madelyn

#13 Robert Collette (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 10:57am

If I could ask Christopher Hitchens a question I would ask, “If there was an afterlife, what would it have to be like for you to find it acceptable?”
Here’s hoping you are feeling well Hitch, and continue to do so.
Thank you,
Robert Collette.

#14 Erin (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 11:16am

Have you ever had a “gut instinct” about something or someone that turned out, when you applied logic to the situation, to be wrong?

For example, you knew in your heart that what nice Mrs. Watts was telling you about the green shrubbery was wrong…have you ever had an “instinctual” moment like that, where, when you researched the matter further, your initial “feeling” proved incorrect?

#15 Geo. Hundt, Jr (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 5:50pm

Dear Mr. Hitchens,
What are your thoughts on the somewhat absurd possibility if you do not survive your cancer that a cult will form in praise of your life which itself becomes a religion?
P.S. Keep fighting, the world needs you.
Best, Geo. Hundt, Jr.

#16 TheSuna (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 6:15pm

I think it’d be interesting to hear some pedagogical talk from Mr Hitchens.

He has taught courses on, if I’m not mistaken, English and journalism. How were these classes structured? What reading materials/exercises would he issue for, say, the early parts of a Journalism course? English course? What skills would he emphasize for becoming a better writer and reader in these courses?

Something along these lines would make a good question - or at least one I’ve never heard asked/answered by him elsewhere.

#17 Derek (Guest) on Friday March 04, 2011 at 10:52pm

Hi Professor Hitchens

I would like you to distinguish between two questions that get strung together during religious debates.

The first is one you have answered brilliantly on multiple occasions.

Does morality require the belief in the divine or a divine consent as to whether or not our moral intuitions are correct?

(Note, invoking anything about the existence of god is unnecessary to answer the first question)

The second question you may have answered before but I don’t think it was distinguished from the first.

Was a divine spark required to provide our species with an internal moral compass independent of whether we acknowledge the existence of or profess loyalty to a god?

(Note, the premise of the second question answers the first, for if we were given a moral intuition to distinguish right from wrong,  a belief in or permission from the divine would not be required to determine what is moral.  Only logical reasoning based partly on moral intuitions would be required, the rest is a bad attempt at redundancy)

#18 Aaron Elharar (Guest) on Saturday March 05, 2011 at 12:45am

I just finished watching the documentary about how the Mormon church spearheaded the fight to pass proposition 8 in California. If you haven’t seen it my fellow atheists, I warn you in advance… it will piss you off. The question I’d ask Mr. Hitchens is this:

It’s quite apparent that going on the offensive - spending money on ads, lobbying, canvasing, propagandizing, etc - really works for advancing religious causes. In the case of Prop 8 the mormon (name intentionally not capitalized) church worked overtime and spent obscene amounts of money to ensure that their homophobic beliefs would become California law. The question I have is, why don’t we/should we as atheists pool our resources together to launch full force campaigns to rid people of their religious beliefs, the same way that religions launch campaigns to recruit more members? When I say campaigns I’m talking about advertising, grass roots outreach, lobbying, etc.

#19 Dilip Kanuga (Guest) on Saturday March 05, 2011 at 8:18am

Mr. Hitchens,
How do you think President Obama and his administration have recently performed on domestic issues? (specifically the Wisconsin debate)

Issues abroad? (specifically in the Middle East)

Thank you,
Dilip K

Hope you get well

#20 Omar (Guest) on Sunday March 06, 2011 at 11:27pm

Mr Hitchens,

Let’s play soothsayer….Where do you see the world in 10 yrs ? Is there a Palestinian State ? Have the mullahs in Iran been overthrown ? Is Korea Reunified ?

#21 Michael De Dora on Tuesday March 08, 2011 at 8:30am


I’m terribly sorry to say that Hitchens had to cancel today’s appearance at Stony Brook University due to his health. You can read more here:


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