Christopher Hitchens, near the close of his debate with Frank Turek, offered this brief, masterful moment of apparently oblivious self-rebuttal:
Religion works for most people because people in a sense horribly do want it to be true, that they are supervised, that God looks out for them, that they might be rewarded, or they might be punished. It has this terrible servile advantage. That’s why I consider it to be morally superior to be an atheist, to say I would rather live without that ghastly master-slave mentality…. I can only say that I am very relieved to find, having studied the best evidence … very relieved to find there’s no evidence for it at all. If I thought it was true, I would consider myself condemned to live under a tyranny.
(You can find this at at the 1:52:50 point in the debate.) Religion thrives, he says, because people want it. Then he goes on to explain why he wants atheism.
Attempts to explain religion away as some kind of psychological aberration have been with us since Freud and even earlier. Schopenhauer and Feuerbach called it wish fulfillment. The fallacy there has been pointed out repeatedly: wish fulfillment can work both ways, for there are many who do not wish for there to be a God.
This is not a new issue, but rarely has it been caught in such a convenient little package. If Hitchens thinks he can explain religion away by its fulfilling some person’s desires, I can as easily explain his atheism away by how obviously it fulfills his own desire, his wish to be free of accountability before his creator.
Frank Turek’s final comment is most appropriate in light of Hitchens’s desires:
Christopher Hitchens thinks there is no God, and he hates him. God thinks there is a Christopher Hitchens, and he loves him.
(Regarding “no evidence for it at all,” see here, among the comments following my earlier post on this debate),