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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hitchins Changes the Wording to Score a Point

Christopher Hitchins in a powerful polemicist. But here Dennis Prager also shows him to be deceitful.

A question I pose to atheists and others who argue that religion is irrelevant to moral behavior has been cited by Christopher Hitchens in his national best seller, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And Hitchens's citation has been widely quoted -- from the New Yorker to the website of the Oxford evolutionist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins.

[...Hitchins: "I was to imagine that I saw a large group of men approaching. Now -- would I feel safer, or less safe, if I was to learn that they were just coming from a prayer meeting?" Invoking an image of rampaging Muslims]

As it happens, Hitchens did not relate my question entirely accurately, as hundreds of thousands of my listeners can attest to, and as many written sources can attest to. I have always asked the question about 10 men in a dark alley coming out of a "Bible class." I wrote a piece for National Review in 1999 in which I posed this question and wrote "Bible class," not "prayer meeting." And Father Richard Neuhaus, in his journal, First Things, quoted me asking this question about men leaving a "Bible class" in 1992. (I have always posed this question to Americans and therefore assumed the question related only to America, but I did not specify 'America' in my question to Hitchens as I did "Bible class.")

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