The following is an index of links to entries I have made – ordered by date – related to Hitchens, Wilson, and the Collision Movie.
The Moral Argument Series:
Part 1 (February)
In this entry I introduce the central argument between Hitchens and Wilson: the Moral Argument. According to Hitchens, morality is innate and based on empathy, thereby implicating God as an immoral, blood-thirsty tyrant. But according to Wilson, Morality is only paradoxical: without this apparently tyrannical God, there would be no wrong and right to begin with and no basis for protest. (Wilson does not grant a tyrannical God but refuses to explain why throughout the debate). In order to investigate the idea of ‘innate’ morality, I turn to anthropologist Colin Turnbull’s moving story about the Ik girl named Adupa.
Part 2: Summary of Debate (March)
Here, I introduce C.S. Lewis’ more successful and humanitarian version of the Moral Argument and then provide a summary of the debate between Hitchens and Wilson, published on-line by Christianity Today and by Canon Press.
Part 3: Ethical Information (March)
In this entry I map out my analysis of the debate under four headings and provide my analysis for the first. I argue that the debate is largely over by Round 2:
Hitchens points out that Wilson is “trapped in the net” of his own making. Genocide and slavery have been “positively recommended in holy writ,” and abortion is denounced in the Oath of Hippocrates (and I add, not holy writ).
Part 4: Immoral Defense (March)
On my view, this is the most important part of my analysis since I am able to draw on my personal knowledge of Wilson; this helps explain the implied sociopathology of Wilson’s attempt at grounding morality. (The last two subjects of analysis appear less consequential, although I plan to finish this analysis sometime soon).
Part 5: Collision Movie (May)
Next, I introduce the Collision movie, transcribing part of a released Sneak Peak. Hitchens says, “One of us not just has to lose the argument but has to admit real moral defeat. I think it should be him.”
Molly Worthen on Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens (April)
Worthen published an article on Wilson in Christianity Today, and begins by noting Wilson’s foxtrot with Hitchens. I sought to provide more depth to Worthen’s analysis and corrected some factual errors. One reputable person commented on this entry:
Your piece is f-ing brilliant, and I’m glad I found it after reading Worthen’s interview with The Controversialist in the April 09 Christianity Today. You bring to light a lot of questions I had after reading Worthen’s article, and answer them brilliantly.
Letters To A Middle Aged Contrarian (April)
I enjoyed Hitchens’ book a good deal: Letter To A Young Contrarian. So in this entry I provided some of those citations that I appreciated most. A bizarre dialog transpired in the comment section, involving some Kirkers.
The New Enlightenment Series:
Part 1: The New Enlightenment (September 25th)
After studying the work of Seana Coulson and the cognitive science tradition of Lakoff, Johnson, Fauconnier, Fillmore, and Turner, I read Lakoff’s new book The Political Mind. Lakoff’s announcement of the New Enlightenment fit nicely with Hitchens’ call for a renewed Enlightenment in god is not Great. Many disparate items clicked and I set forth a formulation of the New Enlightenment: “a progressive, interdisciplinary demeanor that weds the emerging mind sciences, meta-critical philosophy, the arts, and the work of the public intellectual.”
Part 2: Mind, Law, & the Naive Cynicism of Tetlock, Wax, and Mitchell (October 12th)
This is a long essay. I began by framing the New Enlightenment in terms of Daniel Dennett’s recent thoughts on philosophy and cognitive science. I had been intrigued by Jon Hanson’s and Adam Benforado’s article in the Emory Law Journal, ‘Naive Cynicism: Maintaining False Perceptions in Policy Debates,’ particularly by the cast of characters in the footnotes, who are cynical about the alleged value of the mind sciences in the study of law and public policy. I went on to outline some of these characters’ more recent work and concluded that Greg Mitchell, flirting with conceptions of the unconscious mind that are similar to my own, none-the-less still offers a strong form of naive cynicism.
Part 3: Mind Science and the Humanism of Christopher Hitchens, Flannery O’Conner & C.S. Lewis (October 23rd)
This is another long essay where I critique and expand an anti-reductionist tradition from the philosophy of Mind, and I put some flesh and blood on it through provocative narratives from Flannery O’Conner and C.S. Lewis. I brought in Hitchens to provide a more humanistic frame for the New Enlightenment, but just half way through the rough draft I was alerted to the spike in the media over the premier of the movie Collision. So I introduced Wilson’s and Hitchens’ tango and referenced some of the previous entries above.
Part 4: Newsweek’s Prattle (October 24th)
To my surprise, Amy Miller of Newsweek gave me a reason to get out the old boxing gloves of Pooh’s Think Part 1. Miller encouraged her readers not to watch the movie Collision – and for no good reason, to put it modestly. I am not so modest about it in this entry.
Part 5: Christopher Hitchens & Douglas Wilson: The Collision Movie (October 25th)
Here, I provide what I think is some helpful immediate context for Collision and note the crucial broader context not just pertaining to Wilson’s current moral argument but to Douglas Wilson, the man. A narrative, historical, anthropological method still awaits, as does the continuation of my book, The Kirk: Mother of War.
Part 6: My Reply to Hitchens’ Reply to Miller (October 26th)
Hitchens replies to Amy Miller’s Newsweek article in Slate. In this entry I comment on Hitchens’ reply by noting the similarity between his defense of the Collision movie and H.L. Menken’s comments on Dr. Machen in 1931. However, I note the dissimilarity between Wilson and Dr. Machen, and I state boldly the importance of what we can know about Douglas Wilson. I write, for example,
Wilson has a plan, he lusts incessantly for attention and control, and, I have come to fully believe after years of painful experiment and research, he has the full capacity to rape and maim any sentient organism that might get in his way. This is true, at least, so long as the world would allow him keep his pulpit and halo. In other words, he plans to do nothing he cannot get away with. And, thankfully, the backlash to Wilson has been vehement and loud and sustained enough, particularly from his close neighbors in his small town who actually know enough about him, to all but neuter this old bull.