I mentioned the Four Horsemen video in my last post. Well, now I've had a chance to actually watch it and think about what the people have to say. One of the most extraordinary parts is the bit where Hitchens claims that he doesn't want to win the argument with religious types because then there'd be no-one left to argue with. As they were all generally trying to be nice to each other, the others didn't really call him on this as much as I would have liked.
Now I can see why Hitchens doesn't want religion to die out - if it did, he'd quite literally have to find another job, as he seems to spend most of his time nowadays debating various religious types or condemning them in print. But apart from purely selfish reasons, surely he realises that what he's saying is, in essence, that he wants there to be other people out there who don't know the truth about the universe, because this makes for an interesting conversation. I imagine Ben Goldacre must feel approximately the same about quack scientists, if he ever actually won the debate, he'd be out of a job (at least with the paper), but this doesn't mean he wants the quackery to continue. I'm willing to live with the proposition that it's an intellectual battle that isn't going to be won (at least, isn't going to be won any time soon), but surely the idea that it's an intellectual battle that we don't want to win *because we enjoy the fight* is just plain wrong.
Taken as given that religious people are fundamentally wrong about the world we live in, surely it's morally reprehensible to ask that they continue to labour under their delusions purely so that you have someone to beat up on in a debate. In some ways, I sympathise with him. We all know that taking the p*ss out of people who believe really silly things is fun, and I can understand why Hitchens likes the idea that there are people out there who believe really silly things, but surely he realises that the world would be a better place if there weren't. Surely those people deserve to know the truth, even if it does make Hitchens intellectualy life a little less interesting.
As Dawkins said (approximately) there's enough debate to be had in the real world, without spending time arguing people out of their delusions.