Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe: The Great God Debate

TUE, MAR 23, 2010 (1:31:31)

The polemic "anti-theist" writer Christopher Hitchens engages in "The Great God Debate" with Conservative Jewish leader Rabbi David J. Wolpe. Does God exist? Is religion a force for good or evil in the world? Can ancient texts be squared with modern science? Can morality be divorced from religion? How important is God to Jewish identity?

Christopher Hitchens is one of the most prominent and controversial writers in the media today and the author of the best-selling book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. David Wolpe, Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles, was named the #1 Pulpit Rabbi in America by Newsweek. He is the author of seven books, including Why Faith Matters, a response to the ideas of Hitchens and other atheist thinkers. Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR's On Point moderates the debate.

+ BIO: Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Eric Hitchens is an author, journalist and literary critic. He has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens is also a political observer, whose books the latest being God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything have made him a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. In 2009 Hitchens was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the "25 most influential liberals in U.S. media." In 2007, on his 58th birthday, retaining his British citizenship, Hitchens also became an American citizen after residing in the US for a quarter century. Hitchens is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, amongst others. He is an anti-theist, and he describes himself as a believer in the Enlightenment values of secularism, humanism and reason. In September 2008, he was made a media fellow at the Hoover Institution. Hitchens is currently writing his memoirs, due for publication in the spring of 2010.

+ BIO: David J. Wolpe

David J. Wolpe is the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a teacher of modern Jewish religious thought at UCLA. Rabbi Wolpe writes for many publications, including The Jewish Week, Jerusalem Post, and Beliefnet.com. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN and CBS This Morning and has been featured on the History Channel\'s Mysteries of the Bible. He is the author of six previous books, including Why Faith Matters and Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. Rabbi Wolpe lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

+ BIO: Tom Ashbrook

Host of NPR and WBUR’s On Point, award-winning journalist Tom Ashbrook first came to NPR and WBUR-Boston for special coverage of the 9/11 attack,. Tom’s career in journalism spans twenty years as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, and author. He spent ten years in Asia — based in India, Hong Kong, and Japan — starting at the South China Morning Post, then as a correspondent for The Boston Globe. He began his reporting career covering the refugee exodus from Vietnam and the post-Mao opening of China, and has covered turmoil and shifting cultural and economic trends in the United States and around the world, from Somalia and Rwanda to Russia and the Balkans. At the Globe, where he served as deputy managing editor until 1996, he directed coverage of the first Gulf War and the end of the Cold War.

Tom received the Livingston Prize for National Reporting, and was a 1996 fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation before taking a four-year plunge into Internet entrepreneurship, chronicled in his book The Leap: A Memoir of Love and Madness in the Internet Gold Rush.

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