The Four Horsemen: Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens

Titled with a with a cute wink the apocalypse, The Four Horsemen features Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. On September 30th, 2007 they sat down together and filmed a two-hour unmoderated discussion. It’s a wonderful thing.

While I’m an atheist,1 this isn’t a requirement to appreciate four brilliant men philosophizing brilliantly about religion, atheism and the state of the world.

I’ve read a couple of Dawkins’ books (namely The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker)2 and two by Hitchens (Why Orwell Matters and God Is Not Great), but this is the first time I’ve really heard any of them speak.3

The video, filmed by Josh Timonen, has been provided by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (what a name!) and has been available on YouTube for about a month in two, one-hour segments.

Naturally, with their genius so well publicized, they require no introduction, but for the uninitiated, from left to right they are Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. The Four Horsemen: Part I of II

I confess, seeing Dennett and Dawkins enjoying martinis did inspire me to fetch my own. Also, I can’t help but try to read the titles on the bookshelves. Is this Dawkins’ house? I occasionally catch a title or two, but I’m curious about which books they choose to display.

There’s something about Hichens I’ve never really liked in reading his work. His open disdain for anyone whose opinions disagree with his own I felt was uncouth, but here, in discussion with others of a similar mind, truly challenged by intelligent opponents, he opens up as being a more complex character than the books I’ve read of his seem to portray. Also, here he seems to get slightly sloshed, which is rather endearing.

The Four Horsemen: Part II of II

Ah, Hitchens!  He goes back to being a bit of a depressing bastard, especially towards the last few minutes of the video. Yet, even so, he comes across as more reasonable in his universal hatred of all religions in comparison with Harris’ comments on Islam, which come across as more than a little bigoted.

Today I’ve placed orders for Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Consciousness Explained and Breaking the Spell by Dennett, and Harris’ The End of Faith. I’m really looking forward to reading all four.

Mission accomplished RDFRA!

  1. Please don’t read this self-important essay I wrote five years ago. []
  2. My responses to reading The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. Ah, early, earnest posts. Was it only a year or so ago? []
  3. I don’t have cable. []