"Without our anxiety, without insecurity, without uncertainty nothing worthwhile would come." -Christopher Hitchens

Sewell: I mean, quite honestly, when I get to the point when I don’t know what I know and when I have to give that up and when I have to admit that I’m lost then sometimes I can go to a place that I could never reach unless I get to the point that I don’t know and I have to just give up. So I guess that’s sort of my own personal experience.

Hitchens: That’s a very excellent definition of the difference I think. They keep saying if you only surrender your mind you could have Buddhist bliss, Hindu bliss..

Borg: But you don’t lose your mind when you do that.

Sewell: You don’t lose your mind.

Borg: You still have all of the intellectual ability that you had before.

Zukor: But why does it have to be mutually exclusive?

Borg: Exactly.

Hitchens: It isn’t mutually exclusive. You’re given more points for faith, this I believe.

Zukor: But why should we have to choose between having these mystical, powerful experiences and also finding a similar sort of pleasure in reading Socrates and Plato?

Hitchens: Because with the mystical experiences you would be flattering yourself. You make it easier on yourself. You would not be experiencing the wonderful pleasure of uncertainty. Who wants their anxiety to go away? Where would you be without anxiety?

[Laughter]

Hitchens: That’s what I thought you’d say. I think that’s a contemptible position to own. Without our anxiety, without insecurity, without uncertainty nothing worthwhile would come.

Borg: Uncertainty is different from anxiety.

Krattenmaker: Not even for a couple minutes? I would like to be without anxiety for a couple minutes.

Hitchens: No. Not for a second. That’s the false promise of the whole thing.

Borg: Go back to Socrates. Socrates was a mystic.

Hitchens: No.

Borg: Socrates said all these wonderful things, I agree with you. But he also said that this whole question about who is the wisest person in Athens and Socrates ultimately concluded that he was because he knew that he knew nothing at all.

Hitchens: That’s right.

Borg: The test of not knowing.

Hitchens: A religious person cannot say that.

Borg: Of course they can.

Hitchens: They have to stand for something for sure.

Borg: There are many, many, many religious people who would embrace and engage…

Hitchens: How could they say it could be true that Jesus died for my sins? Is that a religious thing?

Borg: Oh, well I agree with you. I don’t believe that for a minute.

Hitchens: It could be that Jesus died for my sins.

Krattenmaker: I think you’re seated next to a person who will completely defend the right of a Christian not to be certain about the factual truth about that assertion.

Hitchens: I’ve read some accounts that say the prophet Mohammed was lectured to by the angel Gabriel. Could be that this is true. It’s not a Muslim saying that. If you don’t believe that, don’t waste our time. You’re not religious; you’re someone who knows a bit about religion. You have to say…

Krattenmaker: Well this is where you have more in common with religious Fundamentalists…

Hitchens: No.

Krattenmaker: In saying that you are not allowed to be religious in this moderate or liberal way.

Hitchens: It’s the only place I have respect for them. Do you believe it or don’t you? It’s only really a matter of…

Krattenmaker: Well, what do you mean by believe?

Hitchens: That…

Krattenmaker: Believe means something different in the long sweep of history.