Richard Dawkins recently made available for the first time online his Christmas 2011 interview with Christopher Hitchens, which was published in the New Statesman, and which Dawkins had guest-edited. It appeared just as Hitchens was dying. It was his last interview. In it, Dawkins and Hitchens toss about their various theological musings, and zero in at one point on the question of whether Jefferson was among the rebellious Founders’ ardent deists. He was, they both agreed, citing the expurgated Jefferson Bible, stripped of the supernatural and emphasizing Jesus’s supposed high moralism.
One quotation from the interview thus stands out to me, a disposition Hitchens evinced toward C. S. Lewis he had expressed earlier (which I have cited and underscored elsewhere: his admiration for Lewis’s tenacity in saying, if he was not the Son of God, then he was also not a great moralist.)
At one point, Hitchens faults Jefferson for his inconsistency, and, perhaps, dishonesty when compared with Lewis:
“But he [Jefferson] did violate a rule of C S Lewis’s and here I’m on Lewis’s side. Lewis says it is a cop-out to say Jesus was a great moralist. He said it’s the one thing we must not say; it is a wicked thing to say. If he wasn’t the Son of God, he was a very evil impostor and his teachings were vain and fraudulent. You may not take the easy route here and say: “He may not have been the Son of God and he may not have been the Redeemer, but he was a wonderful moralist.” Lewis is more honest than Jefferson in this point. I admire Lewis for saying that.”
“Here I’m on Lewis’s side.“