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Is Christianity Good for the World? [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Hitchens , Douglas Wilson , Jonah Goldberg
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The gloves come off in this electric exchange, originally hosted by Christianity Today, as leading atheist Christopher Hitchens (author of God Is Not Great) and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson (author of Letter from a Christian Citizen) go head-to-head on this divisive question. The result is entertaining and provocative—a glimpse into the ongoing debate.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a joyful book. Both men clearly love the subject, love wrestling with it and each other, and do so with an evident—and expressed—sense of gratitude. Whatever side of the debate you align yourself with, my guess is that you find that as refreshing as I do, given how joyless so much of the discourse on both sides of this debate tends to be." --Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism (from the foreword)

"Put two contrarians together and shake well." --Christianity Today

"Christopher Hitchens, one of the world's great polemicists—he's taken on Mother Teresa and Kissinger—emerges as the latest, and most eloquently effective, religious debunker." --Martin Levin, The Globe and Mail

About the Author

Christopher Hitchens is a popular journalist and the author of several books, including God Is Not Great. A regular contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly, and Slate, Hitchens has also appeared on The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, and C-Span's Washington Journal. He was named one of the world's "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect. Currently, Hitchens resides in Washington, D.C.

Douglas Wilson is a pastor of Christ Church (Moscow, Idaho) and a Senior Fellow at New Saint Andrews College. A prolific writer, he is the author of Letter from a Christian Citizen, Reforming Marriage, and Heaven Misplaced: Christ's Kingdom on Earth, among others. He and his wife Nancy have three children and a myriad grandkids.


Product Details

  • File Size: 125 KB
  • Print Length: 80 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591280532
  • Publisher: Canon Press (September 2, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001EYUECU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,535 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic in the making... September 6, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Hitchens' reputation as an intellectual giant precedes him and shines throughout this intense yet civil exchange. Wilson, a lesser known intellectual of a different vein, hangs tough and arguably pokes a significant hole in Hitchens' logic.

Indeed, what struck me most about this book was the degree of civility that both Hitchens and Wilson demonstrate in an age old debate that has otherwise been outright divisive. A must read for this reason alone...SOOOOO REFRESHING!!!

Atheists and Christians alike (and everyone in between) will undoubtedly appreciate this most entertaining, short (61-page) exchange between Hitchens and Wilson. I plan on buying many more copies for family and friends to continue the debate!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like this book because it is a short presentation of two clashing viewpoints. It is a very good place to start for anyone who is reaching for what is true. There are plenty of books out there which are one viewpoint or the other. Since the book is brief, and the positions sincerely presented, I give it five stars.

Douglas Wilson is committed to an approach in apologetics known as presuppositionalism. Rather than debate individual points of evidence, he would seek to look at what his opponent is presupposing in order to come to his conclusions. Wilson thinks that Hitchens, as an atheist, has no ground of certitude for making any moral claims, or any claims of knowledge. Wilson would argue that an atheist is borrowing the presuppositions of Christianity in order to make his or her point.

Hitchens argues more directly, challenging Wilson by the use of evidence. For example, science has shown that humans have evolved. Therefore, humans have been around for at least 100,000 years. For most of those years, humankind suffered tremendously while God did nothing to alleviate that suffering. Hitchens is very fond of Ockham's razor as a way to explain things. Why not look at the most immediate and plausible explanation as to why things happen? Don't invent fanciful supernatural explanations, which are no explanations at all. Similarly, don't invent fanciful theological/philosophical systems like presuppositionalism, which it can be argued is a concession that Christianity can't meet the challenge of evidence. Rather than argue the issue on the basis of evidence, the presuppositionalist insists on presupposing the supernatural religious motifs of scripture, namely, the self-sufficient God, the creation of the universe, the fall of humankind, etc. Again, Hitchens would argue, these are religious assertions, not evidence.

In conclusion, this is a nice short introduction to the debate between atheism and theism.
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70 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "An Important Debate" September 27, 2008
Format:Hardcover
This book reproduces an insightful and spirited recent debate between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson over what Dostoevsky called the Eternal Questions: What is the real nature of the universe in which we find ourselves? What are the ultimate bases of reason and ethics? Are there any ultimate sanctions governing human behavior? Though Hitchens is always worth reading for his quick wit and frequently surprising arguments, unfortunately in this debate he does not come off at his best. While graciously conceding that Hitchens has clean hands, Wilson wielding a very fine knife shows that Hitchens, sad to say, doesn't have any hands to begin with.

Hitchens is of the view that the universe is the accidental consequence of swirling particles, claiming that his reason has led him to this conclusion. Wilson, in the style of C.S.Lewis, points out that if the world outside Hitchen's head is given over wholly to such irrational chemical processes, the world inside Hitchens' head can be no differently composed, and that what Hitchens refers to as "rational argument" has been "arbitrarily dubbed" so.

Similarly, if there are no ultimate, objective standards in ethics, then despite Hitchens rhetorical maneuverings, what follows is what Dostoevsky's Ivan pointed out long ago: there is no "good" or "bad for "everything's permitted." Hitchens' "fulminations" against assorted zealots are, as a result, also merely arbitrary.

To dispute the necessity of a God behind the Big Bang, Hitchens, with unusual complacency, rests his case on the principle called Ockham's Razor, the argument that it's bad logic to multiply entities. The problem here is that Ockham's Razor is at best a rule of thumb, never a guarantee of a royal road to truth in any particular case.
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62 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, Let's Not Pretend... July 23, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
That this (or any other book debating religion, for that matter) is going to change people's minds. The audience for this book will be one of two groups: the Hitchophiles (which includes myself) who will read a toothpaste ad if Hitchens wrote it, and the Christians who want to see the "First Cause" and "Watchmaker" arguments in print yet again. As a devoted fan of Hitch I have to say that I was underwhelmed by this debate. As others have mentioned, Hitch was not his usual cutting edge eviscerating self and the question in the title of the book ("Is Christianity Good For the World") is never properly answered by either party. Instead, the debate came down to a discussion on where do morals come from and whether anything can be considered good or evil by secular standards.
To save you some time (and perhaps money), here's how it went: Hitchens argued that our sense of right and wrong is innate and is evolving as our species and societies have evolved. To which Wilson presents his (inane) philosophy which goes far beyond Dostoevsky's "Without God, all things are permissible" to his own childish "Without God, all things are equal". In other words, if you don't buy the tale that a son of a Jewish virgin and the Creator of the Universe died for your sins and all those who do not accept him will be tortured for eternity, then feeding a hungry child and beating that same child to death should be morally the same to you. Disgusting, feeble, and stupid argument, if I may say so. I wish Hitch would had called him out on this and several other points. He should had said "Of course morality has evolved! Just a century ago, child labour was a part of the lives of all but the elite. Now, thankfully, in the Western world our children are not seen as slave labour. But why is this so?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is good for the world to read
This work pits New Atheist Christopher Hitchens against Christian pastor Doug Wilson in a debate on the topic of whether Christianity is good for the world. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SLIMJIM
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected something more...
I doubt this book will enlighten anyone. From the title I expected to get some arguments why "Christianity is Good for the World", despite the obvious absence of a deity,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by HÅKAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Good balance
What sets this text apart is the courtesy which the authors extend to each other. It succinctly captures the central challenge which Mr. Wilson extends to Mr. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Tom Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Great conversation between a believer and non-believer
Quick, enjoyable read. I saw the documentary "Collision," which was made with footage from this book tour. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jonvalt
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Coherency
Although another interesting debate on theism and Christianity, this book lacks coherency and thoroughness. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew White
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly one-sided, and sometimes petty. I'm not sure Wilson was the...
I just finished "Is Christianity Good for the World," which is a written debate between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Idaho and a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Billitteri
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a great book
The xian guy comes off as evasive and unable to speak to Hitchens' more expansive view of the world. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ukumbwa Sauti
4.0 out of 5 stars I love Hitch
Anything he writes is excellent. As always he knows his stuff & was able to hold his own in this debate.
Published 14 months ago by Annilee Perkins
2.0 out of 5 stars Silly debate.
Hitchens was brilliant as usual, the other guy was a waste of ink and paper. The title question belies the usefulness of the so-called debate within.
Published 15 months ago by Richard C. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Superb back-and-forth between two great minds. Be ready to use Bing or a dictionary to work your way through it.
Published 18 months ago by Robert
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