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Is Christianity Good for the World? Hardcover – September 2, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Canon Press (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591280532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591280538
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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Customer Reviews

The book is easy to read, short and very engaging and (dare I say it) enjoyable.
Jeremy Writebol
There is no substance in the debate, leaving the question of ethics and morality fully cinched.
Robert Jeges
Atheists and Christians, alike, will enjoy this debate between Wilson and Hitchens.
Virgil Hurt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Bennett on 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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Epistem Quest on August 21, 2011
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 By Stanley H. Nemeth on 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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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mark Blackburn on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When America's most influential conservative thinker (and Catholic) William F. Buckley died early this year (2/27/08) my sense of loss centered on this one thought: When Bill Buckley's "Firing Line" disappeared from television (almost a decade ago) we lost perhaps the greatest `give-and-take' (liberal/conservative debates) ever to grace our TV screens.

Buckley's record-setting program ("longest-running TV show with just one host,") treated us to the very best in debates. (How could it not, with a guest list that ranged from Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, to Clare Boothe Luce and Henry Kissinger, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Jimmy Carter, William Kuntsler, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Louis Auchincloss, Tom Wolfe and Allen Ginsburg (and a host of other 'bright lights').

Most of Bill's shows were `political' . . . but my all-time favorite featured a former atheistic journalist (turned Catholic) Malcolm Muggeridge -- a program that, (like this book) is at the heart of the perennial subject most worth debating . . . the "existence of God."

When I mentioned this book this morning at breakfast, my wife said: "Christopher Hitchens IS an intelligent man, isn't he?" And I thought (to myself, but didn't say out loud) that, "I've heard better, historical `apologetics for atheism' than those advanced in this book!"

What I said (out loud) though, was: "Yes, he IS (smart) and - for that reason -- you'll really enjoy the `point/counterpoint' from the "Christian apologist" here, Douglas Wilson. [I'm certain Bill Buckley would have enjoyed 'hosting' this one!]

Anyway, it would take a better mind than mine to recapitulate in fewer words, Mr. Wilson (who writes with a C.S. Lewis 'economy-of-style') in his brilliant reflections on Mr. Hitchens' best arguments.
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