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Is Christianity Good for the World? Paperback – October 27, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

“Put two contrarians together and shake well.”
Christianity Today --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) is the author of God Is Not Great, Hitch-22, and Why Orwell Matters.

Douglas Wilson is senior pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College. He writes widely on theology, culture, education, and family life in such books as Reforming Marriage, Future Men, and Fidelity. Visit DougWils.com

Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York City. He is the author of numerous books, including the controversial international bestseller God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 67 pages
  • Publisher: Canon Press (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591280699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591280699
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 Senior Fellow at New Saint Andrews College.
It covers the semination of morality and whether religion (and Christianity, in particular) was necessary in that formation. The debate format makes it a bit tedious to read, as it is truly in the turn-based format of a live debate, and the authors can be a bit patronizing to one another. My recommendation is pretty passive for this book, as Wilson seems no match for Hitchens' acerbic, though brilliant, argumentative style, employing such proofs for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God as the engineering of the ankle, the taste of beer, Christ's rising from the dead, and forgiveness of sin; the first two of these example are, of course, not proof, but rather observation of biological (in the first case) and intellectual (in the second) evolution, and the following two being dogmatic presupposition to the veracity of his holy book of choice. These examples alone (though there are others) exclude Wilson from the sample of people qualified to debate with Hitchens, and it takes away from the book substantially.

With that being said, it's a very short and inexpensive read, and it seems to be fairly representative of the debates you'll find between the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, or Harris and the well-spoken devoutly religious likes of Wilson. Also, as the debate was originally created and published by Christianity Today, it is available in its entirety from their site. If it's in your nature to collect physically-printed books, it may be worth having around, but you can decide whether you like it enough to buy it in advance on the publisher's site.
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