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Is Christianity Good for the World? Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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"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.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
If you've seen Collision, or watched either of these two men on YouTube, there isn't much new here. However, it's nice to have the base arguments put together into a single place.
For those who have NOT seen Collision, I recommend reading this first, as the book tour debates start with the ideas presented here. They developed their arguments further as the tour went on, and Collision shows this.