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Is Christianity Good for the World? Paperback – October 27, 2009
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– 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 Hitchenswas the author of numerous books, including the controversial international bestseller God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Douglas Wilson is a senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College. Wilson isthe author of numerous books on education, theology, and culture, including: The Case for Classical Christian Education, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Mother Kirk, and Angels in the Architecture, as well as biographies on both Anne Bradstreet and John Knox.
Christopher Hitchens was born April 13, 1949, in England and graduated from Balliol College at Oxford University. The father of three children, he was the author of more than twenty books and pamphlets, including collections of essays, criticism, and reportage. His book "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award and an international bestseller. His bestselling memoir, "Hitch-22", was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. His 2011 bestselling omnibus of selected essays, "Arguably", was named by "The New York Times" as one of the ten best books of the year. A visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York City, he was also the I.F. Stone professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a columnist, literary critic, and contributing editor at "Vanity Fair", "The Atlantic", "Slate", "The Times "Literary Supplement, "The Nation", "New Statesman", "World Affairs", and "Free Inquiry", among other publications. He died in Houston on December 15, 2011. The following year, Yoko Ono awarded him the Lennon-Ono Grant for Peace.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poor Christopher. He really did have a hatred for Christianity. The debate was sound and interestingPublished 17 days ago by Carol Stuursma
'Our current 'morals' are therefore just a way station on the road. No sense getting really attached to them, right? When I am travelling, I don't get attached to motel rooms. Read morePublished 9 months ago by J. Luis Dizon
Hitchens is right on as usual. Sad that he is no longer around to give us his often iconoclastic and mostly right on advice.Published 11 months ago by Donald A. Collins
If you are a fan of Hitch like I am, then you will like this book. It is a balanced and reasonable look at if god matters. Read morePublished 12 months ago by mike harper
No new ground covered by Hitchens but he's brilliant as always. Wilson actually scored a couple points but the merit of his contribution was mostly in the way he provided some... Read morePublished 17 months ago by D. J. Steele
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 morePublished on May 22, 2014 by SLIMJIM
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 morePublished on April 4, 2014 by HÅKAN
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 morePublished on January 30, 2014 by Tom Williams