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Number of Pages: 67
Vendor: Canon Press
Publication Date: 2008
|Dimensions: 8.00 X 5.00 X 0.25 (inches)|
Availability: In Stock
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If God exists, is he a god of love or a supreme and absolute and unalterable ruler, whose reign was eternal and unchallengeable, who required incessant propitiation, and who keeps us all under continual surveillance, waking and sleeping, which did not even cease (and which indeed even intensified) after our deaths? (p. 8)
If there is no God, how does morality arise?
Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson debate these and other questions in Is Christianity Good for the World? This debate first appeared in Christianity Today. Christopher Hitchens is a respected columnist, author, journalist, and visiting professor who holds an anti-theist position. In other words, he is someone who is delighted that there is absolutely no persuasive evidence for the existence of any of mankinds many thousands of past and present deities. (p. 8)
Pastor, author, and educator Douglas Wilson sees the issue of atheism as a lack of gratitude to God and an unwillingness to glorify Him, based on Romans 1:21. He points out that, if we are just evolved proteins, morality has no basis, and ethics has no foundation and no authority.
Hitchens bases his arguments on the fact that peoples before Christ had morals and that (e)very Christian church has had to make some apology for its role in the Crusades, slavery, anti-Semitism, and much else. (p. 17) He believes that ethics derive from innate human solidarity and not from the supernatural. (p. 29) However, what his objection to God seems to boil down to is declining to believe that another human being can tell me what to do, in the most intimate details of my life and mind, and to further dictate these terms as if acting as proxy for a supernatural entity. (p. 18)
In the course of the debate the authors get caught up discussing the Prodigal Son. Wilson does a good job explaining how knowing the ethnic tension behind the story adds to the moral teaching of the story. However, the whole discussion tends to obscure the topic of the debate. Wilson repeatedly tries to draw Hitchens to answer the question of the authority that atheists have to assert that anything is moral or immoral, given their belief in evolution. Hitchens asserts that innate human solidarity provides the only source needed. Considering the increase of slavery in our world, genocide, the imprisonment of women in some Muslim countries for getting raped, rampant child pornography and prostitution, the solidarity doesnt seem too innate in many of us. Wilson points this out.
Hitchens appears a skilled debater. One can enjoy his rhetorical abilities and maneuvering skills, but he deals in sweeping generalities at times, with some of those generalities being inaccurate, such as his assertion that Jesuslike almost every other prophet on recordwas (his sense here is more, claims to be) born of a virgin. (p. 16). Im not sure what other prophets claimed virgin birth. I dont believe either Mohammad or Confucius did and I know of no other biblical prophet who did. Some of these assertions weaken his arguments.
He does make some good points, such as the failure of the Church to stand for what is right at times through history. Unfortunately he hits the nail on the head with some leaders in the church who cite the concept of vicarious redemption, whereby ones own responsibilities can be flung onto a scapegoat and thereby taken away. (p. 16)
Wilson repeatedly tries to pin Hitchens down on whether or not atheism provides any rational basis for rational condemnation when others decide to misbehave this way. (p. 33) Hitchens argues early on that if Christians would claim the good things done in the name of Christianity, such as charities, it must also accept the evil things done in its name. However, he does not apply this same standard to atheists. In fact, the church even gets the blame for the atheist Stalin. With millions of hungry and anxious people so long stultified and so credulous, Stalin the ex-seminarian would have been a fool if he did not call upon such a reservoir of ignorance and servility, and seek to emulate his predecessor, the Czar who was the head of a corrupt and bigoted Orthodox Church. (p. 31) So much for innate human solidarity.
Although the book was not what I expected, it provides interesting reading, especially once you get through the first chapter. Both men maintain a respectful civility toward one another and the reader, which allows the reader to attend to the discussion rather than emotion. For Christians, Hitchens gives us a peek into atheistic thinking, and Wilson gives some good responses. At times the debate maneuvering of Hitchens make you want to cry out, Just give him a straight answer. Debate techniques are not always enlightening on the issue.
Readers should not expect much on the actual question of whether Christianity is good for the world, but studying the thinking of both sides is profitable and enlightening. Debbie Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
J. Luis Dizon5 Stars Out Of 5A very illuminating exchangeSeptember 21, 2015J. Luis DizonQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Our current morals are therefore just a way station on the road. No sense getting really attached to them, right? When I am travelling, I dont get attached to motel rooms. I dont weep when I have to part from them. So, in the future, after every ferocious moral denunciation you choose to offer your reading public, you really need to add something like, But this is just a provisional judgment. Our perspective may evolve to an entirely different one some years hence,or Provisional opinions only. Morality changes over timePOOMCOT for short. Douglas Wilson
This is just one of many clever quips that Christian Apologist Wilson provides in his debate with the famous Atheist writer/speaker Christopher Hitchens in Is Christianity Good for the World?: A Debate. Originally published in the Christianity Today magazine, this written debate has these two electrifying personalities engaging in the issues concerning the moral claims of Christianity, whether they hold up to the scrutiny of proponents of the New Atheism, and whether Atheists can provide a non-supernatural explanation for morality and human dignity.
In this book, Hitchens lays out the most popular Atheist arguments against Christian faith and piety, arguing that Christian ethical principles are as well as being incredible and mythical, immoral (p. 22), that such laudable teachings as the Golden Rule and loving ones neighbour exist prior to and apart from the revelation of the Bible, and that Christianity has resulted in its share of atrocities that neutralize its moral claims. Wilson responds by pointing out that Christianity explains how these ethical teachings could be known by non-Christians by pointing to the biblical teaching that even the Gentiles have the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14), as well as pointing out that from a Naturalistic Evolutionary perspective, not only does Hitchens (and other Atheists) have no grounds for making expressions of moral outrage, but that our moral concepts are subject to evolutionary processes, which means that our morality could evolve to the point that what is considered moral today would be immoral tomorrow, and vice versa.
I highly recommend this to readers, because it shows what the common Atheist arguments against Christianity, as well as to show how these arguments can be defused and shown to be absurd and incoherent from the Atheists own worldview.
Sterling Dare5 Stars Out Of 5July 15, 2009Sterling DareThis is a debate between the atheist, Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson. Pastor Wilson with gentleness, wit and clear logic challenges Mr. Hitchens to validate where his values come from. Mr. Hitchens after much ranting can only say that moral values evolve over time. You must read Mr. Wilson's reply and the acronym POOMCOT. Mr. Hitchens comes of badly in this debate, but he remains not only an atheist, but truely detests Christianity. A great book and you should also read Wilson's "Letter from a Christian Citizen.
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