Item description for Is Christianity Good for the World? by Christopher Hitchens & Douglas Wilson...
Overview The gloves come off in this electric exchange, originally hosted by Christianity Today, as leading atheist Christopher Hitchens (author of God Is Not Great) and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson (author of Letter from a Christian Citizen) go head-to-head on this divisive question. The result is entertaining and provocative-a glimpse into the ongoing debate.
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Rambling but Well Worth Reading May 3, 2010
If some fair and neutral moderator could have been found, this debate would have been improved. As it is, the debaters often seem to talk past each other and add gratuitous remarks that detract. I write this review as someone who is a questioning and somewhat doubting Christian, both before and after I read this book. I found Wilson hurting his presentation by being spiritually condescending towards Hitchens. Moreover, Wilson does not answer Hitchens when he asks why a good God would have let thousands of years of human "lostness" and suffering go on before intervening with Christ. For his part, however, Hitchens makes a presentation that is quite diffuse and he does not squarely address one of Wilson's main questions: If you're an atheist, you might be able to see some moral ideal, but WHY should you do it, particularly if there is a net cost to you and no one will see you acting against that ideal? I find this to be one of the strongest challenges posed to atheists, although others have stated it better than Wilson. Overall, though, it's well worth reading this brief exchange.
Missing the point Apr 3, 2010
A poor debate, using impressive words in a soup of weak arguments. Both discourses riddled with fallacies, too many to count or repeat here.
The debate format with Hitchens postulating and Wilson defending resulted in a pedantic chase of small, irrelevant points with logic mistakes forcing concessions of little consequence.
There is no substance in the debate, leaving the question of ethics and morality fully cinched. You either accept dogma, or believe that changing mores determine what is good and evil. The fundamental characteristic of a formal systems that cannot be simultaneously complete and consistent eluded both debaters.
I was looking for Hitchens' main book on the subject, but because it is not available on Kindle, I took this substitute which did not meet my expectation.
In the words of Wodehouse, an author loved by both contenders, "I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, they were far from being gruntled."
Excellent Debate Apr 1, 2010
I was a fan of Christopher Hitchens and always enjoyed his debate skill. As a Christian, I do not agree with him, but his quick-wit and nimble mind are to be admired. I had never read anything from Douglas Wilson, but he proved to be a worthy adversary. He matches Hitches in wit and rhetoric and makes for a entertaining and engaging debate. It is a quick read and worth it. Big thumbs up!
Small town Pastor takes on the leading Atheist mind - and wins? Feb 15, 2010
Ok, I will admit from the start that I am a fan of Doug Wilson. His wit, humor and intelligence have entertained and enlightened me for quite a while. And since I am a committed Christian it would be disingenuous of me to say that I can approach this little book as an unbiased reader. As a matter of fact, my Reformed presuppositionalism won't allow me to do that as the heart of that view says we all approach ideas with our presuppositions firmly in tow.
Christopher Hitchens has his presuppositions as well and, like all good atheists, he holds to them without even attempting to provide the slightest justification for their existence. Wilson is a Reformed presuppositionalist and approaches the debate from that standpoint but it is his humor that sets him apart from the great debaters that proceeded him (like Greg Bahnsen). He can make you laugh and then set you up like no other. I just loved the line about the guy in one end of the pool who didn't want to venture to the other side of the pool for fear he might get wet. Wilson butters you up with lines like that and then goes for the jugular with the two foundational beliefs of atheists - 1. God does not exist and 2. They hate Him.
Hitchens is obviously intelligent but that does not serve him well here. Saying something is stupid does not make it so and the idea that our sense of morals and ethics "evolved" with us is a swiss cheese kind of idea. Alot of mayo and some good ham might make it taste ok but it is really full of holes. Forgetting the logical flaws so imbedded in that argument (what is ethical, moral and right today could be an abomination tomorrow and visa versa), I have to ask whether that justification is really satisfying to anyone who rejects the idea of God? You mean to say that our ethics are based on natural selection and there is no meaning or purpose behind them? If that was the case, why would we do anything that runs counter to the Darwinian idea? Please think about it - if God does not exist, we are all just matter in motion and are a result of natural selection only. Love, honor, justice are no different than nose hair.
Well, obviously, reading this book did nothing to change my mind. But Doug Wilson is always a good read and, if you have never been exposed to the Reformed apologetic, come and hear it done so very well.
Hitchen spreads the debate... Jan 6, 2010
Maybe, I misunderstood Wilson. But it seems that Wilson said that morality doesn't exist anywhere except with Christianity. That Confuicious, Buddism, philosophers, etc. have no morality. Man is an animal without Christianity.
I was born in the USA going to Christian camp. I never thought outside of the box until now. By God's ultimatum. By fear and blackmail. That by only converting and accepting him can one avoid hell. Doesn't matter if you live a good life and/or out of reach of Christianity's message. All the people who are out of reach of Christianity's message are condemned and immoral(a bit cruel). And discounts everyone else's effort to respect a higher power regardless if the religions coincide. If one is born in the right country, one is gifted and elite. And obligated to convert others which reminds me of Howard Zinn's point of Christianity and foreign policy in third world countries.
God forgives those who convert. Everyone is a sinner. But one can have immunity. So the end justify the means. Which may tend to promiscuity and cruelty even among fellow Christians. We get a free pass to do what we want. It lowers our expectation level. God is unforgiving by condemning people who are too far away, but then he forgives just about any other sin which seems contradictory. If we are forgiven, what is judgement day about? Wasn't Hitler a Christian all his life including most Germans at the time. I think I remember where I got that, from John Stockwell.
Being the most educated religious culture, we would be the first to examine if our view of God is correct or not? Is it good or not? Religious wars are going on now in the name of God. I don't know why George Bush used the word "crusade" considering it's historical meaning. Are the soldiers of Blackwater predominantly Christian? Some Christians do recognize that the Bible profiles certain curent races. Many will argue that without religion, the world would be better off. I wonder. Al Sharpton said that his life experiences has reinforced his belief in God. My life experiences makes me believe that many unbelievers continue being Christians out of tradition and incentives. I've witnessed fellow Christians misrepresent God to manipulate, con and seperate people. But this is all okay, since God has already forgiven those who have converted to Christianity. When presented with the inconsistencies of the bible, Al Sharpton seemed to confess that he is agnostic.
I used to read Proverbs. It said to honor your father and mother. What about the son who abandoned his father and came back to reap the rewards. What if one's father is performing incest? Is the child supposed to keep it a secret? To some the bible would be a sick joke. The KKK is using bible verses as their basis to segregate. I've witnessed a devout use the bible to seperate two strangers.
I personally still don't know if religion is ultimately good or bad. For myself, I believe that my personal altruistic philosophy and fear of the law makes me a good citizen.
Hitchen reminds me of the scientific method and objectivity. Wilson reminds me of devoutness and faithfulness.