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Atheist Tuesday: Christopher Hitchens Vs. Theologian

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This film, COLLISION, is a delight.

World class atheist Christopher Hitchens debates Douglas Wilson, a very erudite, witty and godly pastor/theologian in various settings from college campuses to pubs. Nearly every question that atheists raise here at this blog are answered in this 90 minute documentary. The film is fair and balanced, but it’s obvious to me who has a lock on the truth. What say you? (Read Douglas Wilson’s blog here.)


14 Comments

  1. You mean not every Christian runs away in terror like they do on you blog? Amazing.

    I actually have this DVD sitting on my couch on loan from a workmate to watch. I’ve been in no rush to watch it because nothing I have not seen about Douglas Wilson interested me.

    • Actually, we love Wilson’s book “Reforming Marriage” at our church and itis required reading for pre-marrieds.

      Of course, there is nothing that he says to atheists that will convince them; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.

      Give it a watch. These guys are friends, believe it or not.

  2. They appear to be decent friends – that comes across clearly. They certainly both have a great respect for one another. That’s a very difficult thing to grasp in this context. The debate is particularly fascinating for me in the sense that at times in my life (pre-Christian and Christian) I’ve actually believed (wholeheartedly) both positions. Having spent most of my life (until age 35) as a pre-Christian (non-believer would be more correct), I look back almost fondly on Mr. Hitchens arguments, and I recognize most of them as arguments I once held true.

    If, however, you listen to Mr. Wilson carefully, sorry, Pastor Wilson, you will hear him refute every single one of the atheistic positions on morality, reason, origins, and on rationality (basis for belief). The end hits probably the highest note for me personally, I won’t spoil it, I’ll just say that at some point every atheist must be thinking to themselves that their reason comes to an end, and they wind up saying “What if?” Suffice it to say, that is where I found God. I’ve heard it said many times that “You must come to the end of yourself before you find God.”

    The only problem I have with that argument now is that I realize God was always there to begin with, I just was not willing to see Him. I think it’s why people who are very oppressed and distressed, and have very little to nothing in their lives find it so much easier to turn to God. In Africa, where often there is little hope, and in many places only the gun of a Muslim or death from starvation to look forward to; in South America where there is so much Dogma from so many years of oppression from the Catholic church, in China where so many years of Communism have stolen any sense of meaning or purpose from over a billion people. These are places where Jesus finds a willing heart easily. Those people quickly discover the power of the Gospel.

    We in the west, with our technology, our “idols” of modern ingenuity, most of us feel we have no need of God, we are evolving and rising “above” the slimy pit all on our own. Yet, history teaches us that more technology leads only to more conquering, more killing on more massive scales than ever before. The advent of technology and the 20th century combined to bring about more murder, more genocide, more outright evil than ever before. Can an atheist really truly look me in the face and state that man is inherently good? Can you really? Can you in any way shape or form prove to me that governments will seek the good of all society? Does anybody believe that anymore? Or can you really see that government becomes corrupt and that people in government only eventually become self-serving? But that’s a tangential issue.

    I enjoyed the debate very much. I think the position held by Pastor Wilson is termed “Preterist?” One who views the prophecy of the Bible (especially Daniel and Revelation) to already have been fulfilled in the 1st Century. I do need to state that is not a very common view among modern Christians (as far as I know) and one that I do not hold. My view is that we are clearly seeing those prophecies fulfilled today – here and now – in the modern state of Israel, and the very real threat of a total global war of annihilation by fire.

    Come soon Lord Jesus!

    • I think Hitchens did a pretty good job offering up refutations to just about everything the Pastor said. Debating Hitchens is a difficult task though so I don’t envy the task. One point he brings up is how Christian faith, or faith in general, has had to evolve to keep up with the progress mankind has made in learning more about the universe. That the religions that exist now were merely the first attempt at explaining our existence or existence in general and they’ve proven time and time again to not hold water when compared to scientific explanation. I also found it interesting that the argument for why the Pastor is Christian is because his parents were, which I think is the key reason why religion is passed down from one generation to the next via tradition. You hear horror stories about people who are excluded from their families, friends, or social circles because they chose to believe in something else or a different faith, or perhaps no faith at all.

    • “I do need to state that is not a very common view among modern Christians (as far as I know) and one that I do not hold. My view is that we are clearly seeing those prophecies fulfilled today – here and now – in the modern state of Israel, and the very real threat of a total global war of annihilation by fire.”

      And that’s just part of the problem that Hitchens brings up, you’re asking people to sincerely believe that metaphorical literature that is trumped up to be prophecy is true. I’ve listened to end times pastors, and each and every one of them has a different opinion on “the end of days” some are similar some are radically different. If you study the early Christian church and the context of the times these stories were written you’ll see that they are referring to the old Roman Empire and contemporary political figures as Wilson suggests.

      Hitchens does bring up an interesting point that, its quite easy to look back on prophetic writing, see what needs to be done, and then change the story or try to do what needs to be done in order to make it fit. I’ve heard of Christians today who are trying to do the very same thing, ie. petitioning the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt over the Dome of the Rock, as if forcing prophetic claims to come true somehow makes them true to begin with.

      As far as that annihilation by fire, we could have had that in the 60’s, we were very close to a full scale nuclear war over Cuba with the USSR, those dirty atheists, and people thought that, this was it, WW3, the End of Days, but they were proven wrong. Because cooler heads prevailed, and people realized that if you destroy the world by fire, everyone gets burned, and that’s something that no one wants.

    • Hi Scott,

      You wrote: “If, however, you listen to Mr. Wilson carefully, sorry, Pastor Wilson, you will hear him refute every single one of the atheistic positions on morality, reason, origins, and on rationality (basis for belief).

      Can you give a couple of examples? I certainly didn’t hear any good refutations from Pastor Wilson.

      In fact, my opinion on the video (I’d seen it before) isn’t “wow, Hitchens has great arguments” but “my goodness does Mr. Wilson use some awful arguments”, so that’s where I stand.

    • I’ve heard it said many times that “You must come to the end of yourself before you find God.”

      I’m sorry that there is so little of you that you can find the end.

  3. EDIT: All the latest atheist comments have been removed because they are off point.

  4. I enjoyed viewing this video albeit a long one. I see that Pastor Wilson uses a presupposition apologetic in many of his arguments.

    Repent and believe the gospel.

    • Hi Richard,

      You wrote: “I see that Pastor Wilson uses a presupposition apologetic in many of his arguments.

      I agree; that’s one of the main problems I have with it.

      Presupposition apologetics are useless when used on people who don’t share those presuppositions.

      • And yet, we have the atheistic version of presuppositional apologetics: Not only are we right by default, but we make the rules. Yep, sounds logical. Great basis for discussions.

      • You’re right Soldier, why can’t we assume Zeus is real and just go from that? Its time the Greeks make the rules by default for a change!

      • A Soldier for Jesus wrote:

        And yet, we have the atheistic version of presuppositional apologetics:

        I know of no such thing.

        Not only are we right by default,

        Please show me someone who says this, as I certainly don’t.

        but we make the rules.

        Please show me someone who says this, as I certainly don’t.

        Yep, sounds logical. Great basis for discussions.

        Nice straw-man. You know, making up easily-defeated statements and then showing them to be silly is not impressive.

        Why not deal with what people actually say, instead of making up imaginary enemies to fight against?

  5. Now tell me where I’m wrong! Isn’t it true that most thinking folks would agree that there are something’s we all take for granted or presuppose to be true. One such supposition is the reliability of our memories. Another is the reliability of our senses. And the laws of logic and mathematics. These things are presuppositions. As are the laws of science and the uniformity of nature. I don’t understand how anyone would argue against such groundings. “Creationists and evolutionists must assume these preconditions of intelligibility in order to know anything”. So which of these two debaters had a view that best supports these presuppositions? I say it was Doug Wilson’s Christian view.

    For the thinking Christian, “…ours is the faith that seeks understanding”.

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