Last night at our Young Adult/Campus Ministry night, we watched and discussed a wonderful documentary called "Collision". The film followed noted "Anti-theist" Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson around pubs in the American Northeast as they engaged each other in some of the most contested, witty, bright and respectful... but divisive dialogue I've ever watched in a film like this. The topic was, "Is Christianity good for the world?" Both men came across looking good, which as a Christian used to cringing, is a terrific thing. But as Hitchens said, in a discussion like this... one person HAS to be right and one HAS to be wrong.
One thing that struck me as fascinating was Hitchens aggressive crusade to expose religion and Christianity as "a wicked cult that it’s high time we left". He turned his sights on America after 9/11 and said, "Enough is enough. This has to stop. God is not Great (the name of his book) and I must spread this 'truth'". That's the "direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity" that comes with Antitheism. It's evangelistic. And frankly... I don't understand the mindset of those who DON'T share what they believe is truth with others. On the way to a speaking engagement, both Wilson and Hitchens (who personally seem to very much like and respect each other) agreed that the God issue is NOT a trivial issue. It's a supremely important thing to know what you believe because EVERYTHING else revolves around it.
While no "winner" was declared, as a Christian... I found that Wilson made some excellent points. Most of them coming back to the concept that without a source of truth, ethics are simply borrowed from God. At one point, Wilson said to Hitch, "You have no car of your own to drive". Wilson pointed out that in with an evolutionary worldview, "Everything is up for grabs".
Hitchens claims that "The Bible was mankind's first, and worst, attempt at making sense of things" and that "Right and Wrong is innate in all mortals". Along that vein Hitch also argued that things like coveting what your neighbor has is OK... along with one of the main reasons why Christianity isn't good for the world being, because we're relying on someone else to be OK. He used the example that he gives blood because it makes him "feel" good because it's "right" (based on who knows what). He says if you say, "it's for God" it's just cheaper.
Kinda all reeks of selfishness to me.
The most intriguing scene was the final one where Hitch and Wilson were riding in a car talking and Hitch says that he's been asked if he had successfully converted (or DEconverted) every man in the world but one, would he finish it and get that one too? He answered no. It was an answer that Richard Dawkins didn't understand when Hitchens told him. He said that it wasn't just because he wouldn't have anyone to argue with anymore either. Dawkins pressed him and asked why. Hitchens said, "I don't know why. But I wouldn't". He says that Dawkin's look of confusion still sticks with him.
Fascinating, honest answer. I'm going to pose a possibility of why that I'm sure he would refute with veracity if I made it to him. But maybe it's the same sentiment that lifelong atheist and comedy legend W. C. Fields gave when he was caught reading a Bible on his deathbed:
"I'm looking for a loophole"
I do believe what Blaise Pascal said that:
"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”
Maybe the idea that it might be a good idea to leave one Christian around... is a deep down "just in case I'm wrong and really do need a savior one day" safety net. Maybe it's the same thing that made me occasionally run home in a drunken, panicked stupor in high school to make sure my Mom was still there and I hadn't missed the rapture. I knew if anyone was going... it was her. It didn't make me change, but it did put my mind at ease for the night, knowing there was still time.
There is a clip on YouTube of Hitchens on a radio show (linked here). I don't vouch for the show or the host or even the line of questioning... but there is an interesting exchange at the end of the clip that answers one of Wilson's repeated queries to Hitch, about WHY exactly he feels the need to denounce Christianity?
Host: Sir is it possible that the reason you rage so much against God is that you just want to live your own autonomous way, living however you want to, and any lifestyle you prefer without having to be accountable to your creator?
Hitchens: I think that's highly probable yes.
I'll say this. I think Christopher Hitchens argument is full of holes and the conclusion he's arrived at, is the wrong one. It's a road to nowhere. But few men can so excellently communicate a position as well as him. I think I'd very much enjoy his company and he's a very intelligent man.
AND I respect him because he speaks what he believes. SOMETHING is true. As CS Lewis put it... Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. It's one of the 3. Everyone is NOT right. And whatever RIGHT is, the rest of the world is based on this. It's cruel, disrespectful and foolish not talk about this and discover real foundational truth.
Hitchens believes that things are not "resolved". Wilson questioned him, "Why don't you write like things are unresolved?" Because everyone is grasping for truth.
Thankfully... it exists.
And it sets men free.