May 09, 2007

hitchens vs. wilson @ christianitytoday.com

Christopher Hitchens is the author of the recent publication, "God is not Great", an atheist author trashing all organized religion, especially Christianity. In my mind, there is no need to give credence to this sort of writing, as it is uniformed and just goes to show the validity of Romans 1:18-ff. But then again, dialog of opposing viewpoints can serve some good, if to at least foster the faith of the believers. Christianity Today's website is now publishing a series of letters written between Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, an author and pastor from Moscow, Idaho. This is fascinating, and I recommend that you read the whole thing (so far only one letter and its response has been published). Go here to read.

For the chronologically- or attention-impaired, here's a quote from each:

Hitchens
I cannot, of course, prove that there is no supervising deity who invigilates my every moment and who will pursue me even after I am dead. (I can only be happy that there is no evidence for such a ghastly idea, which would resemble a celestial North Korea in which liberty was not just impossible but inconceivable.) But nor has any theologian ever demonstrated the contrary. This would perhaps make the believer and the doubter equal—except that the believer claims to know, not just that God exists, but that his most detailed wishes are not merely knowable but actually known. Since religion drew its first breath when the species lived in utter ignorance and considerable fear, I hope I may be forgiven for 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. This tyrannical idea is very much older than Christianity, of course, but I do sometimes think that Christians have less excuse for believing, let alone wishing, that such a horrible thing could be true. Perhaps your response will make me reconsider?
Wilson
In your concluding paragraph you make a great deal out of your individualism and your right to be left alone with the "most intimate details of [your] life and mind." Given your atheism, what account are you able to give that would require us to respect the individual? How does this individualism of yours flow from the premises of atheism? Why should anyone in the outside world respect the details of your thought life any more than they respect the internal churnings of any other given chemical reaction? That's all our thoughts are, isn't that right? Or, if there is a distinction, could you show how the premises of your atheism might produce such a distinction?

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