I really like listening to debates, especially debates that involve Christopher Hitchens and I especially enjoy the debates that he and Dinesh D'Souza have had in the past; there's nothing better than two gladiators of rhetoric duking it out. I'm writing this piece mainly because of a post over at Wintery Knight's blog. Reading that reminded me of Hitchens and I wanted to write a blog post about him.
Hitchens is an interesting guy, a very interesting guy. When he's in a debate, you want to let him talk, not only because he has the cool British accent, but because he really brings out the emotional roadblocks to religion, Christianity in particular. He is a wordsmith, he's intelligent, and he's fun to listen to, even when he's dogging your belief system; he's just a likable guy. What does he rely on in debates? Rhetoric. Strong rhetoric. So strong, in fact, that if you don't know the rebuttals to his assertions, and you're a Christian, you probably would question what you believe.
The emotion of the person is what Hitchens aims for and he's very good at it. Usually, he'll mention the crusades, how he sees God as just standing by with folded arms until his intervention 2000 years ago, God just watches a person get raped and does nothing about it, you know those sorts of things. So, he knows what buttons to hit to trigger your emotions and he will get you to think about these things.
Christopher Hitchens is a very descriptive speaker. He's notorious for comparing God to a dictator, which gives you this image of a very demanding, evil, God that will strike you down for just about anything. This is the kind of assault that Hitchens takes on God, but really it's an assault on Christianity, which brings me to my point that Hitchens attacks religion, not the existence of God. If you break down his case, like Wintery did, then you'll see that he doesn't have strong arguments against the existence of God, rather he argues that religion is evil and a poison to humanity.
An argument that Hithcens gives about God not intervening for mankind until 2000 years ago seems like a good one, but William Lane Craig broke it once (at a panel discussion or in his debate, I can't remember the setting). Craig said stated that if mankind lasts 100,000 years longer, then it wouldn't have been that God waited all that long at all to intervene would it? Chris more or less said, "No I guess not." So, that shows that the arguments Hitchens gives are just emotional. His arguments are not full-proof, they rely solely on rhetoric and performance, which looks good in debate, but when analyzed closely will crumble.
As I said earlier though, I like Christopher Hitchens, he's a great guy and he's fun to listen to. He does well to show the cruelties of religion, but in my opinion, the horrors of man's past just shows that we need a Savior even more. Those events show the sinfulness of man and really don't prove that God doesn't exist, however, those events do show that religion doesn't work, only a solid relationship with God works.
So what is the appeal of Christopher Hitchens? His speaking ability. He's funny, very descriptive, you know a wordsmith. People love wordsmiths, e.g. Gilmore Girls, Seinfeld; those are great shows for the painting of words, so to speak, that the characters perform. I encourage you to listen to Chris' arguments so you can the emotional barriers that people have to Christianity. It's really important to know why people don't put their faith in God so we can answer the questions they have. If we don't, then people will continue to have a barrier to God.
Christopher Hitchens debates here.