I apologize for being away for a while, but between family, school, work, and a paper I was working on for the regional ETS meeting, I’ve been a bit busy, and unfortunately, Truth in the Trenches is the shoe that tends to fall.
For a class in Apologetic ethics, I’m currently reading Christopher Hitchens god [sic] is not Great: How religion poisons everything, although I am increasingly convinced the book should have been titled Hitchens is not Profound: How Atheism has Fallen. Perhaps I am merely in a cranky mood, but from the descriptions I had anticipated a atheist giant, such as has not been seen since Antony Flew became a Deist, but rather than a giant, I find a lilliputian. Instead of a carefully crafted case, I find constant errors in fact, Non-sequitars, strawmen, and moral outrage presented as if it were an argument, despite his inability to ground the basis for that outrage. It is the sheer number of bad arguments he makes that give countering him any difficulty whatsoever, it takes longer to counter 10 bad arguments than one good one, and Americans generally don’t have much of an attention span. Hitchens is a skilled writer, there is no doubt about that, but then, the fact that skilled writers write fiction demonstrates this is no grounds for proof.
But the thing about Hitchens, is he demonstrates the need for Christians in general to understand their faith better, he throws down a gauntlet that most Christians should be able to pick up ably, but unfortunately aren’t because they don’t know their own faith as well as they should. As I’ve noted before, when I began studying NTI, and found the evidence to be stronger than I realized, and I often question why I did not learn important facts in High School, and I was the precocious one. This, of course, would have benefits beyond apologetics, but it saddens me when people do not know how to read the Bible for themselves; particularly since Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our minds.
Hitchens is considered formidable because his obvious polish meets no resistance – even a gray plastic sword can appear in the movies to be sharp when it is waved around and cuts nothing but air, it is only when it is smashed into a wall that it’s weakness becomes obvious. Scripture tells us we have no need to fear, and from Hitchens we can see this in action, if we at least seek to know His Word.
I never knew, for example, that the Talmud, which was composed after the New Testament was completed, was the oldest monotheistic text, nor did I know that the gnostic gospels were as old as the canonical ones, and this makes me wonder why the earlier gnostics, such as Marcion, ignored them so entirely. The only Biblical scholar I have seen quoted is Bart Ehrman, and similarly, Hitches seems enormously impressed with textual criticism, but arguing that Christianity is false because of textual criticism is like arguing that fried eggs disproves the existence of a chicken—just because the egg has gone through a process of time before reaching your table, this does not mean a chicken never laid it.
For example, on the basis of the fact that divisions in the Balkans include religious ones, he argues this is a religious war. It is true that the Serbs and Croats differ in sect (the Serbs are Orthadox, and the Croats Roman Catholic); I can just imagine some Croat fighter shouting, “for the Filioque. . . “ actually I can’t imagine that at all. It does not follow that simply because disputants in a war have different religions that this is the cause, nor can the identification with a religious group be a cause. After all, even in Ireland, religion is not the only difference between the Republic of Ireland or Ulster.
He never comes close to adequately dealing with the fall, which means his discussion of design and the human condition with temptation is basically a false Christianity.