Laura Ingraham hosted Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson on her show. The debate was an hour long, but without the commercials it only lasted half an hour. As is typical of this type of debate on national radio, there is little room for substance and plenty of room for soundbites. Hitchens and Wilson are masterful at the soundbite level. Hitchen’s advantage was to be in studio, which gave him primacy in speaking. He probably did about 70% of the talking. He uttered his typical vitriol against religion. “Vicarious atonement,” says the British pugilist is “a wicked thing.” Throwing our sins at a man being punished at the cross is a wicked concept. How about our sin Hitchens; ain’t that wicked?
Hitchens does make an interesting observation when he states that our minds are trained to think that there is a beginning. Where does that training come from? He does not answer. Is it instilled in mankind, as Paul makes clear? Wilson responds by saying that every position has an infinite regress of something, but the Christian’s assumption is that the eternal and infinite Triune God of Scriptures is the beginner and creator of all things.
Pastor Wilson– in traditional VanTilian style– declares that Christianity is good for the world because it is true. The argument that it brings good benefits is irrelevant to answer this question. Christianity is not pragmatic or utilitarian.
Ingraham spent the latter part of the debate on what differentiates us from animals. There was actually agreement on this part. Both agreed that there was a difference. This places Hitchens at least in a different category than a Peter Singer, who in my estimation is a much more consistent atheist.
Side Note: This was perhaps the first time I heard the name Jonathan Edwards come up in a national radio show. A caller observed that there was little emphasis on the work of the Spirit in these types of discussion.
Hitchens is fond of the description “wicked” for the Christian faith. Wilson then asks the obvious question: “Who will judge me for having all these wicked ideas?” Hitchens answers–to Ingraham’s amusement–that he will judge Wilson! A couple of laughs and the end of the beginning of a short movie tour. Next NPR, and then Fox and Friends.