Christianity Today writer Stan Guthrie moderated a panel discussion at last weekend’s Christian Book Expo in Dallas on the topic “Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?” The participants included Christopher Hitchens and four Christian apologists: William Lane Craig, Douglas Wilson, Lee Strobel, and Jim Denison.
Guthrie posed his first question to Christopher Hitchens.
“Christopher, in my rush to catch my ride to the airport so that I could get to this conference, I fell down at my office. I quickly got up, hoping that no one saw me. Because of my disability, such incidents are part of my life, something I have learned to deal with. I have not fallen since, but there is no guarantee that I will not fall again, even right off this platform.
“Now I love these kinds of discussions about the existence of God, and I’ve read your book with Doug Wilson, Is Christianity Good for the World?
“Besides all the arguments for God’s existence, one reason I like Christianity is because it provides dignity and hope for people like me: dignity, because it teaches that we are all created in God’s image and because Jesus took all our suffering on himself; and hope, because he was resurrected and promises that one day we will be resurrected, too, with new bodies in a new heaven and a new earth.
“But your philosophy of anti-theism seems designed only for the young, intelligent, and well-connected. So my question to you is: What basis does your philosophy provide for promoting human dignity and hope for people like me, and frankly, people who are much worse off?”
The rest of the exchange is fascinating – and telling – so I’ll quote the rest of it here.
Hitchens’ answer, such as it was, was interesting. After thanking me for the question, he attacked my premise, railing against Christianity as a religion of the powerful. While that has certainly been true at times in history, the fact remains that Jesus was loved by the poor, the weak, the blind, the outcast, the disabled, and the despised—and still is. After Christopher subsided, I pointed out that he had not answered my question about how his philosophy provides for dignity and hope to the forgotten of the world.
I can’t recall his exact response, but I have the distinct impression he began mumbling, saying something about how he couldn’t lie about people who were “unlucky” in life. (Eventually a video of all the panel discussions will be released, so you can double-check my admittedly imperfect recall of the discussion.)
So there you have it. Hitchens’ anti-God philosophy offers no hope or dignity to the disabled and others who are “unlucky” in life. What difference does Christianity make? All the difference in the world. I suspect that this is why atheist pundits will continue to have limited influence in matters of religion, no matter how many debates they attend and how many best-sellers they write.