Dinesh D’Souza debated Christopher Hitchens on the topic “Is Christianity the problem?” This debate took place at The King’s College in 2007.
Dinesh D’Souza opening statement
1. The values that the atheists cherish (individual dissent, personal dignity, equality, equal dignity of men and women, antipathy to oppression, compassion) are values that came into the world because of Christianity. Outside of Western Christian civilizations these values are not present.
2. Western civilization is built on two pillars, Athens and Jerusalem.
3. In ancient Greece killing unwanted children was common and no philosopher cared. Christianity made this controversial.
4. Atheists like to unwarrantedly blame slavery on Christianity. However, slavery was a worldwide institution, which was abolished by Christians because they believed everyone is equal in the eyes of God. This equality principle is also the foundation of democracy.
5. The leading scientists of the West in the last 500 years were deep Christians. The supposed conflict that the atheists propose between God and science did not stop the world’s greatest scientists who were Christians.
6. Science is based on three metaphysical Christian assumptions. 1. The universe is rational. 2. The universe obeys laws which are comprehensible by math. 3. Humans can apprehend and understand the universe (we are made in God’s image who made the laws).
7. The casualties of Christianity- the Salem Witch Trials (18 dead), the Spanish Inquisition (killed 2,000 people over 300 years) are nothing compared to atheist regimes of Stalin, Mao, and the Nazis, which killed over 100 million people in 50 years.
Christopher Hitchen’s opening statement
1. Christianity is a loose plagiarism of Judaism, and is a problem because of faith. It is man-made and makes promises of salvation. Faith is not a virtue and dispenses evidence.
2. Morality and ethics comes from human solidarity and predates all forms of monotheism. Exodus is a fiction, and no society that believed that theft and perjury was ok would have progressed.
3. Christianity attacks us in our deepest integrity because it says we wouldn’t know morality apart from a celestial dictatorship.
4. It has no evidence, and would be horrible if it were true, any moral person would reject it, it is made-up.
5. Christianity offers vicarious redemption which is terrible because you are condemned it you don’t accept it, it forces you to love, compulsory fear.
6. Miracles are a lie, nature’s laws are never suspended, we don’t know why they are logical but we are figuring it out.
7. The afterlife doesn’t appear in the O.T. (not true, see Psalm 49, Job 19, Isaiah 26). Jesus’s message of hell was terrible.
8. Challenge: Name me an ethical action or statement that an unbeliever couldn’t say or do.
9. In order to believe Christianity, you have to believe that God didn’t intervene until 2,000 years ago in Nazareth, and it hasn’t penetrated the whole world yet. Note: Jesus came at a perfect time. There was a common language in the world (Greek), pax romana, and 98% of the people who ever lived came after Him.
1. Hitchens offered no evidence for anything he said, but presumed that God doesn’t exist and Christianity isn’t true.
2. There is no scientific law that says laws are unbreakable. Example: The speed of light travels 186,000 mps on Earth. But, how do we know that it stays the same on a distant star? We don’t know, we guess. Science is based on assumptions, so if laws admit to exceptions, miracles are possible.
3. Hitchens really isn’t an atheist, but an anti-theist. He hates God and Jesus Christ.
4. Hitchens doesn’t want God. He hates Him. We are free to reject Christ or accept Him. Hell is for those who have rejected God.
1. No one has proved or disproved God. Hitchens demands more proof that Christianity is true.
2. Hitchens is a militant atheist because Islam and Christianity are contemptible.
3. If you say God is on your side, you can do anything. Just like the Muslims in Iran who commit terrible acts, or the Spanish Inquisition.
Interesting points from the cross-examination
D’Souza: Name a law of nature that has no exceptions.
Hitchens: I can’t.
D’Souza: What is your explanation of how we live in a fine-tuned universe. Hitchens: I’m not a physicist. But Victor Stenger has a book that refutes the idea. D’Souza: Stenger says the laws of physics come from nothing. Hitchens: Our planet is going to be destroyed someday, so its not much of a design. Note: This is one of the few supposed “refutations” of the fine-tuning argument. However, it is a straw-man and irrelevant. The fine-tuning argument is talking about how the conditions of our universe must be precisely set so that we could exist or a habitable universe could exist. All arguments that do not address this are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how big or lifeless the universe is, the point is that the conditions for life have been narrowly set and suggests a Fine-Tuner. See the article The Ultimate Guide to Fine-Tuning for more info.
Hitchens: Names fascists who were supposedly religious. Mentions Hitler being a Catholic. D’Souza: Reminds everyone that Communism is based on atheism and Hitchens never talked about the mass murderers like Stalin, Mao, and Pot. Dinesh explains how Hitler was actually an atheist who hated Christians and killed many of them.
At the 55 minute mark D’Souza makes an excellent point about how the New Atheists blame all crimes on religion and Christianity while not taking any blame for the crimes of atheism.
Overall this is a very interesting debate in which Dinesh exposes how Christopher simply doesn’t like Christianity and God, but can’t provide any factual reasons why it is the problem. Hitchens had trouble demonstrating that Christianity is the cause of the world’s problems. Instead, He mainly attacked Islam and the Catholic church. Dinesh made excellent points in his opening speech how the values that even the atheists cherish are derived from Christianity. Also, he pointed out how the anti-Christian communist regimes of the 20th century produced mass bloodshed in a small span of time. Indeed, Christianity is not the problem, but the answer to the problem through Jesus Christ.