RIP Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens
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Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, ending his battle with esophageal cancer. I would not say that he was my favorite writer and I didn’t often agree with his positions, yet what he wrote was always worth reading and he had the ability to make you think. The one good thing that I can say about him was that he was always his own man. He did not follow any orthodoxy but his own conscience. He was a life long Marxist who abandoned Marxism when he realized that capitalist America is really the most revolutionary country in the world. He spoke out against the threat that militant Islam poses to freedom when it was not politically correct to do so and defended Salman Rushdie when many feared to. He supported the US invasion of Iraq, alienating nearly all his friends on the Left, because he realized that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous tyrant who needed to be stopped. And yet, he criticized President Bush for some of his policies. As Hitchens himself said,

My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.

In his later years, after the publication of god Is Not Great, he was best known as a advocate of the New Atheism. I would have to say that I didn’t much care for god Is Not Great. It was not because the book is an argument for Atheism, but because it was a poor argument for Atheism, more of a prolonged, angry rant than a reasoned apology. One Christian who he debated summarized Hitchens’s argument as “God does not exist, and I hate Him”.

Cover of "God Is Not Great: How Religion ...

Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, Hitchens was always interesting and he will be missed.

On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision

In these skeptical times, in which books by the so-called New Atheists make the bestseller lists, it is more important than ever for Christians to be able to explain their faith clearly and reasonably. This is necessary to not only defend the faith from attacks from the New Atheists but also to, as Peter wrote,

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

A Christian who goes out into the world without knowledge of apologetics is like a soldier going into battle unarmed.

Fortunately, William Lane Craig provides the tools you need with his book On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.

On Guard is no less than a training manual for the defender of the faith. Craig teaches the reader good reasons to believe in Christianity and how to argue these reasons convincingly.

After the first two chapters, in which he introduces the subject of and necessity for apologetics, Craig uses the next section to explore reasons to believe in the existence of God. He does not specify the Christian God in this section, nor does he rely on revelation. Instead, Craig uses the Cosmological and Moral arguments, asking why anything at all exists, why is the universe so fine-tuned, where do our ideas on morality originate. I think that this section could be used by the believers of any of the monotheistic religions, Jews, Muslims, even Deists, with very little modification.

Chapter seven deals with the questions of suffering and evil in the face of a good, omnipotent Deity. The final three chapters deal specifically with the Christian faith, giving evidence for the historical existence of Jesus and His resurrection. I think that this final section is slightly weaker since it seems to me that Craig did not spend enough time establishing the historical reliability of the Gospels but seemed to grant their accuracy for granted.  I also think that the book could have used a chapter defining what faith is and is not. Faith is not believing in things that you have no evidence.

Despite the two minor reservations I have mentioned, On Guard is a valuable resource for any Christian interested in apologetics, or who simply wants to explore why he believes what he believes.