Christopher Hitchens’ debate with Douglas Wilson (Part 15)

Christopher Hitchens Owns the Christian Book Expo 2009

Uploaded by on Apr 9, 2009

Christopher Hitchens shares the panel with William Lane Craig, Douglas Wilson, James Denison and Lee Strobel at the Christian Book Expo 2009.

_______________________________

Douglas Wilson

This relates to the second point, which concerns evolved morality and the

past. When dealing

with people whose moral judgments have differed from yours, do you regard them as “immoral”

or as “less evolved?” The rhetoric of your book, your tone in these exchanges, and your recent

dancing on the grave of the late Jerry Falwell would all seem to indicate the former. In your

choice of words, the people you denounce are to be

blamed. The word fulminations comes to

mind. You write like a witty but acerbic tenth-century archbishop with a bad case of the gout. But

this is truly an odd thing to do if “morality” is a simple derivative of evolution. Are you filled with

fierce indignation that the koala bear hasn’t evolved ears that stick flat to the side of his head like

they are supposed to? Are you wroth over the fact that clams don’t have legs yet? When you

notice that the bears at the zoo continue to suck on their paws, do you stop to remonstrate with

them?

Your notion of morality, and the evolution it rode in on, can only concern itself with what

is. But

morality as Christians understand it, and the kind you

surreptitiously draw upon, is concerned

with

ought. David Hume showed us that we cannot successfully derive ought from is. Have you

discovered the error in his reasoning? It is clear from how you defend your ideas of “morality”

that you have not done so. You are a gifted writer, and you have a flair for polemical voltage. But

strip it all away, and what do you have underneath? You believe yourself to live in a universe

where there is no such thing as any fixed

ought or ought not. But God has gifted you with a

remarkable ability to denounce what

ought not to be. And so, because you reject him, you have

great sermons but no way of ever coming up with a text. When people start to notice the absence

of texts, the absence of warrant, the absence of

reasons, you adjust and compensate with

rhetorical embellishment and empurpled prose. You are like the minister in the story who wrote

in the margin of his notes, “Argument weak. Shout here.”

Your invitation to us to try to “name one moral action . . . that could not have been performed or

spoken by an atheist” shows that you continue to miss the point. We have every reason to believe

that such atheists, performing such deeds, will be as unable as you have been to give an account

of

why one deed should be seen as good and another as evil. You say you have no alternative but

to call sociopaths and psychopaths “evil.” But you surely do have an alternative. Why not just call

them “different”?

A fixed standard, grounded in the character of God, allows us to define evil, but this brings with

it the possibility of forgiveness. You reject forgiveness, but at the end of the day this means that

you don’t believe there is anything that needs forgiveness. This means you have destroyed the

idea of evil, regardless of what you might “call” behaviors that happen to be inconvenient for you.

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