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Of all the spokesmen for godlessness to emerge during 2007, the "year of the atheist," Christopher Hitchens is perhaps the most prominent. He is a prolific journalist and television pundit, selected by voters in Prospect magazine's 2008 poll as the #5 most important public intellectual. His 2007 treatise, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, continues to sell briskly, and he has built a sideline career debating any willing opponent from any church or creed, from Al Sharpton to Dinesh D'Souza. There is one man, however, who has sparred with Hitchens more than anyone: a relatively unknown Idaho pastor named Douglas Wilson.

In 2007, Wilson, 55, fired his first salvo against the celebrity atheists with Letter from a Christian Citizen, a short reply to Sam Harris's best-selling Letter to a Christian Nation. The tone was irenic, its arguments largely familiar to readers of C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer. That spring, at the invitation of Christianity Today, Wilson wrangled with Hitchens in a six-part debate entitled "Is Christianity Good for the World?" on CT's website. American Vision published Wilson's side of the argument as God Is. How Christianity Explains Everything, as well as The Deluded Atheist, his response to Richard Dawkins.

In early 2008, Wilson's agent approached Hitchens to suggest a series of public debates at various East Coast locations, to be recorded by a professional film crew for a documentary, Collision, released this March. Between bouts of arguing over the morality of substitutionary atonement or the possibility of rational thought in a universe without God, the cameramen caught Hitchens in a revealing offstage moment. One asked him what he knew about Wilson. "He has a ministry on the Washington-Idaho ...

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April 2009

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