A couple of weekends ago, I attended what was perhaps the Christian non-event of the year, the Christian Book Expo in Dallas. Organizers had expected 15,000 to walk the aisles, meeting authors and buying books. Only 1,500 showed up. One thing people did show up for, though, was to hear the atheist.
In this case, it was Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. He sat on a panel discussion ("Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?'') littered with Christian apologists: Lee Strobel, Jim Denison, Douglas Wilson, and William Lane Craig. It was the atheist facing the Christian lions.
I think the lions won, and not because they outnumbered the atheist. Hitchens doesn't have any trouble slipping in his arguments — uh, statements. The truth is that they are not arguments. I could make better arguments against Christianity, I'm afraid. But Hitchens is certainly entertaining, which was one reason for the draw.
In fact, atheism in general is entertaining. Thus, the national attention given to atheist books that, by any standard, are wretchedly argued. Thus, entertainment media noting that Family Guy character Brian came out as an atheist on the show this week. Thus, the coverage given this week even in a very local newspaper announcing, "Tulare County Atheists Organize … ". (To get a headline, you would think the initial meeting had attracted hundreds. Nope, only ten showed up.)
Some Christians are threatened by atheism's rise on the pop charts. Some say atheists "hate God." But of course, a philosophical atheist cannot hate something he does not believe exists. Many atheists, though, do hate religion. Hitchens calls it a poison. Richard Dawkins, author ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more