Bringing Out Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is arguably the most recognizable name among the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris being among the others). One of his classic arguments against theism is to suggest that the Old Testament advocates (commands) genital mutilation of children (circumcision), along with citing out-of-context examples of God’s people committing atrocities in war in an effort to gain God’s favor.

He pulled this on me on my radio program. I responded by suggesting that God’s command to wipe out the Amalekites was not for mere sport, as his framing of the argument suggests. After asking him if he viewed child sacrifice as a reprehensible act (when he agreed he would), I took him to the context of his alleged Old Testament war crimes.

I pointed out that God’s command to “wipe out” the Amalekites was preceded by a period when God had exercised great patience with them, warning them to repent or else they would receive the full impact of God’s wrath. They didn’t repent. God sent in the Israelites to wipe out the evildoers. The Amalekites were on the receiving end of God’s just retribution for the evil of child sacrifice.

To frame the debate in a way I thought would be relative to Mr. Hitchens, I likened what God commanded the Israelites to do to the Amalekites with what the United States military had done to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Just as Saddam was a sadistic dictator, gassing his own people, in the same way the Amalekites were guilty of atrocities against their own children. The United States had been patient with Sadaam, working with the UN Security Council in an attempt to get Saddam to repent. When Saddam persisted in his evil, the United States was justified in using military force to remove Saddam, just as the nation of Israel was justified in using military force to destroy their enemies.

His initial response was to suggest that the historical record relative to the Amalekites and child sacrifice could not be trusted because it was in the Bible. Interesting that Hitchens trusts the Bible relative to what it says about what Israel did to the Amalekites, but the same Bible can’t be trusted on what it says relative to what it says the Amalekites had done to their own children. (Here is an excellent exposition of the question of whether or not the actions of Israel against the Amalekites constituted war crimes.)

It’s at this point that Hitchens totally mischaracterized my point, accusing me of saying that the US military committed atrocities against the Iraqi people, when of course I said nothing of the kind. It was all downhill from there, as he turned quite angry, lost his footing in his superior intellect, and became verbally hostile toward me. If you can’t win the argument with facts, attack your opponent.

My objective was not to win a debate with Hitchens. It really wasn’t even to debate him at all. This disappointed him.

I had hoped to have an opportunity to present the gospel, and that opportunity indeed came when he characterized me as a slave because of my belief in God. I readily admitted to being a slave to God, and to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself also was a slave according to Philippians 2, “who made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man.”

This pushed Hitchens over the edge. He accused me of attempting to push my beliefs on him, his children and the rest of the world and while I was certainly entitled to them, to please keep them to myself. So much for Hitchens’ premise that we should be open minded free thinkers. He told me I was his enemy, to which I responded that he was not my enemy. This made him even angrier. He suddenly decided he had other things to do and when I thanked him for taking the time to talk with me, he hung up on me.

You can hear the interview yourself here.

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11 thoughts on “Bringing Out Hitchens

  1. I always find it fascinating, how Satan and his deceived react, when they are faced with the truth.

    “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel ” Philippians 1:27

  2. I’m looking forward to listening to the entire interview today, as I only heard the last few minutes yesterday.

    Hitchens is a brilliant man–I think one of the biggest mistakes Christians often make is to characterize atheists as being stupid or uninformed (you can be a genius and still be a fool). But the thing about atheists is they demand such a string of logic that has to flow uninterrupted. So long as they can win arguments and debates, they can talk up a blue streak. But when that logic is interuppted by something they can’t explain or disagree with, it’s like a freight train hitting a penny on a railroad track. Everything suddenly derails. And I think that’s what happened–he was coasting good with some arguments and his points (the thing about these type of discussions is you can’t really “prove” either side. but then, once he hit that hiccup, he lost it. It’s not surprising, really…the new anti-theist movement is really based not so much on logic but on anger and pride.

  3. It was quite ostensible that Mr. Hitchens went over the edge with the thought of being a slave to God. What he does not realize is that a loving relationship with Our Lord brings about a sincere desire to serve, and the most incredible Peace within the core of one’s being – quite the opposite of the anger and pride that unfortunately gripped his head and heart.

  4. I think Mr. Hitchens sniffed out the point that Paul was preparing to make – which is that if a person were to follow’s a Darwinist worldview to its logical conclusion, mass murderers and other acts of violence perpetrated by people would not be condemned. Natural selection is a violent, murderous force and if you embraced it as a positive force of evolution, why stop now? Why condemn those who survive by killing others? After all, this is the essence of natural selection. Yet Mr. Hitchens routinely and hypocritically denounces certain acts by mankind as either good or evil. By what standard does he do this?

    Unfortunately, Mr. Hitchens was more interested in gaining debate points than actually exploring logical truth. Equally regrettable is that he seized upon a fragment of that point – before Paul was able to allow it to be fully made – complete with indignation and anger. Mr. Hitchens then never relinquished the floor, so to speak. This is effective in a debate format, but for those who really are seeking the truth it is a hollow point that he won.

    Congratulations Paul, I thought you did a very good job overall. I appreciated the opportunity to hear Mr. Hitchens – first hand – speak with vile disregard for Christ, you, and your listeners. It was the wake-up call I needed. I felt like a twisted version of Sally Field winning the Oscar, “He hates me, he REALLY hates me!!”

    God Bless you brother Paul. “And some fell by the wayside”. Keep sowing that Seed anyway!!

  5. Great interview, Paul! It is obvious that Christopher’s intention is to destroy his enemies with his intellect, but when he is met with one who has the unfailing love of Christ as his intention, what is there to counter? Romans 12:20 “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Hitchens had a heaping helping of hot embers on his head! He obviously hated it (and you!) Great job, my friend!

    Here is a great quote from Spurgeon regarding being hated by the world.

    http://sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=21457&forum=34&1

  6. Christine said:

    “It was quite ostensible that Mr. Hitchens went over the edge with the thought of being a slave to God.”

    It’s interesting how we don’t realize that we have been a slave to sin our whole lives, until we become a slave to God…

    “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32

  7. At no point did Hitchens “lose his footing” during that interview. Its convenient for you to characterize what happened in that fashion because you’ll have no opposition here. He was right to be disgusted by your comments.

    … and yes he is right to point out that there is a problem with you trying to impose your belief system on the public at large. Do not deny this! I grew up in the christian community and this is exactly what the intentions are… Anybody remember the recent attempt at incorporating “faith based initiatives”?!! Stealing money (via taxes) in order to do so!!

    Keep this stuff to your personal lives!! Leave it out of the public!!!

  8. And yet, Paul you (and your viewers) characteristically do not present your fallacy in analogy. You made the Genocide of the Amalekites comparable to our invasion of Iraq.

    I don’t think it was the child sacrifice of the Amalekites that really did them in. In essence, when David followed the word of God and massacred the Amalekites he did quite a bit of killing himself: genocide. Genocide includes children. I think it was their refusal to obey to religion. Scary, isn’t it? Do you see the connection between fanatical Islam and fanatical Christianity? Now, without using any kind of scripture we can historically attest to the existence of a people’s named the Amalekites. And Christopher Hitchen’s question is:

    What happened to the Amalekites.

    Like a lawyer on trial, he simply represented the facts of the case: 1) there was an ethnic group called the Amalekites (just as there are the Kurds or the Berbers or Bedouins or etc) 2) The Bible has a parable of when David followed the Abrahamic lord’s orders and killed every man, woman and child 3) There is no ethnic group called the Amalekites today.

    Total extinction. Total genocide. Totally Christian. And they are not the only ones in the Bible. The Bible has 4 accounts of God-sanctioned Genocide.

  9. To excuse a truly revolting and immoral act by saying that the victims were bad people and deserved it is to abandon empathy and reason.
    To claim a person deserves punishment because of his/her nationality or cultural identity is to ignore the fact that we have no choice of where we are born, or in what culture. Despite the apparent misfortune of their birthplace, the population of several thousand Amalekites would have consisted of as many good and worthy people as any other population of a similar size. To deny this is to imply absolute polarity on the side of nurture in the nature-nurture debate.
    Consider the example of WWII. Could it truthfully be claimed that all Germans at that time were Nazis? Could the absolute destruction of the whole population of Germany (some 80 million men, women and children) have been excused in order to stop the Nazi party in its tracks?

  10. I hope the ‘pastor’ has gotten over his humiliation and embarrassment of being totally outclassed by the brilliant Mr Hitchens. He told him where he could put his bible thumping pornography and all credit to him. On the day it was Mr Hitchens’s logic and reason versus the patronsing religious tones of just another religious fruitcake of which America has many.

    Paul Edwards is indeed the enemy of rationality and the future of mankind.

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