(The Following Article Is By Christian Apologist And Mental Health Advocate, David Lee Chu Sarchet. He Defends The Christian Faith Against Christopher Hitchens Book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything).
Hitchens titles this chapter “The Metaphysical Claims of Religion Are False” and he opens this chapter with this ignorant claim concerning faith:
“Faith of that sort– the sort that can stand up at least for awhile in confrontation with reason– is now plainly impossible”
This statement presupposes a false dichotomy because he makes it seem as if faith and reason are at odds with each other, but this is a misrepresentation of the biblical definition of the word “faith” which is derived from the Greek word “Pistis”. According to Abarim Publications, Pistis has two basic definitions: one if a verb and the other is a noun. Abarim Publications says “The verb means to persuade or be persuaded, and the noun means faith; trust or certainty”.
In other words, the biblical definition of faith is “to be persuaded into trust or certainty”. By that definition, we can reasonably conclude that faith and reason are not at odds as Hitchens so ignorantly assumes.
On page 64, He proceeds to make this unsubstantiated claim:
“One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the prehistory where nobody–not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms–had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think– though the connection is not a fully demonstrable one– that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell”
This is nothing more than ignorant conjecture because Hitchens cannot possibly prove this claim with any evidence whatsoever. As for knowledge, I would love to ask him, or any atheist, how they could arrive at knowledge apart from God. Knowledge presupposes God because a proper definition of knowledge is “justified, true belief”. So, in order for something to be considered knowledge it must be justified and true. What is truth? Truth is that which corresponds to the mind of God. So, in order to have true knowledge of anything, one must presuppose God. As Dr. Cornelius Van Til has said, “God is the back of everything”.
On page 65, Hitchens brings up how many people once believed in intelligent design. He says:
“Before Charles Darwin revolutionized our entire concept of our origins and Albert Einstein did the same for our cosmos, many scientists and philosophers and mathematicians took what might be called the default position and professed one or another version of ‘deism’, which held that the order and predictability of the universe seemed indeed to imply a designer, if not necessarily a designer who took any active part in human affairs”
I hope that by now I’ve made it no secret that I am not interested in defending a generic theism snf that I am not fond of the “argument from design” for the existence of God. I am only interested in defending Christian theism and the reason the “argument from design” is not a good argument is because all it gets someone is to deism, if the unbeliever accepts it as true. According to Romans 1, Paul tells us that God has made Himself manifest to all people in such a way that they are without excuse for their suppression of the truth. In other words, sure it is evident to everyone that God exists because of the design of the universe, but that knowledge only serves to condemn humans. Only knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ saves humans from the wrath to come.
Hitchens then goes on to make this argument on page 67:
“The decay and collapse and discredit of god-worship does not begin at any moment, such as Nietzche’s histrionic and self-contradictory pronouncement that god is dead. Nietzche could no more have known this, or made the assumption that god had ever been alive, than a priest or witch doctor could ever declare he knew god’s will. Rather, the end of god-worship discloses itself at the moment, which is somewhat more gradually revealed, when it becomes optional, or only one of many possible beliefs. For the greater part of human existence, it must always be stressed, this option did not really exist. We know, from the many fragments of their burned out and mutilated texts and confessions, that there were always human beings who were unconvinced”
Romans 1:18-20 tells us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them, For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse”.
All people know by necessity that God exists so I reject the premise that “there were always human beings who were unconvinced”. How do we know that God by necessity exists? By the impossibility of the contrary. This means that without God you cannot know or prove anything and that makes any contrary worldviews to Christianity logically impossible and indefensible. Christianity is not merely one possible option among many possible options but it is the only reasonable worldview that one must hold because it alone provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of life, knowledge, morality, ethics, logic, uniformity of nature, and existence. As a matter of fact, when the unbeliever denies the God they know exists, there own worldview is reduced to absurdity! The atheist cannot escape the knowledge of God’s existence, but they keep trying to actively suppress that knowledge because they hate Him and love their sin.
He then returns to normal mode of argumentation by appealing to our emotions when he says on page 68:
“Of course it is horrifying to remember how many people were tortured and killed, and how many sources of knowledge fed to the flames, in bogus arguments over the Trinity or the Muslim hadith or the arrival of a false Messiah. But it is better for us not to fall into relativism, or what E.P Thompson called ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’.”
Like I have said many times before, he has not shown he can know morality apart from God so this statement is meaningless. According to Hitchens’ atheistic worldview, what is seriously wrong with killing and torturing over religious beliefs? After all, atheism says that we humans are merely bags of protoplasm so what is so bad about what one bag of protoplasm does to another bag of protoplasm? Since Hitchens has failed to account for morality without God, this statement is just his opinion that he personally does not like killing and torture, but why should anyone care about his mere preferences?
On the same page, he tries to tackle the moral argument and fails spectacularly. He says:
“It is not the fault of men like Peter Abelard if they had to work with bits and pieces of Aristotle, many of whose writings were lost when the Christian emperor Justinian closed the schools of philosophy, but were preserved in Arabic translation to a benighted Christian Europe by way of Jewish and Muslim Andalusia. When they got hold of the material and relunctantly conceded that there had been intelligent discussion of ethics and morality before the supposed advent of Jesus, they tried their hardest to square the circle. We have nothing much to learn from what they thought, but a great deal to learn from how they thought”
This argument is a complete misunderstanding of Christian theism. Either Hitchens was ignorant about what Christianity teaches concerning morality or he was blatantly being dishonest, but I’d like to think he was just ignorant. No one is saying that there was no morality before the advent of Jesus. However, what Christian theism states is that morality comes from God because it is a description of His very nature and this is why Hitchens is so morally outraged about killing and torture because even he is made in God’s image. As someone who bears the Imago Dei (image of God), he rightly knows that murder is morally wrong, but since he denies that God exists, he has no way of justifying how he knows murder is wrong. That’s the foolishness of atheism!
Next, on page 71, Hitchens goes on to make this claim:
“Thus, the postulate of a designer or creator only raises the unanswerable question of who designed the designer or created the creator. Religion and theology and theodicy failed to overcome this objection”
This is a patently absurd objection because in order to have the best explanation for something one does not need an explanation of the explanation. Furthermore, this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of who God is according to Christian theism. Christianity teaches that God is the sole Creator of all space, time, and matter. This would mean that God is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. Since He is timeless, this would mean that He is eternal and thus in no need of a creator. We also must always keep in mind the Creator-creature distinction. What I mean by this is that not only is God qualitatively different from us, but He is quantitatively different from us. His nature and being are wholly separate from us and that ,means while we require a Creator for our origins, He does not because there is no one or nothing greater than Him.
Finally, he closes the chapter same way he opened it. He says:
“If one must have faith in order to believe something, or believe in something, then the likelihood of that something having any truth or value is considerably diminished. The harder work of inquiry, proof, and demonstration is infinitely more rewarding, and has confronted us with findings far more ‘marvelous’ and ‘transcendent’ than any theology”
Like I said in the beginning of this blog post, this argument presupposes a fundamental misunderstanding what biblical faith is because it sets up a false dichotomy between faith and reason. Hitchens, and for that matter any atheist, does not know what the Greek word “Pistis” means when they use this argument. I hope that the reader can readily see the absurdity of atheism and if they profess this worldview that the Lord will work on their heart and draw them to Himself. The reality of the Gospel is that we all deserve God’s wrath because of our rebellion against Him, but He did not leave us in our despair. He came to this earth as a man, Jesus Christ, and took the punishment that we deserve upon Himself. He then rose from the dead. This is an indisputable fact and by placing your faith in Jesus Christ alone you will be saved and put in right relationship with God for all eternity. Thank you for taking the time to read this and God bless you!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Apologist and Mental Health Advocate