Dinesh D'Souza vs. Christopher Hitchens: My Response
This morning I read the beginnings of an article about a debate between Hitchens and D'Souza. I stopped halfway through because I did not want to hear Dr. D'Souza's response. Rather, I wanted to place myself in the debate in his shoes. It seems the intelligent Dr. Hitchens came up with an argument D'Souza had a hard time with. Here is the section of the article that I read:
In my debate with atheist Christopher Hitchens in New York last October he raised a point that I did not know how to answer. So I employed an old debating strategy: I ignored it and answered other issues. But Hitchens' argument bothered me.
Here's what Hitchens said. Homo sapiens has been on the planet for a long time, let's say 100,000 years. Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition. After all, cave-man's plight was a miserable one: infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death. Evidently God didn't really care.
Then, a few thousand years ago, God said, "It's time to get involved." Even so God did not intervene in one of the civilized parts of the world. He didn't bother with China or Egypt or India. Rather, he decided to get his message to a group of nomadic people in the middle of nowhere. It took another thousand years or more for this message to get to places like India and China.
Here is the thrust of Hitchens' point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this?
An excellent point, which I concede to Hitchens. However, in his arguments he omits the following ideas:
1. If God is our creator, and indeed the author of all life, and if our attempt to understand Him with our finite, mortal, dimly-lit perspective of things on this side of eternity is lacking, then is it not God's standards which should be applied to us and not the other way around? Some were born with your intelligence, Dr. Hitchens; some have been born mentally retarded. Since when should you apply your own standards of "fairness" to God? Intelligence and wisdom are two different things, sir.
2. You mention "infant mortality, brutal massacres, horrible toothaches, and an early death." You imply that God was not there, or did not care because these things took place then. In some places (the United States,) even worse infant mortality exists today. Does this mean that God did not care? I would take quite the opposite approach. God was there in the gas chambers when the Jews were massacred by the Nazi's in WWII. God was there at the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, and in the Pentagon when those people died. Scientific methodology makes a poor meter stick for measuring spiritual truth. How can one measure the essence of a man's heart? So then, you seek to apply this meter stick to God's motivations? Here is an anvil, Dr. Hitchens. Please use it to measure an exact quantity of a liter of water.
3. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You claim that God has not been present for 98% of human history. God either did not care for or has not been present in China, Egypt or India. Dr. Hitchens, here is an idea that is too hot for you to handle, and its a simple one, too. So simple, even Forrest Gump could understand it. *Everywhere there is life, it is evidence of the existence and presence of God, for God is the author of life.* If you even thought to acknowledge this, it would undermine your entire life philosophy, something that you do not want to do, lest you reap the consequences.
4. Why do you question God's existance, Dr. Hitchens? What is *your* motivation? I can't say for sure, but here is a quote from you: "Apparently for 95,000 years God sat idly by, watching and perhaps enjoying man's horrible condition." It seems to me you are bitter, sir. Bitter and angry and resentful. It seems to me that you use your intelligence to justify your bitterness. In this, I can only shake my head in wonder. God deliver us all from bitterness, and the vanity of self-justification.
I am reminded of Psalm 2- here it is:
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Seems like this is not the first time these questions have been asked....