Leading proponents of atheism, intelligent design hold debate
In a recently held debate at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, two concepts of God emerged. One was an unreliable bully who intimidates people into accepting him or else they will be tortured forever. The other is a loving Creator who created man in his image, and took on their sufferings so they could have eternal life.
Christopher Hitchens, a world renowned atheist who is afflicted with cancer, and the author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, went head to head with William Dembski, a leading proponent for intelligent design, senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, and research professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to The Baptist Standard.
No proof of God
Hitchens called upon his usual sources of argument—history, science, philosophy and even scripture, according to Dallas News. There is no god, Hitchens said, because there is no proof that someone designed the cosmos, or the human body. There is no historical proof of a god who loves what he supposedly created, The Baptist Standard reported.
According to The Baptist Standard, Hitchens said, “It’s not exactly accidental that 99.8 percent of all species ever to appear on earth are extinct. That does not give evidence of design or allow us to trace the finger of any god, let alone one who wishes us well.”
He said human beings are poorly evolved and “half a chromosome away from being chimpanzees,” according to The Baptist Standard. Dallas News said his most passionate rejection of Christian salvation came from his own perspective as one who is afflicted with esophageal cancer, saying, “To me, the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way is an offer of something not worth having.”
While still alive, Hitchens said, “I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know … enough yet. That I haven’t understood enough. That I can’t know enough,” Dallas News reported.
Dembski cited specified complexities and patterns in nature which lend credence to intelligent design rather than random accidents. While atheism is trapped in an intellectual straitjacket that demands evolution without purpose, theists may say God used evolution even on a small scale, as an instrument in his creation, The Baptist Standard reported.
Dembski said, “Secularism can be just as ideologically driven as religion,” while theists are not constrained into blindly accepting purposeless evolution, The Baptist Standard reported.
And while intelligent design “doesn’t get you the gospel, the tomb or the resurrection,” one is led to the suggestion of God’s goodness and the concept of right and wrong in the universe, according to The Baptist Standard.
Such objective moral standard is not given in materialism, and Dembski said, “The atheist is cheating when he makes a moral judgment, acting as if it has an objective standard,” The Baptist Standard reported.
No morality by deity
Hitchens said having a deity dictate morality is unacceptable and tyrannical. “For centuries, the struggle for freedom was against the worst type of dictatorship—the theocracy of the divine right of kings. The totalitarian temptation has to be resisted, and I believe this is one of its core origin points,” The Baptist Standard reported.
He questioned the biblical view of God that “you are created incurably sick and then ordered under pain of death and eternal punishment to be well,” according to The Baptist Standard.
Overall, Dallas News said the Oxford-educated Hitchens sparred amicably with Dembski and said pointedly to the students that they need not accept an absolute authority. He added, “Don’t think of that as a gift. Think of it as a poison chalice. Push it aside, however tempting it is.”
Not incurably sick
Dembski said, “We are not incurably sick. The cure is Jesus Christ.” Regarding the historical events cited by Hitchens, Dembski admitted religion can be a problem, but it has also accomplished a lot of good. He said, “We are sick, yes, but I’d say not incurably so. In fact, the cure is there,” Dallas News reported.