Muslim Wire

What I’ve learned from debating religious people around the world.

Posted in Non Muslims, Society by muslimwire on October 26, 2009

By Christopher Hitchens

This week sees the opening on various cinema marquees of the film Collision: a buddy-and-road movie featuring last year’s debates between Pastor Douglas Wilson, who is a senior fellow at New St. Andrew’s College, and your humble servant. (If I may be forgiven, it’s also available on DVD, and you can buy our little book of exchanges, Is Christianity Good for the World?)

Newsweek‘s reviewer beseeches you not to go and see the film, largely on the grounds that it features two middle-aged white men trying to establish which one is the dominant male. I would have thought that this would be reason enough to buy a ticket, but perhaps she would have preferred the debate held in London last week featuring me and Stephen Fry (two magnificent specimens of white mammalhood) versus a female member of Parliament who is a Tory Catholic convert and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria. It filled one of the largest halls in the city, and many people had to be turned away. For a combination of reasons, the subject of religion is back where it always ought to be—at the very center of any argument about the clash of world views.

Ever since I invited any champion of faith to debate with me in the spring of 2007, I have been very impressed by the willingness of the other side to take me, and my allies, up on the offer. A renowned scholar like Richard Dawkins, who is quite used to filling halls wherever he goes with his explanations of biology, is now finding himself on platforms with dedicated people who really, truly do not believe that evolution is anything more than “a theory.” I have been all over the South, in front of capacity and overflow crowds, exchanging views with Protestants most of the time, but also with Catholics and, in New York and the West Coast and Canada, with—mostly Reform—Jews in large and well-attended synagogues. (So far no invitations from Orthodox Jews, Mormons, or Muslims.)

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