Watching a Christopher Hitchens (deceased December 15, 2011) debate is like watching a master manipulator, or like a guy whose bets are on the side of collective ignorance.
As Scott Berkun observes:
…proficiency in argument can easily be used to overpower others, even when you are dead wrong. If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous. If the people you’re arguing with aren’t as comfortable in the tactics of argument, or aren’t as arrogant [or informed] as you are, they may even give in and agree with you.
And we might add that if your audience is not versed in the extant data relative to the argument, like the progressive nature of the Biblical narrative, you might appear to win the debate.
At least the debate of popular opinion.
But the irony strikes me as this: While the theist must (and is expected to) do their homework in many disciplines like philosophy, physics (quantum, meta and classic), history, biology, etc, the atheistic can usually get off the hook with only a casting glance at the narrative of Scripture. If he but quotes a few verses or makes reference to just a few aspects of religious history or philosophy, he is regarded as astute and the presentation of his data pertinent and persuasive.
That’s because he’s got a huge advantage – the relative ignorance of Scripture with the masses, both Christian and non-Christian. It’s the day we live in.
One example is Hitchen’s oft-repeated “man’s been around 100,000-250,00 years-then-finally-God-acted” argument, with the obvious conclusion being that God just didn’t give a damn about all the people who died and went to hell prior to the incarnation of Jesus. How could you believe in such a God? Hitchens affirms.
It is very much akin to the familiar “what about those who have not heard?” argument so often employed to discredit the Bible, the nature of the Atonement and of Christ Himself.
While the believer must be pretty darn acquainted with everything from astronomy to quantum physics, why hasn’t (or rather wasnt) Hitchens forced repeatedly to deal with verses like Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:25, etc.?
These verses do say something, (the retroactive as well as present and future nature of the Atonement) and they need to be introduced into the debate even though they are admittedly in-house arguments, but then so are things like m-theory, multiverse, etc, and whatever the current argument is to sidestep the ramifications that nothing still comes out of nothing if left of itself.
C’mon believing community. It is just, right and beautiful to be aware of depth of the content of the Logosphere, the universe in which Jesus reigns – our universe and the words of Christocentric revelation. Then this material must be introduced into the debate.
From this I personally will never back down.