Saturday, April 18, 2009

Does God Exist? A Modern Debate

It took place recently at Biola University in California.

I wish Chesterton had been on the other side of that stage, don't you? I mean, how easy it is to say, "you have the burden of proof, since you say God exists. *I* don't have to prove anything, since I say he doesn't exist."

(I can see Chesterton chuckling to himself, and taking notes with a pencil on scraps of paper while Mr. Hitchens speaks. Then, he may turn and say, "Well, maybe you don't have to prove God exists, since you, though a notable orator and skilled debater on a variety of subjects, cannot take up this simplest of subjects; perhaps you'd like to prove to us then your own existence. Are you real, Mr. Hitchens? Are you alive, Mr. Hitchens? How do you prove your own existence and what, exactly, and more importantly I might add, are you existing for? For what purpose and meaning is your life, to go round the country telling people their beliefs are nonsense? Then, by virtue of your own words, your own beliefs are nonsense. For people believe, Mr. Hitchens, in dogma, whether they know they do, or not." Or something like that, and chuckling and smiling all the time.)

Yes, Mr. Hitchens. That's why you make money on books about how God doesn't exist, by stating you don't have anything to prove?

Well, this sounds like a lower form of evolution to me. And a lower form of debate, too.

The first principle of debate is for the sides to be open to being persuadable. Mr. Hitchens is obviously dogmatically tied to his doctrine. The Christians were too nice to him. They should have brought out swords and prepared to fight to the death. Mr. Hitchens has already proved for years he is unmoved by words. He needs a "Chesterton" to befriend him and love him into faith (which still might not happen--look at Shaw), or someone to threaten him, like in a foxhole, or a 9-11, or a miracle. His heart is completely hardened. This can't be fixed on one evening's debate.


  1. I have been a faithful Catholic for my whole life minus 2 days. I read one of his books and I was put into severe doubt and despair. It was the worst feeling I ever had in my life. I went to the bookstore and started looking for something from the Christian side that made any sense. I saw a book named "Orthodoxy" and maybe because of it's somewhat awkward yet inviting and intriguing title. I picked it up and sat down and figured I would read a couple of pages. Suffice it to say, I read the whole thing and since then I've felt a debt to Chesterton and the Holy Spirit for having spoken to me through him, that I can never hope to come close to repaying. So, thank you Gilbert and please pray for me..

  2. Davy,
    Thanks for sharing this story, how good our Loving God is!

    I will pray for you, and ask Gilbert to continue to watch over you. God bless you!

  3. Thanks for this important news, Davymax3 - we shall indeed pray for you, and for Mr. Hitchens. He ought to read Orthodoxy too! Next up on your reading list ought to be The Everlasting Man, which will tell you lots more about that curious creature called Man - and about the very curious Man called Jesus... To assist in your warfare with the Enemy, I'd also recommend GKC's twin biographies, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Also I must compliment our blogg-mistress on her excellent Chestertonian reply in debate - it sounded familiar, and I had to go hunting: "In truth there are only two kinds of people, those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don't know it." [GKC Fancies versus Fads 86] In fact, the rest of that essay might be GKC's reply to Hitchens. I am guessing that her other allusion is to GKC's book on Aquinas: "A brilliant Victorian scientist delighted in declaring that the child does not see any grass at all; but only a sort of green mist reflected in a tiny mirror of the human eye. This piece of rationalism has always struck me as almost insanely irrational. If he is not sure of the existence of the grass, which he sees through the glass of a window, how on earth can he be sure of the existence of the retina, which he sees through the glass of a microscope? If sight deceives, why can it not go on deceiving?" [CW2:528]

    On the larger issues of evolution and creation, GKC has that answered too; for starters, see the chapter "Critic of Evolutionism" in Jaki's Chesterton a Seer of Science.

  4. Thanks you two.. This happened a few years ago when I was in college and I've been devouring his works ever since. The Christmas after that happened, I received nothing but The Complete Works for gifts. I was amazed when I read about the Chesterton Academy, because I'm always telling my wife that the Works of Chesterton are a complete education. If our kids can get through his works and read more about stuff they don't understand right away and get the background, we need not worry about them being well-read or well-educated.


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