For a few months now I have been working with a group of producers in the development of the film Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World (Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson). This is one of the most unique debate presentations I have ever seen. While I have participated in traditional talking-head debates, I found the approach taken by award winning music video director Darren Doane in Collision to be so compelling that it might end up changing the way debates are produced. On March 20 and 21, Collision was shown to a group of Christians and atheists at the Christian Book Expo held in Dallas, Texas. Hitchens and Wilson were at the Friday evening showing and signed copies of their book Is Christianity Good for the World? Both debaters thoroughly enjoyed the film. Literary agent Chip MacGregor made the following comment about the film:
The movie Collision could be a hit. The film is a debate between famous atheist Christoper Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson, done in sort of an art-house style. A fascinating piece for people who think. It premiered at CBE, but didn’t get quite the press it deserved.
On Saturday afternoon, Hitchens and Wilson participated in a panel discussion that asked the question Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does it Make? with William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and Jim Denison. It was sponsored by Christianity Today magazine and moderated by writer and editor Stan Guthrie. MacGregor had this to say about the forum:
The biggest buzz was probably the live debate that featured a bunch of Christian theologians taking on Christopher Hitchens. I’d have to say that Doug Wilson did a nice job of stating his case, and Lee Strobel seemed to be the only one on the panel who didn’t buy into the “we have to be respectful to Mr. Hitchens’ ideas because we want to show you how polite we are” line. Good grief, why didn’t somebody say, “This guy is actively trying to destroy lives, and it’s not healthy”? Look, Mr. Hitchens is charming, but he didn’t once respond to a question with an answer. He’s making a buck off saying “I don’t think God exists, and you shouldn’t either,” but he can’t ever answer a question with any sort of reason.
At one level I agree with MacGregor’s assessment, but something needs to be said about the way we answer skeptics and downright religious antagonists. Hitchens asks what I have described as “resonating objections.” They are the objections that are capturing the minds of a new generation of skeptics and are destroying lives. We can’t dismiss them with a wave of the hand. Objections by the “Four Horsemen of Atheism” are resonating with millions of young people. Collision shows that Hitchens has put most Christian apologists on the defensive with his style because they continue to argue as if there is some sort of agreed upon common ground between atheists and Christians. The presuppositional methodology cuts through all the neutrality and common ground crap and gets down to foundational principles: How does the materialist who does not believe there is any divine justice, either now or later, account for his claim of moral indignation about anything? Mike Hyatt, president of Thomas Nelson Publishing Company, had this to say about Wilson’s performance in comparison to the other panelists who took the more traditional approach to apologetics:
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The only panelist who really scored big points, in my opinion, was Doug Wilson. Rather than echoing the evidential arguments that his colleagues set forth, he argued at the presuppositional level. Hitchens never really answered him. In fact, I don’t think he knew quite what to do with his arguments.
One attendee remarked that “Douglas Wilson was the intellectual highlight” of the panel. I have to agree, even though Doug did not come across as an intellectual. His intellectualism comes across in his ability to make the profound graspable with memorable illustrations that the average guy can use. The one about the two fizzing soda bottles is a case in point. You will see the presuppositional methodology and apt illustrations used repeatedly and effectively by Doug in Collision.
Collision follows Wilson and Hitchens over a period of three days as they debate one another and lecture on their particular positions regarding the existence of God at Columbia University, King’s College in the Empire State Building, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown. Some of the most interesting exchanges take place in the in-between times as they travel from one venue to another. There’s a funny exchange between the two of them where they try to “out Wodehouse” each other by reciting some of the more humorous lines from various works of P. G. Wodehouse, all from memory.
While the film is finished (with some minor edits planned), I don’t have a firm release date since we are in consultation with distributors. If it’s possible, American Vision will hold a private screening for a limited audience in April or May in our auditorium. Darren Doane, the director, will be speaking at American Vision’s Worldview Conference July 22–25. We may be able to screen it then.