I was very happy the other day when my new Official Study Guide to Collision arrived in stock. I was even happier when the producer of the debate DVD Collision, Darren Doane, stopped by for a visit at American Vision a few days later. He was ecstatic over having a new book to compliment his production.
Honestly I didn’t quite understand how a guy could be quite so excited over a small book. Darren explained it to me: when you’re in movies, it’s a big thing to get into a book; just like when you’re in books, it would be a big thing to be in a movie. I had to submit to his sound reasoning.
I was even happier yet the following Monday when our Producer emailed us some kind comments. Having read the book over the weekend, he flourished,
Gary and Joel
Absolutely floored by the guide. You have done my dirty, scattered little film a great service. I am truly grateful for your hard work and time poured into the book.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I am proud the little book has found such a warm reception with the debate DVD’s number-one man.
The DVD production Collision features atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian Douglas Wilson engaging in debate over that most primitive and primary of social urges: belief in God. This Official Study Guide arose, initially, in response to an equally ancient and primal social urge: that of an employee doing what his boss told him to do. Shortly, however, after beginning the tough part of the work—that of identifying and organizing the material throughout Collision into topical chapters and digestible portions—I began not only to see the importance of the work (which Gary DeMar had stressed), but also to enjoy compiling, expanding, elucidating, and commenting on it. I suppose bosses come to be bosses, in God’s ancient and providential ordering of things, for good reasons.
What has emerged is, I think, not only a helpful guide through the aftermath of the “collision of lives” (as Douglas describes it), but a great opportunity thereby to introduce many Christians to methods, arguments, and avenues of thought they might not ordinarily have ever experienced or conceived alone. This truly is a worldview endeavor—considering the impact of Christianity on every area of life including society, government, intellect, and more. I am very grateful to be part of the faithful response in such a promising opportunity.
I also realize that my analysis and commentary upon the words and arguments of these two men—both very much my Senior in more than one way—comes with the luxury of hindsight and ample time for reflection and review, whereas they had only moments in most cases to formulate responses to the same tough questions and concepts. With this acknowledgement I hope to head off any perceived projections of “Monday morning quarterback” that may arise from the nature of the effort. This certainly is not the intention.
This release also provides an opportunity to respond to a common misconception among a few of the skeptics and atheists who encountered the film. Since the producer/editor is a Christian, many from the other side of the debate have alleged that Darren cut and pasted at will, sound-biting opportunistically here and there, in order to make Christopher show more poorly. This was hardly the case. Rather, as a Christian, and a professional, Darren took great concern for the ethics of production and gave ample opportunity to both sides to review the edit and request any additions or changes. Both reviewed, both made requests, and both received their wishes in the final cut. Further, both viewed the cut at the Christian Book Expo, and Darren got their reactions on film afterward. You can watch Hitchens express his pleasure and approval here; Douglas explicitly addresses the point here.
In this Official Study Guide, I have attempted to get deeper into the issues, while allowing the men to speak for themselves as well. This meant that, for each topic, I first employ their words directly from the DVD’s transcript, and only then being to expound upon the issues involved in what they say. This has led to something of a novel form of media: a written Study Guide companion to a DVD which is essentially interactive with the DVD. (It could be considered like a “bonus features” disc only in written form.) As such it renders the already engaging DVD production into an organized system helpful for classes and study course of all sizes. This is my intent.
About the Guide
The reader should understand the layout and conventions of this Study Guide. The guide systematizes the debate segments into ten chapters, each a different topic. These include Antithesis, God, Truth, Moral Foundations, Moral Standards, Moral Applications, Parables and Resurrection, Bible Prophecy, Beauty, and Society.
Each chapter consists of three sections: First, a compilation of related arguments and exchanges excerpted from the DVD itself. These excerpts come from a transcript of the audio and represent the actual words of the gentlemen involved. This first section, called “The Arguments” employs the handy convention of a time-stamp, so that students and classes using the Guide in conjunction with the DVD can skip directly to each instance in the DVD for reference viewing.
The second section of each chapter is called “Analysis,” and presents my contribution in elucidating and systematizing the arguments on that topic. I attempt to place each in the larger context of the overall debate, draw implications, contrast conclusions, show the antithesis between Christian faith and skepticism, and more.
The third section, “Questions for Discussion,” draws from both the arguments and analysis sections to provide original questions for rehearsing the lessons of the chapter. While each list is numbered 1 thru 10, most questions in reality are composed of more than one question designed to lead either individuals or groups through the thought process of each issue.
It is my desire that this Study Guide will add to the impact of Collision, and enable students to harness, refine and focus its power for themselves. If just a few enjoy the experience as much as I have, the effort will have been worth it.