Thursday morning, Christopher Hitchens will be debating Intelligent Design proponent William Dembski at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas. The debate is mostly for a middle school and high school audience.
The church in question has put out a discussion guide for the debate (PDF) — it was sent to me by a reader and it’s worth a look.
If you have some time, print it out, grab a red pen, and mark up all the mistakes you can find.
You may need more than one pen.
I don’t even know where to start taking this apart, but let me jump to the first of the “Student Questions” intended for “younger” kids:
An atheist is a person who claims that God doesn’t exist. Psalm 14:1 says: A fool says in his heart, “There is no god.” How can a person really know something exists or not?
Not sure why they felt the need to insert that second sentence…
And here’s a question and response for older students (emphases mine):
You’ve heard the term “secular” before as it refers to a person who is not religious. The term “secular” is opposed to the concept of eternity — which means that a secular person believes that all that matters in this life is the here and now…there is no hereafter. How do you think people might live differently if they believed that their actions have no eternal consequence — or that they face no ultimate judgment for the decisions they make — would they tend to make “better” choices?
a. Part of this question looks at the issue that those who are secular would tend to make decisions that are more self-gratifying in nature, while those individuals who are “religious” and believe in an eternal destination are more likely to make decisions in light of a pending judgment before an Almighty God.
b. If there truly is no God, then why is one person’s life better than another’s? Wouldn’t Maslow be correct — that the highest achievement in life would be simply self-actualization — being the best “you” you can be, whether that is a murderer or doctor, a train engineer or a window washer?
Yes, that is what I strive for. I want to be the best murderer that I can be.
No wonder Prestonwood is hosting this debate. They have no idea how to respond to these questions…
But they won’t hesitate to tell you what to believe.
Not only that — they’ll tell you to avoid anyone who claims they know something special about God. Like Oprah, when she said “there can’t just be one way to heaven.”
While Oprah is a wonderful talk show host, she is untrained and unqualified to speak thoughtfully and authoritatively on matters of theology. Be careful about the advice you listen to especially in matters as important as God and eternal life!
I wouldn’t trust Oprah on theological matters, either. She believes in as much nonsense as the churchgoers do (e.g. The Secret). But it’s not like a pastor or reverend has any more knowledge about these matters than any random person off the street. They just believe they know more. They attend church and hear leaders who think they know something about god. They go to Seminary and learn from people who are “experts” in the subject of god. They run their own churches and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — people begin to smile and nod when you speak and you think you’re onto something regarding what god wants for your life.
Then you publish something like this discussion guide and it becomes clear how much your knowledge clashes with reality.