Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek debate the question, “Does God Exist?”

Turek vs. Hitchens Debate: Does God Exist? from Andrew Ketchum on Vimeo.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    9 replies to "Does God Exist Debate?"

    • Samson

      Wow! Hitchens seems like he would be great at 3 card monte! I think Turek would have come across better if he would have kept his cool throughout the debate. Hitchens seemed calm and collected, even though he didn’t answer anything.

      It seems like both men were in different debates then sat down to talk past each other as though nothing was said prior.

      Nice ad homonym by Hitchens at the end. that really convinced me.

      Has Hitches ever debated Wm Lane Craig? that i would like to see.

    • John Mitchell

      Hitchens is an experienced debater and I think he got the better of Turek here in terms of style, but not necessarily content. I also think that Hitchens made it very clear that he didn’t like Turek. But I learned from both of them and thought Turek made good comments, he may just not have made them as powerfully as he might have.

      I think the best Hitchens debate I have seen was with Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is a skilled debater who more than held his own, and probably won the debate at King’s College. Here is the link:

      The Debate was entitled: “Is Christianity the Problem?”

    • John Mitchell

      I should have added that these debates are a great illustration of the reason that we need programs like Michael’s Reclaiming the Mind Ministries. When you first listen to Hitchens, who is clever with his words and who can appear to be intellectually intimidating, it’s a challenge. But in the face of his challenge to the idea that God exists, and his utter contempt for Christianity, it’s admirable that people like D’Souza and Turek are willing to stand up and challenge him. If you take notes during the debate and keep track of the points that they are making, it’s a good checklist for the arguments against the existence of God and the Christian faith. Hitchens states the opposition about as well as you are going to hear it – and one of the significant points to remember is that there is a large audience that is listening to the discussion – both in the assembly hall and online. But as you track the points – listen to what Turek and D’Souza are saying, and you realize that there are arguments – solid, rational arguments – for the belief in God. We may not spend enough time as Christians studying and thinking about these issues – especially if most of our time is spent with other Christians. But Hitchens is a reminder that most of the world doesn’t believe as we do – and it isn’t always because they are merely dismissive based upon whims, or poorly thought out philosophies. Sometimes they make strong points that we need to be able to answer well. And sometimes they phrase them powerfully.

      That’s why programs like Michael’s are so appealing to me. As a layperson who has never been to seminary, I want to learn more about the intellectual foundations of my faith. I believe that I am in a career where God placed me, and I don’t feel a call to the ministry – at least not to a traditional ministry pastoring a church. But I still want to learn all that I can about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I want to be able to engage the world in honest, and gracious discussions. I have only been listening to Michael and Rhome for the past three weeks, but already I have learned a great deal. The first thing that I have noticed is that the vocabulary isn’t so intimidating – and I can understand and discuss the ideas that Hitchens and others are arguing about. I am gaining a framework for understanding that I probably wouldn’t have gotten unless I had gone to seminary.

      This isn’t a plug – I have never met Michael or Rhome – although I have become a huge fan. This is only meant as an observation. I think that in these increasingly challenging times this ministry is a blessing to the rest of us in the Christian community. And the debates that we see between Hitchens and others are the voices of the opposition that we need to hear – so that we can understand the challenges and be ready to answer them. The world – which we see in the faces of the audience – needs us to engage. And to do that, we need to PREPARE to engage. This program helps us to do that. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for their offering this program to the rest of us. And now, part of my Saturday morning routine is listening to Theology Unplugged while I do my chores.

      There is a lot of discussion about how we may be in the end times. I don’t know about that. Over the years many Christians have felt that they were living through the end times – and one day, someone will be right. But I do know that the church has “lived” through many challenging times. Right now our situation reminds me very much of the 1930’s – when there was great economic uncertainty, military and political threats – and the church was challenged. The church didn’t always respond well. But through that dark time there were examples of Christians who listened to Christ’s calling and ministered to a hurting world. I pray that we can be a witness – for surely we were all born for such a time as this.

      The part of the debates that pains me the most, is the constant drawing of attention to the difference between Jesus and the world’s view of Christians. I pray that we can change that.

      Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version). “10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


    • Karen

      As stated in post #4, I too am here to learn more about the intellectual foundations of my faith. To study theology because I am tired of scratching the surface of the bible. I have this great need to dig deeper. And like post #4 I have just become a fan of Michael and Rhrome, from 258 question and answers of Theology. I watched the above video with great expectations, but walked away shaking my head.

      Turek and Hitchens just seem to go round and round for the most part. Hitchens doesn’t seem to want to really engage in the debate. They just tap dances around. Turek can not do anything but get frustrated with the dance. So Hitchens succeeds in his goal where Turek does not. It is hard to reason with a wall.

      But I do believe that the world of science and the biblical world could be on the verge of coming together to show there is a God and how God works.

      I know next to nothing about Jewish faith, but I did come across these 2 videos that I found to be fascinating in the face of science and the bible. I think these 2 videos make a better argument for the proof of God in science than Turek made. Don’t get me wrong, I think Turek was on the right track he just needed to
      go further. And maybe he does, and just didn’t have the time
      I hope its ok for me to show the links on here. Please correct me if I am wrong. I feel so blessed while reading everything on here.
      I should not want to take that away from any one here because
      of what I would post on here.

      They are called: shattering-of-the-vessels Part 1 and 2. It tells about the Discovery channel having a 3 week show on the atom.
      And Sam Peek, who is teaching on this video, shows in Jewish
      terms how this is very close to what rabbi’s in the past have proclaimed in their teaching. I am not trying to endorse their
      teaching but I do find it food for thought. I do believe Sam makes
      some very good points for debate on how we relate.

      Have a blessed day.
      In His service

    • Chris Skiles

      I don’t like to be blunt but Turek wiped up the floor w/ Hitchens.
      Hitchens wanted to make the debate abouth Christianity instead of the existence of God. Turek was constantly having to pull him back on track—which didn’t seem to work. Also, Hitchens refused to answer numerous questions. Hitchens is obvious very intellegent and very articulate but he just could not refute Turek’s reasoning.

    • John Mitchell

      Chris – I’m glad to hear that you thought that Turek won the debate. I was certainly “rooting for” Turek. However, when I looked at the faces on the audience and listened to their responses, I wasn’t so sure. I am a Prosecutor and I make my living talking to juries – and they didn’t look convinced to me.

      I agree that I think Turek has better arguments – I believe that Christianity is true. But I don’t think the test is whether or not we can convince each other – fellow Christians – of that truth. It seems to me that the acid test is what does the world think of our testimony. And that’s why I continue to think that programs like this one from Michael and Rhome help us all to learn how to defend the truth in a truthful and gracious manner.

      I think that the first step in that is to listen to what the other side is saying and to see what “resonates” with the world. Then I think we need to be prepared to respond to those arguments. I think that as Christians, we need to be always ready to give a defense to everyone who asks for the reason of our hope in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 3:15).

    • Jason C

      I think the presuppositionalist would say that unless a person is willing to examine the basis for their own beliefs they’re unlikely to ever change them.

      Hitchens is an atheist and as far as I can tell has never taken the time to try to think through the basics of atheism. That came across very clearly in his debate with Doug Wilson a while back where Doug kept bringing him back to the question “if Christianity is evil, where do you get your ideas about evil?” Hitchens seemed to fall back on the claim that the evils of Christianity are self-evidently true which is really not an answer.

      For example, slavery (which many atheists try to blame on Christianity) was a feature of almost every civilisation in history. Western opposition to it grew out of the Christian worldview and finally manifested in the 19th century as acts of Parliament and Congress abolishing it. However there is nothing in the atheistic paradigm that compels rejection of slavery. As Darwin (himself a staunch abolitionist) noted, slavery of ants by other ants exists in nature therefore slavery is natural. Every civilisation has had it therefore they found some benefit in it. That, put in terms of evolutionary thought, means it is a natural occurrence with selective advantage. Therefore there is no naturalistic justification for opposing it. The atheist who does oppose it can do so for no reason other than personal distaste.

    • Shrommer

      I finally got the chance to finish this long video, but I was fascinated by it. It struck me that very near the beginning of Hitchens’ first turn, he said that he didn’t have a problem with a deist God, and I thought that this should have been a sticking point. After all, the debate title was about whether God exists, not whether God is a personal God (more theistic) or whether Jesus is God made man. If Turek says God does exist, and Hitchens says that God could exist, that is pretty strong grounds for ending the debate right there with agreement that yes, God probably does exist.

      Turek gets drawn right into a defense of theism versus deism, however, and this is where he failed to take advantage of the common ground.

      Hitchens misses the whole point about where does the idea of good come from. Turek kept bringing up “chemicals” and “molecules”, and Hitchens kept answering that those concepts are very new on the scene of human thoughtlife. Turek should have found a way to re-word his question without leaving room for the red herring over how long we’ve known about molecules and chemicals, but he couldn’t quite get there.

      If Hitchens had answered the question, I think he could have answered that the idea of good simply just “is” for the majority, or at least for Hitchens, and that there is no justification in his mind for why good “ought to be” anything more than a popular pasttime in human musings, nor does he see the need for any justification of it.

      Similarly, Hitchens could have answered that matter/energy always has existed, and that it never sprang “from nothing”, as Turek claims. Today’s atheists always stop short of saying that life/intelligence always have existed, but there are a number of atheists who do not believe in ex nihilo.

      Instead, Hitchens didn’t seem able to put himself into the context of the questions being asked, and so he never really addressed them well.

      As a Christian myself, I kept wishing that Turek had taken the time to clarify that God is not about mankind having to obey a certain set of rules in order to please God. God simply loves us, because He is love. It was Christ who obeyed the law perfectly in our place, and Christ’s good works get listed under our names in God’s accounting system. We don’t have to know what every single law of God specifically demanded of Christ, or what it demands of us to get into heaven, since none of us are saved by keeping the law anyway. All we have to know is that Christ knew God’s will in every minutiae and submitted completely, and so when we are “in Christ” it is as if we had done the same thing – we were there with him and in him – and so the limitations of our knowledge of God’s will is something we can humbly admit, while at the same time not worrying about our vast ignorance while we are in these tents, since our Heavenly Father has seen our frailty and provided what we needed.

      Turek did try to point out that because we are sinners who don’t keep God’s law is why Jesus had to save us, and he “conveniently” did just that! If only Hitchens or at least the audience would meditate on that for a while.

      Turek also made clear that he agrees with Hitchens on a lot of things, and perhaps Turek could have itemized that one of those points of agreement is that religious leaders and people should not claim divine knowledge about exactly what kinds or clothing we should wear or exactly how many centimeters need to be cut off the foreskin to make God happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.