What do I think of Peter Harris’s book published by Resource Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Christopher Hitchens in his own way was probably the most eloquent of the new atheists. While he was certainly an anti-theist, he had no interest in eliminating religion from the world and seemed to enjoy the debate. While he was opposed to religion, he was also respectful to religions and would follow appropriate protocol if he found himself in a house of worship.
Yet he still needs to be answered.
Harris’s book is an attempt to answer the charges of Christopher Hitchens. It is not making a positive case for Christianity per se, though at times it wonders into that, but it seeks to refute a negative case against Christianity and that mainly being from Hitchens. The work enters areas of history and philosophy mainly.
With history, there is an emphasis on political history. Hitchens was a very strong proponent of democracy and an opponent of totalitarianism. I have a suspicion that he would really oppose ill treatment of Christians by political powers and seek to avoid that if he could. In some ways, we might consider him one of the more reasonable new atheists.
Harris’s book is an interesting look at the man as Harris engages with his writings and writings about him, including his own accounts about himself. He doesn’t go too much into his personal history, but perhaps Hitchens himself didn’t do that. He looks at the problem of evil and the historicity of the Bible.
Harris also gets pastoral at times pointing out the experiential difference that Christianity makes in life and the longing for justice and meaning we have. In these areas also, he sometimes engages with other atheists, normally ones that he knew that Hitchens was familiar with.
I do appreciate the look at political history, particularly at Trotsky who Hitchens seemed to have a great love for that Harris is frankly puzzled by. I would have liked to have seen even more here. Hitchens’s book God is Not Great is really looking at so much of history. Perhaps some writer has gone through point by point. If they have, good, and I would like to read it sometime.
I disagree with some areas of philosophy, such as the disparaging Harris has of classical theism. I do not see God as suffering alongside of us. Still, that is not a problem for me as I have my own answers to the problem of evil. I do appreciate how Harris keeps coming back to the resurrection and what a difference the resurrection of Jesus makes.
This book is highly respectful of Hitchens, but since it was written after Hitchens passed we can never know this side of eternity what he thought about it. We can hope for some deathbed conversion on the part of Hitchens, and I know some writers have pushed for that, but we cannot know for now. Still, even though we can’t reach Hitchens, we can reach thoe he has influenced and are capable of being influenced by him.
If you care about the writings of Hitchens, you owe it to yourself to get this one. It is quite thorough and very easy to interact with.