Thought I'd share a bit...
Hitchens argues that religion "poisons everything," but a strong historical case can be made that Christianity in particular has motivated a host of beneficial movements in history.1 I will select only one to discuss. Christianity was at the start and heart of the scientific revolution in Europe, beginning around the middle of the sixteenth century. Given that Hitchens (and other new atheists) think that science has displaced God, this is an ironic truth. Non-Christian philosopher Alfred North Whitehead argued that modern science was born in a Christian cradle;2 more recently, respected sociologist and historian Rodney Stark has staked the same claim in more detail.3 That Christians were at the forefront of modern science cannot really be disputed. Why? The Christian worldview was the impetus for science for many reasons, but principally because, unlike other worldviews, it deemed nature as good, rational, non-divine, and worthy of investigation and development for the glory of God.4
Atheism, on the other hand, lives on borrowed (or stolen) intellectual capital. It must take the rationality and knowability of nature as a brute and inexplicable given, since nature, according to atheism, was not created or designed by a rational Mind. To atheists, mindless matter precedes the appearances of minds. Minds turn up for no reason. Our reasoning just happens to have the resources for developing sophisticated scientific theories about the universe and ingenious ways to harness nature's potential through technology. One atheist mathematician, who puzzled over the success of his discipline in a Godless cosmos, wrote an article on the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics."5 Given a naturalistic/atheistic worldview, as he observed, there is no reason to believe that mathematics should correspond with the objective world so wonderfully; yet it does. The idea of a coherent and knowable universe is unreasonable for atheism, but it is perfectly reasonable for those who believe in God as Creator and Designer.
1. Rodney Start, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random House, 2005), and Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2007), chaps. 5-10.
2. Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York; The MacMillan Company, 1926), chap. 1.
3. See Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformation, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), chap. 2.
4. See Kenneth Samples, Without a Doubt (Grand Rapids Zondervan, 2004), 187-94, for a powerful explanation of this.
5. Eugene Wigner, "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics 13, 1 (February 1960).