Collision is a powerful documentary that highlights two of the smartest men alive going head to head in a fierce debate. It is aptly titled Collision to describe the lives of these two men that are opposed clashing, and this film captures the sparks between them for our edification and entertainment. There are things that I really enjoyed about this documentary as a Christian, and some that I did not.
First of all, the debate and the debaters are both top notch. Though I have not read anything by Hitchens yet, Wilson is one of my favorite authors and he does not disappoint here. It is clear that both Hitchens and Wilson possess copiousness, to borrow a term from the film, and they draw on a wide variety of sources to make their points. This in itself was very refreshing. Neither party uses straw men or cheap debate techniques to prove their point. From an objective viewpoint apart from the subject matter, the debate itself is inspiring – rational, composed, thoughtful argumentation does still exist.
I also enjoyed Wilson’s candor. His answer for the top reason he is a Christian is absolutely honest and truthful, but we rarely hear other Christians make the same confession. There should be no embarrassment that the main reason you are a Christian is because you came from a Christian family that raised you in the way of the Lord. Indeed, the Bible instructs us to raise our children like this. Most Christians are embarrassed to admit that they did not embrace Christianity after a careful study of every major religion and concluded that it was the best way. I affirm Wilson’s honesty and integrity and confess that the same is true for me. I have since \”tested the faith\” and found it absolutely true, and like Wilson can point to clear, rational arguments for its validity above all other religions. But that’s not why I am a Christian. I am a Christian because God saved me, period. All the rational argument in the world will fall on deaf ears unless God moves. Powerful, needed words from an accomplished Christian speaker.
Another part of the movie that I enjoyed, to my own surprise, was Christopher Hitchens. He is an atheist, in fact he goes so far as to say that he is an anti-theist, but he is a likable one. Extremely intelligent and well read and a brilliant debater. It is hard to imagine someone presenting stronger opposition to Christianity than he does, and yet he ultimately, tragically fails. His arguments are crushed by his own rationalism, yet he dogmatically holds to them, reminiscent of a fundamentalist clinging to his own beliefs. Yet, he is also honest and more open-minded towards Christianity than I expected. Three times in the movie, he responds to Wilson’s arguments with a fresh look at Christianity. He even states that it is rare that he comes up against a new idea in a debate, but Wilson manages to bring up new ideas three times at least. The pair of them are a great match for each other, and the movie showcases both of them admirably.
There were also a couple of things that I thought the film could have done better. First, the production value and editing were uneven throughout the film – some of it was done really well, some was amateurish. Still the best documentary I have seen of its type, but could have been better. Secondly, almost all arguments for Christianity were defensive rather than offensive. While that was the nature of the debate because it arose from Hitchens’ attack, it still would have been nice to see Wilson present positive arguments for Christianity.
One thing that I gained from watching this besides a better understanding of the arguments themselves is a desire for \”copiousness.\” Wilson defines it as being well read across a broad spectrum, something you prepare for your entire life. Watching these two men debate made me realize how far behind I am on the copiousness scale and I am anxious to catch up.
This documentary is recommended for anyone who has more than a passing interest on either side of this debate. It is well done, very fair, and guaranteed to be worth your time at least once through, if not multiple times.