“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”~Christopher Hitchens
I have been following Christopher Hitchens on and off for a few years. The only book I ever read (or partly read) of his was “God is Not Great”, which was his manifesto on why all religion needs to be extinguished off the face of the earth. I only got half way through the book, not because I was offended by it, but rather because I got bored of it. It didn’t have anything new to say; just the same old arguments about how religion causes wars and divisions among mankind etc etc… Actually, it can be quite dangerous for a Christian to listen too intently on the arguments of a sharp minded atheist–“G. K. Chesterton once pointed to the salutary effect that the great agnostics had on him—that effect being that of ‘arousing doubts deeper than their own.'”~Douglas Wilson
But I always enjoyed reading his articles or watching his debates. He often debated; a lot on religion, but other topics too. His idea was that religion is our first and worst attempt to understand who we are and where we come from. He believed it was time for the human race to grow up and leave behind all of our primitive religious superstitions. He was a die-hard atheist, and atheists everywhere worshiped him like a god. Actually, Hitchens described himself as an anti-theist–meaning he didn’t just not believe in God, but even if God were proven to him to exist, he still would not submit his life to God.
In 2010 Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer. Having to face his own impending death, he did not change his views on God. If asked: “How are you feeling?” He would just answer: “I’m dying…Everybody is, but … the process has accelerated on me…So I’m looking for ways to try to die more like you.”
Hitchens mentioned in an interview that if rumors surface, after his death, that he called on Jesus just before his death, then the public ought not to believe them as the only way he would change his mind and heart on religion, and Christianity specifically, is if he had already lost his mind due to the illness–the real Christopher Hitchens was already dead before such calls for salvation were made. Pastor Douglas Wilson makes an interesting point in an article he wrote after Hitchen’s death:
“…We have no indication that Christopher ever called on the Lord before he died, and if he did not, then Scriptures plainly teach that he is lost forever. But we do have every indication that Christ died for sinners, men and women just like Christopher. We know that the Lord has more than once hired workers for his vineyard when the sun was almost down (Matt. 20:6).We also know that Christopher was worried about this, and was afraid of letting down the infidel team. In a number of interviews during the course of his cancer treatments, he discussed the prospect of a “death bed” conversion, and it was clear that he was concerned about the prospect. But, he assured interviewers, if anything like that ever happened, we should all be certain that the cancer or the chemo or something had gotten to his brain. If he confessed faith, then he, the Christopher Hitchens that we all knew, should be counted as already dead. In short, he was preparing a narrative for us, just in case. But it is interesting that the narrative he prepped us with did not involve some ethically challenged evangelical nurses on the late shift who were ready to claim that they had heard him cry out to God, thus misrepresenting another great infidel into heaven. It has been done with Einstein, and with Darwin. Why not Hitchens? But Christopher actually prepared us by saying that if he said anything like this, then he did not know what he was saying.
This is interesting, not so much because of what it says about what he did or did not do as death approached him, and as he at the same time approached death. It is interesting because, when he gave these interviews, he was manifestly in his right mind, and the thought had clearly occurred to him that he might not feel in just a few months the way he did at present. The subject came up repeatedly, and was plainly a concern to him. Christopher Hitchens was baptized in his infancy, and his name means “Christ-bearer.” This created an enormous burden that he tried to shake off his entire life. No creature can ever succeed in doing this. But sometimes, in the kindness of God, such failures can have a gracious twist at the end. We therefore commend Christopher to the Judge of the whole earth, who will certainly do right. Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949-2011). R.I.P.”~ Douglas Wilson in his article “Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects” from Christianity Today Even though I don’t agree with his views on God, I find that I often agree with things he said about life in general. I enjoyed his wit and his humor. I think it is a sad thing that he died. And I think it is an even more sad thing that he died never making peace with God. Yes, it is a sobering, and quieting thing when you really take the time to think about what happens after death–the finality of it; no more second chances, no more room for repentance.
Below is a documentary, from YouTube, worth watching. It is a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson. Give it a watch, and I think you’ll find it a very entertaining, and thought provoking debate on atheism vs theism. The arguments on the atheist side are clever, and strong. If you’re a Christian, do you know how to speak up for what you believe?
“COLLISION carves a new path in documentary film-making as it pits leading atheist, political journalist and bestselling author Christopher Hitchens against fellow author, satirist and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson, as they go on the road to exchange blows over the question: ‘Is Christianity Good for the World?'”~from the website “Collision Movie“.
Update~April 29, 2012
Here is another clip of the debate between Hitchens and Wilson which didn’t make the “Collision” film…
Click here to be redirected to watch the clip on the Resurgence website.
And, click here to view another out-take from the film at Resurgence.
Here are some recent articles about Hitchens…
Christianity Today~Christopher Hitchens Has Died, Doug Wilson Reflects
BBC News~Christopher Hitchens dies at 62 after suffering cancer
Advocate~Christopher Hitchens: “I’m Dying”
Time~Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011): A Career in Quotes