Christopher Hitchens died last night (December 15, 2011). He had been battling esophageal cancer since 2010. Hitchens was a devout atheist, writing and debating on the subject extensively. In 2007 he wrote a book titled, God is Not Great. I read this book and found it interesting, challenging, and frustrating.
Hitchens grew up Catholic in the United Kingdom, was baptized as an infant, and attended very strict parochial schools. As I was reading the book, the thought kept occurring to me that his problem was not so much with God as it was religion. Thus, the subtitle of God is Not Great is How Religion Poisons Everything. Apparently, early in life, Hitchens met a harsh God, instead of a loving God. He has now met a holy and just God.
Whatever he may have thought before, Christopher Hitchens now knows the truth.
I found out about Hitchens’ death this morning by reading a friend of mine’s blog. In his blog, my friend asked how we, as Christians, should feel about this death. I have mixed emotions. Christopher Hitchens was a brilliant thinker. I wonder how much more brilliant he could have been if he would have given his intellect, which originally came from God, back to God. I feel a lot like I did when I read his book – interesting, challenging, frustrating, and I would add, sad.
Here are a few quotes from God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything:
- “There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.”
- “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.”
- “(Religion) may speak about the bliss of the next world, but it wants power in this one.”
- “Since religion has proved itself uniquely delinquent on the one subject where moral and ethical authority might be counted as universal and absolute, I think we are entitled to at least three provisional conclusions: The first is that religion and the churches are manufactured, and that this salient fact is too obvious to ignore. The second is that ethics and morality are quite independent of faith, and cannot be derived from it. The third is that religion is—because it claims a special divine exemption for its practices and beliefs—not just amoral but immoral.”
- “But I am compelled to remember what I know—which is that there would be no such churches in the first place if humanity had not been afraid of the weather, the dark, the plague, the eclipse, and all manner of other things now easily explicable.”
- “Religion is an original sin…”
A couple of Bible verses come to mind:
Psalm 14:1 – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.”
Romans 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
1 Corinthians 1:20 & 25 – “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?…For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
Hebrews 9:27-28 – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face the judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people…”
I think I need to read this book next.
What do you think about the life and death of Christopher Hitchens?