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Hitchens and God — Debate Settled

Hitchens and God — Debate Settled
By Jack Kinsella

It appears that the biggest story of the week, surpassing the Keystone Pipeline vote, the ending of the Iraq War, the continuing buildup of Russian forces around Syria, and even Iran’s evidently successful cracking of the command and control codes for UAV’s, is the death of Christopher Hitchens.

The Toronto Globe and Mail’s paper edition devoted four pages to Hitchen’s obituary. The Washington Post’s obituary headline read; “Christopher Hitchens dies at 62: Sharp-tongued writer fearlessly challenged moral, religious hypocrisy“.

The Vancouver Sun headlined its obituary: “Christopher Hitchens: He was his own man”. Canada’s national magazine, Maclean’s opined in its pages; “Hitchens deserves to be remembered with Orwell”.

The Los Angeles Times feted Hitchen’s life in its headline, noting, “Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62; Engaging, Enraging Author and Essayist“. Even the Times of India made note of “The Death of a Devout Atheist.”

I am trying to recall the last time that the death of an essayist elicited such an outpouring of international grief. I am also trying to figure out exactly what Christopher Hitchens accomplished with his life that would merit such devotion.

A clue can be found in the “related keywords” section at Google for his name. Google lists six; three of them are related to what is arguably his greatest legacy, which is the advancement of atheism, which is the belief that nothing created everything out of nothing for no particular reason.

That’s what Hitchens was really famous for. Oh, he was known in certain circles as a “brilliant polemicist” and a “curmudgeon” and so on, but the average Joe wouldn’t have had a clue who Christopher Hitchens was if he hadn’t made a career out of fighting God.

Hitchens wasn’t simply an atheist — he was a militant atheist who dedicated much of his professional life to proselytizing his faith. That isn’t the way that Hitchens might have expressed it, but there is no more accurate way to phrase it.

Hitchens had an amazing propensity for faith. His faith in his own intellect was such that he could be comfortable arguing that DNA is the product of random chance. Random chance map

By way of illustration, the other day, somebody emailed me this picture of a cow. Notice the cow’s markings — it is a perfect world map, down to the tiniest detail. I showed it to my unbelieving friends, all of whom gave me the same response; “It must have been Photoshopped.”

I even played devil’s advocate, defending the picture as real, arguing that the cow just so happened to be born that way and isn’t it amazing? But I couldn’t convince anybody that the markings on the cow were the product of random chance — they were all equally convinced somebody changed the photo to produce the map.

But none of them had any problem believing that random chance produced the cow.

Assessment

The world’s fascination with the death of Christopher Hitchens doesn’t stem from his Marxist youth or his sudden conversion from far left liberalism to a sort of confused conservatism post 9/11.

Christopher Hitchens hated Jesus even more than he hated organized religion. As we discussed yesterday, “organized religion” means Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, secular humanism, environmentalism, etc., etc.

Hitchens eulogized Mother Teresa as “a fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud.” Hitchens hosted a documentary about Mother Teresa that was entitled “Hell’s Angel”.

When Jerry Falwell died of a heart attack in 2007, Christopher Hitchens was positively gleeful. Asked at the time by CNN if he believed Jerry Falwell was in heaven, Hitchens replied:

“No. And I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to. The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend.”

Jerry Falwell was a great man of faith who stood for something. His legacy includes founding America’s “Moral Majority” which took a stand against abortion, same-sex marriage, the dilution of morality in society, pornography and violence in entertainment.

On Falwell’s passing, the Associated Press offered this touching tribute:

“The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s habit of sounding off on everything from liberals and terrorism to the “Teletubbies” regularly embarrassed his fellow conservatives…His foes? Liberals, “abortionists,” the American Civil Liberties Union, feminists, gay rights activists and the faithless.”

The Guardian (UK) noted in its obituary that:

“Largely because of the sex scandals involving Bakker and fellow evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, donations to Falwell’s ministry dropped from $135 million in 1986 to less than $100 million the following year. Hundreds of workers were laid off and viewers of his television show dwindled.”

We noted some of the blog comments about Falwell at the time of his death in an OL entitled, “Precious in the Eyes of the Lord are the Death of His Saints;”

Reader comments in Canada’s Globe and Mail led off with one signed by Trish Fenner from Perth, Australia, who wrote, “Where’s your Messiah now?”

“Don Adams from Canada” had this to say: “Good riddance!

The lone reader comment in the Washington Post story, who signed him/herself “tbd505” kept his/her comments pithy: “Thank God that sow has gone to the butcher.”

The New York Times’ readers were every bit as kind:

– “Mr. Falwell’s death was God’s way of saying, ‘Jerry, shut up.’” – Martin Delaney

– “I’m glad he is gone.” – Joe Oliveira

– “Long may he burn.” – Allison (no last name)

– “Falwell’s vile mind can no longer churn out lies. He has fallen back into that abyss of silence out of which to our lasting harm he emerged.” – Eye of Horus

– “Do you think Jerry will go to heaven? I don’t think so!” – Rob

– “He is nothing more than a traitor hiding bigotry, hate & ignorance behind the shielding mask of religion. . . . Please, pardon my glee.” — George

– “I cannot remember Falwell for anything other than bigotry, racism, and hatemongering and it is people like Falwell that are the number one reason why I am no longer a Christian. I’ve seen what religious dogma can do.” – Sam

– “One less rabble rousing fanatic in the world. We are well pleased.” — Joe Johnson

– “Jerry Falwell is dead, but his political legacy of hate and discrimination lives on among fundamentalists…Anti-gay, anti-woman and anti-science, Falwell — along with his friends in the Republican party — spread anger, bigotry and intolerance all the while hiding behind God and a twisted interpretation of “family values.”

Not to be outdone by amateur haters, the Huffington Post’s Kirk Snyder wrote under the headline; “Falwell’s Gay Legacy: Hate and Discrimination“

Militant atheism is a source of never-ending mystery to me. It offers nothing and takes everything. If they are right, there is no accountability beyond this life. One is answerable only to himself and to the law – but only if he gets caught.

In his book, Hitchens argued that atheism is reason and that religion is responsible for war.

Atheist Mao Tse Tung murdered 20 million Chinese; Pol Pot murdered 2 million Cambodians, Josef Stalin 50 million Russians, Adolf Hitler 12 million Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and other ‘untermenchen’.

What does that prove? It proves that men are responsible for war. Not religion. If not religion, it would be something else.

Atheism posits that men are basically good, but cannot explain what ‘good’ means. “Good” is a subjective term – it all depends on one’s perspective.

It takes a willful ignorance to hold to the position that man is basically good when one cannot define the basics of ‘good’ apart from the Word of God.

For “good” to exist, there must also be a corresponding evil against which to measure it. Good and evil are not atheist terms, they are religious terms.

In an atheist society, they are defined on a sliding scale, so what would be considered ‘good’ to an American atheist, such as freedom of speech would be exceeding evil to a dedicated atheist Communist.

When there is no benchmark definition for ‘good’ an atheist can argue that it is ‘good’ that a woman can choose to kill her baby rather than raise it because that way the baby won’t grow up in poverty.

That is what the world is celebrating with its outpouring of grief and loss at the death of Christopher Hitchens. Willful ignorance. Hitchens wasn’t a seeker of truth. He wasn’t skeptical about God.

Hitchens was a scoffer. The word ‘scoffers’ empaiktes can also be translated, ‘mockers’ — and that is the part I find most intriguing about the whole atheist worldview.

Hitchens (and his co-religionists) claim to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that which is a logical impossibility to know, and from that position, mock those who hold the only remaining logical position, which is that it is impossible to KNOW, except by faith.

Most of the obits about Hitchens include a quote or two from one of his polemics against God or religion. One of his most-often quoted is the following:

“That which can be asserted without evidence can be denied without evidence.”

His position was that there is no more evidence pointing to the existence of God than there is evidence pointing to the existence of nothing. It is also demonstrably wrong.

Atheism claims to be the belief in nothing, but it defines itself by denying the existence of something.

To be an atheist, one has to first believe that something is nothing and nothing is something. Having made that impossible mental connection, one then has to articulate it in a convincing way. (Maybe that’s why Christopher Hitchens’ obituary was so fawning.)

Hitchens openly defied God to the very end. That’s why the world loved Christopher Hitchens.

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18-19)

Hitchens main premise was that God is dead. He wrote it in books. He said it in debates. He repeated that assertion at every possible opportunity. Then on Thursday, God said that Hitchens was dead. But God only had to say it once.

You tell me who won the debate.

Note: Originally Published in December 2011.

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