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Fun Friday: Atheist Christopher Hitchens Still Alive, Kicking and ‘Blaspheming’

Cancer takes a horrible toll on the body, so perhaps we can crack a smile when we find examples of the soul remaining defiantly intact — even if it is the potentially-damned soul of someone who doesn’t believe in such nebulous things?

Check out notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens’ love letter to the fire-and-brimstone responses he’s heard and read — the kind some of you have written on this very blog — since revealing that he’s battling esophageal cancer, in this Vanity Fair column: “Unanswerable Prayers.”


An excerpt:

Devout persons have died young and in pain. Bertrand Russell and Voltaire, by contrast, remained spry until the end, as many psychopathic criminals and tyrants have also done. These visitations, then, seem awfully random. While my so far uncancerous throat, let me rush to assure my Christian correspondent above, is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed …And even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend. In which case, why not cancer of the brain? As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)


(Politics Daily’s David Gibson has also had some fun with this column.)

What do you think? Share your thoughts — who knows, Mr. Hitchens may be reading! — in the Comments section below.

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Apuleius Platonicus

posted September 3, 2010 at 9:40 am

Christopher Hitchens is one of the more consistently interesting and entertaining people around. A major reason for this is that he takes the matter of living quite seriously and thoughtfully, but he has a gift for expressing himself with great humor.
In my opinion he has what the ancients called “greatness of spirit.”

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Joe Gonzalez

posted September 3, 2010 at 11:08 am

I am a practising Christian, and would choose no other Way. And that is not because of handed-down tradition, but rather from a life-long search for the Truth and an unmerited illumination from above. There are some people who believe strictly from tradition that i have known that are – marvelous marvel ! – true saints. There are others who are illumined from above, and choose to give God their backs. These are categorically considered the worst sinners of all. They see God in the face, and spit in His eye, like Henry Miller said he would do if he ever met Him in one of his two ” Cancers.” And then there are the antagonists, like Mr. Hitchens ; i think they serve a useful purpose. They bring to light even the most recondite and insignificant dust of religion, thereby granting us the privilege to examine that dirt and decide what to do with it. I read the Bible regularly, and have read it cover to cover some half dozen times, as one would read a loving novel. There’s a spot in the Old Testament ( please don’t ask me where, because it would take me a week or so of research, and it really isn’t warranted…but, as it is said : ” He who seeks, finds.”
The part i’m referring to, again, is in the OT, and it’s God speaking to a prophet or to His people directly ( most likely the former. ) God says ” Oh, if only my people had forgotten me, and kept my laws…it would have gone well for them.”
God doesn’t need our adoration. He’s Totally Self-Subsisting. He created us out of Love, but a Love so intense our poor hearts can hardly conceive it. Like i say, i don’t know anything about Mr. Hitchens past, traumas, motivations, inspirations, anger, denial…
But i do insist those people ( i know he’s intelligent ) can do us a great service. It is a commonplace among spiritual people that an atheist who is an exemplary citizen and lover and well-doer of humanity shall have a place, also, in heaven ; while a ‘religious’ person who’s so only in name, and is truly a disguised degenerate, criminal and miser, no matter how many Masses he attends, and how many times he genuflects and crosses himself within the sacred precint, will go to hell. But then , here comes the true crux of the matter : Only God has the faculty to Judge. Only He will have the Say. And whatever we anticipate to that verdict on our own is sin.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Well said, Joe G.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Liked AP comment, too.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.”
Kind of like saying, “If I go postal I hereby state while I’m still lucid that the entity thus choking the life out of my ex-wife…would not in fact be ‘me’.” Sorry Hitch; it just doesn’t work that way. I find it extraordinarily humorous that his biggest fear (even confronted with certain death) is being thought of as a repentant sinner on his deathbed by all of his adoring fans (there’s plenty worse one could be). In any event, if it is in fact his pious alter ego (who else could it be?) no doubt induced by pain medication, then perhaps he (the alter-ego) could experience God’s warm embrace and mercy in the hereafter, or should we just start setting the drug-induced captives (ie felons, intoxicated drivers, etc) free because in fact it “wasn’t them” who did the deeds?

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posted September 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

On the other hand, his sense of humor is still intact (which is key) and for what it’s worth, he is very gifted.

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Robert C

posted September 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

And I am sure that Nero cracked a few good witicisms at the expense of his victims as he planned his exquisite tortures for the crowd in the colosseum. Perhaps Hitch can find a seat next to his imperiousness in the great beyond and they can exchange bon mots. Oh well. C’est ca!

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posted September 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Stephen Hawkins is a very gifted man and his horrible physical handicaps are perhaps a thorn in the flesh to give him some humility and to develop a character of tremendous perseverance.
That being said, from a purely “scientific” perspective, who can really say what happened 13.5 billion years ago? The mind of any man can only speculate at this point.
Seems to me though, even from an “accidental naturalism” perspective, if the universe can evolve people from clouds of hydrogen gas in 4.5 billion years, then would there not be the possibility that given another billion years, humans could evolve into “Ascended Masters/Angels or some other type of super beings? And given 13.5 billion years would it be possible for a universe to evolve a godlike Yahweh being? New Agey types are often talking about a planet evolving a Gaia spirit, well, okay, could an entire universe evolve a Gaia for that universe? Would such a being then be the Yahweh for that universe?
Who knows. I would ask Stephen Hawkins to try and explain the orgin of his own conciousness. A big bang can explain how we got the Moon but it does not explain how we got our moods.

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Bill Wilson

posted September 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I have this fantasy (maybe a devout hope) that when Christopher Hitchens passes into the next life, he will encounter the Higher Power who runs this universe. This “deity” will tell him: “Welcome, Chris. You were right on target in many of your attacks on the cruelty, hypocrisy, dishonesty and power-brokering that have crept into virtually every organized religion. They needed a gadfly who would, Socrates like, stick a pin into their pomposity and self-righteousness. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23, New Living Translation) For the record, I am a 74-year-old Bronx Irish Catholic, who has no intention of abandoning my church to the power brokers who now control the institution.

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Your Name anthony magliaro

posted September 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I was saddened to hear of Chris Hitchens illness.I love to listen when he debates.He is very gifted and enlightening.I wish him all the best.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Bill Wilson: Amen.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Well, Tom, look on the bright side. Even if Hitchens doesn’t confess his wicked ways on his death bed, some urban legend will find its way onto the internet in the form of a popular spam email to inspire a new generation of Christians.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Robert C: “And I am sure that Nero cracked a few good witicisms at the expense of his victims as he planned his exquisite tortures for the crowd in the colosseum. Perhaps Hitch can find a seat next to his imperiousness in the great beyond and they can exchange bon mots.”
Wow…I’m going to enjoy you trying to explain how this comment isn’t ridiculously offensive and over the top. Granted, you didn’t rush to make the cliche comparison with Hitler, so you’re showing some creativity. I will give you that much. But still…wow…

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Robert C

posted September 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Ah you don’t let me down Modred. You felt compelled to slither to Hitchens defense. And oh btw I really don’t measure what I find offensive against what you find offensive, so blather away all you like.

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posted September 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Gotta love Chris Hitchens: He is a man of great intelligence, with more than a bit of pluck, humour and integrity.
Live well, and go out bravely, having appreciated life for what it is. That I expect is how Chris will leave, and with a Cheshire Cat’s grin left floating for everyone to reflect upon.

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Jason L Hall

posted September 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

We are really reading about fear here. Christopher Hitchens fears losing control and losing dignity. Symptoms of his (and all our) most base fear: death.
It’s only natural to fear death. Death is one of those constants of the natural law. We can’t jump 30 stories and survive, we can’t change Coke to Pepsi, and we all fear death. I agree with science that biologically this is how it’s supposed to work.
In all of our memory we’ve only really known one thing- our own consciencenes. In all of our existence our consciencnes is only thing we can be sure is real.
It’s impossible not to wonder if that spark that is you- really goes out forever. I can only hope, Mr. Hitchens, that you have peace and comfort as your life ends.

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posted September 4, 2010 at 11:40 am

I love this from Hitch’s column:
“Suppose I ditch the principles I have held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favor at the last minute? I hope and trust that no serious person would be at all impressed by such a hucksterish choice. Meanwhile, the god who would reward cowardice and dishonesty and punish irreconcilable doubt is among the many gods in which (whom?) I do not believe.
Hitchens has clearly decided to live until he dies. It is such a joy to read his continuing contributions to the debates of the day. He’s really a wonderful, spirited human being. On another tack, just imagine how threatened and insecure someone must be if they feel the need to consign those who express contrary or contrarian views to eternal damnation and torture? I’ve had that happen to me in Internet discussions (not on Beliefnet) and I have to say I was flabbergasted.
“Someone disagrees with me???? They are going straight to HELL.” How sick is that?

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posted September 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm

OH! Come on Folks! Hitchins should become one of the last to convert and join the group at the foot of the mountain of the Purgitoro of Dante owned by the last minute converted. He will see “Paridisimo” (sp?) eventurally but he has to be Purged.
Welcome home Christopher! But you have a lot of Purging to do. But if you convert you will do it! If not the Inferno is waiting, hot and heavy!
Take Care

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posted September 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Gg your god doesn’t have a speck of morality if It puts a person in fire forever just because he/she happens to not believe the right thing. Oh, and didn’t the Pope say Hell isn’t fire, it’s separation? What were you doing when that memo went around?

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robert c

posted September 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Sorry nnmns. That memo got re-routed. Went from Soros to the T party instead.

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Jerome McCollom

posted September 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

If Hitchens goes to his death stating there is no god, there will still be stories told about him that he “converted” on his deathbed. After all, the deceased can’t sue for libel. Any atheist of any note will be treated as such and in fact, have been. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins (other prominent atheists) will have deathbed conversions told about them. Why do so many peole on the religious rightwing have to lie, if they have the “truth” as they talk about so much?

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posted September 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm

christopher hitchens will see the truth soon enough – maybe MOTHER THERESA will be there to take him when he dies

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posted September 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Cancer, is a horific desease. I feel so bad for you, Christopher Hitchens. I pray, with all my heart that God has mercy on your soul.

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posted October 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Thank you for all that you have accomplished in your life, especially to expose religion for what it really is, “a Poisonous plague.” The Greatest threat to mankind is religion. Islam was derived from christianity and now poses the biggest threat to THE WORLD! With Iran gaining nuclear capabilities, are existence is threatened by religious fundamentalist fanatics. Religion is the #1 threat to humankind falling right behind global warming. May Science and Reason take over and save us!

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Dan Smith

posted November 2, 2010 at 6:33 am

I just read Mr. Hitchens’ book “God is not Great” and is only the second book about organized religion that I’ve read in my lifetime, the first being Bertrand Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian” which I read as a freshman in college in the fall of 1963 and while much has changed in the world of technology and scientific inquiry organized religion remains the albatross around the neck of mankind every bit as much if not more than it was in 1963. Sometimes I despair for the future of mankind as I look around a landscape littered with the broken bodies of religious fanatics from Northern Ireland to Iraq Iran and Afghanistan. But then I’m introduced to a great philosopher(in 1969) like Krishnamurti and I have hope that mankind can somehow save itself from the abyss of self destruction through reason, scientific inquiry, skepticism compassion and empathy. I will go to my death with these values and nothing more.

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Toni P.

posted November 7, 2010 at 8:54 pm

you won´t be missed…

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posted November 24, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Ah, Dan Smith: I read what you wrote and I agree with you on the whole “organized religion” issue. I was born and raised Catholic, turned Baptist and then finally I was able to break free from any affiliation with a religion. However, I believe that there is too much evidence out there to dismiss that there is a God and a Messiah, so that is where I draw the line. Yes, I am still a God fearing, Messiah believing human.

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posted February 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

Ah Joe! What would this screwed-up world do wothout you profoundly naive, ignorant souls?

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mike w

posted June 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Christopher Hitchens will be missed on that fateful day. He has brought many thought provoking and interesting ways of seeing the world. Some Christians will have one less villain to rail against on that day. My guess is some of those same Christians envy his guts and tenacity.

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posted September 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Christopher Hitchens is a voice of reason, intelligence and abundant curiosity. He will be missed. The cruel, vicious words of the “Christians” here only serve to reinforce his every impression and utterance about the absurdity of belief in myths, superstitions and the wish thinking of the brain washed, fearful flock (a word that in itself says so much).

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Lewis Williams

posted September 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

To Toni P.: You are correct, Christopher Hitchens will not be missed. This is because even though he will die, as we all will, the product of his mental faculties will remain with the human race as long as it exists. In this, Christopher Hitchens is truly an immortal. You may not agree with what he has opined, but you have to love the way he wrote and said it. He is not a bullshitter and has never backed down on what he truly believes. As Mr. Hitchens so correctly observed, the potential length of human existence is greatly dependent upon the continued existence of its greatest nemesis, religion. Thank you Mr. Hitchens for doing your part to save the human race from destroying itself.

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posted October 22, 2011 at 3:16 am

Praise be to The Most High,
The sun and the moon are perfectly round do you not see the alternation from day to night.These are signs from your Lord.What about the harvest that a single grain of corn can produce,these are signs from your Creator.The inability to drink ocean water for benefit, but there is fresh water available for us on the land is it not evident that there is a Creator.We were created to worship him alone without partner.If that does not suffice as proof of a Creator than your death surely will,there is no doctor or so called educated person who can save you from that.Spend your time which is given to you wisely and adore your Creator.His cancer diagnosis is a reminder to all that no one is larger than The Most High.

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posted October 23, 2011 at 12:26 am

I have deep regard and respect for Mr. Hitchens and don’t give a damn about religious fools who dislike him. Even if I don’t like the sound of a violin, I appreciate and admire the person that has spent so much time mastering it. Mr Hitchens is a word master and clear thinker and has it exactly right. It takes incredible brass to buck the established and twisted thinking all religious cults share. Mr Hitchens has faced them all, knocked them on their lying asses and told the truth about the nonsense being feed the uneducated and desperate.

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posted November 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I say bon voyage to Christopher in his next great adventure.
Whether or not there’s anyone or anything waiting on the other side of the curtain, he should rest assured that if there is, I’d happily bet everything I have that those running things won’t be nearly as concerned about his supposed blasphemies as delighted with his intelligence, candor and honesty.
We will miss him when he’s gone.

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