theblackrationalist

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A few words about “Let’s All Pray for Christopher Hitchens” day.

In Culture, Religion on September 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

Christopher Hitchens

It’s reported that when he heard the title of Christopher Hitchens best-selling book “God is Not Great”, Rev. Al Sharpton’s response was “says who?” Many people have opinions of Christopher Hitchens; few of them are conflicting. People tend to either love him or hate him. To some, he’s an angry, evil miserable drunk atheist who takes his misery out on believers and is bound for hell. To others, he’s a highly intelligent and educated scholar who is brave enough to question in the most critical fashion a belief system that millions hold dear. However you feel about Christopher Hitchens, what he has done is tapped into a growing movement that embraces freethought and is not afraid of questioning the validity of religion.

When Hitchens announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with an advanced stage of esophageal cancer, his detractors we quick to respond. Hitchens was not optimistic about his chances of survival so there was an immediate fascination on if Hitchens, a devout atheist had changed his tune. When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper if he would turn to Christ on his deathbed, he replied.

“I would never do such a pathetic thing while still lucid”

Obviously, Hitchens’ medical condition has not changed the facts and reasoning which lead him to his belief (or lack thereof); so an Atheist he remains. Despite this, many have dubbed today the “Let’s All Pray for Christopher Hitchens” Day. I’m not sure exactly what the prayer is for, but Hitchens himself will not partake in it but stated that if it makes those who pray for him feel better, great.

After reading Hitchens’ book “God is Not Great”, beyond the breadth of evidence, examples and information presented that should make anyone question the role and impact religion has had on society for centuries, I was floored by the candidness of his words. I shared Hitchens critical eye for much of religion’s teachings. More importantly, I shared his subtle fascination with the possibility of some day knowing the truth; a truth devoid of a need for faith. That’s how Hitchens writings have always struck me. Not angry, bitter, drunk induced or from a place of malice or harm; simply a quest for the truth with little to no tolerance for baseless dogma or bullshit.

Hitchens has been called a modern day Thomas Paine. Although I suspect whenever he dies, he will have a few more attendees to his funeral than Paine had. Because like the discussion that Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” began in the late 18th century, Hitchens has helped spark open, candid and honest dialogue about the validity and impact of religious belief. In a society where many hold murderers (atleast those who repent) in higher regards than atheists, he’s also help to devilify those who may not fall into the majority category of believers. Let’s all pray that that movement continues long after Hitchens time whenever that may be.

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