Hitchens to Undergo Chemotherapy

Christopher Hitchens has had to cancel a lot of his recent appearances promoting Hitch-22. He finally released a short statement about it:

I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.

Yikes… hope he gets better soon.

Knowing him, he’ll argue the cancer into submission.

In the meantime, please don’t bother praying for him.

  • http://sunombreenvano.blogspot.com/ Diego, El Mapache

    Some will say that’s God’s punishment for his actions.

    To them, let’s reply that actually, when life gets though, it’s because God is afraid of your success.

  • stephanie

    Wow, that sucks. :(

  • Richard Wade

    Ah. I was going to see him speak in L.A. last Monday, and it was suddenly canceled two days before for “personal reasons.” I was wondering if there was a health problem. Maybe the health threat will convince him to stop drinking…? Well, I won’t hold my breath, but I wish him well, and I hope he recovers.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Knowing him, he’ll argue the cancer into submission.

    I hate when people make these kinds of statements.

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com krissthesexyatheist

    Diego is correct, the fundies will have a field day with this. If xtiananity is a religion of love then we should see them sending best wishes. Somehow, I do not think that will be the case. G-luck Hitch.

    Kriss

  • http://humanistincanada.blogspot.com/ Freddy

    It sucks indeed. Hitch is tough…hopefully he’ll get through this.

  • http://stereoroid.wordpress.com/ brian t

    What are the odds on how long it takes before some faith-head reports this, using the word “foxholes” in a sentence? I give it about eight hours from the time of Hitch’s statement.

  • Bob

    If cancer is God’s punishment, then all I can say is that His judgment sucks.

    If cancer is God’s way of saying we need to be more mindful of how we take care of ourselves and each other, He needs a copy editor or new ad campaign or something.

    Here’s hoping the chemo does what it’s supposed to do. Get better soon, Hitch. The world needs more voices like yours than it does from the religious side of the field.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I hate when people make these kinds of statements.

    What, gallows humor? You’d prefer everyone was serious and somber about bad news, never so much as an attempt to break up the gloom?

  • john locke

    I think getting a serious illness in your 60s is pretty tame as far as punishments. Most people get it regardless.

  • http://www.oregonskeptics.com OregonSkeptics

    #GetWellHitch I doubt Hitch will care, but let it never be said that we can’t show support for one of our own.

  • littlejohn

    Having my own share of bad habits, I am reluctant to mention this, but someone else will.
    Cancer – if that’s what he has – of the esophagus is found almost exclusively among people who smoke heavily and drink straight liquor.
    The alcohol dissolves the protective mucous of the throat, allowing the smoke to do its worst.
    I’m a drinker myself, so I am not being judgmental. It just seems such a shame that a couple of voluntary habits may take the most eloquent voice of atheism from us.
    I wish him the best.

  • Steve

    I’ve been reading his autobiography, which may be the best autobiography I’ve ever read (except for maybe after Bertrand Russell’s, which might beat him out by a hair). I don’t know of a way to contact him, but I do wish him well from one atheist with cancer to another.

  • Aegis

    @littlejohn: At least there’s an easily-pinpointed likely cause. If it does turn out to be cancer and the fundies start squealing happily, then that set of causes will be a handy figurative cactus to beat them with.

    Besides, Charlie Watts (drummer of the Rolling Stones) had the same thing a few years back. He’s still touring, no worries. Speaking as someone with a bit’ve experience in chemotherapy – having cared for a parent undergoing it, followed by radiotherapy – it will knock him on his arse for a while but he’ll get back up. He’ll be well cared for while he’s weak, and having been struck down will become stronger than we can possibly imagine.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    Here’s hoping he beats it.

  • http://www.gopetition.com/online/18938.html Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle

    I feel sorry for the cancer! Hitch is tough.

  • evilspud

    In the meantime, thousands of christians currently experiencing the debilitating effects of chemotherapy can tremble in fear with the knowledge that their God thinks of them as highly as a blasphemous infidel.

  • http://wildmonky.wordpress.com James

    I am sure we will see lots of hateful comments too from Christians.

    That’s a shame, but I wish him luck!

    On a related note (very related) I was talking with a Christian friend about the hateful and hypocritical comments “some” (his implied qualifier) make and he asserts that that is a vocal minority. I maintain that though my friend disagrees with the hate, he is in fact in the minority.

    Thoughts?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    That’s so sad. I hope the chemotherapy is effective and that he’s well soon.

    Knowing him, he’ll argue the cancer into submission.

    Hopefully, he’ll keep fighting and not give up.

    @Steve: I’m sorry to hear that you’re ill. Keep up hope and all the best.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Am sending Hitchens my secular humanist version of healing white light.

    And you too, Steve.

  • littlejohn

    Not to split hairs, but drinking rarely causes this problem.
    The main problem is smoking. Drinking makes the smoking more dangerous because it removes the protective coating from the throat.
    Of course, Hitch did both, and Christians will never stop reminding us of it.
    But a snake-handler who dies from envenomation, well, it’s god’s will.
    From what I’ve read, Mr. Hitchens’ odds are not good. I desperately hope he beats those odds.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I have an expectation that his doctors will give him the best care available, and that if the cancer is curable under our current state of medical knowledge then he will probably survive it. I send Hitch my wish that he listen to his doctors and give up smoking so that we may all have the benefit of his insightful wit for years to come.

    And now, in his honor, I will go read a book.

  • Rich Wilson

    I hope when this is over, someone asks him which is worse, Chemo or Waterboarding.

  • Margot

    Wow I had no idea he had any kind of illness!

  • blueridgelady

    :( This sucks .I hope the treatments are successful. Get well soon, Mr. Hitchens!

  • bigjohn756

    Well, I am going to pray to Almighty God for a miracle for Hitch’s recovery, so, he probably won’t need any chemo. Otherwise, I’ll wish Hitch the best and hope we can keep him around for many years to come.

  • Alt+3

    Sad to hear.

    I’ll sacrifice a goat for him.

  • Hitch

    All the best of luck to him.

  • jcm

    I hope he gets well soon.

  • ASD

    Agh. Always sucks when the best get the worst.

    Beat those odds, if only to prove that a slim chance is still *a* chance. 99.999 is still not equal to 100.

  • grneyedmonster

    Diego is right that the Christians will enjoy this, but, as always, it is too easy to point out the flaws in their “logic,” since many “True Christians” also suffer from cancer.

    And anyway, his cancer isn’t a punishment for atheism, it’s a consequence of smoking.

    Rich Wilson, my mom went through chemo for a year and is dying anyway. I’ll bet she’d think that chemo is worse than waterboarding, but hopefully Hitchens won’t have all of the bad reactions she did.

    I hope he gets well. I enjoy his wit, and I could sure use some happy news right now. :-(

  • http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/ Ian Andreas Miller

    Certa bonum certamen, Christopher.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I hope it soon goes into remission.

  • duhsciple

    I only wish the best in every way possible for Mr. Hitchens, and I will never do anything else but wish the best for every aspect of his existence (let the reader understand).

  • Andrew Morgan

    ubi dubium:

    And now, in his honor, I will go read a book.

    Indeed – that’s probably one of the best ways to honor him. There’s nothing I read of his where I fail to come away in awe of his breadth of knowledge.

  • bob

    I’ll keep Hitch in my prayers ;)

    Seriously, I do wish him the best, both with the disease and the chemo. I think his attitude and persistence will be assets.

    And yes, I’m sure some of the fundies will have a field day with this and proudly display their ignorance and hypocrisy.

  • TheLoneIguana

    It’s a no-win situation for the religious.

    Whether or not they pray for Hitchens to get better and he does, he’ll be around to make their lives miserable (Best option, of course).

    If they pray for him to get better and he dies, then their prayers didn’t work.

    If they pray for him to die, well, that just makes (or proves) them evil bastards.

  • NRG

    Nice comments, people. Reactions to just a few. (Friendly: why don’t you number the comments so it’s easier to refer to them?)

    Bob: Here’s another recent voice: “Atheism explained”, by David Ramsay Steele. Caught my eye at the local bookstore, especially the philosophy prof who reviewed it and said that it’s “a much better defense of atheism than the recent works by Dawkins and Hitchens.” (see opencourtbooks page on it). I’m a great fan of Hitchens, so that’s about the best recommendation a book could get.

    Oregon: Why would you think that he doesn’t care about our support? I would think that he would, and it might even help in his (or anyone’s) healing.

    Littlejohn: smoking and drinking are not exactly voluntary habits, once you’re addicted. It’s not easy to kick them, like he (and my wife) did with smoking. And what have you read that his odds are not good to beat the cancer? The Daily Mail article on it said that “It can be treated if caught in the early stages, but is usually fatal in the advanced stages”. Have you heard what stage it’s at?

    Ubi: I just hope that he has a better doctor than Michael Jackson did.

    Rich: That’s easy – waterboarding makes you breathless, like you’re drowning. He said that in his Vanity Fair article about it. Chemo either works or doesn’t, in a gradual way. No contest. In the article he also said that “if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture”. I don’t think that he’ll say that chemo is torture.

    Grneyed: You don’t say why you need some happy news, but just look around – there’s a lot of good things happening to a lot of people, and some of them can happen to you, too.

    Andrew: Ubi didn’t say that he was going to read one of Hitchen’s books – just A book!

    LoneIguana: How is proving themselves to be evil bastards a no win for them? In their eyes, they would be saints, helping God’s will be done here on earth!

    I add my good wishes for Hitch. Looking forward to Hitch-23…

    NRG

  • NorDog

    Gee, I don’t know what to say. Let me try this…

    As a Christian I wish him well, which is to say that I pray he suffers as little as possible, recovers soon, and finds a way to God when he, as we all must, finally passes away, and may that be a long time away.

    I realize many here think I’m a moron for being a believer. It is what it is.

    And I realize that there are indeed hateful Christians out there. But the predictions and descriptions of Christian behavior made here bear no resemblence to anyone I know or would care to know.

    Anyone who thinks God gives anyone cancer for any reason is, well, not quite right if you get my meaning.

    And anyone who thinks it is ever good for God to give anyone cancer is simply wicked.

  • NRG

    Even though I’m new here, but let me give this a whirl (for a little while, anyway):

    NorDog:

    2nd paragraph (As…): Don’t you mean BEFORE he finally passes away?

    “I realize many here think I’m a moron for being a believer. It is what it is.”

    It doesn’t have to be what it is – it can be what it can become, which may be even better!

    “Anyone who thinks God gives anyone cancer for any reason is, well, not quite right if you get my meaning.”

    No – I don’t, actually. Is it given by someOne else then? You don’t mean Satan, do you?

    “And anyone who thinks it is ever good for God to give anyone cancer is simply wicked.”

    What about giving it to an evil person? That would be good, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t God do, or at least allow to happen (which is basically the same thing) everything? Cancer too, then…

    Check out http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/ (after reading everything on this site first, of course!)

  • Nordog

    NRG,

    Let me respond point by point:

    “2nd paragraph (As…): Don’t you mean BEFORE he finally passes away?”

    What I meant is that my hope is that he (and everyone) is united with God in the afterlife. I leave the timing up to God, but obviously the sooner the better.

    “’I realize many here think I’m a moron for being a believer. It is what it is.”

    It doesn’t have to be what it is – it can be what it can become, which may be even better!”

    Not sure what you mean. Too many unattached third person pronouns between our two respective posts I guess.

    “’Anyone who thinks God gives anyone cancer for any reason is, well, not quite right if you get my meaning.’

    No – I don’t, actually. Is it given by someone else then? You don’t mean Satan, do you?”

    I mean that anyone who thinks that way is not thinking right. Satan doesn’t factor into what I was writing at all.

    “’And anyone who thinks it is ever good for God to give anyone cancer is simply wicked.’

    What about giving it to an evil person? That would be good, wouldn’t it?”

    No. Again, anyone who thinks it is ever good to give ANYONE cancer is simply wicked. Besides, I also think it wicked to label anyone evil.

    “Doesn’t God do, or at least allow to happen (which is basically the same thing) everything? Cancer too, then…”

    Well, God does allow all that has or will happen. But I disagree that His allowing something is the same thing as His causing something. I do believe in free will.

    Best,
    Nordog

  • NRG

    I’m numbering my paragraphs so you don’t have to requote the whole thing.

    1. But Christopher (ironic name, isn’t it?) can only be united with God in the afterlife if he believes in JC in this one – right? So he does have to do something in this life, not just wait for God to decide on the timing. And all he has to – in fact, all he CAN do, because nothing else helps, is to believe in the salvation of JC.

    2. You said “I realize many here think I’m a moron for being a believer. It is what it is.” My response meant that you assume that your being a believer is the reality, unchangable. I just suggested that it could change, and you could (would) be the one to change it. And that maybe you would discover that that change would be a better reality. Just maybe.

    3. Why is it wrong, and even wicked, to think that God could – and does – give anyone cancer for any reason? You still haven’t explained why, just stated that it’s wrong. How do you know (I’m expecting a Biblical quote sooner or later…)? And if it’s wicked to label anyone evil, why is it all right for you to label that person wicked? What’s the difference, really?

    4. You responded, “Well, God does allow all that has or will happen. But I disagree that His allowing something is the same thing as His causing something. I do believe in free will”.

    5. OK – now we’re getting somewhere. By causing us to have free will, doesn’t that force Him to have to allow everything to happen that we choose to make happen? And therefore, He has indirectly, but definitely caused it to happen. Because if He didn’t give us free will, then He would not let those things happen! But if He could override our free will – and I think that you believe that He surely could – then by not doing so, He valuing the free will more than the prevention of the apparently evil things that we choose to do – right?

    6. What I think you have to say, is that God does cause things like cancer and other fun diseases, natural disasters, etc, but that they’re not evil, because it’s God doing it, and God is only Good. (How, by the way, are natural disasters caused by our free will?) Once these things do happen, God lets them continue happening even though He, in his omnipotency, could stop them. But that’s also not evil, because God is only Good. So there really is no such thing as evil…

    7. Read those last two paragraphs again. Then read them while trying to think not like a regular Christian, but like a regular thinking person. I don’t know if you can or want to, but you might come up with some different conclusions if you do.

    8. Check out the site I mentioned, too. I’ll be away for a few hours now. Somebody else can continue (try to be nice).

  • Nordog

    1. My thinking about leaving the timing up to God is in regard the not knowing what exactly happens during death. Yes, one must accept Jesus to enter Heaven in the same way that one must accept walking down a road to get to the end of the road. I hold the hope and faith that God offers Himself to all of us throughout life, but at some point in time a rejection becomes “for keeps”. I don’t know when that point in time is.

    2. Yes, I get it now. I’ll take that as a kind thought for my wellbeing.

    3. No biblical quotes from me, what would be the point? When I was an agnostic a bible thumper tried to convert me with scripture quotes. I told him that I didn’t care about his Bible quotes because I had concluded that the Bible was false. He said, “But it says in the 1st Chapter of Romans that…” I told him, I don’t give a s**t what Romans says, I don’t accept the Bible. He said, “In Proverbs it says…” etc. etc. It was one of the most moronic things I had ever witnessed. So, no. No Biblical quotes from me to you, besides, I’m not even in the habit of quoting scripture to other Christians. No my bag man.

    Now, if I find myself in a discussion with nonbelievers in which Church teaching and scripture is already being addressed I’ll discuss points of fact about what some teaching or passage does or does not say.

    Labeling someone Wicked vs. Evil? Good question. That’s sloppy usage on my part. The distinction I failed to make with my sloppy usage is between the ontological nature of man (never evil) and really bad behavior seen all around us (wicked). When I call someone wicked I’m really thinking about their behavior and not the actual nature of the soul, or “heart” if you prefer.

    In light of that, I consider it “wicked” (i.e. bad behavior) to call someone evil (a state of being that is totally corrupt to the core).

    Now your actual question is #3 was, “Why is it wrong, and even wicked, to think that God could – and does – give anyone cancer for any reason?”

    It’s not wicked to think that God can. What I should have written is that it is wicked to think 1) that God would do such a thing to someone as punishment, and 2) that so-and-so over there deserves it.

    5. “By causing us to have free will, doesn’t that force Him to have to allow everything to happen that we choose to make happen?”

    I think that’s true, sort of. He can certainly prevent someone from doing something without interfering with their free will. Even people prevent other people from doing things all the time without somehow overriding their free will. But I think your statement is true to the extent that God cannot override someone’s free will. So your other statement that I believe He can override free will is wrong.

    The rest of #5 gets rather convoluted but, as I think I’ve written before, allowing something to happen is very different from causing something to happen. But I also think it correct for you to write, “…by not doing so (overriding free will) He [values] the free will more than the prevention of the apparently evil things that we choose to do…”

    6. Yeah, I don’t have to say what you think. You ask, “How, by the way, are natural disasters caused by our free will?” I didn’t know that they were, in fact, the premise of your question is false. I don’t think you think that either, so there you go.

    7. “Read those last two paragraphs again. Then read them while trying to think not like a regular Christian, but like a regular thinking person.” I don’t know what regular Christian thinking is, nor what a regular thinking person is. I contend there is, as regards thinking, a rational process. I don’t think things are a certain way because I’m a Christian. Rather I became a Christian because (in part) I concluded things are a certain way.

    I’m not sure what you really mean about different kinds of thinking, but don’t fall for the fallacy of thinking that “Christian” = “irrational”. I get it that the number of knuckle-headed irritating Christians is legion, and I get that you think Christians are wrong regarding all things supernatural, but even Galileo was a Christian.

  • sarah

    get well get well soon we want you to get well!

    the prognosis doesn’t sound to good with this type of cancer. hopefully they caught it in time.

  • NRG

    Hemant: sorry for changing the tone of this thread away from Hitchens’ afflictchen – hope it’s alright. What do you think?

    Mr. Hitchens, I hope and don’t pray that you have a complete, fast and painless healing. You’re important to a lot of us, and we’d like you to stick around.

    I must say, Nordog – I’m impressed with your response (not that I agree with most of it)! I’ll try to respond some now (turned out to be more than some).

    1. How do you know, or why do you have faith, in everything you wrote here? Specifically, that

    a. One must accept Jesus to enter Heaven,
    b. There is a Heaven to be accepted into,
    c. God offers Himself to all of us throughout life, and that
    d. There is a God to offer Himself to us, and
    e. At some point in time a rejection becomes “for keeps”?

    There are other ways to get to the end of the road besides walking. If the road even has an end…

    2. It’s more than a kind thought for your wellbeing – it’s a kind suggestion and challenge to you to reconsider your way of looking at things.

    3a. Commendable about the Bible quoting. But what made you “know” that Christianity is right, after having been an “agnostic” (one who doesn’t know)? I would also like to know.

    b. You make a good distinction between “wicked” and “evil”. I assume, then, that you would say that a person can overcome their own wickedness by just changing their behavior. But they can only overcome an inherent evil nature (shared by all of us because of the Original Sin?) by accepting Jesus.

    c. So since it’s behaviorally wicked to think 1) that God would do such a thing as giving cancer to someone as punishment, and 2) that so-and-so over there deserves it, all one has to do is change their opinion on those two points. I can understand applying that to 2), but how do you know that 1) is not right?

    5a. So God can’t override a person’s free will. Don’t you mean that He just chooses not to? To say that he can’t, diminishes His omnipotence. But what He does do, according to you, is arrange things so that people exercise their free will the way that He wants them to. That makes sense (if God exists at all). That’s a lot of arranging to do, though – but I guess that that’s small “change” for God, since He can do anything…

    b. I don’t see how causing something to happen is that much different from allowing something to happen that you could prevent. At least on God’s scale of things, where the two are indistinguishable as far as their ease of execution.

    You agree that free will (FW) overrides apparent evil. But is the evil really just apparent, or is it real? If God wouldn’t inflict cancer on someone as a punishment, then what is cancer anyway? Is it an evil thing? And even if it would be inflicted as a punishment, would that make it any less evil?

    There’s a lot of pretty evil seeming stuff in the world. Take Richard Dawkin’s example from his new book “The Greatest Show On Earth” about evolution. He says an amazing thing – that antelope, the natural prey of the big cats like lions, almost never die a peaceful death. When they eventually can’t keep up with the pack, they get chased down and killed violently, usually being eaten alive and filled with terror until they die. Is that only apparent evil? Why did God have to create the world that way?

    6. You’re right – I don’t think that natural disasters are caused by our free will. But you, believing in God, believe that He at least allows them to happen. It would be more correct for you to say that He created the world in a way that they WOULD happen – and then “just” allows them to happen. You really believe that that’s alright? Why is that different than saying that God wouldn’t inflict cancer on someone as a punishment? Isn’t he inflicting these disasters on humanity, punishment or not?

    7a. Are you claiming that you became a Christian as the result of a rational thought process? Possible, I guess. Can you describe some of that process? How is Christianity rational, and not basically just wishful thinking?

    b. I think that being knuckle headed and irritating are unfortunately not the exclusive domain of Christians. But a lot of them did irritate you before you were one.

    c. There’s no need to extend my attribution of irrationality to ALL things supernatural. It seem to me, as I’ve read elsewhere, that once a thing is demonstrated as being real, it leaves the realm of the supernatural. And even if it’s not demonstrated to be real, if it IS real, then it’s natural anyway, being part of the universe as it is, following its own portion of universal natural laws.

    d. Just because Galileo was a Christian, doesn’t make it right. And a lot of non-believers then had to be officially Christian, otherwise they would be persecuted as heretics.

    8. BTW – and this is a BIG BTW – where did God come from? If God always was, how did that happen? We see, at least if you believe in biological evolution, that all higher intelligence evolved from lower intelligence. So how was it that all of a sudden, or eternally, there was/is/will be this huge, and in claimed fact, INFINITE intelligence, much greater than the highest intelligence that we are aware of – i.e. US (and dolphins, maybe)? Doesn’t seem “reasonable” to me.

  • Margaret

    Nordog, don’t bother answering NRG’s last set of questions. His comments reveal a sophomoric attitude and a woeful lack of exposure to theology, Biblical criticism, or any other religious thought. He’s not sincerely interested in understanding what (or why) Christians believe. Your answers have been intelligent and courteous, but you’ve done all you can do. Take heart, though… even C.S. Lewis was an arrogant young atheist once :-)

  • NorDog

    NRG,
    Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for the well thought out questions.

    Unfortunately I must begin work shortly, and this evening I must prepare to fly to the East Coast for vacation. So, I don’t have the time to give all of your post the reply it deserves (especially the questions of the genesis (no pun intended) of my faith.

    Perhaps I can come back to it this weekend, so please check back. And “sorry” to everyone else for this thread jack (if anyone else is still following this thread).

    However, I would like to make a few quick points in response:

    The analogy of the road is just that, an analogy. Some analogies are good, some are bad, and all are flawed if one looks to perfection instead of to the point trying to be made.

    “You make a good distinction between “wicked” and “evil”. I assume, then, that you would say that a person can overcome their own wickedness by just changing their behavior. But they can only overcome an inherent evil nature (shared by all of us because of the Original Sin?) by accepting Jesus.”

    Given that by “wicked” I mean a mode of behavior then, yes, changing that behavior from wickedness would overcome the wickedness. Seems like a tautology. I deny that anyone is inherently evil.

    Original Sin does not mean inherently evil.

    “So since it’s behaviorally wicked to think 1) that God would do such a thing as giving cancer to someone as punishment, and 2) that so-and-so over there deserves it, all one has to do is change their opinion on those two points. I can understand applying that to 2), but how do you know that 1) is not right?”

    I hold that literalism should not be applied to much of the Bible, so I don’t hold that God actually punishes at all. For example, if there is a Hell, and there are souls in it, those souls have chosen to be there (non serviam and all that).

    “So God can’t override a person’s free will. Don’t you mean that He just chooses not to? To say that he can’t, diminishes His omnipotence.”

    And, “…but I guess that that’s small “change” for God, since He can do anything…”

    I disagree. Omnipotence doesn’t mean the ability to do anything whatsoever. It means the ability to do anything that is possible to do. God, being uncreated, cannot create another uncreated being. Or to recall an old school boy joke, God cannot create a rock so big that he can’t pick it up.

    “Are you claiming that you became a Christian as the result of a rational thought process?”

    No. Faith comes by grace, and grace builds upon nature. Rationality is a natural process. The acceptance of that grace requires an assent of the will. As I said, my conclusions played a part in my being a Christian, but it can in no way “give” faith.

    You will likely agree with me that reaching faith is not a rational process, though disagree with me that it’s no in opposition to rationality.

    “Can you describe some of that process? How is Christianity rational, and not basically just wishful thinking?”

    That discussion requires more time than I have at the moment, but I would be happy to do so.

    “I think that being knuckle headed and irritating are unfortunately not the exclusive domain of Christians. But a lot of them did irritate you before you were one.”

    Heck, most of them irritate me now.

    “Just because Galileo was a Christian, doesn’t make it right. And a lot of non-believers then had to be officially Christian, otherwise they would be persecuted as heretics.”

    I didn’t invoke Galileo (just one example) to “prove” the correctness of Christianity. Aristotle too believed in a supernatural or “metaphysics”. Having spent 4 years in college reading Aristotle I can tell you, he may have been wrong on things, but he was no dolt. Some for Thomas Aquinas. There are many examples from history.

    The point was that being a Christian doesn’t make one an irrational dolt. My understanding was that Galileo did indeed have faith, as did his family. In fact his daughter was a nun and assisted him during his trials with the Church.

    A side note: my understanding to the Galileo affair is that his problems came not from teaching the theory of heliocentrism, but from teaching that heliocentrism had been demonstrably proven.

    “BTW – and this is a BIG BTW – where did God come from? If God always was, how did that happen?”

    If God exists, and if He is eternal and uncreated (I believe all three), then nothing happened. If a supernatural realm exists, it is a realm outside of time.

    Time is a function, or aspect, of the natural realm.

    Though I think your question is still a good and difficult one insomuch as Christians do believe in created supernatural beings, angels. What does it mean to be created outside of time? Given that I’m not created outside of time myself, I don’t have enough of it to delve further into what would be a very long discussion.

    I do like your approach. Often I’m confronted by atheists who challenge me on issues that seem more snark and sarcasm than real challenges. I’ve long thought that the real difficult questions to ask a Christian are like…

    How can petitionary prayer affect an immutable God?

    What did God do for the eternity prior to the creation of the universe (Augustine jokingly and snarkily answered, “He was creating a special place in Hell for people who ask that question.)

    If you like I’ll try to answer the rest later.

    Best,
    Nordog

  • http://stereoroid.wordpress.com/ brian t

    re my previous post expecting someone to invoke the “foxholes” ploy: I didn’t go out looking for one, but one came to me anyway. this. Can’t say I’m surprised.

  • NRG

    Nordog: I couldn’t respond till now, and now not much. Will get back to you and Margaret later…

  • NRG

    Nordog: I just read your response – thanks – I’ll get to it eventually (since you’re on vacation! Enjoy it…).

    Who is Margaret – do you know her? Why is she so condescending and ad hominial to me?

    Listen, Margaret, I think that Nordog and I are doing just fine. Could you please tell me exactly what is sophomoric about what I’ve written? And if you’d like to enlighten me in some of those areas where I lack, I’d be grateful. How are you so qualified to judge my sincerity, or if Nordog has done all that he can do? If I don’t agree with you, does that mean that I’m not sincere? Rather arrogant and very dissapointing.

  • Nordog

    NRG,

    I don’t know, nor do I know her.

    Margaret, thank you for your support, but I’ll be fine. Even if NRG is simply toying with me, it is good to be challenged, especially at my age when the ol’ brain cells need to exercise more.

  • NRG

    Nordog: I got kind of busy, so I don’t think I’ll have time to continue a deep discussion.

    I would not call it “toying” with you – I was just trying to draw out of you what’s behind the way you think/believe/feel, so that I can understand the basis of your, and maybe others’ Christian and generally religious thinking. It helps me in my reevaluation of my own long held religious beliefs.

    So please forgive me for not continuing the “challenge” for now (but keep checking back every so often, just in case I change my mind). I was kind of hoping that other people here would join in, but obviously they haven’t. Maybe they avoid these kinds of discussions, having seen enough of them already. (Richard – after reading some of your stuff, I’d especially like to hear what you think.)

    I hope that, at your age, you continue to have a happy life, and may we all find the real truth, better sooner than later!

    Do check out that site whywontgodhealamputees.com – if you’re open minded, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting. Cheers!

  • Nordog

    NRG,

    Yes, I took your posts in the spirit (can I use that word ;-) ) you describe.

    I did check out the web link you posted, but was underwhelmed. It seemed to be arguing against positions I don’t hold.

    Best,
    Nordog

  • Nordog

    I went back and gave the website a closer look and, I mean no offense, but calling it underwhelming is being to kind.

    It appears that the author is a bit too impressed with his snark (admittedly sophisticated snark) to offer a proper corpus operis.

    Straw men, non sequiturs, etc.

    Certainly there exists a work by an atheist for atheism that rises to the level of Thomas Aquinas, John Cardinal Newman, John the Damascene.

    Who would you recommend? Is Hitchens the go to guy? Dawkins? I know these two guys are some of the big names, but that doesn’t make them the best in their field.

    Who’s the best at making the case for atheism?

  • Hitch

    Grab the anthologies edited by Gordon Stein and Christopher Hitchens.

    Brush it up with some basics from Epicurus. And add Feuerbach, mostly because he does not appear in either of the above anthologies.

    This will give you a very good cross-section of some great thinkers on the matter.

    As atheism is virtually content-free, many essays are rather short. So you can cover a lot of ground with anthologies.

    Remember atheism is simply the rejection of a belief in deities.

    So there is no positive content to analyse, no need for hermeneutics or close textual reading and all the stuff that emerged for scriptural religions, specifically Christianity.

    After that have a look at Hitchens, Dawkins and Dennett. And grab Hemant’s ebay book!

  • NRG

    Hey, Hitch – thanks for joining in (better late than never!). Any relation to Chris?

    Thanks for the reading list. I’ve read Hitchens’ Portable Atheist – it is good.

    I just saw, and plan to get soon, a recent (2008) book called “Atheism Explained” by Steele. Looks really good, has great reviews at Amazon. A Christian named Parker gave him a 3, and wrote a long review. Steele responded back, and they went on for over 20 posts there arguing back and forth. Like someone commented, just that alone makes you want to buy the book.

    Nordog: They’re doing a much better job than we (or at least I) would do here. The book is not “snarky” (good word!), like amputees admittedly is (I’m admitting). In spite of his snarkiness, I thought he was good. But I haven’t gone too deeply into it, so can’t say for sure. Like I wrote to Bob in my first post above:

    “Bob: Here’s another recent voice: “Atheism explained”, by David Ramsay Steele. Caught my eye at the local bookstore, especially the philosophy prof who reviewed it and said that it’s “a much better defense of atheism than the recent works by Dawkins and Hitchens.” (see opencourtbooks page on it). I’m a great fan of Hitchens, so that’s about the best recommendation a book could get.”

  • Hitch

    No I’m not related. I use the handle because I like Hitchens colorful yet insightful style of arguing.

  • TJP

    Let’s be real, it’s from all of the babies he has eaten over the years…

  • Jay

    Let’s not remember that this is the same pig that spit on the grave and mocked religious figures such as Mother Theresa and Jerry Falwell when they died and even went as far as to curse Mother Theresa by saying “if there is truly a hell hopefully she is burning in it.” This guy is obviously a sociopath and has too much time on his hands. It’s funny how he spends countless hours attacking Christianity and their works yet I do not know one atheist organization that does any good works especially Hitchens himself. Also to you pig headed hateful atheists out there…there have been more people killed under atheist regimes than all organized religions combined. And don’t even say that “Oh atheism isn’t a belief.” Since all you always push the fact that religion is dangerous etc….. I can say that the 3 worlds biggest mass murderers committed atrocities against humanity because they were atheist. So before you all slam religion think about what your relatives have done….. NOTE: I’m not even religious.

  • NRG

    Jay, if you were really interested in finding out about atheist charity organizations, you could have done what I just did and searched “atheist charity organizations”. The first listing is a Yahoo Answer. People answering give many examples, such as Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Foundation Beyond Belief, and even the Red Cross (with a name like that, funny that’s it’s non-religious!):

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100119161725AAusWDu

    If you’re not even religious, then why are you so defensive for Mother Theresa and Jerry Falwell? Have you read or watched Hitchen’s stuff about them? Or his “God is Not Great”? Sounds to me like baseless ranting. And to say that those atrocity commitors are our “relatives” is pretty strange. People who want to commit atrocities will use whatever belief system that they hold by to justify it.

    If you’re not religious, then what are you?

  • jay

    Well nrg… This is not ranting. I’m just saying that hitch seems to get a free pass for his hate. If falwell was intolerant which he was then what is hitchins? He has made it clear that he’s hostile to all people of faith. And yes I have seen his interviews and he had some good points about mother theresa… But come on its not like she was living a life of pleasure. She may have been off in left field a little but for that jerk hitchins to go as far as calling her a whore and evil after she died is downright hateful. Being a little cuckoo has nothing to do with evil. That’s not the right word for her. I mean nobody can deny she still did the dirty work. And last time I checked “whores” get laid which she obviously didn’t do much of that. So to wrap this up…I remember all the cheers from atheists after falwell died yet you all seem ok with the hitch spewing his hate and calling all people of faith crazy. I mean a lot of you say religion causes hate and wars so I’m just demonstrating how dangerous he is. So how is the hitch any different than a wacko evangelist? He has an agenda and forces on others for momey? I defend those religious figures because I see the double standard. I’m not religious but I think we should play fair.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGckRdtYdmc Purushadasa

    Bad news: atheist Hitchens is dying.

    You all know the low survival statistics, but the good news is that September 20, 2010, is officially designated as “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day.”

    Mark your calendars, tell your friends, and please pray that Hitchens sees the light and turns his life around soon — before it’s too late!

    Watch the “Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day” video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGckRdtYdmc

    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

    - Matthew 5:44

  • NRG

    Good job trolling and flaming. Officially designated by whom – you? Nice of you all to wait over two months for your prayer day, not that it will help anyway, although you think it will (if this is serious at all).

    As usual, you win either way. If he dies, it’s because even your prayers couldn’t save him, because he’s just too evil. If he lives, then it’s because of your prayers. Clever thing, this religious stuff!

    BTW, how can you “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”?

  • jay

    Your all insane! The bottom line is hitchins is a very dangerous hating intolerant bigot! If he was in charge he would eradicate all religious people killing them. His philosophies are a lot like joseph stalin! You can’t prove that there isn’t a god… Christopher just does not want a boss. That’s what this is about. A true angry miserable wack job! This guy is a hundred times more hateful than Falwell ever was.

  • Hitch

    Oh Jay. He would of course do no such thing. He is a polemicist, clearly people have forgotten what that means because noone even reads Mark Twain anymore. It’s all Falwell or teletubbies. I think you should go out more, a little bit of sun might help unfreeze your brain a litte ;)

  • corky

    Hitch. You sound like a winner idolozing a hateful scumbag. Get your facts straight. How many people did stalin kill? Its funny how you atheist dirtballs always go nuts when something happens in the name of religion which when it does always crazy muslim wackos but when millions are killed under secularism you troublemaking dirtballs are silent..mmmmmmm interesting. Now you know how it feels when you lump all religious people together calling them crazy with a neurilogical disorder. You see usually when sdomething violent happens these days because of religion its the islam wackos. Let’s be clear now friendly atheists. Not christians!

  • NorDog

    “As usual, you win either way. If he dies, it’s because even your prayers couldn’t save him, because he’s just too evil. If he lives, then it’s because of your prayers. Clever thing, this religious stuff!”

    NRG,

    You may very well be summarizing a view of prayer held by some belivers, but it is nonetheless a childish and erroneous view.

    Hitchens will die. We all will die.

    I’m not one to hold that prayer is all about curing people. In fact, I hold that cures are rarely brought about by prayer, and that prayer is really about something else entirely.

    But even in the case of prayer playing a role in healing, grace builds on nature, and nature requires we do what we can naturally, e.g., eat well, go to the doctor, surgery, medications, etc.

    The idea that someone is too evil to benefit from prayer is wrong on so many levels even in the Christian point of view.

    We all suffer, we all die, and while I do pray that people suffer less and live longer, primarily, my petitionary prayer for others is no more complicated than to ask that the person has what they need most. I don’t presume to know what they need in every specific case, but most of us need strength and wisdom to deal with the trials of life and death.

    Many have mentioned studies that prove prayer has no effect on healing the sick. This does not surprise me in the least. While I do believe in miracles, I belive them to be very rare. Prayer is not a miracle delivery system: input data here; pick up miracle there.

  • john

    Why are atheists so insecure? If they were truly atheist than they would not feel the need to bash the religious viciously and run their mouths. Atheists do not want freedom of religion they want too ban it! Because they are afraid that eternal life just might be true and the smart asses do not want to hear about. Most atheists are scum and very close minded unfortanately. Sad but true.

  • NRG

    Hmmm – nice generalizations, John and Corky!

    It’s not insecurity with ourselves – it’s feeling insecure in a world where most people (at least Western religious) are willing, and even look forward to giving up this world for the Next One. And therefore trying to do something about it (us and them). They welcome the End of Days; we’d rather push it off as long as we can. Although it looks like it might be coming sooner than anyone thought – GOD has arrived (Gulf Oil Disaster)!

    Nordog: nice post there, even though I don’t agree. I’ll get to that later.

  • NRG

    OK, it’s later (faster than I thought!).

    I think that that view is held by most believers. We’re ALL inherently evil (JC was the only exception, but that’s because he was God, so of course). The only way out of that is Grace, and/or accepting the salvation of JC/God. (I hope you’re not offended by me referring to him as JC – I prefer it for several reasons).

    So what you must really mean by a person having “what they need most” is one of those two things. Do you really believe that your prayer will make a difference in their coming about? And does the first (Grace) help without the second (accepting) anyway?

    Yes, we do need “strength and wisdom to deal with the trials of life and death”. Besides feeling good that someone else wants that for me and is “praying” for it, how does the prayer help?

    And when DO miracles happen? At what point does prayer cause a miracle? And coming back to our thread topic, do you think that prayer could help Hitchens, and if so, how much?

  • Nordog

    Let me just address the question about whether I think prayer could help Hitch. Without out a doubt yes.

    Hitch has said he found the prayers for him to be very touching (or words to that effect). Doctors will tell you that attitude is crucial in fighting cancer. Psychosomatic effects are well known in science.

    So, even though Hitch has no religious faith, the good will shown to him, and his apparent acceptance of that good will can indeed have a positive impact on his fight against cancer.

    This is of course a purely naturalistic observation, and depends neither on miracles nor religious faith for Hitch.

    “So what you must really mean by a person having “what they need most” is one of those two things.”

    What are the two things you think it must mean?

    What I mean is that I have no clue what a person really needs in their life; I leave that up to God.

    As I’ve written here before, the idea that people are inherently evil is not true, nor is it proper Christian doctrine. People are, by their very existence, inherently good. The doctrine of Original Sin is not that people are evil, but that they are in a way broken and imperfect.

  • NRG

    And the only way to get fixed and perfected is to believe that JC is the “Son” of God, and that salvation is only thru him.

    That’s one of the two things; the other is God’s grace.

    Do you really think that your asking God to give anyone what they need most will cause God to grant it? And He won’t unless you asked?

    I started to read the article about Original Sin at Wikipedia. It’s pretty involved, and as you say, there are different ideas of what it is.

  • Nordog

    “Do you really think that your asking God to give anyone what they need most will cause God to grant it? And He won’t unless you asked?”

    No, and no.

  • john

    Atheists should piss off! They need to stop persecuting the religious and taking away their freedom! Its not right. Lay off! Always trying to force your views on others!

  • NRG

    Hi John. No need to get all upset. But from what I recall, historically it was the religious who persecuted, constrained and indoctrinated the non-believers. And intimidated and terrorized them with threats of a horrible Hell.

    Actually, atheists did it to believers, too. Whomever had the ability, did it to whomever they wanted. Human nature.

    Atheists are often associated with Free Thinkers. That means allowing oneself to be open to all possibilities, and to be free to learn about an pursue them. Seems to me that most religious people have enslaved their own minds to believe what they believe. Maybe you should stop taking away your own freedom!

    Nordog: So if God could and will help someone regardless of whether you pray for it, why pray for it then? Just to engender compassion in yourself? Actually not a bad thing, although you don’t need God for that.

  • john

    Yes but there have been far more killed under atheist leaders than religios leaders by far. That’s a fact.


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