Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Christopher Hitchens, sometimes referred to as one of the “four horsemen” of the “new atheist” movement, has passed away. He was 62.

As a liberal Christian, I appreciate individuals such as Hitchens, since the same problems he highlighted with respect to the Bible and historic Christianity are the reasons I find conservative Christianity unpersuasive.

The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, but that was not unrelated to the cancer from which he had been suffering.

One of my favorite memories related to Hitchens was when the news circulated that Francis Collins, the Evangelical Christian who is the director of the National Institute of Health and who had publicly debated with Hitchens, was to be involved in Hitchens’ cancer treatment.

The biggest divide in our time is not between atheists and theists but between those who put their beliefs or lack thereof above all else, and those who put their humanity and compassion first.

And so I am grateful to Hitchens both for his sharp-witted criticism, and for his part in reminding us that there are things more important than mere belief or unbelief.

Richard Dawkins is creating an online collection of obituaries on his web site.

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  • Mel Schriver

    Steel sharpens steel. So say we all. I have liked this video of his for Vanity Fair.

  • Brian

    Oh my, I hope his family is doing okay, hopeful our my conserative bretheren do not act unChrist like in rejoicing over this man’s demise. All I wish is for the happiness of his children and/or wife.

  • elizabeth

    The biggest divide in our time is not between atheists and theists but between those who put their beliefs or lack thereof above all else, and those who put their humanity and compassion first.

    And yet scripture consistently credits faith as pleasing to God; compassion follows, and no dissonance between the two is implied.   Jesus delineated Love God, Love your Neighbor.   Not the other way around.  James had quite a bit to say about it as well, and never said it was enough to just ‘be nice.’ 

  • James F. McGrath

    Elizabeth, the faith which leads people to hate their neighbor is not saving faith, as James said. And indeed, it is arguable that it is the actions of those who elevate doctrines and dogma above love for God and neighbor are the biggest factors driving people away from faith, rather than intellectual arguments about beliefs. 

    The term which is translated “faith” in most English translations of the New Testament has connotations of trust and fidelity. Many of today’s Christians unfortunately misunderstand it to mean believing doctrines and stories to be true without evidence or even in spite of evidence to the contrary.

  • BrotherRog

    For those who didn’t like Christopher Hitchens: “Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.” Thomas Merton

  • BrotherRog

    …that said, I opposed his vocal support of the British-American invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was patently wrong about that.

  • Just Sayin’
  • Mike Gantt

    Those who put their trust in Christ and in the Bible as the word of God can be comforted with the knowledge that Christopher Hitchens now resides where all the human dead reside:  that is, in heaven.

    Hitch fought many good fights while he was on earth, but the one good fight he did not wage was for advancement of the cause of Christ.  Oh, how I would have loved to see his energy and passion exerted for our Lord.

    Nonetheless, Hitch’s time is past and he is at rest.  It is up to we who remain to learn from the example.  As the line says, “Only one life, and soon ’twill be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”