Christopher Hitchens: Man with Strong Soul Denies Its Existence.

Say what you will about Christopher Hitchens, he’s an incredibly smart man. Although I vehemently disagree with him on the most important question of all—“Is there life after death?”—I respect his intelligence immensely. And I respect that his writing causes me to more thoroughly examine my own beliefs. He puts his critics through a rigorous crash course, and only those who are road-tested should bring their intellectual vehicles into the arena.

As he stands on the precipice of death, he does so with honor. He may be a philosophical “enemy,” but he most certainly is an honorable one.

In his latest post he writes:

“One thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And there’s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that ‘Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.’

In fact, I now sometimes wonder why I ever thought it profound. It is usually attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche: Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker. In German it reads and sounds more like poetry, which is why it seems probable to me that Nietzsche borrowed it from Goethe, who was writing a century earlier. But does the rhyme suggest a reason? Perhaps it does, or can, in matters of the emotions. I can remember thinking, of testing moments involving love and hate, that I had, so to speak, come out of them ahead, with some strength accrued from the experience that I couldn’t have acquired any other way. And then once or twice, walking away from a car wreck or a close encounter with mayhem while doing foreign reporting, I experienced a rather fatuous feeling of having been toughened by the encounter. But really, that’s to say no more than “There but for the grace of god go I,” which in turn is to say no more than “The grace of god has happily embraced me and skipped that unfortunate other man.”

In the brute physical world, and the one encompassed by medicine, there are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker.”

I would not wish Christopher Hitchens’ fate on anyone. The pain he’s gone through during the course of his treatment is beyond words—even the eloquent ones put together by him. However, I must disagree with the thrust of his argument, and not just because maxims are general rules that apply to most (but not all) situations.

Christopher’s observations spring forth from his atheism, which is sad because logic and reason are equally capable of leading individuals to believe death isn’t an end, but the beginning. If human beings were a mere collection of atoms and molecules and electronic synapses firing in the just the right way as to create the illusion of consciousness…he’d be right.  But if there is a reason behind it all—if we’re here for a purpose—then whatever doesn’t kill us does make us stronger. Spiritually stronger.

While we’re on earth, the mind, body, and spirit must work together. The spirit is constrained by an imperfect vessel, but when all three are in sync humans are often witness to great deeds. When all three are in sync we are given insight into the awesome power that resides deep inside us.

Sometimes, the mind betrays the spirit. Sometimes, the body betrays the spirit. And sadly, sometimes the body and the mind betray the spirit. At that point the spirit often decides that it has gathered all the knowledge it can from our earthly plane, and gives in to death.

Life is a precious thing, and those close-call car crashes that Christopher jokingly responds to by saying, “The grace of god has happily embraced me and skipped that unfortunate other man,” are most certainly not celestial coin-flips. Every person we meet, every experience we have—every joy, every sorrow—happens for a reason. The religious man knows that there are answers for all his questions, but that they will not be revealed to him in his human form. The religious man knows that he has been given five senses with which to understand the universe, but that there are things at play that are beyond his fives senses.

Chris ends his piece on a similarly dour note:

So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion. It is our common fate. In either case, though, one can dispense with facile maxims that don’t live up to their apparent billing.

Chris has an incredibly strong soul, but for whatever reason he’s convinced himself it doesn’t exist. He closes his eyes and wonders why he can’t see God. He’s numbed his heart, and wonders why he can’t feel God’s love and mercy.

Believer or not, he’ll be in my prayers.

Update: Head on over to Hotair, where they cover Christopher Hitchens’ passing.

The Hitchens Atheist Denigrates Faith, Even as He Uses It.

Hi, I use faith every day to help me navigate through the world. However, when it comes to God's existence I suddenly balk.

I’m always surprised at which of my blog entries get the most traffic.  For some reason when I review Leonardo DiCaprio movies my wordpress stats are solid for days.  Marvel Comics posts are hit or miss, which is sad because I wish everyone understood how rare it is to have a conservative who can liken Neal Gabler to the Fantastic Four’s nemesis The Mole Man…

Regardless, I found it fascinating to see interest spike over a religious post on Christopher Hitchens, since it’s not an arena I’m comfortable fighting in.  It’s incredibly easy to look like a doofus when discussing God, and it’s not hard to get tied in intellectual knots if the thread you’re weaving for readers isn’t well thought out and painstakingly on point.

So, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ll give it another go.  Since I’m on a train leaving DC, I can’t help but think that my mind will be clearer.

In this post I’d like to talk about faith, because non-believers often seem to portray believers as knuckle-dragging boobs for utilizing it.  I find this offensive not so much because of my religious convictions, but because I find the image of a boob with knuckles disturbing…

In all seriousness, though, all of us use faith.  It’s a perfectly legitimate tool that should help shape our views of the world, as well as our navigation through it.  Atheists use faith every day as well, and yet, when it comes time to apply it to the existence of God, they balk.

Anyone who has ever gone with their “gut instinct” has used faith.  Anyone who has been in love has used faith.  Anyone who has opened their own business has used faith.  In so many aspects of our lives, there are decisions that have to be made because the gap between what we know and what we don’t (or can’t) know is too large to bridge with empirical studies.  As much as I’d love to run regression analysis for years on end in order to tell me whether or not I should get married, it isn’t possible.   That last bit of gumption everyone needs to ultimately ask the Big Question is in some part made with the sticky, gooey usually-goodness…of faith.

Bill Maher uses faith to see his way through many aspects of his own life, even if he doesn’t realize it.  Given that, when he mocks men and women of any religious affiliation by comparing God to The Easter Bunny, he really only makes himself look silly.

Here’s a question for Christopher Hitchens:  Why is it, that over the course of my life, whenever I consulted with God and lived it in accordance with what I thought He had planned for me, things came together?  Why is it, when I strayed from God it all seemed to fall apart and, ultimately, I felt lost and confused?  As an Irish Catholic with an independent streak and time in an infantry unit as a young man, I haven’t always been an angel. I’ve never knocked on doors or proselytized (although I once put a boot through a window).  So my relationship with God didn’t come at the behest of a priest or family member or a member of the clergy, but as a result of a lifetime of learning from boneheaded mistakes.

Are God’s fingerprints plastered all over my life, particularly the successes I’ve had and the failures I’ve overcome?  I believe so.  But just because a real-life member of CSI couldn’t find them, does that mean that they’re not there?  I don’t think so.  Joy Behar and her liberal friends can call me crazy all they want, but the fact is, I feel God in my life.  I know He’s there.  Just as you, dear reader, feel and know the affection of your wife or husband or son or daughter without ever being able to test their blood for love-levels hidden in plasma.

Just because Grissom can't find God's fingerprints all over the successes and failures of my life, does that mean they're not there? I don't think so.

When things were bleakest and blackest in my own life, and I felt as though I had nowhere left to turn, I turned to God.  And each time I was lifted up and seemingly saved from a hopeless situation.   For me to ever embrace the atheist notion that nothing special was at play, but perhaps some neurons and synapses in my head, would be to deny what I know to be true.

I can’t convince the atheist to believe in God, but perhaps I can get them to acknowledge and explore the unseen avenues of faith they walk down every day in their own life.  And once they’re aware of those streets, perhaps one will take them down a path—one with a gap in it that will give them a feeling that someone or something that cares about them more than they can ever realize is waiting on the other side.  And then, perhaps, they’ll take that leap.

Christopher Hitchens Closes Eyes and Wonders Why He Can’t See God.

Hitchens can't find God because he's never seriously looked for him. In fact, he's run from Him. It's hard to see evidence of anything when you're sprinting in the opposite direction of it.

I don’t usually write on religion.  However, Christopher Hitchens has a way of making me want to share beliefs I normally keep to myself.

One of Christianity’s most cerebral defenders, Blaise Pascal, reduced the essentials to a wager as far back as the 17th century. Put your faith in the almighty, he proposed, and you stand to gain everything. Decline the heavenly offer and you lose everything if the coin falls the other way. (Some philosophers also call this Pascal’s Gambit.)

Ingenious though the full reasoning of his essay may be—he was one of the founders of probability theory—Pascal assumes both a cynical god and an abjectly opportunist human being.

Think of the physical world. Now, think of all the life-threatening forces in it that exist you should be aware of—yet aren’t. Evidence abounds that chain smoking and incessant drinking damages cells and has drastic repercussions for the human body over time, and yet stories abound that Hitchens was no slouch when it came to convivial excesses.  Such blindness certainly isn’t relegated to Hitchens. We’re all guilty of selective blindness in some form or another. However, one wonders: If humans are blind to the life saving and detrimental presences of the physical world, why doesn’t the atheist concede that they might be blind to a metaphysical world as well?

If you aren’t looking for something, it’s often the case that (gasp!) you’re not going to find it.  Perhaps Christopher Hitchens doesn’t see God because he’s never looked for Him. Hitchens seems to have spent his life actively running away from evidence of God’s existence.

God isn’t cynical at all.  In fact, God wants nothing more than for people like Christopher Hitchens to lay down their arms. But, for whatever reason, certain people have hard heads and closed-off hearts.  The religious person says, “God, I don’t know it all. I can’t know it all. There are things beyond human comprehension and I need your help.”  And, more often than not, those cries for strength and wisdom and understanding will not go unanswered.  The truly religious man is humble because he knows that while he is something special, he is also just a sliver, just a tincture, of the awesome power that created him.

The atheist, on the other hand, seems to believe they have all the answers, or that on a long enough time line and with a few more Stephen Hawkings, humans can decode the universe.  It’s a position that inevitably leads to the kind of pompous self-righteousness Bill Maher displays on a regular basis.  It’s also the kind of mindset that makes one first unable to understand those who disagree with them, and ultimately sour and bitter toward your fellow man.  As time goes by for the atheists (who assert that through logic and reason alone we can unlock the keys to the universe), they realize that they’re coming to the end of the line and all the nagging existential questions are still there.  They’re in the dark. And then they get angry.  Meanwhile, the God-fearing men are buoyed by their faith, and confront death with confidence and calm, knowing full well that it’s only the beginning of another journey God will see them through.

Perhaps the reason why atheists tend to always come across as angry is because they spend countless hours trying to convince themselves that they’re really just miraculously sentient water molecules.  I’d be bitter too if I believed that.

While Chris might not care, I’ll still say a prayer for him.

Barack Obama Wishes Sentient Water Molecule, Christopher Hitchens, a Happy Easter.

President Obama used his weekly radio address to wish all of us a Happy Easter. He even had a little message for our atheist friends:

“While we worship in different ways,” the president said, “we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all — Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.”

While I don’t fault the President for reaching out to atheists—he is the President of all Americans—I wonder if non-believers would have put up a stink if he had not thrown them a bone (or if he had, and it happened to be a rib…) After all, I would think that

I'm Christopher Hitchens, sentient water the shower! That's insane!

someone who essentially believes everything cosmically fell into place so we, the sentient water-molecules of the universe, could exist for a brief moment in time before once again becoming part of the Big Wave, shouldn’t really get bent out of shape if they’re ignored. I mean, after all, when they’re gone they’re gone, right? That’s it. No coming back and no spirit left behind to worry about, correct? So why should they get angry? Well, they do. But at least it makes for great debate. Although, if you’re not up for a debates then I highly suggest reading Dinesh D’Souza’s fabulous book What’s So Great About Christianity this Easter (notice that’s not a question).

[Stephen Hawking states]: “If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it even reached its present size. So the odds against us being here are, well, astronomical.” And yet we are here. Who is responsible for this? (What’s So Great About Christianity, 131.)

If you’re unsure, I suggest reading D’Souza’s book. And Christopher Hitchens, if you’re right, I’ll see you in the oceans…