Christopher Hitchens

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Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13, 1949 - December 15, 2011) was a journalist, author and literary critic. Hitchens received a degree in PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1970. From 1971–1981, he worked in Britain as book reviewer for The Times newspaper. He emigrated to the United States in 1981, and has written regularly, or been a contributing editor for Harper's, Vanity Fair and The Nation. He was an avowed Marxist, atheist and antitheist. Hitchens has a younger brother, Peter Hitchens, who is also a journalist, author and critic. Hitchens was a prominent founder and spokesperson of the New Atheism movement.

Christopher Hitchens was a member of the International Socialists and an active Trotskyist during his youth. Before his death he claimed to be "on the same side as the neo-conservatives" concerning various military interventions, but did not consider himself a conservative. He supported George W. Bush's foreign policy, but has a negative attitude towards Bush's support of intelligent design. Hitchens made himself unpopular, even among many fellow atheists for his support of the Iraq War, which was motivated by his hatred of Islamacists, Islamic terrorism, religion and his desire to see secularism advanced.[1][2]

Hitchens displayed provocative rhetoric and bloodlust towards radical Islamacists.[3] At the opening of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hitchens said of radical Islamacists, "It is a pleasure and a duty to kill these people".[3] Hitchens said of Islamic Iran, which engages in state-sponsored terrorism, "As for that benighted country, I wouldn't shed a tear if it was wiped off the face of this earth”.[4]

He was a harsh critic of Ronald Reagan, and considered Henry Kissinger a war criminal.

Christopher Hitchens' debate against William Lane Craig

Christopher Hitchens in 2010

See also: Atheism vs. Christianity debates

Christopher Hitchens debated William Lane Craig at Biola University in 2009 in a videotaped debate.[5]

The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote concerning the debate: "The debate went exactly as I expected. Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child."[6]

Unhealthy lifestyle and death

See also: Atheism and cancer and Prominent atheists who had cancer and Atheism and health

The New Atheist Christopher Hitchens at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort, in Santa Barbara.

Christopher Hitchens was known for having a history of heavy drinking and chain-smoking.[7][8] Christopher Hitchens was being treated for esophageal cancer which was likely caused by drinking and smoking up until his death on December 15, 2011.[9][10] Despite his esophageal cancer, when asked by interviewer Charlie Rose if in retrospect he would have engaged in heavy drinking and smoking knowing his present cancer condition, Hitchens said he think he would have done things the same.[8] Hitchens also had problems with being overweight during his life (see: Atheism and obesity and New Atheism leadership's problem with excess weight).[11] According to the National Cancer Institute, "obesity is associated with increased risks of cancers of the esophagus."[12]

Matthew C. Nisbet wrote in his article Hitchens and Ebert on Atheism and Dying:

Christopher Hitchens' column this month in Vanity Fair reflects the best of the writer's intellect and prose. Upon learning of his cancer diagnosis, Hitch writes: "My father had died, and very switftly, too, of cancer of the esophagus. He was 79. I am 61. In whatever kind of 'race' life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist."

Hitchens dismisses the metaphor of "battling" cancer, instead "You feel swamped with passivity and impotence dissolving like a sugar plump in water."[13]

Hitchens' contemplation of Christian conversion before death

Hitchens developed a close friendship with the evangelical Christian Larry Taunton and took two road trips with Taunton near the end of his life.[14][15] He was contemplating converting to Christianity at this time.[14] During one of the road trips Hitchens read aloud the Gospel of John and asked Taunton questions about the book.[15]

According to the Alabama Media Group:

"I discovered Christopher is not defined by his atheism," Taunton said. "Atheism is a negative and you can't build a philosophy around a negative. Christopher was searching for a unifying system of thought. They're accusing me of saying he converted. I make no such claim. It's not my claim that Christopher converted, it's that Christopher was contemplating conversion. I think I substantiate it in the book."

More than anything, Taunton said, Hitchens' stay at Taunton's house leading up to his first debate in Birmingham had an effect on him. "There are fans of Christopher Hitchens who think that Christopher hated people of religious belief," Taunton said. "I know for a fact that wasn't true." Hitchens met Taunton's adopted, HIV-positive daughter, Sasha, and was deeply moved by her life and faith. "Sasha's impact on him was huge," Taunton said. "It's because of her own innocence. He was powerfully moved by her, an argument he couldn't refute... At the end of the day, the most powerful apologetic is love."...

"Christopher was in a difficult place," Taunton said. "He's a dying man. He asked me why I thought he didn't convert. I said, 'You've created a global reputation as an atheist, your fortune, your reputation is based on it. I can't imagine how hard it would be to admit you were wrong. You created a prison for yourself.'"[14]

Christopher Hitchens' death and the decline of the New Atheism movement

See also: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence

The new atheist Richard Dawkins speaking at the 2010 Global Atheism Convention.

In 2015, the atheist author Joshua Kelly wrote:

...since the death of Hitchens: angry atheism lost its most charismatic champion. Call it what you like: New Atheism, fire-brand atheism, etc., had a surge with the Four Horsemen in the middle of the last decade and in the last four years has generally peetered out to a kind that is more docile, politically correct, and even apologetic.[16]

On November 6, 2015, the New Republic published an article entitled, Is the New Atheism dead?[17]

Richard Dawkins was also a prominent founder of the New Atheism movement. Dawkins is frequently seen as being an abrasive, aggressive and angry individual and he is less charismatic than Hitchens was (see: Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins and Richard Dawkins and anger). And post Elevatorgate scandal, Dawkins lost a large amount of influence (See: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

Christopher Hitchens and public speaking

See also: Atheism and public speaking Christopher Hitchens was known for being an eloquent and passionate public speaker who injected humor in his public speaking.

However, Hitchens had his critics in terms of his public debates.[6][18]

Michael Wolff wrote in GQ magazine:

Christopher Hitchens
His frequent public forums - in which Hitchens' British-style debating skills were presented as a sort of miracle as well as a freak of nature, as if he were a more biting Rumpole - had become a significant and profitable part of his career. He had a cast of agents and hucksters who would organise and promote these events in cheap venues, reserving him a cut of the door.

In American media culture, he took a place last occupied by the conservative pundit William F. Buckley, Jr who regularly wowed middle America with his hauteur and erudition on his talk show, Firing Line. Of note, Hitchens seemed almost invariably to be matched in his debates with lesser lights - it was Hitchens among the stupids.

I was always on reasonable terms with Hitchens - or certainly had the younger man's good grace to mostly shut up while he talked - and once, at the height of the Iraq war, he asked me to moderate one of these encounters.

The other protagonist was probably demented (if not homeless) and borderline coherent. Still, it was a packed house. Hitchens arrived drunk - though I wondered if it was more pretend than actually drunk because he kept talking about how much he'd consumed - but at some point he certainly was drunk. While many people made the excuse for him about how well he could hold his liquor (another old-fashioned trope), he was, in this instance, as walleyed and uncomprehending as any other person I've known who was drinking at his level.[18]

As noted above. Hitchen did very poorly in his debate with William Lane Craig.

The new atheist Richard Dawkins has a reputation for avoiding his strongest debate opponents (see: Richard Dawkins and debate).

Hitchens on bestiality

See also: Christopher Hitchens on bestiality and Atheism and bestiality and Evolutionary belief and bestiality

Bestiality is the act of engaging in sexual relations with an animal.

At the end of Christian apologist William Lane Craig vs. atheist Christopher Hitchens debate there was an audience question and answer period (see: VIDEO).[19] The first audience member to ask a question twice asked Christopher Hitchens to label bestiality as an immoral act, but he refused to do so.[19][20] Dr. Craig said the question posed to Hitchens was a good one and it helped illustrate that atheism cannot offer objective moral standards (see: Atheism and morality).[20]

Christian patience, forgiveness and long-suffering towards Christopher Hitchens

See also: Christian patience, forgiveness and long-suffering towards atheists

Although it is not reported in the press often, due the press preferring to focus on controversy and conflict, as it garners more viewership/readers, many Christians quietly pray for atheists/agnostics - even those of the militant variety such as Richard Dawkins.[21] The late atheist Christopher Hitchens had many Christians praying for him before he passed away and they were saddened when he died.[22]

Jesus Christ said pray for those who persecute you and love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Hitchen's self-refutation of his irrational atheistic claims

Theodore Beale wrote: "In The Irrational Atheist, I noted that Christopher Hitchens had committed a marvelous exercise in self-evisceration when he declared that “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence”, then proceeded to pronounce no fewer than 52 different declarations, each of which was presented completely without evidence."[23]

PNN News and Ministry Network declared that Christopher Hitchens lead a wasted life

Pastor Carl Gallups is the founder of PNN News and Ministry Network

In a video entitled Christopher Hitchens - A Wasted Life the PNN News and Ministry Network declared:

In Mike Shoesmith's book The Atheists are Wrong: How Modern Atheism Ruins Everything there is an abundance of material refuting the entire life's work of Christopher Hitchens.

Hitchen's personified the wasted life. A life lived as a fool. To live as one who embraces the philosophy of naturalism is to live a wasted life void of any originally intended and designed significance. It is the most closed-minded philosophy imaginable. Such a description is the legacy of Christopher Hitchens - a wasted life. A life spent as one fighting the ultimate reality.

And just as all those who lived between the time Jesus walked the earth and now, it may be stated correctly, Christopher Hitchens died in 2011 A.D., the year of our Lord.[24]

Christopher Hitchens: Google trends data

See also: Internet atheism

According to Google Trends from 2004 to 2020 there has been a significant decline in web searches for the term "Christopher Hitchens".

Opposition to Islam and Support of the War on Terror

Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins

Christopher Hitchens became an activist against Islam when Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against his personal friend Salman Rushdie. The event has led him to become very vocal in his support of the war in Iraq and heavily critical of Muslim society and ethics.

Insults toward Jerry Falwell

In a TV interview with Hannity and Colmes a day after Jerry Falwell's death, Christopher Hitchens expressed his anger over Falwell's legacy, calling the media coverage of his death uniform in its "stupidity" and calling Falwell himself a "vulgar fraud and crook".[25] Hitchens went on to state such comments as "we have been rid of an extremely dangerous demagogue who lived by hatred of others and prejudice", "that it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to", "the evil he did will live after him", and "and I think his death is a deliverance".[25] Hannity said that such comments were "crude", "thoughtless", "mean", and "hateful."

Select bibliography

  • Callaghan: The Road to Number Ten (Cassell, 1976)
  • Hostage to History: Cyprus From the Ottomans to Kissinger (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989)
  • Imperial Spoils: The Case of the Parthenon Marbles (Hill and Wang, 1989)
  • Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990)
  • The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (Verso, 1995)
  • Prepared for the Worst (Hill and Wang, 1989)
  • For the Sake of Argument: Essays & Minority Reports (Verso, 1993)
  • No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family (Verso, 2000)
  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - outside the US, published with the alternate subtitle The Case Against Religion (Atlantic, 2007)

Some other titles include: “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” “The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2001)” and his memoir, “Hitch-22. [1]

“Stranger in a Strange Land”: In this piece that The Atlantic published two months after the attacks of 9/11, Hitchens summed up his break from the establishment left over the attacks and the war on terror that was then only beginning. Ibidem

See also

External links


  1. Book Review: Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left, edited by Simon Cottee and Thomas Cushman, New York University Press, 365 pages, 2008. L.A. Rollins
  2. Hitchens' Weak Defense of "Islamo-Fascism" by Richard (RJ) Eskow, Huffington Post, posted 10/23/2007
  3. 3.0 3.1 UnHitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens By Richard Seymour, Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (January 16, 2013), page 92
  4. UnHitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens By Richard Seymour, Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (January 16, 2013), page 92
  5. Christopher Hitchens vs William Lane Craig - Does God Exist - 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Craig-Hitchens Debate by Luke Muehlhauser on April 4, 2009 in Debates,Reviews,William Lane Craig
  8. 8.0 8.1 Christopher Hitchens: Despite Cancer, I'd Drink & Smoke Again
  10. Why did Hitchens continue to smoke & drink during treatment? -CTV News
  11. Picture of an overweight Christopher Hitchens smoking a cigarette
  12. National Institute of Health - Obesity and Cancer Risk
  13. Hitchens and Ebert on Atheism and Dying by Matthew C. Nisbet
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Christian author's book on famous atheist gets him on Fox, MSNBC
  15. 15.0 15.1 The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Alex Taunton | Book Trailer
  16. Uproar Against Dawkins Is Sign of New Atheism Retrogression by Joshua Kelly
  17. Is the New Atheism dead? by Elizabeth Bruenig, New Republic, November 6, 2015
  18. 18.0 18.1 The damnation of St Christopher by Michael Wolff
  19. 19.0 19.1 Atheism and Bestiality - portion of Craig vs. Hitchens debate - audience participation period
  20. 20.0 20.1 Christopher Hitchens vs William Lane Craig - Does God Exist Debate
  21. Richard Dawkins upset that public doesn’t like him by Warren Nunn, Published by Creation Ministries International 13 May 2014 (GMT+10)
  22. Christians Grieve Death of Christopher Hitchens; Share Hopes for Deathbed Conversion by Eryn Sun, Christian Post Reporter, December 16, 2011
  23. Sam Harris and the epic self-evisceration
  24. Christopher Hitchens - A wasted life
  25. 25.0 25.1