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December 16th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

My Take: An evangelical remembers his friend Hitchens

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. This article is adapted from his book “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.”

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN)– I first met Christopher Hitchens at the Edinburgh International Festival. We were both there for the same event, and foremost in my mind was the sort of man I would meet.

A journalist and polemicist, his reputation as a critic of religion, politics, Britain's royal family, and, well, just about everything else was unparalleled. As an evangelical, I was certain that he would hate me.

When the expected knock came at my hotel room door, I braced for the fire-breather who surely stood on the other side of it. With trepidation, I opened it and he burst forth into my room. Wheeling on me, he began the conversation as if it was the continuance of some earlier encounter:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has effectively endorsed the adoption of Sharia law. Can you believe that? Whatever happened to a Church of England that believed in something?” He alternated between sips of his Johnnie Walker and steady tugs on a cigarette.

My eyebrows shot up. “‘Believed in something?’ Why, Christopher, you sound nostalgic for a church that actually took the Bible seriously.”

He considered me for a moment and smiled. “Indeed. Perhaps I do.”

There was never a formal introduction. There was no need for one. From that moment, I knew that I liked him. We immediately discovered that we had much in common. We were descendants of martial traditions; we loved literature and history; we enjoyed lively discussion with people who didn’t take opposition to a given opinion personally; and we both found small talk boring.

Over the next few years, we would meet irregularly. The location was invariably expensive, a Ritz Carlton or a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. He disliked cheap restaurants and cheap liquor. In his view, plastic menus were indicative of bad food. I never ate so well as when I was with Hitch.

Christopher Hitchens, standing, debates his friend Larry Taunton.

More than bad food, however, he disliked unintelligent conversation. “What do you think about gay marriage?” He didn’t wait for a response. “I don’t get it. I really don’t. It’s like wanting the worst of both worlds.” He drank deeply of his whiskey. “I mean, if I was gay, I would console myself by saying, ‘Well, I’m gay, but at least I don’t have to get married.’” That was classic Hitch. Witty. Provocative. Unpredictable.

Calling him on his cell one day, he sounded like he was flat on his back. Breathing heavily, there was desperation in his voice.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, anticipating some tragedy.

“Only minutes ago, I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.” He was almost gasping.

I didn’t know what to say. No one ever does in such moments, so we resort to meaningless stock phrases like, “I’m sorry.” Instead, I just groaned. I will never forget his response:

“I had plans for the next decade of my life. I think I should cancel them.”

He asked me to keep the matter private until he could tell his family and make the news public. Hesitatingly, I told him that while I knew that he did not believe in such things, I would pray for him. He seemed genuinely moved by the thought.

“We are still on for our event in Birmingham, right?” He asked. I was stunned. Sensing my surprise, he continued. “I have made a commitment,” he insisted. “Besides, what else am I going to do? I can’t just sit around waiting to die.”

Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

As time approached, he suggested a road trip from his D.C. apartment to my home in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Flying has become a humiliating experience, don’t you think?” He said. “Besides, I haven’t taken a road trip in 20 years and it will give us a chance to talk and for me to finally take you up on your challenge.”

Arriving in Washington some five months after his diagnosis, I was shocked by his appearance. Heavy doses of chemotherapy had left him emaciated, and hairless but for his eyelashes. His clothes hung off of him as though he were a boy wearing a man’s garments. He was, nonetheless, looking forward to our journey, having packed a picnic lunch and, predictably, enough Johnnie Walker for a battalion. After breakfast with his lovely wife, Carol, and his sweet daughter, Antonia, Hitch and I headed south on an eleven-hour road trip.

“Have you a copy of Saint John with you?” He asked with a smile. “If not, you know I do actually have one.” This was a reference to my challenge of two years before: a joint study of the Gospel of John. It was my assertion that he had never really read the Bible, but only cherry-picked it.

“Not necessary.” I was smiling, too. “I brought mine.”

A few hours later we were wending our way through the Shenandoah Valley on a beautiful fall morning. As I drove, Hitch read aloud from the first chapter of John’s Gospel. We then discussed its meaning. No cameras, no microphones, no audience. And that always made for better conversation with Hitch. When he referenced our journey in a televised debate with David Berlinski the next day, various media representatives descended on me to ask about our “argument.” When I said that we didn’t really argue, they lost interest.

But that was the truth. It was a civilized, rational discussion. I did my best to move through the prologue verse by verse, and Christopher asked thoughtful questions. That was it.

A bit put off by how the Berlinski event had played out, Hitch suggested we debate one another. Friend though he was, I knew that Hitch could be a savage debater. More than once I had chaired such engagements where Hitch went after his opponents remorselessly.

Hence, I was more than a bit anxious. Here he was, a celebrated public intellectual, an Oxonian, and bestselling author, and that is to say nothing of that Richard Burton-like, aristocratic, English-accented baritone. That always added a few I.Q. points in the minds of people. With hesitation, I agreed.

We met in Billings, Montana. Hitch had once told me that Montana was the only state he had never been in. I decided to complete his tour of the contiguous United States and arranged for the two of us to meet there. Before the debate, a local television station sent a camera crew over to interview us.

When he was asked what he thought of me, a Christian, and an evangelical at that, Hitch replied: “If everyone in the United States had the same qualities of loyalty and care and concern for others that Larry Taunton had, we'd be living in a much better society than we do.”

I was moved. Stunned, really. As we left, I told him that I really appreciated the gracious remark.

“I meant it and have been waiting for an opportunity to say it.”

Later that night we met one another in rhetorical combat. The hall was full. Christopher, not I, was of course the real attraction. He was at the peak of his fame. His fans had traveled near and far to see him demolish another Christian. Overall, it was a hard-fought but friendly affair. Unknown to the audience were the inside jokes. When I told a little story from our road trip, he loved it.

The debate over, I crossed the stage to shake Christopher’s hand. “You were quite good tonight,” he said with a charming smile as he accepted my proffered hand. “I think they enjoyed us.”

“You were gentle with me,” I said as we turned to walk off the stage.

He shook his head. “Oh, I held nothing back.” He then surveyed the auditorium that still pulsed with energy. “We are still having dinner?” he asked.

“Absolutely.”

After a quick cigarette on the sidewalk near the backstage door, he went back inside to meet his fans and sign their books.

There was something macabre about it all. I had the unsettling feeling that these weren’t people who cared about him in the least. Instead, they seemed like a bunch of groupies who wanted to have a photo taken with a famous but dying man, so that one day they could show it to their buddies and say, “I knew him before he died.” It was a sad spectacle.

Turning away, I entered the foyer, where 30 or so Christians greeted me excitedly. Mostly students, they were encouraged by what had happened onstage that night. Someone had spoken for them, and it had put a bounce in their step. One young man told me that he had been close to abandoning his faith, but that the debate had restored his confidence in the truth of the gospel. Another student said that she saw how she could use some of the same arguments. It is a daunting task, really, debating someone of Hitchens' intellect and experience, but if this cheery gathering of believers thought I had done well, then all of the preparation and expense had been worth it.

The next day, the Fixed Point Foundation staff piled into a Suburban and headed for Yellowstone National Park. Christopher and I followed behind in a rented pick-up truck. Accompanied by Simon & Garfunkel (his choice), we drove through the park at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the grandeur of it all.

The second chapter of John’s Gospel was on the agenda: The wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. “That is my favorite miracle,” Hitch quipped.

Lunching at a roadside grill, he regaled our staff with stories. Afterwards, he was in high spirits.

“That’s quite a - how shall I put it? A clan? - team that you’ve got there,” he said, watching the teenage members of our group clamber into the big Chevrolet.

“Yes, it is,” I said, starting the truck. “They enjoyed your stories.”

“I enjoy them.” He reclined his seat and we were off again. “Shall we do all of the national parks?”

“Yes, and maybe the whole Bible, too,” I suggested playfully. He gave a laugh.

“Oh, and Larry, I’ve looked at your book.” He added.

“And?”

“Well, all that you say about our conversation is true, but you have one detail wrong.”

“And what is that?” I feared a total rewrite was coming.

“You have me drinking Johnnie Walker Red Label. That’s the cheap stuff. I only drink Black Label.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (1,648 Responses)
  1. Cher

    Nice article. However, it's interesting that he perceives Hitchens' fans as thoughtless groupies, but is buoyed by the enthusiasm of his own fans and doesn't perceive them as such.

    December 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Clayton

      You are not the first one to point that out. I've seen other people bring up this subtle sneer at Hitchens while the author engages in empty-headed support of his own groupies. The author clearly lost every argument with Hitchens and still feels the burn.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  2. GAW

    I have to wonder how Atheists intend on converting the world. Through logic? What if someone doesn't accept their logic and questions their arguments? Through intimidation? Well we just don't like bullies Religious or otherwise. Though force? It's always possible. When any group believes that the world would be a much better without group X then who knows what can happen. Whatever be the case religion/spirituality in its many forms will be around for a while. You can question it all you want, it's your right but you have live with it. And hey let"s admit that it gives something for believers and unbelievers to grumble about.

    December 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • ashrakay

      And if all of that fails, we can just fall back on the religious tactic of lying and presenting "fact" without evidence.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      What about atheists like me–who don't care to convert anyone, much less "the world"?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • streetsmt

      Yes, through logic. That's how I was "converted". And it's because the logic isn't owned by athiests, as you suggest. Facts are not owned by anyone. They just are, and if you have an open mind, you are helpless to follow their path to rational thoughts.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • racer x

      GAW, you can refuse to "accept the logic" of 2+2=4 if you want to. You will find yourself in an increasingly shrinking minority of deluded people. You will be ignored and marginalized. In the end, you will know better than to admit to believing in super beings.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Atheists don't want "mass conversion". They want the religious regime out of their life! Is that too much to ask?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Answer

      @GAW

      Atheists do not care if you don't accept logic. It simply means that you won't be educated and be employable. That is everyone's choice in life. Frankly the world does not need you if you can not be employable so you'll just die quicker. The only point of our atheism is to spread education and improve the world.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • GAW

      @ Answer Employable? Many religious people work as doctors, lawyers, engineers, scholars ect. Most places of employment don't ask you "Well do you believe in God?" and base your employability on that. They are looking for people who have experience and reliability not a particular philosophical or religious ideology. Don't get your hopes up too high here.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Answer

      @GAW

      Here you still are trying to feign the importance of religion instead of bucking out and laughing..

      "Just like their religious fundamentalist counterparts. I just have sit back, laugh and enjoy the extremists on both sides."

      –Still the diehard religious nut. Trying to assert that religion has a footing in society. Good luck with that.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  3. GodofLunaticsCreation

    Irony aside I would like to dedicate (I know Im not the composer) this Cantus in memory of Christopher Hitchens.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82-xbhfNR2g&w=640&h=360]

    December 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      We will miss you Hitch!

      December 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  4. jh

    hitch was right about most things... especially Red label.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Brad

      Just so very wrong about one thing (at least): cigarettes.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Clayton

      There was a family history of throat cancer. The others were all Christians. So your point would be, what, exactly?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  5. Clayton

    Hitchens made sense and won every argument and debate while his views were constantly suppressed.
    He fought against the evil that is religion. He fought against the madness of religion.
    The more I read and hear and watch what he says, the more I am terribly jealous and envious of his amazing abilities and knowledge of the English language that came so easily to him. I envy him his knowledge and insightfulness and also his ability to function so successfully in society.
    I also see that he has come to many of the same conclusions I have. I have yet to read one of his books, but any reasonable person should be able to form a reasonable and sensible view of the world using science, logic, common sense, empathy, and sympathy among other things. It was not necessary that I read his books to come to the same conclusions.
    He and I are much alike in our views and contempt for religion. He uses many a British turn of phrase and can use quite obscure resources in his arguments, but that just puts the icing on the cake.
    He won every debate because he was right. His atheism is just a natural progression from having a rational mind that prefers understanding and knowledge over mindless ignorance born of brainwashing.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • webo

      "Reasonable and sensible". I find it impossible believe that it is "reasonable and sensible" to believe that everything around us happened by chance, with no designer. Suggest you read "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist".

      December 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Clayton

      I don't know why you would think it's "impossible" that life arises from essentially random events.
      It certainly makes more sense than a sadistic voy.eur creating some na.ked victims to watch and breed like any primitive slave-master! And what of that talking snake thing? Why is that so easy to believe and simple biochemistry is "impossible" to believe in?
      Are you retarded?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      Well, as you are a person of logic and science, then as the is case with any hypothesis you need to first disprove the null if you are going to stick to Aethist guns.
      Also in describing religion as evil you have nary a shred of empirical proof to support this let alone any attempt at a solid empirical definition for many of the terms you throw around.
      Or I guess we should just take your comments on faith? =)

      December 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • designer

      @webo, As a designer, I understand that I do not make the rules of design. There are certain constants that exist such as the golden ratio and the rule of 3rds, as well as using white space and balance that exist before the designer utilizes them. If you know anything about astrophysics, you would know that if the numbers of the universe, such as the constant of gravity or the atomic weight of hydrogen were even slightly different, the universe could not exist. (I suggest you read Martin Reese's "Just Six Numbers") This means that if there were a designer as you suggest it would be subject to the physical laws of the universe to which it was designing. Hopefully you can see the fallacy of such an argument.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Kenneth

      The "evil" that is religion.
      How about the evil that is narrow minded stupidy?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • streetsmt

      @webo
      Of course it makes sense. We have proof all around of via natural selection that shows how it happens. We can trace the origins of all life through DNA to a common ancester. We have figured out down to the 1st nanosecond what happened after the big bang. It is perfectly reasonable to believe these things.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Answer

      @webo

      Here are some really basic questions you should ask yourself.

      Do you believe in eternity? Do you believe in the concept of "nothing"?
      What would happen if the concept of "nothing" continues on for eternity?
      Nothing would happen right? So for how far and how long will eternity be – til nothing produces something?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Kenneth

      sorry – stupidity.
      Spell check...

      December 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • pablo

      One hundred years from now, you will be as you were one hundred years ago.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Answer

      @pablo

      Not true in all cases in your statement. Some people live well past 100 years.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • webo

      Not retarded. Just perhaps looked at it a little deeper than you. Look at the "simple cell", the things going on within it, the "information" found in DNA. When we see "information" we see thought, design. Way to complicated to have happened by random chance. The "law of entropy", accepted in every scientific discipline as fact, except that of biological evolution, screams that this didn't happen by chance.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Clayton

      To Kenneth:
      Who is more likely to be engaging in "narrow-minded stupidy" (stupidity – hello) than a religious person?
      Religion is evil, is used for evil, produces evil throughout the world, and has no "redeeming" characteristics whatsoever.
      Nothing that has come from religion can redeem it from the evil it has spawned constantly and relentlessly throughout the history of mankind. There can be no excuse for what religion is, what it does, and how it indoctrinates people into being insane wherever their delusion is concerned.
      Religion is a madness on the face of the world. The world needs to wash its face and show the universe that we can better ourselves and overcome the madness and insanity that afflicts us as a species.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • streetsmt

      @webo
      You realize that there are no peer reviewed scientific papers accepted by mainstream science that backs up what you are saying. Must be a science conspiracy?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Answer

      No webo .. it is simply that you can not accept the it was chance that produced the variations found in evolution.

      You were taught to accept a religious foundation and it is buried into you. You can continue to reject the viewpoint but we who can attest to the facts that we have physical evidences stringing the various facets of life that are not created as per se through religion will always put the facts above your religion.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Clayton

      To webo:
      What "screams" is your crashing ignorance and lack of reasoning ability.
      Intelligent design has been debunked from here to eternity.
      Biochemistry is the study of essentially chemical feedback loops.
      Now I suppose you'll tell me you don't believe feedback loops couldn't arise at random in a chemical bath filled with all the building blocks of "life." And you might as well say you don't believe in chemical reactions of any sort, including chain reactions that utilize the same chemical bonds and everyday physics required for them to come together or anything as "impossible" as that, right?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      What about entropy? To argue that evolution is inconsistent with the second law of thermodynamics it is usually stated that evolution is a continual process of achieving higher order and design, which is against the second law. This is an argument based on casual definition of terms, rather than on quantification of order, design, and entropy. I hope that by this point it is reasonably clear that this argument actually has little if anything to do with the second law of thermodynamics. How would one propose to measure the relative order or design increase that would accompany any evolutionary step? What number represents the difference between standing erect and walking on all fours, between having only day vision and between having also developed night vision...?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • webo

      @streetsmt
      No conspiracy. Just a lost world trying to explain itself in a way that appeals to itself. Read 2 Timothy 4:3&4

      December 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • streetsmt

      @WEBO
      Can I find it in a scientific journal? Has it been peer reviewed. Can I trust the author?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Answer

      @webo

      That is a classic retort from the bible braindead playbook. When you have no other position of defense – highlight others to read the bible.

      Simple hilarious!

      December 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Kenneth

      To Clayton-
      your assertion that religion has no redeeming qualities whatsoever shoes you to be a narrow minded fool.
      And I caught my own spelling mistake, thank you.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Keith, I find that narrow minded stupidity goes hand-in-hand with being a fervent un-thinking believer, of which you, George, HeavenScent and Captain America are perfect examples.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • webo

      @Godoflunatics
      I'm not a scientist. I doubt any of you are either. I only know that whenever I observe anything going from chaos to order, it takes energy and intelligence. Random chance doesn't seem to lead to order, especially the kind of order I see in nature.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Clayton

      To GodofLunaticsCreation:
      Evolution does not have an "agenda" because it is just a random chemical process born of random effects to DNA.
      There is no "higher" direction to evolution. "Regression" or "advancement" are erroneous subjective terms used by people who think evolution always makes things "better" when it clearly does no such thing.
      Anyone who brings up the Second Law of Thermodynamics is just an ignorant troll who doesn't understand much of anything scientific. They would use their time to better effect if they just tried to reason things out to where everything makes more sense.
      Most religions do not encourage this, of course, as they do not tolerate any perceived threat, including reason, rational thought or analysis, logic, science, basically facts of all sorts and any intelligent evaluation.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Ha! Typing like a drunk tonight!

      December 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Answer

      @webo

      You're not defining on what you see as order. What is order to you? Nice neat linear rows? All winds blowing in the same direction? Every particle of dirt being green? I think you're stuck in your delusion that god gives 'order' when you do see that randomness is fairly apparent. The unknown factors that produce order are not currently known by science doesn't mean we will never understand it. Just to assume that a god had to have its involvement is natural for idiots.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @webo, when viewing a Rorschach (inkblot) test you may see a butterfly. This doesn't mean that a butterfly exists. We know from a great deal of study of the mind that we tend to perceive what we expect to perceive. This says more about the psychology of the brain than it does in support of your argument. If you're looking for easy answers, than religion is a safe and comfortable bet. If you're interested in reality, then you must be prepared for complexity and be patient enough to find inconvenient answers.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Clayton

      To Kenneth:
      I made my point very clearly and explained the basis for my conclusions. Religion is evil. This can be proved over and over according to most people's understanding of human rights, including civil rights.
      Just put them up side by side and you'll see religion has no excuse for being a group psychosis any more than any other group psychosis. You are probably more than willing to break laws against murder if you think it is justified by your religion and what other people tell you to do. They will say that your "god" wants you to murder and you will do it.
      You are a mental slave and cannot be trusted to treat others morally because your morals are based on primitive notions of "god"-appeasement. You are the one who thinks they are the sc.um of the earth because they were born because their Bible told them so, not me.
      Why should I respect a slave to a system of lies? I don't. I'm not being narrow-minded, just reasonable in my hatred for the insanity of your lies and the lengths you will go to force them on others. Religion is evil and should be abolished and banned forever. One day, if we don't all die in some contrived "holy war", we as a species will do that very thing.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Marks from Middle River

    Neel it sounds like some atheist and yourself are more upset that more of the Faithful are coming out of the woodwork not to bash or celebrate the death of Hitchens. I bet for some one such as yourself to hear a person of Faith speak honorably and with friendship of Hitchens  ..... Must have been rough to read. That the friendship went both ways..... I guess that was the mother of all punches in the gut. 

    My guess it is like when some racist African Americans hear and read text about malcolm x spoke about the white Muslims that he encountered. It is folks like you that go crazy when your heroes do not share your all encompassing hatred. 

    Hitchens was man enough to cross the aisle to make friends who were people of Faith. This writer was man enough to do the same with an atheist. 

    Do not get upset that what was in both of these guys is lacking in you. 

     

    December 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Im not upset. I have known about Hitchens and Tauntons friendship for some time now. They have made many appearances together.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Hmmm! Good point. I'm an atheist, and I find it refreshing to know that not all believers have something hateful to say about Hitchens' death. Way to go, my Christian friends! Cheers!

      December 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • racer x

      You are in no position to admonish anyone, Marks from Middle River. If you refused to believe in, or even to feign respect for, another's invisible rabbit god, you would not be "closed minded." I shall not indulge your fantasies, and it is absurd and pathetic for you to expect me to.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Clayton

      You are showing us that you are ignorant of all of Hitchens' work including his debates, interviews, and pretty much everything the guy ever said about religion.
      Ignorance does not win debates nor can it be used to make salient points. Your post is a prime example.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      >>>"You are showing us that you are ignorant of all of Hitchens' work including his debates, interviews, and pretty much everything the guy ever said about religion"

      Sounds like you wish me to get more knowledgable of all of his works and adopted a hatred stance towards him. Why would I wish to do that Clayton? They have posted stories from not just this person of Faith that had a friendly relationship with Hitchens....do you think them to ignorant of his views towards Faith?

      Racer X. Can you believe that there is a way forward towards peace and tolerance without having to give up one holding a Athiestic view and one holding a view of Faith?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Answer

      @Marks from Middle River

      "Can you believe that there is a way forward towards peace and tolerance without having to give up one holding a Athiestic view and one holding a view of Faith?"

      Firstly why don't you pose that question to yourself and supply the answer in response to your own request before you post it. Type out your answer – if you yourself have one?

      The one thing I notice about religious t-w-a-t-s is the inability to ask their own selves for an answer but always demand others for one! It makes it a one-side challenge where the religious freak thinks he has the answer in making others do the work and then just highlight the negatives of that offered opinion.

      Here is my reply: destroy all religion.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Clayton

      Mark, you are defaming Hitchens by your lies about him.
      He never once "crossed the aisle" and was a firm enemy of religion to his death.
      He was more moral than you. Don't you just hate that?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • racer x

      @Marks from Middle River
      Tolerating deluded people is not a step forward, it is a step backward. Peace and tolerance? Look, conceivably two completely insane people could accept each others' delusions and live in peace. What does that have to do with the reality that they are both wrong? Stop pretending that your inherently unreasonable beliefs are somehow reasonable!

      December 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      >>>"Firstly why don't you pose that question to yourself and supply the answer in response to your own request before you post it. "

      Umm....yes, folks of Faith and Atheist can achieve such. I used to be like you until I came here to the Belief Blog and found those on the other side that I have enjoyed pleasant and respectful exchanges of post. So my friend, yes there is a away forward. 

      >>>"Here is my reply: destroy all religion"

      notice how "Here is my reply: destroy all religion." which you posted starts with "destroy all"'? Destroy all until the planet looks and sounds exactly the same. Destroy all blacks, destroy all whites, destroy all conservatives, destroy all liberals ...destroy destroy destroy. Fill in the blank and start the executions. Is that the only language some of you on both sides understand ... "Destroy all" 

      Clayton – crossing the asile does not mean dropping your held beliefs. According to this article and a few more since his death... He had a few friends on the other side. I am sorry that this fact has once again surfaced to the general public for ones such as yourself. For me it gives further gives me hope that folks can hold different views and beliefs and still have respect and friendship. 

      RacerX. The fact that it appears that Hitchens did understand tolerance in his lifetime just means that he achieved and found something that some feel or hope, is impossible. Tolerance. 

      December 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Clayton

      Mark, I have no idea why you say I hate people and want everyone to hate others for some contrived reason brought about by your erratic thought processes.
      Can you point to anything I have ever said that would lead you to believe this? Because you really are quite far off the mark, mark.

      December 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Clayton ...I just did a word search and I never said you hated or hate.

      ....but you did :

      "He was more moral than you. Don't you just hate that?"7:57 pm

      Sorry, better luck next time. 🙂

      December 18, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  7. Mark

    That was beautiful. Interesting that someone as brilliant and caustic as Hitch could get along.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  8. I AM STUKUPPINCRAK THE GOD OF UNDERWEAR

    AND I CURSE YOU ALL!!!!
    WHEN YOU FEEL MY CURSE YOU WILL KNOW OF MY ANGER!!!

    December 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      An eternity of mud butt!

      December 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • I AM STUKUPPINCRAK THE GOD OF UNDERWEAR

      YOUR UNDERWEAR IS BINDING UPON YOU!!
      YOU CANNOT ESCAPE MY POWER!!

      December 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      When Jesus asked, "Father! Why hast thou forsaken me?" It was because at that moment he got hit by the mud butt.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • I AM STUKUPPINCRAK THE GOD OF UNDERWEAR

      YOU MOCK ME!!
      YOU ARE HENCEFORTH CURSED AGAIN AND YOU WILL FEEL MY WRATH AT SOME UNKNOWN FUTURE POINT!!!!

      December 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      In that case I will have to make sure to stay in the vicinity of a comfortable latrine.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • GAW

      "Don't feed the Trolls!!!"

      December 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • pablo

      Apparently, the wedgie that someone gave you cut off the circulation to your brain and you were left without any thought processes. Now you can only type.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      So I guess going commando would be your version of atheism?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • I AM STUKUPPINCRAK THE GOD OF UNDERWEAR

      GOING COMMANDO IS BAD!
      IF YOU GO COMMANDO I WILL SEND A CURSE OF CRUMBS, LINT, SAND, DIRT, AND ANYTHING ELSE TO REMIND YOU OF MY POWER!!!
      YOU WILL FEEL MY ANGER UP INTO THE CRACKS OF YOUR VERY SOUL!!!

      December 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  9. Bravo

    That is truly something rare,...I am an atheist and my best friend is a Christian. We have intellectual, rational dialogue and it never turns into a shouting match of ideologies, something that I rarely find. Most of the religious ilk always seem to approach the initial introduction to my atheistic thoughts first with shock and disbelief that I do not believe as they do,...then disdain and an attempt to convert me,...and finally with combative and defensive verbal posturing,...when a point is reached where they come to the realization that I am more familiar with their faith and Bible then they are, discussion quickly degrades to violence.

    That is the major turn off for many atheists,...namely that having a intellectual discussion with a theist is something nearly impossible to encounter. I can count in one hand the good discussions that I have had with theists, and as a result of past discussions that evoked violence, I tend to avoid religious folk altogether.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      This clips for you then.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykRVUk7zAFc&w=640&h=360]

      December 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • pablo

      My experience has been that an atheist can be very detached and objective in a philosophical discussion about the mystery of life.. But I have never met someone who is religious that could do that. They are usually very closed minded about philosophical and religious issues.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Anger and violence is the last bastion of a weak position. It's basic fight or flight instinct. When confronted with a threat to their imaginary world, people will usually either retreat further into their delusion or fight back. This is the lizard brain at its finest. It is devoid of reason and perspective. Like you, I've only encountered 1 or 2 religious people capable of discourse without anger.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Answer

      From my various years conversing with any religious person – the forefront opinion is that they think "they" are always right. Regardless what reasoning and logical arguments that I have to refute their position.

      It is never myself who asks 'first' whether I believe in any god (or specifically their god). They always bring up the subject of their religion and their god and try to explain to me that I should consider their viewpoint. Their act of being nice in bringing this topic up somehow is relevant to them – but I could care less if religion was never discussed whenever I meet anybody new seems to avoid their thought.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      To use words similar I could say that it is the Atheist that, when challenged is quick to option for an insult and become equally closed minded. The thing is that such friendships can and do happen. The question is are either of you ready for such. If your idea of a friendship with a person of Faith is constant and endless debate then I believe that you might of missed the point of this article.

      I have friends who are white but everytime one of my African American friends or coworkers find out they expect that my conversations and time I spend with my White friends is spent continually discussing race relations or similar. I highly doubt that discussions on atheism vs the faithful were 100% the end all of these guys friendship.

      I can see many discussions here on the Belief Blog were both sides have gone the complete and respectful route. Often it is hard to find when the extremes on both sides are attempting to drown out all discussion where peace and tolerance might be the outcome.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Answer

      "The question is are either of you ready for such."

      You pose that question like you are the one who readily accepts others are not ready. Such a remarkable vain position to assess that you have been the tolerable one.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  10. Atheist 1#

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SRZwuqrU-s&w=640&h=360]

    December 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Neel

    Now that our country has lost a shining public intellectual, It isnt surprising that all these evangelicals and others sects of the christian faith gained the courage to come out of the woodwork to twist facts and claim legitimacy for their insane beliefs.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  12. closetiguana

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
    Albert Einstein

    December 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  13. elflander

    A great piece. Thanks.

    I'm running into this same regard for Hitchens from evangelicals and other Christians at every turn. I myself am a philosophy Ph.D and a committed Christian with a number of publications defending a theistic worldview and critiquing naturalism. I never had the opportunity to meet Hitchens, but I have found him very likeable despite obvious disagreement. My chief impression (beyond the fact that he was highly intelligent and a gifted writer) is of a man of great intellectual honesty and integrity. I would most definitely have enjoyed his company and conversation over most any of the current peddlers of a dumbed down and overly simplified Christianity.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • racer x

      Right, yours is a more (pseudo) sophisticated type of delusion.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • elflander

      Adolescent Atheism Rule #1: Miss no opportunity to express unbridled contempt for theistic belief regardless of context or content.

      Adolescent Atheism Rule #2: Always be prepared with snarky, contemptuous assessments of arguments from theists even in the event that you have no idea what the actual arguments are.

      This is one reason why Chesterton commented that he read as little apologetics as possible, but it was his reading of the atheists that ultimately confirmed him in his orthodoxy. Were he alive today to engage the non-arguments of today's internet infidel, he would have become a hot dam Pentecostal.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • James

      Good points Elflander.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Answer

      Adolescent Atheism Rule #1: Miss no opportunity to express unbridled contempt for theistic belief regardless of context or content.

      -Correct assessment on #1 : Religion has no place within the society that governs itself through reasoning. It always has been – through negotiated laws and rules. Showing contempt for what is inherently wrong in their forceful ways is the only way to fight back.

      Adolescent Atheism Rule #2: Always be prepared with snarky, contemptuous assessments of arguments from theists even in the event that you have no idea what the actual arguments are.

      -Correct assessment once again. The use of contempt and the snarky mannerisms deride the hate and highlight the negatives within all religious aspects. Use all manners of tools as deem fit. Fight hypocrisy with hypocrisy. Hate with hate for their expressions of hate. Not the person but hate for the expressed hate.

      "This is one reason why Chesterton commented that he read as little apologetics as possible, but it was his reading of the atheists that ultimately confirmed him in his orthodoxy. Were he alive today to engage the non-arguments of today's internet infidel, he would have become a hot dam Pentecostal."

      -Internet infidel – once again it only confirms the viewpoint that atheists have the legitimacy of their fight. The instant labeling that brands any person who dares to come to voice their thoughts and antagonism at religion. Founded on hate for being branded! He is a hot dam Pentecostal accordingly to what is stated!

      Stupid religious t-w-a-t-s always think that their goody two shoes acts (or nice words) have any value or appeal while they try to placate a crowd is simply too hilarious.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • racer x

      Turn the other cheek, elflander. You're a hateful girl.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • GAW

      As usual many of the atheists who responded did so with a "How dare you question us!!" mentality. Shows that when you have the truth you can treat all who disagree with you as a second class citizen. Just like their religious fundamentalist counterparts. I just have sit back, laugh and enjoy the extremists on both sides.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Adolescent religion apologists rule #1: Pretend to know something others could not possibly know unless they accept what you believe. If possible, present convoluted distortions of complex subject and out of context information in hopes that it will confuse people into submission.

      Adolescent religious apologists rule #2: Present your credentials with the same verifiability of evidence as idea of "god" and hope people will take your word for it. I have a double doctorate in microbiology with a minor in BS.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Answer

      @GAW

      Sitting back and laughing? Nope. What you did was to type out a response to show that you were attempting to feign a superior position. You never indulged the fact to simply not type out a response to really highlight you were indeed sitting back and not caring and indeed really laugh.

      You wanted to be known to riddle a fake smug at both sides. This is logic and my assessment of your fake viewpoint.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      GAW Excuse some who are sick of having to explain themselves to the religious, over and over again. It can get annoying after a while.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • racer x

      GAW, if I insisted that 3+3=6 and some someone else insisted that 3+3=4, would you sit back and "enjoy the "extremists on both sides"? Would you think it sensible to accept "5" as some sort of healthy compromise solution?

      December 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Junius Gallio

      As a hard agnostic/soft atheist, let me lift my cup in salute to you for your open-minded views on this topic.

      However, my cup contains coffee, not whiskey. 😉

      December 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Dave

      Very well put elflander. The "adolescent atheism" rules are spot on! As a "seasoned" atheist, the theophobia of these wide-eyed "god-less" fundies really gets annoying. They rail against irrational thought, dogma, and hate in the most irrational, dogmatic, and hateful ways, then fail to see the irony. I'm not even sure it's fair to call them "atheists". They certainly work themselves into hysterics attacking heretics ... in most cases without even truely comprehending the argument.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  14. ByronicFiend

    The biggest problem in the universe that threatens humanity's existence is not climate change,plagues,war,religion,comets,massive black holes,etc...it's the damn Amish.Down with the Amish!!!

    December 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • ByronicFiend

      Man I hate that ByronicFiend guy.Down with ByronicFiend!!!

      December 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  15. BoldGeorge

    TO JAKE...(and only Jake, again)...I've heard and read about evolution, just never witnessed it or seen it actually happen. And you will say the same. As a matter of fact, not one living being in human history has ever seen or witnessed evolution in action. As far as carbon dating, it has been ruled out on many archeological finds, this is a fact written in many scientific articles. So, can we really trust carbon dating and other failed methods that determine things in life? Besides, in recent articles scientists are stating that they are coming up with alternate methods for determining age...good luck.

    Npw, it is very easy to say that evolution is true but you can't really see or be a witness of it, as it takes millions or billions of years of processing. Here's a little anti-Darwinsim for you: You might take a dark dog to later make it a light colored dog, a german shepherd and possibly breed it to make them mini-geman shepherds (wish they would do this someday...such cuties), and I would acknowledge that perhaps splicing may be a possibility when you have scientists doing behind the biological wheel, trying to make different or new species altogether. But a frog will never turn into a Bengal tiger or an orchid a bald-eagle, or perhaps a secretary's-desk become a snowy-owl many many years into the future (shall I continue common sense???).

    The reason why creation was written about in the bible is because there was Someone there to witness it...the Creator Himself. But no one can ever write about the progress of evolution as it is....progressing.

    Jake, trust in the Lord. Things may or may not get better in this life, but you will definitely have hope for eternity.

    December 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • onlyJake

      Wow. Classic.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Marcel Kincaid

      BoldGeorge, virtually everything you say is ignorant and false.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Answer

      "Jake, trust in the Lord. Things may or may not get better in this life, but you will definitely have hope for eternity."

      Trust – in something imaginary. Unreasonable.

      You develop a bond of trust to the responses shown by another person towards you. Voice, mannerisms and actions.
      Eternity – only in wet dreams will that happen.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Evolution has been witnessed and continues to be witnessed every day. You are aware that there are organisms out there with shorter life spans, which allows for this.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Such spectacular stupidity. Carbon dating is only useful for dating organic things to a maximum of 58,000-62,000 years old and is proven science. It is only one of over 40 radiometric isotope methods used to date other various types of samples.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Evolution doesn't take place in the time it takes to observe it! Besides, microorganisms constantly evolve. Those genetic mutations that make certain "bugs" more resistant to our medicine are an example evolution but on a micro scale.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      That is what I was referring to.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Marcel Kincaid

    Hitchens was a far better man than I, to like someone like this who exploits his death to repeatedly compliment himself and to so intellectually dishonestly insult Hitch's heartfelt fans in one paragraph while heaping praise on his own Christian admirers in the next. And Hitch repeatedly told people NOT to pray for him and that he did not appreciate it.

    December 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • pablo

      In his interview with Anderson Cooper, he seemed to appreciate the intent behinds the prayers for his recovery or his redemption. Anderson ask him if he would like to hedge his bet before he died and he say he may when he was a little closer to death.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Marcel Kincaid

      As Hitchens repeatedly pointed out, Christians just love to lie about deathbed conversions of atheists.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Marcel Kincaid

      Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBgaEYV2BaY and you can see that it is simply a lie that Hitch expressed any appreciation for those who prayed for him. OTOH, it is true that he said that they had his blessing if it made THEM feel better. And it's dishonest to say that Hitch said he may "hedge his bet" without pointing out that he said that could only come if he were "half demented, either by drugs or pain" and talks about how "the faithful love to spread these rumors".

      December 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Answer

      An atheist's opinion on religion is far more credible than all the religious nutcases. That is why the deathbed scenarios happen.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Hitchens made it clear that he would have witnesses present to help combat the lie that some disgusting Christians would most likely spread about a conversion. This occurred and he did die a free man.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Marcel , you are either being dishonest with Hitchen's or you are unaware. While he did not believe that prayer would help him or anyone he did acknowledge that there were two types praying for him. One side that was praying for him to convert or burn forever and those that generally prayed for his health and comfort. Those that prayed for his health he thanked even though he did not believe.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • pablo

      I don't see how a rationale thinking being can buy into any of the religious dogma that prevail. But I don't understand the atheist need to take away the comfort that religious believers find in their faith. I've always envied them. I do believe that ignorance is bliss and I would never want to take away the hope that believers have in something better than we experience in this short life and also the hope of seeing their departed love ones once again. I would never try to convince them that they are wrong but will not welcome their attempts to convert me.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Pablo, the issue is not that atheists want to convert anyone. Most atheists I know only want the oppressive religious regime out of their life.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • pablo

      GodofLunaticsCreation, I've never felt oppressed by my religious friends. However, I may not feel that way in a muslim society.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Pablo, If you live in the United States you ARE living under oppression at the hands of Christianity. No amount of denial can erase that.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  17. Atheist 1#

    You mean fight other beliefs in favor of your own! Oh,Yeah I watch 700 club! It's you guys in first place then Islam And in Third Place Hinduism. You're all Just competing for the most converts, manipulating The Elderly scared people ,and indoctrinating children. (So why can't ATHEIST GET A FOOT IN THE DOOR AND SET SOME OF THESE LOST PEOPLE FREE.)

    December 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • pablo

      I don't see how a rationale thinking being can buy into any of the religious dogma that prevail. But I don't understand the atheist need to take away the comfort that religious believers find in their faith. I've always envied them. I do believe that ignorance is bliss and I would never want to take away the hope that believers have in something better than we experience in this short life and also the hope of seeing their departed love ones once again. I would never try to convince them that they are wrong but will not welcome their attempts to convert me.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dont be that guy

      Because the majority of people dont believe universes creates themselves out of nothing. Out of nothing, nothing comes. To believe was all just popped here is to believe in more magic and mystical possibilities than religion. Its like saying a magician pulls a rabbit out his hate but the trick is there was no hat and you dont believe in a magician. While worldviews will differ and rely on historical evidence to support their claims, it does not undermine the grounds that our natural universe was created by something that can not be of nature itself. Convince people how something comes from nothing and then maybe you'll see a stronger shift

      December 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • racer x

      @ Dont be that guy
      You are a groomed, perfumed, clothed primate with a finite existence, nothing more. You want to believe in some sort of super being in order to give your life some meaning and purpose. The truth is that the only meaning and purpose your life will ever have is what you give it. Stop trying to insist that others indulge your cowardly fantasies. FACE REALITY!

      December 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • pablo

      the worlds leading physicists think that spontaneous creation is not only possible but likely. There is physical evidence that particles appear and disappear in space. The nature of the universe is so complex and unknown that any premise can't be discounted. If an infinite number of universes have popped into being, then some would possess what we call "order". If only one in a trillion universes contained intelligence, that intelligence may consider it a miracle when it fact it was just "the odds". Humans have developed a sense of being special but when we die, we suffer the same fate as an armadillo on the side of the highway. We decompose and return to the earth. Our only escape from certain death is the hope that religion provides. I would be nice if it were true. Unless we were one of the majority that must suffer eternal hell fire. Then that would be bad.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jake

      @Don't Be That Guy – I agree...it doesn't make sense that God just came from nothing. I wonder if He knows where He came from? I wonder if God believes in a God that created Him, or maybe God is an atheist? He'd be pretty dumb to think that He just came from nothing, so I guess he must believe in a God that created Him. But then where did that God come from...I'm getting confused, so I'll just believe in religion.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Marcel Kincaid

      @Dont be that guy Your argument is intellectually dishonest on several levels. First, people believe specific dogmas, none of which is based on your argument, and not because of your argument. Second, either the universe existed forever or it sprang from nothing or it was created by something else, and either God existed forever or it sprang from nothing or was created by something else or it doesn't exist. To use your argument for God is special pleading, it is a fallacy, it is dishonest, and bearing false witness is a sin according to your dogma.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Thak you, Jake. I was wondering if "dont be that guy" would understand that his religion claims just that, something from nothing, and thats before we get to the real nonsense.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  18. mike

    Something I'm discovering: the more naive/ignorant one is with regard to their own worldview, the more proud/arrogant/ungracious they will be as they state their opinions.

    The more one critically examines their own worldview, the more one will realize that no worldview is a perfect explanation for everything. That undertanding produces humility and graciousness, such as these two men displayed toward each other. I bet if you pressed them, each could give concerns they had about their own worldview.

    Christians (such as me) have the difficult task of coming to terms with, and explaining, what happens to those who've never heard of Jesus, the eternality of hell, and the problem of evil and suffering, proposed Bible contradictions, and other difficulties. The atheist must grapple with how the universe came from nothing without reason/logic/purpose yet be fine-tuned to support life; or how the first RNA and protein molecules formed spontaneously in a primordial soup whose water content would counteract such chemical reactions.. and how mutation+natural selection could produce volumes and volumes of meaningful, specific information.

    If we're honest, we're all left a bit puzzled, aren't we?? Nonetheless, the law of noncontradiction makes it plainly clear that only one worldview can be true (when worldviews contradict) – so we should seek to learn and understand all perspectives, put our faith in the one that we believe best accounts for all that exists, and graciously engage those who disagree – to the extent that they want to be engaged =).

    My point: let's not bash each other ignorantly but seek truth and dialogue with kindness, recognizing that all of our perspectives have challenges...

    December 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • BNB42

      I think that was the idea of the story.... Civilized dialogue between an atheist and a theist.

      Too bad it probably won't happen here.....

      December 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Wow...your grasp of the various scientific principles you outlined is pretty weak. The fine tuning argument is a theological one, not a scientific one, as is complexity. Abiogenesis has better ideas than the 'primordial soup' trap and the what preceded the Big Bang is a nonsensical notion. To argue a God into existence to fill a void in our understanding is religions folly, not science. Atheists are fine with accepting that we cannot know all the answers, only religion is preoccupied with that.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Gdawg

      Atheist Steve, your assessment of the science is on target but you missed the message of the post. Too bad. You might re-read it and worry less about whether the science was right or not, and at the same time think a bit more about the message in the essay.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Might I point out, Atheists don't have to "grapple" with anything should they choose not to. It's not like we get a manual of problems and questions that exist and it's our job to solve them. The term "atheist" is a nonsensical a word as afairyist and aleprechaunist. How life came into existence is the work of abiogenesists, and how it subsequently continued, the job of evolutionists. Your argument is the same thing as saying, "drivers must grapple with how steering mechanisms work in their Toyota Prius." What most clearly defines the method by which someone will be defined as an atheist is to not accept things are reality that have no evidence to support their existence. This is why I think we are more likely to refer to ourselves as Realists.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Marcel Kincaid

      @mike Yes the world is a bit puzzling, but that easy admission is far different from the series of lies that Christians have to tell in order to maintain their dogma. Atheists have puzzles to solve, but Christians don't solve puzzles, they simply *assert* that there is a God with certain attributes, and then they practice "apologetics" to try to squeeze the observed facts into the Procrustean bed of their assertions.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Q

      Well, with all due respect (and despite other poster's contentions), the big bang indicates an initial singularity which is (depending on one's chose of semantics), simultaneously "everything" and a "nothing" like the center of a black hole. In other words, our ability to describe/understand it is limited by our 4 dimensional experience and we rely simply on the math. Atheists/agnostics concede we don't know how or from whence this came to be. The fine-tuning argument, as Hitchen's has stated, is difficult, but again, it's a question of comfort in conceding we don't know (though some would suggest, it's simply a set of circ-mstances which allowed existence as we (poorly) understand it). For both of these "we don't know" concessions, atheists/agnostics don't generally claim knowledge otherwise, but simply point out there is no rational reason to claim or infer one specific knowledge otherwise given the unknown and possibly infinite alternatives.

      Regarding abiogenesis, there is significant data indicating plausible pathways for the emergence of the requisite chemistry. Spontaneously is a tricky word here in that we know many complex molecules, including biomolecules can and do form "spontaneously" within the constraints of what is believed to be the early environment and its available niches. Replication, mutation and selection has been readily demonstrated to produce "specified information", whether its in vitro chemical evolution, the production of complex biochemical pathways (e.g. Lenski's E. coli experiments) or the diversity of domesticated breeds.

      I respectfully reject the concept of "worldview" as if the view makes the reality, i.e. we all live with an inherent deference to natural mechanisms and laws. IMHO, the principle difference is the abstract (and invariably anthropocentric) extrapolations of human minds into metaphysical claims to explain the existence we experience. But perhaps what really defines this difference are the motivations underlying why some chose to engage in these extrapolations and others do not.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Gdawg

      I didn't miss the point. I was arguing against his assertion that atheists grapple with the puzzles of our worldview. We don't. We accept what we understand about reality and defer judgment on things we don't. Only theists are jumping through hoops to reconcile their worldview with ever increasing scientific discovery on the nature of reality. You make it sound like Hitch held any respect for the evangelical worldview. He didn't and fought relentlessly to expose its falsehood. I have religious friends, good people that TruthPrevails and I have much in common with, but their religion is still silly supersti.tion and we've had rousing discussions about it on numerous occasions. I think we're winning them over...I keep you posted. 🙂

      December 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  19. GodofLunaticsCreation

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNv2cwLwqEY&w=640&h=360]

    December 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Brilliant!

      December 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Sid

      Hitchslapped...! best of Hitchens.

      December 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  20. ByronicFiend

    There are more good people in hell then heaven because statistically only a small percentage of the human population in the past 6000 years have been christian and christian's aren't the only people with good morals. So i'll be in hell playing cards with Gandhi,Buddha and Einstein while your in heaven with the Inquisition.

    December 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • pablo

      or, more than likely, you will simply cease to exist. In one hundred years, or less, you will be in the same place that you were a hundred years ago.

      December 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • beau

      why would you need an Inquisition in heaven?

      December 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.