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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. Martin T

    The best quote of this story was the one that said "we enjoyed lively discussion with people who didn’t take opposition to a given opinion personally" and what a true definition of Hitch that was. He could argue with you all night, then take you to breakfast and never once call you an idiot, well not again anyway. It saddens me that so many people only dwell on his atheism and not on the fact that he was brilliant, and witty, and a very good chap.

    December 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Felix The Navidad

      He was also a drunk and a blasphemer who had his throat go cancerous on him, something appropriate about that. Didn't know him, do not consider him a good anything and won't miss him.

      December 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Way to show that good old christian spirit of tolerance and love Felix.

      /sarcasm

      December 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Felix doesn't even realize that his words here give credence to everything Hitchens said about religion and it followers. He is proving Hitchens case.

      December 20, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Felix The Navidad

      Hitchens doesn't have a case. Hitchens doesn't have any thing . Hitchens is dead. Dead at an early age. Bearing witness to those wise enough to see it of a wasted life leading others to hell.

      December 20, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  2. DCB

    This is a lovely, poignant remembrance written by a guy who could have used the occasion to preach his beliefs. Instead, the author chose to focus on the mutual respect, friendship, and even love he ultimately shared with somebody whose beliefs could not have been further from his own. Larry Taunton's basic human decency (as well as Hitchens's; see his Taunton compliment) has my deepest respect. I am not going to let all the bickering on here, by those with comparatively smaller minds and hearts, ruin my takeaway. We desperately need more people in the world willing to build bridges like this one.

    December 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I completely agree DCB. Differences in opinion and personal beliefs should always take a backseat to mutual respect and open-mindedness.

      December 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • bringoutyourdead

      Is the most efficient way to load dead atheists in a cart still pitchforks?

      December 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  3. WOB

    Interesting that some on here are accusing Mr Taunton of lying about his relationship with Hitchens, and the comments he attributes to Hitchens. They simply can 't imagine their "hero" having had such conversations with someone they, themselves, loath. Very telling.

    December 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  4. Harris

    Mr Hitchens you leave behind your sheep who mourn your loss deeply.Sadly though your sheep have no mind of their own and are incapable of thinking for themselves in that they are so lost in the new/old whateva atheistic flavor you left them with.

    Oh well, there is still hope though for those of your sheep whose pulse is still ticking.If only they realize they cannot afford to waste any more of their time in false ideologies and turn to God before it too late for them.

    December 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • WOB

      I had to laugh when I read your post. I've read the almost the exact same words hundreds of times, but they were posted by atheist and agnostics who were chiding me and other Christians for blindly following our Faith. We were the sheep who didn't have a mind of our own; the ones who were wasting our time with a false ideology.

      My point is, as Believers shouldn't we have a different message? Shouldn't we be showing the Light of Christ? Shouldn't be letting His love shine through us? Let's henceforth pledge not to follow the unbelievers' path of denigration and negativism when addressing those who are lost.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Martin T

      @Harris – How sad that you talk of sheep when the bible and so many preachers talk of Christians as sheep. Me thinks you doth protest too much! I will make you an offer: Show me ONE verifiable affect that your god has himself directly had on mankind and I will run to worship him... Oh I'm sure you'll have a good answer for that one, but remember I want to independently verify actual contact with your god. How do you know your god exists at all?

      December 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Romans6.23

      @MT- Have you ever heard of a personal relationship with God? if you haven't yet begun that relationship then you gotta start that journey ASAP!

      btw., an interesting Q about effect of God on mankind, you will find that answer once you have begun your personal journey with God.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  5. catholic engineer

    @CHUCKLES : thanks for the invite to stay. I have a poor internet connection, BTW. "Do you believe that if you intuitively know something, you make a claim without any basis that it is right and/or should be held to the same standard as say, an analysis with raw facts and data?"

    I don't believe it's possible to live a human life entirely on the analytical or on the intuitinve side. I design valves. THe work is always analytical. I've raised four kids, and believe me, there were many times when I had to resort to "gut feel" intuition rather than Dr. Spock. As for faith, I try to live my ordinary life knowing that God is aware of me (faith?). I know this doesn't sit well with those who deny a personal deity. But a non-personal God is not thinkable for me. THe God we believers are interested in is so vast the universe cannot contain Him/Her, yet is fully present in my tiniest cell. And where God fullly is, his knowledge, mercy, justice, etc. are also fully present. This would imply that God is more present to me than I am to myself. St. Augustine said "I cannot grasp all that I am." Well, that's me.

    December 19, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  6. georgex

    While fighting the cancer Hitchens assured his listeners that if he was reported to have a death bed conversion it was because he had lost control of his mind. This notion that might recant is the last hope of the faithful that fear has triumphed which is deceitful to say the least.
    Faith is too often taken on just faith without critical examination. Everyone has their faith and even though there are differences and contradictions they all think that they are correct.
    Faith has been said to be the belief in something without the necessity of proof. Hitchens required evidence and proof.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      "Faith has been said to be the belief in something without the necessity of proof." Intuition has been defined in a similar way. It is knowing something without knowing HOW we know it. I sometimes suspect that the argument between atheists and the faithful is really a tension between the analytical and the intuitive.

      December 19, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • RFBJR

      The bible defines faith as "The assured expectation of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."

      What do you have faith in, George?

      December 19, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Chuckles

      @CE

      I hope you will stick around and discuss your latest post unlike the many last times where you drive by with something and never return. You make faith in this post sound almost poetic, but do you really think it's a good thing in the slightest to believe in something without proof? Furthermore, faith and intiution are very different but I'll concede that I understand where you're headed with comparison. It fails however when you think about how many people have ever based their whole existance and life around intuition? Do you believe that if you intuitively know something, you make a claim without any basis that it is right and/or should be held to the same standard as say, an analysis with raw facts and data?

      December 19, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • D

      I would have more respect for faith if so many lives hadn't been ended in its name.

      That said, Mr. Taunton wrote a fantastic article. It is good to see mutual respect among varying beliefs. It'd be nice if more people had that level of respect for their fellow man.

      December 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      It's pretty simple. Science and Religion are both ways of "knowing". Science is based on measurable FACTS (Theories are formed on that basis) and Religion is based on FAITH/Intuition or our minds raw connection to the Universe. Science is a more RELIABLE path to the truth and it's power to illuminate the unknown is increasing exponentially. Also, Science has proven that Faith/Intuition is unquestionably unreliable. The reason for this is that Science eliminates bias (measurement) whereas Faith does not. Faith says the bird is in the cage, whereas Science says there is a bird on one side and a cage on the other but when you spin it fast enough it looks like the bird is in the cage. Can I appreciate the beauty of the optical illusion? Yes. Will I then realize that my senses are unreliable? Yes. Will I kill or force someone who says that the bird is in front of or behind the cage and not in it, to agree that the bird is IN the cage? No! Thats my summary of the sad state of affairs on this planet. Can't wait for us to get beyond this point. Which does include an acceptance that although my senses may deceive me, there is a beauty to the feelings I get from them and that they are my connection to this Universe. If religious people just stopped insisting that, what they have faith in is the Truth and stopped impeding the most reliable path to the truth we have, then humanity could finally achieve it's potential. Faith will have it's place and may even guide Science but it cannot take precedent over it as a path to truth or else humanity will stagnate into oblivion, which is sadly what many religious people today call for.

      December 20, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  7. Kenneth

    Hitchens and Billy Graham need to come in and separate their chilluns.
    We don't seem to be able to play nicely together.

    December 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Answer

      Right .. only in your dreams or in your delusional world.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Okay, Answer. All childish BS aside, how is it delusional to say that the great minds need to control their children, who can't take the real lessons that they tried to teach?
      You are just cutting and pasting, aren't you?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Answer

      Great minds don't .. they like to teach but accept the fact that kids have to grow up and find what suits them.
      Whether religion or not. Religion being bs – I rather say and recommend that they do not choose that route.

      What about you t-w-i-t?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Okay little girl, prove religion is BS. You have made a declarative statement of fact.
      Prove it.
      C'mon little girl, prove it or go pout somewhere else.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Kenneth

      I have got to give you credit for stamina, Answer. You haven't actually addressed one of my questions or challenges, and yet you claim the point.
      Do you know why I almost always win these kinds of discussions?
      Because I am confident, but careful.
      You are arrogant and stupid.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Answer

      Well here in your previous post of asking for proving the "not".

      Why don't you prove that religion is NOT bs? That is your premise is it not? All along the main premise has been that the premise of who asks "the declarative of something true has to prove it true." So I'll highlight for you to prove the NOT.

      All along atheists have stated to the religious retards that proving the negative is not going to happen and here it affirms that even you have to make me prove the "declarative" in which all religious morons gladly will evade. So I'll be a religious retard and evade it. How is that for proving that religion teaches bs and bad logic?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Let's try another tack. Answer, you believe that science always has the answers and trust that when a scientist says something and backs it up with mounds of evidence, you take it at face value, correct?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Answer

      Rhetoric and hypocrisy are the main fruits of undoing your faulty assumptions of your position. I am free to be hypocritical of religions because contempt is fully warranted. You Kenneth are just trolling about in vain attempt to satisfy your own ego of not losing – wherein you already have. I can use the religious retards methodology to abuse your own position of stupidity.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Kenneth

      In other words, you don't' even have the courage to answer that simple little question.
      Okay.
      If this is your particular form of mental master bation, have at it.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Kenneth

      You have really started to bore me, by the way.
      I had hoped for more after the good start you got last night.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Answer

      @Kenneth

      "Answer, you believe that science always has the answers and trust that when a scientist says something and backs it up with mounds of evidence, you take it at face value, correct?"

      Your overly presumption on science is your opinion that we in science fully know. We do not fully know whereas religion plainly states that it has full authority to know. Don't confuse your sentiment to disguise or distort your view of science from your religious mockery of science. You are a fool to try to word it into the mouth of a person who knows what is inherent in science and not. Your kind loves to just stick to your brainwashed ideas about science. Get over it. Read about what science states and then come back.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Answer

      @Kenneth

      You bore me as well. Last night- Your little act of being "handled" copied.. what a joke. You religious ID-iots are all the same. Play your little games and label people and then when backed up to a corner – play a ruse. You hide and use deceit.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Kenneth

      "You are a fool to try to word it into the mouth of a person who knows what is inherent in science and not"

      Do you actually call that a sentence? Good lord!

      I am done with you little girl.
      I respect your right to disagree, but you personally deserve no respect because you are a coward and a liar.
      You are a Republican, aren't' you?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Kenneth

      "Last night- Your little act of being "handled" copied.."
      Ha ha! Oh my word! This just proves you didn't actually read any of my posts if you can't distinguish between two seperate writers.
      Leeeetle guurls should be pretty but silent...

      December 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Hilarious! What a way to go .. presume that I am even an american?

      LOL. Kenneth – go ask captain america and how he hates and how much he hates ...

      December 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Answer

      So Kenneth – you lose to a little handle copier all the time then?

      Figures.

      Let me guess another – is that your best excuse? you're being "copied" – when you are confronting someone you are losing to? To someone who is an atheist and doesn't care what you religious t-w-i-t-s want to state?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Answer, if you want to think you won, feel free.
      Since, in your mind, the only person talking was you, I guess there is a case to be made there.
      I tried to get you to open your mind, you refused.
      Goody gumdrops for you.
      You can climb into bed feeling all warm and fuzzy now. Just be sure to pee before you put on your jammies.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Answer

      Same goes for you. If you think you have won – be free to do so. Be free to keep on trying to put that little girl label into your opponents as a way to make yourself feel superior.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”

      "On whether PW Botha is now in heaven or in hell: "God is the only one who decides. I hope his soul rests in peace."

      Desmond Tutu

      December 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Answer

      @Mark

      Whatever assures you of the facts of heaven or hell means nothing til you can prove it.
      It's sad that your kind has to resolve your own internal battle of separating those who have died to such categories of heaven and hell just to satisfy your own desire for salvation.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Answer

      On the positive note of today's headline: Kim Jong II died.

      You can now add another name for yourself or debate if he is in hell or not. More fun for you and your kind to get your grievances towards him.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      >>>>"On the positive note of today's headline: Kim Jong II died."

      Answer , just as with Hitchens , just as with anyone on this Earth. All life is sacred and there nothing positive over any loss.

      Is your heart really that cold Answer. You moving into a bloodlu'st state of bring.

      Sorry, I try to take my Pro-Life to the fullest I can.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Answer

      @Mark

      Like I said – I don't care what your position is about life. Some people are just not well thought of, be it through jealousy or tyranny, or even just in difference in opinion. Shove your at-t-i-t-u-d-e aside of trying to label me – you won't be able to. I know who I am. Kim Jong II is dead – one repressive icon is gone. If your position is to hide in your professed label of "pro-life" that is your problem.

      I am free to express my views and you can formulate whatever you want – you are free to do whatever.

      December 19, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Answer, I do not have to label you, you have done a great job at doing that all on your own. You want to destroy anything or one that does not believe the same as you. At the same time you call the death of another a positive thing. A person who in his life also wanted and did destroy anyone within his country that believed differently than him. In many ways other than the blood on Kim's hands, what is the difference between him and yourself? Both got this destroy thing down pack. 😦

      December 19, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Answer

      I'm curious Mark as to why you would post a notion of a few quotes on about "heaven" when the exchange of comments between two persons have stop?

      What was the motive behind your preacher ways? You have an obvious defective character flaw for the need to convert? Explain yourself.

      December 19, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”I'm curious Mark as to why you would post a notion of a few quotes on about "heaven" when the exchange of comments between two persons have stop?”
      Oh, because of the original post about Hitchen's and Billy Graham coming to get their “separate their chilluns”
      I just wanted to jump in. I was going to post somethings from Martin Luther King about peace and the afterlife but something told me to check with Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu as an alternative. Since you, Kenneth and myself were going round and round for a few threads I wanted to stay in there. Sadly, at that time I was on the PDA.. notice “Marks” and “Mark” … and it took me forever to google search Tutu quotes with a one bar WiFi signal 😦
      >>>What was the motive behind your preacher ways? You have an obvious defective character flaw for the need to convert? Explain yourself."

      Easy, when I was in middle school they had a survivor of the Holocaust come in to speak in our individual classes. She was very old then and more than likely has passed on since. The thing I will never forget was that she did not want to speak to a large crowd but wanted to speak to small classes. She stated that she wanted to see each of our eyes and she wanted us to be able to see hers. She wanted to see us with her surviving eyes, eyes that saw the unthinkable to see with those same eyes that day. To know each day she was alive she could touch the hearts of others and the next generation.
      So that we will never forget what happens and how we must make sure that it never happens again.

      The thing about it Answer is that I am not going to let what happened to the Jews happen to you and your family because you are Atheist, without taking a stand. In the same way I would hope you would do the same if it were the Faithful getting lined up for the box cars.

      My motive is to get folks to discuss and debate but to come away lacking the thoughts that “the final solution” is ever a viable option.

      Hope this explains my post.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  8. Bill Gibbons

    Although I agree with Hitchens that "religion" (a man made construct) can be used for great evil, communism alone killed more people in the 20th century than all the religious wars in history. Hitchens rejected any notion of Heaven and made it plain that he never wanted to go there even if it did exist. He thought that Heaven would literally be "hell" for him. And he was right. God has given every human being free will. If Heaven is something you want to avoid at all costs, then the exact opposite of that place will be your final destination. God will not drag you kicking and screaming into His abode if you do not want to go there. Hitchens' arrogance and glib rhetoric was often confused with intellectual brilliance. He drank whiskey and used profanity during his televised debates, railed against religion in general and mocked Christianity in particular. Hitchens was an effective communicator of personal opinion, and that is all he was ever able to offer. In spite of rejecting the concept of a personal god, Hitchens, like all other atheists and "free thinkers," fail the test whenever they are challenged on the absurdity of a self-creating universe.

    Like all other atheists who passed on before him, Christopher Hitchens is now a believer, but is unable to communicate his newfound beliefs in an afertlife to his fans in this world.

    December 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Answer

      In the manifested view of your own world that is true. Sadly it is not.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Hitchens now sweats in Heck, which is run by Phil, dusky overlord of the slightly bad.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Bill

      Christopher Hitchens did not accept Jesus as his personal savior, so now he is in hell. He will now spend 14 trillion years in excruciating damnation. That 1000 times longer than the age of the known universe. At that's just the beginning. Since it's eternal punishment, he will spend a trillion times a trillion years of punishment. And even then he'll just be starting. Infinite punishment, for drawing the wrong conclusions. Seems legit.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @Bill

      You are comparing apples with oranges and not even providing numbers to back your claims. Most deaths in wars and oppressive regimes are caused by politics, not religion or lack of religion. The best we can say is that humans are capable of doing great damage to their fellow humans and that religion is not an effective deterrent. Also, just because you don't understand the mechanisms of the universe, it doesn't mean there is a god. It just means that you are content to believe simple stories instead of seeking or waiting for real, verifiable answers.

      As for claiming that Christopher Hitchens is in hell, there is no evidence that there is a god or devil, a heaven or hell. All that you have is wishful thinking on your part that people who don't think exactly like you do will be punished forever. How unimaginably selfish of you.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Tallulah,
      if you don't believe in the devil, let me introduce you to my last girl-friend! 🙂
      Hitchens may be in Hell, he may not. No one alive knows for sure. I hope his intellect did not just disappear, though. Maybe he is now part of The Force.
      Too many people making declarative statements that they can't back up on this thread.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • rick

      "Christopher Hitchens did not accept Jesus as his personal savior, so now he is in hell. He will now spend 14 trillion years in excruciating damnation. That 1000 times longer than the age of the known universe. At that's just the beginning. Since it's eternal punishment, he will spend a trillion times a trillion years of punishment. And even then he'll just be starting. Infinite punishment, for drawing the wrong conclusions. Seems legit."

      Apparently it is to petty people who take comfort in a petty god

      December 19, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  9. Answer

    It's great to see how much Hitchens' life and legacy will affect the religious. All their spite and hate boiling over because none of them can even reach his height in greatness. Put together all your self proclaimed and anointed saints and popes (and all your so called "holy man") and still your kind will not even one-one millionth of that man.

    December 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      €>>"All their spite and hate boiling over because none of them can even reach his height in greatness"

      Hmm... I have noticed more spite and hate coming from the Hitchen's fans that can not believe that he was on friendly terms with a few persons of Faith. It's like their hero has let them down.

      Answer. What Hitchens greatest lesson might be is to demonstrate that there can be peace, tolerance, respect and friendship between those that share different views.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Forgot it Marks, you are wasting your time. Answer heard the words but never learned the lessons.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Marks from Middle River.. no, we are all fully aware that Hitchens, and as it happens, Richard Dawkins have many friends in the religious community.. why not? I do, and so do most athiests. Once you understand that being an athiest is just a disbielf of one of your beliefs.. that's it. The uncomfortable truth is that most hatred and vitriol does come from religions towards other religions,.

      December 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Hi E-DNA. I think for some of the Hitchens fans who have posted it was a bit more. It was if they might have friends who are persons of Faith but the hero or major spokesperson for the Atheistic cause, he could not. As if they expected Hitchens, who they felt was wanted dead by all persons of Faith, could or would not have such friends. That those same friends were able to post an article speaking kindly and with friendship I think really shook the image of Hitchens for them. Even to the point that one person kept trying to push that we should go and watch a few videos so that we can see how much he hated folks of Faith. Sorta saying that we should educate our selves to hate Hitchens.

      Why? Sounds like this friend of Hitchens was aware of his views and still felt he was a friend. To me, it was a few Atheist attempting to strong-arm us into equalling their dislike or hatred of us and were upset that it was failing.

      You know, I truly believe that for some Atheist their world would have made more sense this weekend if every person of Faith who post normally had come in and joyously post that Hitchens was burning in Hades. They did not get that from all of us and that is why we have so many post that have nothing really to do with memorializing Hitchens.

      >>>"The uncomfortable truth is that most hatred and vitriol does come from religions towards other religions,."

      Truthfully I think respectfully you are close. The most hatred and vitriol is not Religion vs Religion but in fighting within the Faiths over doctrine and interpretation of the Holy text.

      But in here on the Belief Blig the majority of the anger is from the Atheist or anti Faith camp. Heck, if you count Realitys posts, which out number all of ours, alone you can see the hatred is mostly flowing from the Atheist to the Faithful. Even do much so that an Atheist yesterday declared that his hatred or dislike comes from years of being pushed around.

      Ecch.... I think that still the lesson is that even at the top folks can find ways to tolerate.

      December 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Answer

      Religion is a waste of time. You want to do window dressing on your faith, that is fine, just don't go on lying to people on what religion is. Pure bs – that is what it is.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Very thoughtful post, Marks. And you too E-DNA.
      It really seems to burn Answer up that some of us can be kind to people we disagree with.
      Whatsa matter Answer, your faith in your disbelief not strong enough to be around people who have other thoughts?
      Have you given any consideration that several independent studies show people of faith, any faith, tend to live an average of ten years longer? Why do you think that is?

      December 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Answer

      So you want to attack on emotions?

      What's the matter you decide that you can't stand the truth that your kind are full of hatred for the facts?

      December 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Answer

      How much does the fact of living longer equate to a person being good?

      If one decides to check out the pleasures of a high risk sport and dies – does that matter? How about enticing in the joys of drugs? Does that mean if one does do drugs and ends up dead – it doesn't mean a thing or does it?

      What's your point? You want to gloat isn't right? To be the one that says "hey religion is cool because we get to say we are better." That is the only remark and come back your kind has ever produced to make yourself feel better. I don't care.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      >>>"I don't care."

      Answer, "waste of time" and "pure BS"? That's just it in the end for you. That's all you have, a repeated mantra that is more for exciting a flames response that for any real discussion. Does "thou" think we have not heard that comment before? 

      Since you were not the first and will not be the last, if you are expecting an emotional response again you will have to walk away empty handed. At least some of the other Atheist can come back for more than a temper tantrum response. 

      Again, you do not care and it can be seen in your post. 

      December 18, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Answer

      @Mark
      "That's just it in the end for you."

      Your religion is bs – this is the correct mantra. Anything related to it I will destroy it. You may not like it – in my approach and that's for you to care.

      I simply do not care to consider your kind's emotional tie to it. Your kind always resort to the emotional attack or fear to get your ways. I'll simply point out your pathetic methods. The use of rhetoric to detach your silly preachings is a surefire tool to do just that.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Kenneth

      I see Answer is still giving his little girl responses, "I will destroy you!"
      This is what happens when children are allowed near computers.
      And, little girl, the reason believers tend to live longer is because faith relieves stress, or that is the popular theory. Scientific theory.
      If you ever actually open your mind, come on back.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Answer

      "And, little girl, the reason believers tend to live longer is because faith relieves stress,"

      And little girl – another religious idiot who decides to go for the insult routine. Put the label of a child to demand others to view the person in contempt for not agreeing to religion. Not good enough.

      Stress relieve can be in all kinds of beneficial forms. Your personal view highlights your own embedded view as best. Sorry t-w-i-t you don't make the cut. Try some other promotions to really highlight your non-bias.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Answer

      @Kenneth

      How far and how much is your thirst to suck my c-o-c-k today? Or rather you would like to have that picture distorted to your favor where I am sucking yours?

      December 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Ha Ha!
      Answer, you are just too easy, as I suspect was your mother, hence came you.
      You are a gutless wuss, unwilling to even listen to an opinion different from yours.
      Your lack of intellectual integrity is amazing.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Answer

      Just as easy as you are. Willing to play your game any way you want it.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Kenneth

      So, you are a liar, as well.
      When I said if you are going to make declarative statements, you have to be able to prove them (which is the foundation of both debate and science), you couldn't.
      But then you attacked me for calling you out. I told you what I believe, never claiming it as a fact, simply my personal belief. When I asked what you believed, again you attacked me.
      You are a coward, a liar and a child.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Answer

      So like you .. calling names. It's not unexpected. Next.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Kenneth

      That's your witty retort?
      Really?
      Oh my, I am so devastated.
      Give it up little girl.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Strange, Mark, I didn't see a single negative remark about Hitchens and his friendships with religious figures. As was previously mentioned, most atheists have religious friends.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Wow, I come back to the "destroy" statements Followed with "my kinds". So much for the calm Atheist having commanding debating styles. You just show that some folks when backed into a corner really can go postal. I would not say that it was little girl'ish because it would do harm to the image and status of little girls. With your tantrum I really believe those government Internet monitoring acts and bills really might be warranted.

      If destroy the enemy is your style then there are so many folks ... Mostly dictators and tyrannts .. That will happy to claim you as one of their own.

      Answer, dude or dudette .... Find peace that does not envolve killing or destroying those that are different than you.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Hey Tall'. Good to see you again 🙂

      I am at work right now but as soon as I get home I will see if I can find a few of those statements. Hey, maybe I am reading them wrong but it was a strange application of words a few did use.

      L'Chaim

      December 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Answer

      @Mark

      Go plea all you want. Your god is as fake as you are. Pretend all you want and buffer your mind all you want.
      No one cares, but we do care that religion is having an impact in espousing their hatred to be put into legislation. That is the core of the hard fight. You may roll over and accept it or not. It is still going to happen. Religion spawned the hate inwards to itself. It is all too natural that you are receiving it back. Hope you like it.

      December 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, look. Saint Mark's here again, pontificating as always. Big surprise.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      Yeah it hurts so much Answer. Can you tell me the legislation you are speaking of please because you can use that weak claim all you wish. Everytime any legislation gets put to a vote some opposition group or pro group will declare that the other side is trying to legislate hate.

      Try this Obama with Democrats in both houses of congress did nothing for gay or lesbian rights. It took a group of Gay republicans to push through the end of don't ask don't tell. Since Obama has left the gay and lesbian community behind ... Is he full of hate? If thr reports are true Hitchens voted for GW Bush ... He full of hate as well?

      Do not take politics as good or bad or evil ,.... All of them would sell each of us out for the vote.

      Tom...... Saint Mark .... ROFL !!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      CJ
      This was a brilliantly crafted article of deception. It would not be surprising to learn that it was written well in advance of Christopher's death.
      December 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      – – –
      CJ
      It's no surprise that Hitchens was a friendly man, and no surprise that Taunton would cherry pick Hitchens like he does the bible.

      – – –
      CJ
      it is truly amazing what lengths religious leaders (Taunton)will go to in order to protect their depraved inst.itutions.

      – – –
      IndyNC

      I hope that Mr. Taunton remembers what he learned from Mr. Hitchens... that reguardless of what you believe in, that every life has a purpose in this universe and we are all part of the greater mystery of life.
      December 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      – – –
      Jack
      This is ridiculous. Regardless of whether he was friends with Larry(Taunton), the tweets at the end of the video saying he knows the "Truth" now just goes to show how little these people understood the man.
      December 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      – – –
      Thor

      Sooo sad, that the US edition of CNN finally shows the story of Hitchens death.. BUT WAIT, the story is how an evangelical(Taunton) remembers him???
      December 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      – – –
      Bob Crock
      Nothing too it. It just shows that Hitchens was smart enough not to argue with religious fools about their convictions.
      December 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      – – –
      ashrakay

      It's almost comical how even the death of a famous atheist gets a CNN article written from a religious perspective. (Taunton)
      December 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

      – – –
      ashrakay

      @Skegeeace, There are many people who could have been asked to write about Hitchen's life... Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris... Yet CNN chooses the perspective of and evangelical (Taunton). Do you really need this spelled out for you?
      December 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      – – –
      Wes
      How insulting of Rick Warren.
      Although the evangelical said nice things... I resent when people state they will pray for someone else.. This is condescending and arrogant.
      Christopher Hitchens deserves better than what CNN offered. They should interview free thinkers as this would be only fair and just.
      December 17, 2011 at 1:20 am

      – – –
      Joe from Indy
      Even when the atheist dies, they give the platform to the religious guy to speak on his life. Ridiculous.
      December 17, 2011 at 12:44 am

      – – –
      Bob Crock
      What's amazing to me is that Larry Alex Taunton never accepted, despite many discussion about religion with Hitchens, that religion is a simplistic social construct and nothing else. It clearly shows that religious brainwashing, once it takes hold, is more or less permanent.
      December 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

      – – –
      Neutron Grinch
      The only reason why CNN interviewed this Christian, who is not known in most Christian circles, is probably because not many Christians liked or even knew about Hitchens since he was anti-God. Why would any Christian associate with the opposite of what they believe?
      therefore, they interview a Milquetoast guy, with soft opinions, and most making Hitchens look like Dr. Suess.
      December 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      – – –
      WMesser58
      It is the greatest insult that CNN would put Hitchens in their belief column as it is Hitchens did not nor would have appreciated having a religious person (Taunton) talking about how he would have appreciated them praying for him when he stated he did not.
      December 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm
      – – – – – – –

      Tall', this was only the first ten pages. When you stated that you heard nothing negative about Hitchen's Christian friends, I really wanted to check and that is why I said I might be wrong at what I read. These are 15 post where some Atheist were either insulted that CNN choose to publish a article from one of Hitchen's friends, Taunton just because he was a person of Faith and not an Athiest. Other stated that they just felt that Tauntom was lying about his friendship with Hitchen's. Neutron even characterized Hitchen's friendship was because Taunton because he was a timid or one who is easily dominated or intimidated. These are negative statements and one of numerous that I have shown.

      Try this, say that you are a huge or major feminist and you had passed away. Say that a man that you had debated on, for example Face the Nation, had become friends. You had drinks, went on trips,etc etc. Then the days after your death, the organization or the “women's studies or lifestyles” board publishes his aticle about his friendship with you. We then take Joe from Indy's post and edit it.

      “Joelline from Indy: “Even when the Feminist dies, they give the platform to a male to speak on his life. Ridiculous.”

      See Tall', this is what I felt was some Atheist going negative about a Hitchen's Christian friend. 😦

      I am not saying that it was all in fact I found many Atheist state how they admired Tauntom's article. There was, in the midst of some extremist on the Christian side saying that they were glad he was dead and/or he is suffering right now and some of the same types of Atheist just following the insult to argue path.

      In the end I saw a few post where there were folks who did not know or feel that those persons of Faith and those who are not of Faith could be friends or share a mutual respect. After reading the article they became enlightened that it could be and it is has been done.

      L'Chaim

      December 19, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm sorry Mark, I misunderstood. I thought that you had said that people were insulting Hitchens for having christian friends. Had I read the original statement correctly, I would never have disagreed.

      However, I stand my my comment that most atheists have christian friends. I found this to be a lovely article and wish that everyone could understand the benefits of looking at others as humans, and not simply as christians or atheists, conservatives or republicans, etc.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  10. Kenneth

    I see the hate and ignorance is still flying hot and heavy from both sides.
    Can't we just mourn the passing of a great intellect, whether we agreed with his views or not?

    December 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • great intellect my ass

      No

      December 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Marks from Middle River

      It would be nice if we could have....

      December 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  11. georgex

    While fighting the cancer Hitchens assured his listeners that if he was reported to have a death bed conversion it was because he had lost control of his mind. This notion that might recant is the last hope of the faithful that fear has triumphed which is deceitful to say the least.
    Faith is too often taken on just faith without examination. Everyone has their faith and even though there are differences and contradictions they all think that they are correct.
    Faith has been said to be the belief in something without the necessity of proof. Hitchens required evidence and proof.

    December 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      Exactly right. But there is plenty of evidence for the truth of religious beliefs. It's just not the kind of evidence Hitchens would credit. I respectfully submit that this isn't really fair. I don't want to clog up the screen with my long explanation, but it's on my blog, http://gettingholdofgod.wordpress.com. Peace.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Answer

      @Getting hold of God

      "But there is plenty of evidence for the truth of religious beliefs."

      You would be completely wrong about any evidence in existence for the religious beliefs. Take for example the view on miracles. Our ancestors simply lacked knowledge to make a firm basis to decide if they actually came from a divine source. All it really does mean is that they lacked the knowledge to understand how things came to be.

      The religious bases for any such divine instances are all pure opinions. Not proof of thereof! Christopher has debated time and time again that religion can make any claims it wants but it will never be able to come conclusively to derive them or attribute them to any divine action. That is his entire life's work and he proves that.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      @ answer
      I'm not trying to prove Hitchens wrong. I'm just saying that the evidence is there. Testimony is evidence. You could say that there is inadequate evidence, or unreliable evidence, or something more limited like that, which is a perfectly legitimate opinion. But when you say there's no evidence, you're simply mistaken.
      Religious beliefs aren't opinions. If I say, an all powerful God wants to have a personal relationship with you, I'm stating a fact. If I say, the world would be a much more horrible place without religion, I'm stating an opinion. By all means follow the dictates of your conscience in deciding what to believe, and I will respect that. My beef is with people who don't think or speak clearly. Peace.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      getting hold of god, you must be joking! You don't see that both of the following statements are opinions? "If I say, an all powerful God wants to have a personal relationship with you, I'm stating a fact. If I say, the world would be a much more horrible place without religion, I'm stating an opinion." Let me give you a hint – you have not established that there is any god, never mind an all powerful one who wants a personal relationship. You are probably 100% wrong in the former but substantially correct in the latter.

      December 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      @ ace
      Sorry, I wasn't quite clear. I was drawing a distinction between factual statements and opinions. I didn't mean to imply that my statement must be taken as true. I only meant to say that it's not a statement of opinion.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Answer

      "Religious beliefs aren't opinions."

      So hilarious. What basis does a religious belief come from? From people making up stories to attribute them to their created gods. A person who just makes up statements to justify that he speaks for god on His behalf. A revolving door of "it's not just my opinion, it came from god because I said it came from god."

      Hence it is mere opinion. You can't reason it out – it's not my fault.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      But in fact both statements are opinions! Or do you have any facts to support your claim about some god?

      December 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      @ answer and ace:
      The fact/opinion distinction is independent of the truth of the assertion. An assertion of fact may be true or false, but it is still an assertion of fact. "The sky is blue" and "The moon is made of cheese" are both factual assertions, one true and the other false. An opinion involves a judgment that is intrinsically unprovable by any criteria. If I say the Moon is more beautiful than the Moonlight Sonata, you can't offer evidence that tends to prove or disprove this statement.
      "God exists" is a factual assertion, just as much as "God does not exist." If we can't agree on the distinction between factual assertions and opinions, then unfortunately I don't know where to go next. I believe in logic, and logical analysis is built on distinctions like this. Peace.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  12. Jim

    So sad to hear of Mr. Hitchens' death. Men of such intellect who are willing to challenge the status quo are very rare indeed. He will be missed.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • great intellect my ass

      I don't think so

      December 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Put a period after "think", and you'd be speaking truth, you boob.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  13. DOSman

    ~~~ WISDOM ~~~

    Job 28

    Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

    1 There is a mine for silver
    and a place where gold is refined.
    2 Iron is taken from the earth,
    and copper is smelted from ore.
    3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
    they search out the farthest recesses
    for ore in the blackest darkness.
    4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
    in places untouched by human feet;
    far from other people they dangle and sway.
    5 The earth, from which food comes,
    is transformed below as by fire;
    6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
    and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
    7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
    no falcon’s eye has seen it.
    8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
    and no lion prowls there.
    9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
    and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
    10 They tunnel through the rock;
    their eyes see all its treasures.
    11 They search[a] the sources of the rivers
    and bring hidden things to light.
    12 But where can wisdom be found?
    Where does understanding dwell?
    13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
    it cannot be found in the land of the living.
    14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
    the sea says, “It is not with me.”
    15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
    nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
    16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
    with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
    17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
    nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
    18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
    the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
    19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
    it cannot be bought with pure gold.

    20 Where then does wisdom come from?
    Where does understanding dwell?
    21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
    concealed even from the birds in the sky.
    22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
    “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
    23 God understands the way to it
    and he alone knows where it dwells,
    24 for he views the ends of the earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.
    25 When he established the force of the wind
    and measured out the waters,
    26 when he made a decree for the rain
    and a path for the thunderstorm,
    27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
    he confirmed it and tested it.
    28 And he said to the human race,
    “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding.”

    December 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

      December 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Jim

      PSALM 137

      ~~Bloodthirsty Revenge~~~

      O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
      blessed shall he be who repays you
      with what you have done to us!
      9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
      and dashes them against the rock!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Getting hold of God

      The Bible isn't so much a book as a library. So it's not a valid criticism to read every part with the same insistence on literal veracity. You shouldn't skip the Poetry section of the library, just because Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere isn't a completely accurate account. But you're right to reject the literalist interpretation of the Bible. It's indefensible. That doesn't mean the Bible has nothing to say.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • georgex

      Fear is what feeds religion.

      December 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Getting hold of God

      But that's just a T-shirt slogan. We're talking about maybe the most important questions of all. You can't toss a slogan at them and call them answered. Peace.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  14. DOSman

    Job 16

    1 Then Job replied:
    2 “I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
    3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
    4 I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
    I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
    5 But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  15. DOSman

    Job 15

    Eliphaz to Job.

    17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you;
    let me tell you what I have seen,
    18 what the wise have declared,
    hiding nothing received from their ancestors
    19 (to whom alone the land was given
    when no foreigners moved among them):
    20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment,
    the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.
    21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears;
    when all seems well, marauders attack him.
    22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness;
    he is marked for the sword.
    23 He wanders about for food like a vulture;
    he knows the day of darkness is at hand.
    24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror;
    troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,
    25 because he shakes his fist at God
    and vaunts himself against the Almighty,
    26 defiantly charging against him
    with a thick, strong shield.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

      ------------------------------------------------

      December 18, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  16. DOSman

    PSALM

    26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the LORD will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

    27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the LORD,
    and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
    28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
    and he rules over the nations.

    29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
    30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
    31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

    December 18, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      December 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  17. Rebekah Laws

    A beautiful picture of grace, Larry. Thank you.

    December 18, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  18. Reality

    Hitchens, Prothero, Crossan, Ludemann, et al in summary form thereby saving you from wasting any more time on religion or books on said subject:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life e.g. "DO NO HARM".

    No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, popes, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    December 18, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • .........

      Hit report abuse on all reality bull sh it

      December 18, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  19. bringoutyourdead

    is the best way to load dead atheists in a cart still pitchforks?

    December 18, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Atoyot

      Not any longer, but it should be considered for the ignorant.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Mirosal

      Only if we can still feed X-tians to hungry lions ... and if we put it on pay-per-view, we'll make a fortune!!!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  20. Dodney Rangerfield

    So, this dead atheist goes into a bar and orders a drink... Whoops too late.

    December 18, 2011 at 7:46 am |
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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.