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My take: My love/hate relationship with Hitchens
December 17th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

My take: My love/hate relationship with Hitchens

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN)–My love/hate relationship with Christopher Hitchens started when I read “God Is Not Great.” Before that, he was a hero of mine. I loved his slashing style, his intelligence, his learning, his self-possession and, above all, his passion. But I hated this book.

So I panned it in the “Washington Post.” “I have never encountered a book whose author is so fundamentally unacquainted with its subject,” I wrote, before taking Hitchens to task for demonstrating one of his own pet themes: “the ability of dogma to put reason to sleep.”

I panned the book because I knew Hitchens could take it, and because he deserved it. But what really motivated me was disappointment. I had disagreed with him before, of course. But in every other case I had the sneaking suspicion he knew more than I did about the subject. And even if he didn’t, I didn’t care, because he was always so much fun to read.

(Did he really call Mother Teresa "a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf"? Yes, in a book called "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.")

Everyone has a blind spot, however, and for Hitchens it was religion. I remember being confused when I began reading “God Is Not Great,” chiefly because I agreed with virtually everything he was saying. Of course, religious institutions have visited all manner of horrors on humanity. Of course, theological writing is often literally incredible. And yes the whole enterprise can be poisonous.

But what I finally saw was that Hitchens wasn’t really dynamiting, as he believed, the whole world of “religion.” He was just blowing up, over and over again, his little corner of a little vacant lot in his own little neighborhood and imagining he was leveling Mecca and Rome.

The problem with Hitchens’ writing on religion is that he did what many preachers do; he let his emotions get the best of him, and then he started preaching to the choir. In the process, he helped to lead a whole generation of New Atheists down a rabbit hole of their own imagining.

Inside that fantasy world, the atheists are always the smartest boys in the class, and around every corner there is a new religious sin to sneer and chuckle at. In the real world, there are millions of intelligent Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Jews sneering and chuckling at precisely the same stuff. The criticism of religion begins, believe it or not, with embarrassment in the pews.

After my review of "God Is Not Great" appeared, there were various efforts by various people to arrange a debate. I don’t know what I think about God, and I'm not in any hurry to clarify the matter. But I would have welcomed the opportunity to joust with Hitchens on the vices and virtues of religion. Do his critiques apply to Buddhists and Daoists, for example, or to Christians for whom Christianity is something you do on Easter and Christmas, and Hindus for whom Hinduism is something you do when you are getting married or starting a new job?

There was an offer to appear with Hitchens on some show involving Roseanne Barr. I declined. For some reason I didn’t think that talking over her was going to make for good conversation.

Then there was an event involving the two of us set for November 2010 in New York. But Hitchens got sick and had to cancel at the last minute.

It would be fun to rip Hitchens here. It might even qualify as a tribute of sorts, since he had a well deserved reputation for speaking ill of the dead. He called televangelist Jerry Falwell “an ugly little charlatan” just after his passing, adding acidly that “if you give Falwell an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox.” But I do not come to bury Hitchens.

I have been doing some research recently on Thomas Paine, whose “Common Sense” (1776) may well be the most influential piece of writing in U.S. history (second, I say, to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe). Paine died penniless and disgraced, however, largely because he decided to air his religious heterodoxy in “The Age of Reason" (1794-95).

Paine and Hitchens share much. Each bravely rejected the religious orthodoxies of his time, and did so publicly and without equivocation. Each wrote in a fighter's style intended both to cut and to bleed. So it did not surprise me to come across a 1987 essay in which Hitchens calls Paine “the greatest Englishman and the finest American.”

Hitchens, who was born in England but made America his home, was a pretty great Englishman and a pretty fine American himself. He will always be one of my favorite writers, and I am missing him today a lot more than I imagined I would.

But he didn't know the first thing about religion, so whenever he wrote or spoke about it he made himself look stupid. I suppose I should give him credit for that. It's not an easy thing to do.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. captain america

    the reason I hate Canadian's is that my mummy is from there and she is a wh.ore. she tried to force me to move there once because she said they are a better country where you are free to believe what you want to. i like america because i like the republicans who suck my jesus's ass and believe in fairy tales like i do.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  2. HeavenSent

    Heaven sent us tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and famines, plus cancers, typhoid, meningitis, lupus, and other horrible diseases that cause horrid suffering and death to millions of people worldwide.

    And then he wants to torture you in hell forever if you suspect that he doesn't exist, even given that there is no specific evidence for his existence and that he apparently hasn't shown his face for at least 2000 years if ever.

    Wow, god must be quite the cruel, evil jerk. To be polite.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • MyEyesWereOpened

      Yes.
      And thar's the Lutheran 'God Loves You" version.
      According to Calvin, as I got it, God is callous and unforgiving, and to be obeyed, or else. And your probably going to get the "or else" anyway.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      MyEyesWereOpened, obviously your eyes aren't open at all if you can't see that you wrote the phony heavensent.

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  3. Danny

    Now the Hitchens is dead, Prothero finally has a chance to win a debate against him! (as long as no videos of Hitchens are played! 😉 )
    What an inane, empty, and pathetic article!

    December 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mott the Hoople

      As the author mentioned, Hitchens loved to criticize people who had just died. So get off of your high horse.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Peggy

      What you said.

      December 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  4. MyEyesWereOpened

    I find it interesting that some people find Hitchens aethism the only thing about his writings worth disscussing.

    I find it the least interesting, and the smallest part of his public life, except the rise of fundamentalist religions, Islam and Christian, led to his support for the war against Iraq, and his break with liberals the last 10 years or so, who did not see them as the threat he did.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  5. Chad

    Can someone explain to me how a person that says:
    "I don’t know what I think about God, and I'm not in any hurry to clarify the matter."
    can be a Boston University religion scholar

    how is that possible?

    December 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Chad, still think the World began 6,000 years ago with a magic talking snake?

      December 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Chad

      no.. the earth formed billions of years ago, God created life on it in stages as outlined in Genesis and reflected in the fossil record.
      Whether or not the serpent in the Garden had vocal chords and could actually talk or the urging to eat the apple was communicated in some other non-verbal form and whether or not it was actually in snake form at that point (it was later cursed by God to crawl on it's belly), isn't clear to me..

      December 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Mildred the Mouth

      It seems very little is clear to Chad.

      December 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Colin, the snake in Genesis refers to Lucifer, aka satan. You can read about the serpent of Genesis 3 by clicking on the link below:

      http://www.biblestudysite.com/19.htm

      P.S. It's not our problem that you don't know how to read and cross reference the Bible.

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • R. Tam

      The same way an ichthyologist does not have to know what it is like to be a fish.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • R. Tam

      I should clarify that last comment. Studying religion is not the same as studying God. Religion is something people do, and it has a big impact on their history and society. Prothero studies the history of how people have practiced their religions in America.

      A lot of folks get the study of religion and the study of theology confused.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Scott

    Wow, I'm surprised you have been given a platform to speak your utterly vapid opinion. How can you say, "I don’t know what I think about God, and I'm not in any hurry to clarify the matter." and then be critical of a book that discusses that topic in immense detail? Sounds like you are not in search of the truth, but would rather have it handed to you nicely packaged and with a bow.

    You say the book made him look stupid yet you give no evidence or reasoning how(in both your articles). If you read his book, you'll see he states his opinion on a subject and then substantiates that position with evidence, logic and reason. You on the other hand, gloss over the details and then shout, "This is stupid!" without any evidence, logic or reason. This is what teenagers do when assigned homework. It also makes you look emotionally addicted to your immoral belief system rather than a rational human being who can think beyond his fear.

    Stephen, you can throw stones at this intellectual giant all you want, but you'll never slay him. Sorry, but David and Goliath is a fable.

    December 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  7. True Christian™

    Hey atheists, if evolution is not a religion, why do you worship Charles Dawkins?

    That's right, you're gonna burn in Hell, just like your prophet Hitchens.

    December 17, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Evolution is not a religion Moron!! Hitchens is not a prophet nor did he ever claim to be. Hell does not exist and you can't prove it does.
      You need to go back to 4th grade and pay attention in science class this time.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Get This

      True Moron,

      Perhaps *you* have a burning desire to *worship* people or things - others can respect, admire, esteem and enjoy without *worshipping*.

      Who in tarnation is Charles Dawkins?

      December 17, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Get This: Good point...I missed that. Proves that True Christard has no clue as to what he/she is speaking of.
      @True Christard: It is Charles Darwin not Dawkins. Dawkins first name is Richard. Darwin developed the theory of evolution and since then it has been proven to be factual...unlike your buybull.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • MyEyesWereOpened

      lol, you must not be a Christian.
      Evolution is accepted in Christian theology.
      At least, St. Augustine, one of the leading Catholic Theoligians, completly accpted the concept of God working through a process of evolution, and compared the the Universe to a tree. That God created and tossed out a seed (the big bang) that grew and changed, over time, by natural forces, and grew into the tree we see today.
      After all, Nature is a extension of God. Natural forces are from God, who created the conditions they operate in.
      There really is no such thing as "super' natural.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • captain america

      @MyEyesWereOpened: The pope once agreed with evolution but not all christian's do. To say god caused the big bang is wrong. To say that, you need to be able to provide the answer as to who/what created god. No-one has an answer and until science is able to provide that answer (if they ever are able to), the most honest answer is simply a 'I don't know'. Your argument is called the god of the gaps...it falls short in all aspects.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • News Flash

      Deus ex machina, "god of the gaps", etc, etc, they are all equally invalid.

      December 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Mott the Hoople

      True Christian is a troll. He is stealing the term ("True Christian") from Landover Baptist Church. Don't feed the trolls.

      December 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      TruthPrevails, you babbled "@Get This: Good point...I missed that. Proves that True Christard has no clue as to what he/she is speaking of.
      @True Christard: It is Charles Darwin not Dawkins. Dawkins first name is Richard. Darwin developed the theory of evolution and since then it has been proven to be factual...unlike your buybull."

      Answer: There are too many flaws to the evolution theory, not to mention making bullies out of those conditioned to believe it's lies (e.g, only the strongest survive). What bunk, our best and brightest were killed off in wars of years gone by. We certainly didn't put the cowards on the front line.

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Inspector Cluseau

      Oh that's the ticket. the explanation for HeavenSent's idiocy is that her family evolved to that point by killing off the smart ones. Hard to argue with that one.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  8. NC

    Bad article, Hitchens knew a lot about religion.
    Too many false claims and incredulous statements on the author's part.

    December 17, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • R. Tam

      No. No he didn't.

      There are plenty of atheists out there who have a thorough understanding of religion and what it does. Hitchens,for all his genius, was not one of them.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  9. Thomas Satchley Thornton

    This is the sort of article Prothero puts out when he is distracted and in a hurry to shove something out the door.
    We've seen it before in this blog: -a badly written and useless bit of trash by a supposed "professor" who could no doubt be easily beaten by any one of his students or pretty much anyone else without much effort.
    Prothero is clearly scribbling a rough draft while being distracted by something in his personal life and flinging it at Gilgoff and Marrapodi like a child who cannot sit still and cannot focus on producing an article worth reading.
    Statistic-wise, only about one in ten or twenty of Prothero's articles are worth reading. I can only assume he got his professorship due to influence of some sort because there are thousands of other people who can fill his place and do a thousand times better job.
    In this economy, why should we put up with such a lack of professionalism on his part in the public sphere?
    Down with Prothero! Remove him as a contributor! Or is his back-alley influence too strong to unseat him from his prominent place as a named contributor to this blog?

    December 17, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • News Flash

      Why do pompous a$$ religious types thank that if they use 3 names instead of two, they have more authority ?

      December 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  10. Reality

    Hitchens, Prothero, Crossan, Ludemann, et al in summary form thereby saving you from buying any more of their books:

    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 17, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  11. HotAirAce

    This line by Prothero tells you all you need to know about Prothero and why he should be embarassed to be critical of CH: "I don’t know what I think about God, and I'm not in any hurry to clarify the matter."

    December 17, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  12. George

    Hitchens lived his life only the way he wanted, and it got him in the end. He didn't want to hear about morality – about how drunkenness and smoking were sins, and it greatly increased his chance of esophogeal cancer. He knew he had esophogeal cancer in his family, yet he chose to drink and smoke. He also didn't want to believe in God. And now he is paying the price for that too. Sad, very sad.

    December 17, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Colin

      "He also didn't want to believe in God. And now he is paying the price for that too."

      How?

      December 17, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Observer

      George,

      "He didn't want to hear about morality – about how drunkenness and smoking were sins"

      Please quote where the Bible says smoking is a sin.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • MyEyesWereOpened

      Thats right, Colin.
      As always with humanity – not God- we Lie.

      The Big Lie in Christianity is that belief in God and Christ, and leading a moral life, guarantees a place in heaven.
      IIt does not, according to many Christian sects.
      In fact, over this issue, the Christians have divided up into many different sects, each with a different view about how salvation can be achieved, if at all.
      Those who follow Calvin, believe we were chosen before birth, for heaven or hell, and nothing we do or don't do, will change this.
      "The Belgic Confession of 1561 affirmed that God "delivers and preserves" from perdition "all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without respect to their works" (Article XVI)."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_election

      Lutherans are different.
      Lutherans believe that the elect are predestined to salvation However, they disagree with those who make predestination the source of salvation rather than Christ.
      Unlike Calvinists, Lutherans do not believe in a predestination to damnation, Lutheransbelieve eternal damnation is a result of the unbeliever's sins, rejection of the forgiveness of sins, and unbelief.

      Baptists now, while denying being followers of Calvin, can swing either way, depending on if "Reformed" or not..

      If all this gets confusing, lol, join the club.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • HotAirAce

      George, you are living your life the way you want to and you too will die. Now tell us how you *know* your fate will be any different than CH's.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Let's Pretend

      Listen, George, I would love to believe that there is a Big Daddy (or Mommy) out there somewhere who will kiss the boo-boos and make it all better (forever). I am a great rule-follower and do not have a problem with rational authority. There is no supernatural one there, George. I could pretend - like if I had an invisible "Harvey", the 6ft rabbit, with me at all times for advice and consolation, but there really is no-one there.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Now kids, THAT was an interesting admission.
      If smoking "increased his chance of getting esophageal cancer", then he is admitting that illness is a result of "probability" and not "divine intervention", or a "plan" or punishment, or whatever. Either he IS being punished by god, or it's "probability". Which is it ? And here we have him declaring he actually does believe in science. Hmm. Very interesting.

      Speaking of hypocrites, did "y'all" see that the leader of the Minnesota Senate Republicans, (a married woman), got herself canned from her job, for having an affair with a staffer ? And this, after she lead the Minnesota fight for a Marriage Amendment, (banning gay marriage). Boy they must be laughing up there. But of course we need to get more good christians elected, bla bla bla. What a crock. (Maybe she was "working too hard".) What this country needs is a Defense of Marriage Act. Oh wait .... 😈

      December 17, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @George: Did jesus not turn water in to wine? I guess every christard who drinks and smokes is also a bad person and deserves cancer also...right?? You're a hypocrite!!

      December 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • George

      @HotAir – The point is that he didn't have to die a painful from cancer at the age of only 62 if he had followed the commandments of God.

      @Observer – The Bible is quite clear that we are not to pollute our bodies.

      @MyEyesWereOpened – The key point in your post is that good works are not alone to get you into heaven.

      @TruthPrevails – The sin is not that he drank, but that he drank too much. It's drunkenness that's the sin.

      December 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • George

      It should read: "... good works alone are not enough to get you into heaven."

      December 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      George, how do you know he died a painful death – if he had good dcotors and care, there's every chance he never felt any pain. How do you know that if he followed your god's commandments his life would have been any different – there are lots of believers that follow your god's stupidity that die in very painful ways at an early age.

      As usual, you are you making claims without any facts.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      If a person drinks, eats or does anything in excess, they don't follow His truth in the following scripture ...

      Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand.

      Philippians 4:5

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  13. Gene S

    This Christian finds Mr. Prothero's piece to be completely frivolous and intellectually vacuous. So Hitchens was a fine writer who was clueless about religion. Big deal. Are we supposed to regard such glib (and painfully predictable) characterization as some sort of revealotory insight? And did the article need to be as tedious as it was to make such exceedingly simple and often-repeated point? Moreover, what indeed is the point of having this piece out at this particular moment in time? Did Mr. Prothero have nothing of substance to say about Hitchens' career, the matter of his death, and his influence upon the public discourse of religion? This was an utter waste of time.

    December 17, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Gene S

      Read evangelical Christian Larry Taunton's CNN piece on Hitchens for an infinitely more compelling reflection.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      He wasn't clueless about religion at all. He researched it thoroughly and came to his conclusions based on that research.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Gene S

      Yes I very much agree with you TruthPrevails. This is one of the many reasons I thought this article was frivolous. The point Mr. Prothero makes here is incredibly inane and tiresome. The piece is neither a graceful tribute nor a substantive reflection on faith; it's a evidently lazy piece of writing. Mr. Hitchens and his legacy are frankly much more complex and interesting than Mr. Prothero makes them out to be.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      True enough.
      I find it disgustingly sad that people willfully pick on a dead man (be it Hitchens or any other deceased person) for their misgivings while they were alive. I am seeing too many posts about his drinking and smoking on here and how horribly sinful he was but the same people making those statements forget that the church serves alcohol and apparently jesus turned water in to wine. Tobacco is a product grown from our earth and has been around longer than christianity has. We all know the dangers involved in both uses but the government has made them legal and far too easy to consume. These people also have no clue how easy it is to get addicted to tobacco and thus how difficult it is to quit. However, at the same rate, they need to find any iota of bad to make their god look better...so nitpicking on what caused this mans demise is easier than looking at whatever good he did in this world. Btw: I know many a christian who drink and smoke...guess they all deserve cancer also (insert sarcasm here). I would never wish the disease upon my greatest enemy, let alone a voice of reason regardless of belief or their country of origin.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  14. MyEyesWereOpened

    I always loved Hitchens. He allowed his (justified) moral outrage with Kissinger to color his views of Nixon, who I believe was a far better man than Hitchens thought. But otherwise his commentary was genersally very witty and to the point.

    I recall in the early 80's he intoduced the Nation to our new political rulers, The Neo's.
    Here is a humourus piece about Carters democrats coming out nof the closet, so to speak, and revealing their 'Neoliberalism"..
    lol, read this and tell me its not funny and enlightening!

    http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2000/2000-April/008790.html

    First appeared in The Nation, Nov. 5, 1983

    Doing Good: Neoliberals Christopher Hitchens

    December 17, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  15. Colin

    While I do not belive atheists are always the smartest pople in the cless, it is true that the more intelligent a person is, the less likely they are to be religious. This is not hard to understand. If you think about what one has to swallow in order to believe in gods, supernatural powers, life after death and the other fundamental basics of most religions, you can see why it is most appealing to less talented minds.

    There are smart theists and there are not so smart atheists, but in general, if one considers healthy skepticism, a solid knowledge of science and natural history and an awareness of human nature as indicia of intelligence, atheists, almost by definition, are smarter than believers, as these traits are both required to be an atheist and almost universally absent in the believer.

    December 17, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • nwatcher

      Oh, now I know why I shouldn't believe – thank you for enlightening me. I hate being at the bottom of my 'cless'. I feel smarter already. Now, if you would only point me to all these smart unbelievers. Give me a Wiki link or something so I can hang with them...

      December 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      nwatcher, I don't think that Colin said you shouldn't believe (I may be wrong there), but a wise person knows WHY they believe. Blind faith in anything is the worst sort of ignorance.

      December 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  16. Colin

    An article lambasting Hitchens for "knowing nothing about religion" would have more credibility if he pointed out a few things he feels Hitchens got wrong.

    December 17, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • James Clarke

      Absolutely. He makes assertions, but doesn't feel obliged to substantiate them.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • R. Tam

      True, but I suspect it would be hard to do. I know watching Glenn Beck (for example) talk about religion is like watching someone try to dribble a football. You could try to tell him what he's doing wrong, but you don't know where to begin. So you just want to smack and say "Stop it! You're doing it wrong," and leave it at that.

      I'd like to see a thorough critique of Hitchens' views about religion if someone would take the time and trouble to do one. I suspect most people who would have the necessary expertise to do so probably don't care enough about his opinions to trouble themselves.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • manninthought

      @ R. Tam: Am I correct in interpreting your post as making an analogy between the level of knowledge about religion of Glenn Beck and Christopher Hitchens? If so, shame on you for falsely speaking ill of the dead. (If not, sorry for misinterpreting.) Hitchens did a tremendous amount of research about religion and published hundreds of pages and several books on the topic. He chose, not out of ignorance, to focus on religious hypocrisy and the tendency particularly of the big three patriarchal monotheistic religions to produce persecution, violence, collusion with tyrants, child abuse, and misogyny, because these characteristics present a real and ongoing danger to civilization. The underbelly of religion is a large target that he skewered mercilessly. He also wrote and spoke lovingly of his religious friends and his pleasure in the beauty of sacred spaces and religious texts. His sophisticated and complex perspective on religion bears no resemblance to the vacuous ramblings of Glenn Beck.

      December 20, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  17. Argue with the dead...too afraid of him alive?

    In an article declaring Hitchens to be ignorant on the topic of faith, you never once explain how he was wrong! And then, just 2 days after he dies, you claim he doesn't know the "first thing about religion". Well, what could that possibly be? If Hitch was so wrong, why couldn't you write this while he was ALIVE? Probably because you know he'd shred you. Your the same guy who seems impressed by Tebow's wins...against mediocre teams. On the whole Tebow topic, didn't Jesus say that when you pray you should do it in private, not like the hypocrates who do it in public?

    December 17, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Mott the Hoople

      First, learn how to spell. Otherwise, you appear to be an idiot. Second, Hitchens himself loved to dish on people who had just died (e.g., Falwell, Theresa, et al). Furthermore, the author mentions that he was scheduled for a debate with Hitchens, but Hitchens was too ill (hangover?) to show up.

      December 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  18. Ungodly Discipline

    "But he didn't know the first thing about religion, so whenever he wrote or spoke about it he made himself look stupid. I suppose I should give him credit for that. It's not an easy thing to do."
    Wow, what an ignorant thing to say. I guess Stephen Prothero must have been jealous of Hitchens. I don't recall Hitchens losing a debate. And furthermore, I have never met an Atheist who wasn't better educated in religion than the religious people who try to argue with them.
    That was just an unfortunate dig at a dead man that was completely false and uncalled for. Shame on you.

    December 17, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • hoffmaal

      I agree that this is a rather impassioned article, but it's a shame you've never had the chance to debate with an educated religious person. I'd love to set that up with you, sometime. 😉

      December 17, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Ungodly Discipline, you posted ""But he didn't know the first thing about religion, so whenever he wrote or spoke about it he made himself look stupid. I suppose I should give him credit for that. It's not an easy thing to do."
      Wow, what an ignorant thing to say. I guess Stephen Prothero must have been jealous of Hitchens. I don't recall Hitchens losing a debate. And furthermore, I have never met an Atheist who wasn't better educated in religion than the religious people who try to argue with them."

      Answer: You non-believers still don't comprehend or ever will comprehend what Jesus is all about. You can read His words on the pages of the Bible all you want but it won't make any of you wise. Wisdom is gained as you take His council (all of it) and apply it to your life to come to righteous conclusions in all you do. You atheists are so busy scoffing at Jesus it's obvious that none of you apply His wisdom to your lives.

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @HS: Maybe you should pray that jesus finally reveal itself to us and make us understand. Until it reveals that it is real (no use of the buybull allowed...that proves nothing), we have no reason to accept it. Stop trying to convince us that you have the answers when the only answers you have come from the buybull and or people who have attempted to interpret that book.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I think HeavenScent should pray that jesus actually exists and reveals himself to her 'cause based on the trash and hate she spews in here she is no true christian.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • captain america

      hotair as such is revealed as a canadian liar and as such his opinion is useless to us.There's your sign

      December 17, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • HotAirAce

      CA, you think I'm a Canadian because I said I was. If I'm the liar you say I am, maybe I lied about being Canadian. Maybe I live right around the corner from you. Just like believers, you have no facts or substance – just an overwhelming need to hate.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @HotAir: Arguing with CA is like arguing with a slug...CA is about as clueless. You have a very valid point...CA has no proof that any of us are Canadian...maybe it's just a ruse to get a response. CA only comes here to spew hatred towards Canadian's and bully them around. It is not here to discuss anything useful or on topic. I'm guessing CA has never been across the border and couldn't identify the province and territories or the Great Lakes for that matter.

      December 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Ungodly Discipline

    I feel the most exciting thing about atheism (weak atheism in my case, or Temporal Agnosticism) is that no possibilities are ruled out. One can revel in the cosmos and the joy of learning without the burden of guilt. Just as Einstein, Hawking and many other thinkers of our time and space, the universe still holds many secrets, and those secrets are far more enjoyable when you don't have a pre-disposition to a belief in any God; whatever shape that may take. How can we think freely and explore scientifically the theories of the multi-verse, string theory, intelligent life on other planets, space travel and what preceded the Big Bang when we are anchored to the Earth by a ball and chain called religion. It is enough to look up at the Milky Way and say, here is my church. I am not commanded to worship. I am COMPELLED to be astounded by its magnificence. And no matter what you believe or say, none of us has the slightest idea what will happen when we die. So live and learn, then die knowing you have embraced life. Be nice and fear not.

    December 17, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • MyEyesWereOpened

      It's my understanding Christian Theology (Orthodox anyway) teaches the belief in God does not exclude, it INCLUDES reveling in the cosmos, the joy of learning, and Einstein, Hawking, and many others, free thinking, and exploring scientifically the theories of the multi-verse, string theory, intelligent life and anything else lol on other planets, space travel and what preceded the Big Bang and everything else we find interesting.

      God includes all the natural universe. The study of nature, of natural science, is also the study of God. St. Augustine said that the Bible is not to be taken as authority in any area of geography or natural science or history, only in moral and spiritual matters. St Augustine in fact recommended a full university education including science, as a prerequisite to understanding the Bible.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Ungodly, did you realize that Hawking was a "c" average student that was going no where?. Only when his disease engulfed his life did he realized he had to do something.

      Amen.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So Hawking was a late bloomer – so what? That's way better than being a non-thinking believer clinging to non-existant gods and The Babble or other 2,000+ year old myths until your last breath.

      December 17, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • captain america

      @HeavenSent, if you attended graduate school, you would know that you can't be accepted into it with a "C-average".

      December 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "graduate school"? Are you kidding? HS barely made it through community college.

      December 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  20. James Clarke

    "But he didn't know the first thing about religion, so whenever he wrote or spoke about it he made himself look stupid." !?
    Is that supposed to be a joke? Whenever Hitchens spoke about religion he made everyone else look stupid.
    He never lost a debate on the topic. It wasn't even close.
    Furthermore, your article is entirely without substance. What exactly is it you are trying to get at?

    December 17, 2011 at 9:29 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.