Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

It was a weird feeling to, while browsing the news on my phone as I attempted to drift to sleep, see that Christopher Hitchens had passed on. It's one of those shocks to the system. A sort of emotional jolt that manifests itself physically. I literally gasped.

I knew it was coming. We all did. It was well publicized that he had esophageal cancer, and the effects of that cancer are also well known. For whatever reason, whether it be his larger than life standing in society or the effects he has directly and indirectly had on my own life, it still came as a shock to me.

I never once rejoiced or found any pleasure in the sickness (and now death) of this long time enemy of my Lord. Whether the cultural offspring of his work (all you atheists) believes me or not, I wanted nothing but the best for this man, and for all of you for that matter.

A good portion of one's life devoted to undermining God's people, blaspheming His name, and harming His kingdom doesn't leave much optimism for his soul, but I do hope that there was a late change. Despite all he wrote about that change being a mental lapse or malfunction, he couldn't predict the future. As I said for Ken Pulliam, I hope Christopher Hitchens' spiritual state was other than it appeared. But God is just and Christopher Hitchens has received a just judgment, wherever he is.

55 comments:

AJ said...

Exactly. And the Tebow argument is gold.

Jc_Freak: said...

This was very similar to my own reactions.

kilo papa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tony-Allen said...

Good post, well said.

Dan said...

Well, son, as you said several days ago, CH isn't an atheist now. [Oh, by the way, in your very first sentence, you split your infinitive.]

zilch said...

Dan- as I also said over at Rho's place, I agree: Hitchens is no longer an atheist. And I must defend boss here too: split infinitives were common, and not considered incorrect in English, until the nineteenth century, when Latin-enamored grammarians decided they were taboo, because they cannot be expressed in Latin. If you want to side with them, fine; but it seems a precious and contrived cavil to me.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

John said...

It's funny that the people who are now waxing indignant over Rick warren's tweet about the Hitch are also the ones who were taking delight in the latter's comparably more acerbic choice words for Mother Teresa. Just sayin.

Ryan Anderson said...

Well, Rick Warren's tweet (not that it bothered me) was based on bald speculation where as Christopher Hitchens actually did some research into Agnes Bojaxhiu

John said...

@Ryan,

Warren's tweet was based on what he believed.

And, the research part doesn't in any way justify what Christopher said about the woman. (not that any of his "research" reflected objective reality anyway)

Just admit it. You and I both think that those atheists who are waxing indignant about the issue are applying a double standard.

David said...

I still don't understand how anyone could be shocked by Hitchens' death.

As far as Warren's tweet goes, it does corretly highlight one thing. The only way to know the "truth" about what happens after death is to die. Those of us who are still living can only speculate.

(Warren's tweet doesn't bother me or lead me to wax indignant. It was as predictable and inevitable as Hitchens' death.)

bossmanham said...

Knowledge is defined as justified true belief. All of us apologists think that the information we have justifies the claim that we can know that Christianity is true now. So no, you're wrong.

David said...

"All of us apologists think that the information we have justifies the claim that we can know that Christianity is true now."

Oh.

Well, that's settles it then.

Ever been dead? Ever talked to anyone who's been dead? I mean dead dead. Not "nearly dead". As Miracle Max says, there's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. I'm talking about really dead. Rotting corpse dead. I mean have you ever talked to someone who's been dead for a week, gone to heaven, hung out with Jesus for awhile and then came back to reoccupy a decayed body to tell you all about it?

Billions of people have died. How many have come back to tell us all about being dead? Yes, I know you think that one of them came back from the dead, but that's a truly extraordinary claim without sufficient evidence to support a claim of that nature.

You don't know what happens after death. You want to know, we all want to know, and that's what leads to the origin of religions such as Christianity. The world is full of religions and traditions that claim to know what happens after death.

But you don't know.

bossmanham said...

Ever been dead? Ever talked to anyone who's been dead?

Jesus...

But this silliness is just assuming you're correct. People can know things without having personally experienced them. Happens all the time, David. Good grief, man. All you wanna do is argue.

David said...

"Jesus..."

Jesus talks to you?


"People can know things without having personally experienced them."

Yes, I understand that. However, there are billions of dead people available to talk to you, so I'm suprised that you haven't had any personal conversations with any of them.

If you'd like, I'll expand this to...has ANYONE ever talked to someone who's been dead for a week, etc.? Now we're beyond the personal experience of one person.


"All you wanna do is argue."

Not particularly. I just think that you don't know what you claim to know.

bossmanham said...

Uhm, again you've delved into the irrelevant.

David said...

"Uhm, again you've delved into the irrelevant."

Quite right. You believe X, so X is true. It's settled. Anything beyond that is irrelevant.

bossmanham said...

That's not the dumbest most dishonest thing you've said, but it's close.

David said...

"That's not the dumbest most dishonest thing you've said, but it's close."

Well, now there's an argument for you!

Why do you always go for the word "dishonest"? I something think that either you don't know what the word means or it just makes you feel good to think that I'm somehow "dishonest". I may disagree, I may misunderstand...but dishonest? How was my comment "dishonest"?

Look. I understand. You believe what you read in the Bible, and ultimately, that's all that matters in this discussion. Anything else is likely to be deemed irrelevant. The Bible says that when you die, it's either eternal bliss or eternal torture. You believe it, and that settles it.

My only point here is that you don't really know if it's true or not. You're not omniscient. You haven't been dead yet, so you don't know. You'll find out the truth when you die. Until then? All we have are out hopes, dreams and fears.

bossmanham said...

Because you're a liar who constantly brings up straw man arguments. They don't do anything for the discussion. Get lost if you're going to do that.

David said...

You said my comment was dishonest. How was the comment dishonest?

bossmanham said...

A straw man, by definition, is dishonest.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Or what you call a "straw man" could be a misunderstanding of your position.

Anyway, where was the alleged straw man? You believe the Bible, the Bible tells you what happens after death. You believe it, that settles it.

David said...

To avoid further accusations of “straw man”, let me be as careful and as precise as possible with respect to this discussion.

Which of the following are inaccurate statements?

You believe that the Bible is true or absolutely accurate in everything it says.

The Bible says people suffer eternal torture or enjoy eternal bliss after death.

Since you believe that the Bible is true and since the Bible says X will happen after death, you believe that you know what happens after death, that is, you believe that you have the truth about what happens after death (eternal torture/bliss).

You cannot be wrong about what happens after death.

Your belief that the Bible is true is settled and isn’t going to change.

John said...

David,

Are you an agnostic? Since you kinda talk like one.

There will only be something to *find out* on theism. On atheism, you won't *find out* anything --since you'll be dead, and that will be it.

So, if atheism were true, CH wouldn't have found out anything. If Theism were true, he would've found out he was wrong.

bossmanham said...

Or what you call a "straw man" could be a misunderstanding of your position.

So you really want people thinking you're that incapable of reading comprehension? That's pretty sad. Perhaps I do give you too much of the benefit of the doubt gray matter wise.

Come on, you know good and well that I never once intimated that my believing of something means it's true.

David said...

"So you really want people thinking you're that incapable of reading comprehension? That's pretty sad. Perhaps I do give you too much of the benefit of the doubt gray matter wise."

Please. Do we have to descend to this level? You do understand that there is a difference between "incapable of reading comprehesion" and making the occasional mistake. Are you saying that you never, ever misunderstand what another person is saying? This is an internet discussion. People misinterpret.



"I never once intimated that my believing of something means it's true."

Ah, so this is the problem. Well, I see that I should have expanded on my oversimplified "you believe X, so X is true" comment. Dashed that one off in a bit of a rush.

Still, there is an argument to be made that if someone believes something, then for that person, that something is true. Why would you say that you believed something if you didn't think it was true? Why would you believe something that wasn't true? When you say you believe X, you are asserting that X is true.

Anyway, while I think that calling me a liar and dishonest was a bit over the top, I see how this went off the track. So, now that this is cleared up, would you like to help me understand your position by noting which of the following are inaccurate statements?

You believe that the Bible is true or absolutely accurate in everything it says.

The Bible says people suffer eternal torture or enjoy eternal bliss after death.

Since you believe that the Bible is true and since the Bible says X will happen after death, you believe that you know what happens after death, that is, you believe that you have the truth about what happens after death (eternal torture/bliss).

You cannot be wrong about what happens after death.

Your belief that the Bible is true is settled and isn’t going to change.

bossmanham said...

You do understand that there is a difference between "incapable of reading comprehesion" and making the occasional mistake.

It's hard to call every time you post here "occasional."

Still, there is an argument to be made that if someone believes something, then for that person, that something is true.

No there isn't.

Why would you say that you believed something if you didn't think it was true?

Thinking something is true and its actually being true are different. Really? Do we have to go through this?

Since you believe that the Bible is true and since the Bible says X will happen after death...blah blah blah....

The information mentioned above includes more than just the belief that the Bible is true. It includes reasons to think the Bible is true, reasons to think God exists, etc.

David said...

"So, if atheism were true, CH wouldn't have found out anything."

Well, yes, if consciousness ends when we die, the Hitchens would currently lack the tools to comprehend that he was right about the Christian version of God. Regardless, for Hitchens, there is now a definitive answer to the question of what happens when we die, whether he is conscious of the answer or not. For the rest of us, we'll just have to wait.

Now, while I suspect that consciousness does end with death, (and while, yes, I think I'm much more of an agnostic than an atheist), I'm not sure that atheism strictly rules out the possibility of consciousness after death. Atheism rules out the specific Christian answer, but I would think that this still leaves many other possibilities for that undiscovered country from whose born no traveler returns.

David said...

"Thinking something is true and its actually being true are different."

Ah, see, now you misunderstand MY argument. I didn't say this. I said that when someone believes that something is true, FOR THAT PERSON, that something is true. THAT PERSON is going to assert that what they believe is actually true. If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then for you, this is true. Whether or not it's actually true is a different matter. Straw man?


"The information mentioned above includes more than just the belief that the Bible is true. It includes reasons to think the Bible is true, reasons to think God exists, etc."

So, none of the statements inaccurately describe your position?

bossmanham said...

I said that when someone believes that something is true, FOR THAT PERSON, that something is true

If something is false, it's not true for anyone. You're just trying to rescue what you said, even though it was a stupid way to say it.

So, none of the statements inaccurately describe your position?

Yes it does, since you claimed all my assertion rested on was belief in the truth of the Bible. You're a tool, David.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

"If something is false, it's not true for anyone."

I think we're operating with different definitions of "true". When I say it's true for that person, what I mean is that this is the reality for that person. You believe that death is followed by eternal torture or eternal truth, so that's your reality, your little-t truth. And since it's your truth, for you, it's settled. Any evidence or reasoning that might contradict your beliefs must be dismissed as "irrelevant".

But you still don't know.


"Yes it does, since you claimed all my assertion rested on was belief in the truth of the Bible."

At first I thought that this meant that none of the statements were inaccurate, and that I understood your position. But now I'm not so sure. Your sentence construction is a little bit awkward here. The phrase "yes it does" does not seem to answer the question "so, none of the statements inaccurately describe your position?"


Let's try again.

Are any of the statements inaccurate descriptions of your position? Don't want to be accused of misunderstanding your position. Just trying to get this right, you know.



"You're a tool, David."

Tsk, tsk. Not very Christian of you, Brennon.

bossmanham said...

I think we're operating with different definitions of "true". When I say it's true for that person, what I mean is that this is the reality for that person.

This is still ridiculous relativism. If this is the case then nothing is worth debating and you should just go away.

But you still don't know.

It's true for me that I know.

The phrase "yes it does" does not seem to answer the question "so, none of the statements inaccurately describe your position?"

Get out of here, David.

David said...

"Get out of here, David."

Well, I did try to understand...

Nicely done, Brennon. You've demonstrated the contradictions inherent in Christianity.

Tootles.

bossmanham said...

And you've demonstrated nothing other than you're either a liar or a simpleton.

David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bossmanham said...

And David has his useless post removed.

David said...

And Brennon demonstrate my point again! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

(Ok, I'll stop after you delete this one. Got to get some work done.)

bossmanham said...

lulz.

Useless...

Dan said...

Zilch - I did not say boss was wrong per se to blatantly ( ;-D)split his infinitive. I merely pointed out he had. But now this particular split infinitive is unnecessary and correcting it makes for a less clumsy sentence. So it isn't just a petty objection - it is free advice. You see, I'm merely trying to generously (:-D) help him improve his writing skills, to strategically (;-p) fill in the gaps left by an incomplete public education. But not only that, let him get away with a split infinitive and the next thing you know, he will begin to deliberately end his sentences with prepositions - and we can't have that, now can we?

zilch said...

Dan- I agree, in this case, boss's split infinitive stretched his sentence taut to the snapping point, so your criticism was in order. And of course you're also right about the danger of split infinitives being a gateway drug to other grammatical infelicities: for instance, ending a sentence with a preposition is something, up with which I will absolutely not put.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Dan said...

And God bless us everyone!

Lloyd said...

I just dropped in to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and to let you know how much I enjoy reading your posts. May our Lord continue to shine through you and your blog ministry. God bless, Lloyd

zilch said...

Dan: and if God doesn't exist, then Darwin bless us everyone! Or, since Darwin isn't around anymore, let's all bless ourselves! In any case, let's let love guide us.

cheers from cool Vienna, zilch

Dan said...

If God doesn't exist? Examining the existence of God from a purely rational perspective only results in debate at best and at worst usually ends in anger. Not much is ever resolved; sometimes relationships end. So I can't prove one way or the other by reason alone (tho some may, but I can't) if God exists. I can only tell you how I came to believe in Him and in His Son. Incidently, the Bible - the believer's sole authority in the discussion of God's existence - never attempts to prove by reason alone the existence of God. Instead, it assumes His existence, and then it reveals in various literary genres who He is and how He has related to people in the past and how He relates to people today. In fact, the apostle John said in the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 18"No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." So if you want to know what the christian's God is like, look at Jesus in the gospels. But mere intellectual assent to His existence and reality does not solve the real issue for mankind.
Well, anyway, thanks for your Christmas greeting, and New Year's greetings to you from unseasonably warm and sunny Missouri.

John said...

@Dan

I was born a Christian. But after immersing myself in atheist literature --those of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc-- I found myself turning agnostic for awhile.

But then I took some serious interest in apologetics and the works of people like Craig, Feser, Plantinga and so forth, and realized, intellectually, theism is more convincing. Dawkins-type arguments now seem utterly devoid of reason to me, actually.(Although, I'll readily admit that all those years of being Christian may have left me biased towards theism.)

I guess my point is, one can be a Christian purely out of reason and logic, without needing any experience of God. And I'm hoping the time comes when I can experience God in the way you have. Maybe He has his reasons for leaving me somewhat in the dark for the time being.

Dan said...

@John: Please don't misunderstand me, I think apologetics is helpful, but it is not determinative as to whether one believes on Christ unto salvation or not. One of the Holy Spirit's ministries is to convince us of the truth of Scripture about Jesus Christ (see John, chapters 14, 15, 16 regarding the purpose and work of the Holy Spirit). And as a young Christian, I found great help in Josh McDowell's classics Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. And Craig's ability to articulate a philosophical argument for believing the Gospel is truly awesome. So evidence is a great help, but God's Spirit is the determinative factor. Until He does His work in a person's heart, that individual won't believe unto salvation. Now when does this happen in a person's life? In my case I was 21 years old; in yours', it sounds like you were very young when God's Spirit "spoke" to you.

zilch said...

Dan- in my case, I'm 61, and God has yet to speak to me. Maybe I shouldn't have taken all those paleontology courses....

Happy New Year, everyone!

Dan said...

@Z. (61 years old! Good grief, man, you are ancient. I myself am a mere youth of 59. ;-) - I don't think the number of science courses really matter. There are world class scientists who are believers. And as far as paleontologists go, they are always changing their minds as are all scientists. Theories do come and go, and each theorist claims his is the best theory to explain the reality of whatever...The latest theory since last Wednesday is vigorously defended by its adherents and disparaged by its adversaries. And on and on it goes. So who knows what to believe. But as you so subtly indicated, ideas do have consequences - in your case conversion to atheism. But in my opinion, I don't think science can explain everything. So what is truth? Does paleontology provide us with truth? I'm sure yes in some cases, and no in others. But does it provide us with spiritual truth? Pilate wanted to know truth, too, and in fact he asked Jesus in John 18:38 that very question: "What is truth." [But apparently it was only rhetorical in nature as Jesus did not produce an answer there.] However, several chapters back in John 14:6 Jesus did say this: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Now, how is that even relevant to us? And why does it even matter?
Anyway - Happy New Year!

zilch said...

Dan- I don't disagree with anything you said. And you're right- science won't provide us with spiritual answers. But what are spiritual answers? If they require the existence of God, then I have no spiritual answers. If they do not require the existence of God, I would say that I too have spiritual answers: things that I have decided are important for me, such as living in peace, being generous, taking care of my family and the rest of the world as well as I can, and so forth. You know, all the usual stuff, probably pretty much the same as everyone else.

I would call these "spiritual" answers because they are not generated by science (although science can help motivate them), or merely by my social animal appetites and fears, but are irrational, in the same way that religion is irrational: they cannot be justified all the way down to a demonstrable truth. But being irrational (at least in this strict philosophical sense) doesn't mean they don't work to produce happiness- indeed, the evidence is that they are necessary for it, in one form or another: religion, political ideology, humanism, are all factors that make civilized life possible.

I just choose to take my truths without unnecessary multiplication of entities.

cheers and happy new year's from Vienna, zilch

Dan said...

@Z - And your response is the reason I do not try to "convince" anyone philosophically to believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. You see, I think it is primarily a relational issue - not a scientific issue or an issue that can be decided upon through the scientific/philosophical process. For example, loving the girl who became my wife almost 30 years ago was certainly not a scientific/philosophical enterprise in the same sense that deciding whether or not God exists. In other words, I did not sit down and decide if she existed and then logically decide if I loved her. No, it was more like "Wow, what a babe! I think I'm in looovvve!" And as I mentioned before the Bible never even attempts to prove the existence of God - it assumes it. But we can choose to believe in Him or not and we can choose to love Him - or not. Choices - like ideas - have consequences, too. But this is not to say we can convert ourselves; we can only ask God - humbly I think - to reveal Himself to us. I think it was Pascal who said, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." Now I think Pascal is right, at least in my experience. So, I'll leave it at that. Have a great week.

zilch said...

Thanks, Dan, and same to you. Be sure and drop me a line if you're in town (Vienna, Austria), or in the SF Bay Area in the summer, and lunch is on me.

Dan said...

@Zilch - Deal! And should you come to Kansas City, lunch is on me. Oh, by the way you may be interested in this: we own 3 cats who each believes she is god, and a dog who believes I am god. Obviously, none are atheists. ;-)

zilch said...

Dan- thanks and done. I've never been in that part of the States, and I'd be curious to see it- maybe someday.

And about cats and dogs- yep, you've got it. As Bob Dylan said, everyone's gotta serve someone. Or some idea.

cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch