Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

By on 17 December 2011

This is a sudden shock, well, to me anyways. Christopher (the) “Hitch” Hitchens died of complications arising from cancer of the oesophagus, which he’d had for about a year and a half. I guess I was too wrapped up in what he had to say, to realise how close he was to death’s door. And, what he had to say was quite something, during his life! I think, as far as the freethinker “movement” goes, he ranks a close number 2 behind Richard Dawkins. He had a rather, er, shall we say, unique collection of viewpoints. He was, unlike most people, supportive of the US invasion of Iraq, probably because getting rid of the Ba’ath party meant more Johnnie Walker Black (ugh!) for him. Still, he seemed to do an about-face when things didn’t go according to plan (like they were ever going to). I guess undergoing waterboarding confirmed to him that the W strategy included torture. He was also opposed to W’s support of “intelligent design”, like anyone intelligent.

But what really propelled him into the spotlight, at least for me, must have been his book god is not Great, coming as it did on the heels of Dawkins’ The God Delusion. It goes over much the same material, but in a manner that I find more accessible to the general public, as opposed to Dawkins’ more scientific language.

It is seen as ironic by some religionists that he went to an evangelical Christian cancer specialist. But, going to Dr Francis Collins may simply be the result of going to the best, regardless of religious belief. Even so, I am certain that there was no “deathbed conversion”, and he remained a staunch antitheist right to the end. (And yes, I do believe that word should be used more.)

Of course, he was aware of his mortality, as are we all. However, he didn’t see some sort of “pearly gates” at the end of it, it is simply a breakdown in the machinery that is the human body.

He will, however, live forever, in the minds of those he has touched, whether through his writings, speeches, or appearances, or just those lucky sods who knew him personally.

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