Atheist: Christopher Hitchens

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Over the years, I’ve written often about the late Christopher Hitchens, who over the last decade has probably been the world’s most prominent atheist. When we learned of his terminal cancer, I did a piece on the CNN blog, urging Christians to pray for Hitchens—and to my astonishment, this benign recommendation was met with an extraordinarily negative reaction from atheists. But that’s a story for another day.

What I’d like to write about today concerns a recent vacation on which I took two books with me, Christopher Hitchens’s memoir Hitch-22, which I had begun and wanted to finish, and his brother Peter Hitchens’s The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith, a stunning account of the younger Hitchens’s journey through militant Trotskyite atheism to a robust Christianity. It was a fascinating, and I must admit rather unnerving, experience to overhear, as it were, the brothers Hitchens debating with one another in my own head. Things got so intense that Christopher Hitchens actually appeared in one of my dreams during the vacation!

Whereas Christopher has a rather baroque literary style, his brother writes soberly and directly. His fundamental theme is this: though the atheists claim just the contrary, the collapse of Christianity carries in its wake dire consequences for civilization itself. Peter Hitchens was a foreign correspondent in Moscow during the waning years of the Soviet Union, and he experienced a culture in deep crisis. There was political corruption of every type on every level of the system; there was widespread drunkenness; abortions far outnumbered live births; and a suspension of common courtesies—exchanging common signs, holding doors, etc.—was everywhere in evidence. How does one begin to explain this almost total ethical collapse? Peter Hitchens argues that it followed ineluctably from a conscious and brutally enforced Soviet policy in regard to religion. From the earliest days of the regime, that is to say, even before the rise of Stalin, the Soviet government launched a systematic attack on religion, especially Russian Orthodoxy. Priests and nuns were, in great numbers, put to death or arrested, and the few that were allowed to live were consistently harrassed, mocked, and humiliated. Furthermore, religion was constantly pilloried as “unscientific” and “backward,” the stuff of crude superstition and pre-modern mythology. And religious instruction was strictly disallowed in the educational system. In fact, it was routinely characterized as a form of child abuse, a poisoning of the minds of the young. READ MOE CLICK HERE…

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