It may be well known by now that Christopher Hitchens, intellect, political journalist, author (God is Not Great) and well-known atheist hero is suffering from cancer that has hardened his esophagus, and is pretty much incurable. What many may not know is that some religious folk around the web, in whose hearts Hitchens has invoked fear through reason for years, are keeping their fingers crossed that Hitchens’ cancer will be his wake up call to see the light of god.
Quoting the article on Pravda:
We may never know his [Hitchens’] true standing with God when he dies. What we do know, however, is that he is in a similar predicament as Rocky Sullivan (character from the movie Angels With Dirty Faces). By the great grace of God he is now facing a dilemma that might not have presented itself – or at least not with such force – had he not been struck with cancer. Now he’s playing for all the marbles. Will he hold steadfast to that human pride that for many years made him a hero in the eyes of the world’s atheists or will he find it in himself to reach down and acknowledge to all humanity the truth that he knows about God before his time is up and God’s mercy runs out?
The author, Paul Kokoski, is clearly religious, and like many religious people, naive or arrogant enough to assume that his faith in god (Jehovah) is correct, and that Hitchens will see it this way now that he’s dying. The hope for the deathbed conversion of Hitchens is understandable. Anyone who has ever seen the man on television or read one of his articles or books knows he’s a ruthless, knowledgeable and articulate debater who brings much ammunition to fight in the battle against religion.
His religious opponents are often reduced to inarticulate nincompoops in his presence, which is exactly why his deathbed conversion would mean so much. All the years of his intellectual contribution to the fight against god would suddenly mean nothing in the face of his embrace of the “truth” as the author calls it. The author’s hope that Hitchens will have a change of heart for the right reasons like the character Rocky Sullivan at the end of the movie is no doubt due to Hitchens’ influence in the media.
Whatever Hitchens decides, all true believers are definitely hoping and praying that, for his own sake and for the sake of others, he will confront his conscience and take the same leap of faith we all hope Rocky Sullivan took in the movies.
For the author, it’s better to die believing in the Judeo-Christian god than no god at all. He doesn’t explain why this is, of course, and like many religious people, he doesn’t have to defend the existence of Jehovah, since the faith argument is a knockout in the god vs. no god match.
The author’s arrogance, and that of many religious people for that matter, is assuming that Hitchens is having this spiritual debate; hence, the title of the article. Of course, Hitchens is human and like many terminally ill people, he’ll be worried and saddened/frightened by his illness, but to assume that he’s wrestling with the “dilemma” of conscience is silly. For all we know, Hitchens has done nothing criminally or morally wrong in his lifetime. The decision to be an atheist, and a public one at that, is not a crime against the law or morality.
The bottomline is that if and when Hitchens dies, his human fate will be sealed, and neither I nor the author and those who think like him can speculate on what happens beyond the grave. We’ll know when we get there. And, it doesn’t matter what happens then, since only the human life he lives is important. Important enough for some people to be placing too much hope in the status of his conscience on his deathbed.