Saturday, July 03, 2010


Christopher Hitchins, a man I admire greatly, has been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. He is undergoing chemo-therapy but the prognosis for this particular type of cancer is not good.

Christopher Hitchins is a courageous. honest and exceptionally erudite individual; he writes in Vanity Fair - in fact he writes extremely well in Vanity Fair, has had several books published, notably 'God is Not Great', and is a powerful, persuasive and very witty speaker. His arguments are backed up with facts, evidence and a wealth of learning and whether you agree or disagree with the particlar point he might be making, he always provides you with something of substance to chew on.

Here is one of my favourite bits of Hitchins in action.

As you will have noticed, Christopher Hitchins also happens to be an outspoken atheist. Unlike for many other people, he was not a catalyst for me in this process - I had already reached the conclusion myself by the age of 13 or 14 that there almost certainly were no gods or goddesses running and ruling our universe, but Hitchins' honest appraisal of common conceptions has often opened up new perspectives for me and put some flesh on many of my inchoate thoughts and ideas.

So, Christopher Hitchins is an atheist and has been diagnosed with a pretty nasty kind of cancer.

The forums on the Internet have been filling up with comments and messages from the religous and non-religious with much compassion and sympathy, but sadly, and chillingly predictably, there have also been many comments from the religious which range from a kind of sugar-coated arrogance to the downright callous and inhuman. Comments I have read from Christians and Moslems and their kind move from pious, ill-concealed gleeful squeakings such as, "now the god Christopher Hitchins denies will welcome him into his arms", to the more callous arrogance of "let the god Christopher Hitchins denies now punish his pride", and the positively inhuman, "may his soul burn in eternity in the fires of hell along with all the other non-believers".

What a strange take these religious commentators have on their religions of peace and their gods of love.

(Edit: here is a good example of one of those categories above which I found on Pharyngula.)