Attack the Atheist While He’s Down!

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In a well-designed video game, a boss villain will require various strategies to defeat. You have to weaken his armor or navigate certain attacks before you can get your hit in. You may have heard that Christopher Hitchens, outspoken challenger of religion, was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It seems like Christians are only too eager to attack Hitchens while he’s down.

Religion is one big self-fulfilling prophesy. You never hear people say that “God has a plan” for them that doesn’t happen to coincide with their own interests. So, when you have someone like Hitchens intent on disrupting the delusional self-affirmation, the apologists’ attempts to overcompensate become that much more obvious.

The first attempt at reaffirmation comes from an article on OneNewsNow about a new book by Peter Hitchens—Christopher’s brother—called The Rage Against God. This is an attempt to downplay anything Christopher Hitchens has ever stood for by saying well, he can’t be that great if his own brother disagrees with him. Peter is one of those turncoats he thinks he has authority to speak on atheism because he’s (apparently) an ex-atheist.

It’s evident from the excerpts in this article that P. Hitchens doesn’t have the courage of his convictions. He was too scared of judgment that he fell back into delusion. For example, he suggests that Virginia Woolf’s “passionate” disdain for T. S. Eliot’s belief in God is actually just fear that Eliot might be right. See what you want to see, I guess.

P. Hitchens is really afraid that “the dissolution of Christian education is a real possibility.” I don’t see what the problem with that is. But to defend his fear, he trots out the same old malarkey about morals:

In retrospect at least, he’d begun to sense a direct correlation between the absence of faith and the absence of basic human civility.  He’d also begun to see clear evidence of what he calls “the fallen nature of man, and his inability to achieve perfection,” in places where “man set himself up to replace God with the state.”

Apparently he’s behind on his reading about the effects of secularism. And there’s never been a case of the faithful failing at basic human civility.

Oh, that reminds me of the Catholic Church! Check out this potshot CNN let Chicago’s not-so-Reverent Robert Barron take at Christopher Hitchens. It’s a whole column about encouraging prayer for an ailing atheist. This can’t be good.

Barron is a strategist, and he starts his piece with lots of exposition about just who this Christopher Hitchens guy is. Then he starts talking about how Hitchens likes the work of Bob Dylan and Evelyn Waugh. He uses this to make quite a stretch that leads (finally) into his offensive and diminutive thesis:

I confess I began to wonder whether, despite his brassy atheism, Mr. Hitchens didn’t have a good deal of sensitivity to things religious.

Apparently NSR Barron has the authority to speak on behalf of God’s motives for afflicting Hitchens with cancer:

Hitchens’ disease is indeed ingredient in God’s providence, since at the very least it was permitted by the one whose wisdom “stretches from end to end mightily.”

Personally, I think Hitchens got cancer because he got cancer. As I wrote last year and discussed on the Queer and Queerer Podcast, I think using others’ misfortunes as an opportunity to reinforce your own faith is extremely offensive. This is apologism at its most vile. It’s pity for those who aren’t respected. It’s pretentious and it’s selfish.

Hitchens seeks by means of specious argument, insinuation, and sometimes plain smear-tactics to undermine religion. He ought to be opposed, vigorously, with counter-argument and clarification of fact. But all the while, he ought to be respected.

“Clarification of fact” makes me laugh a little, which is refreshing in the midst of this aggravating act of religious masturbation. There is no respect for Hitchens. This is just patronage.

So read Christopher Hitchens; disagree with him and get angry with him; defend the faith against his attacks. And pray for him.

Encouraging anger at a person? If you disagree with his ideas, that’s fine, but anger seems uncalled for if you really want to be respectful. But you don’t want to be respectful, do you, NSR Barron?

Both of these stories show that defenders of religion are cowards who cannot confront critique head on. Hitchens’ brother is a complete false attribution; he doesn’t make any good arguments that address any of Christopher Hitchens’ critiques. And praying for an atheist in an attempt to take higher ground is extremely petty. Pull back the curtain and Barron’s attempt to disprove Hitchen’s critiques by this false act of sympathy accomplishes just the opposite.

Note to all of you believers out there who like to take “offense” to any challenge to your religious beliefs. If you don’t like what you hear, then step up and defend yourself or step back. Don’t kick a man while he’s down and assume a smug sense of moral superiority for doing so.

Read a book on atheism and raise money for a Relay for Life, and then—maybe then—I’ll believe that your motives are in any way honest (or the least bit selfless).

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There are 4 Comments to "Attack the Atheist While He’s Down!"

  • Shirley says:

    ‘defenders of religion are cowards who cannot confront critique head on’

    Maybe you don’t see me as a defender of religion then. I’m not a coward. It’s horrible that Christopher Hitchens has cancer. I don’t agree with everything he has said but I don’t take any pleasure in his suffering.

  • Rusty says:

    I hate when people say that something like cancer is a punishment from god if you are an atheist but it is a test if you are a believer. I have always liked the quote, “the difference between you and me is that I will die today, and you tomorrow.”

  • ZackFord says:

    I’m not sure I totally understand what that quote means, Rusty. Can you say more about it?

  • Rusty says:

    I believe the quote was said from someone who was dying to someone who was worried about them. I couldn’t find the exact source to quote though. Either way, I like it because it says we will all die, it is just a matter of how and when. People can’t say this cancer is Christopher’s punishment from god, but like you said he got cancer because he got cancer. We all die eventually and I don’t see how someone can attribute something like cancer to god when it can (and does) happen to anyone.

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