Dear Mr. Hitchens,
You are going to heaven when you die. This is because Everyone Is Going to Heaven. I hope you will believe me, but even if you don’t, I am happy to say that the outcome remains the same.
As someone who believes in God, I have admired the way you have defended your atheism. Specifically, you have done on the basis of morality. Your debate opponents never seem to understand or address this point adequately, and they end up losing points with audiences for this reason.
Your debate opponents have suffered from often having to defend religion. Because religion has sponsored so much that is immoral or amoral, it is an impossible position to defend. They stand on firmer ground when they defend God or faith in God. They would stand on the best ground of all were they to defend simply Jesus of Nazareth, who was God visiting us for a moment.
You see, I agree with you that “religion poisons everything,” but, contrary to you, believe that “God is…great!” The Old and New Testaments, taken together as the testimony of Jesus the Messiah, condemn and warn of all the evils that would be done in the name of religion. Jesus even warned that people would do all sorts of evil in His name. For this reason, we should not be surprised at the evils that spring from religion. Neither should we reject the truth of God just because there are an abundance of lies about Him.
Ironically, one of your most common criticisms of God is that He is like a North Korean dictator. The truth is that He gives humanity dramatically more freedom than any country in the world gives. That fact explains why so much evil is done in the world – religiously and otherwise. If He were a dictator, there’d be no human immorality and your debate opponents would not be confounded by your atheism.
Even though everyone is going to heaven, God does judge every deed large and small. Some of this judgment occurs on earth. Of these earthly judgments, some we see and many we do not. The balance of judgment comes in heaven after we die. We certainly are not seeing heavenly judgments. All that is to say that most of God’s judgment takes place out of our sight. When we occasionally glimpse some of it (such as Saddam Hussein cowering in a hole in the ground), we shouldn’t think we are seeing all of it. God is great, and we will all eventually acknowledge that He was right about everything all along.
When I tell you that you are going to heaven, it is not in the hope that these words will convert you. Rather, I hope they will comfort you – and your family. Death is not the end for a human being, just as departure from a mother’s womb is not the end for the unborn child.
While you and I have disagreed about God, I have deeply admired the courage of your convictions. Most of all, I admire you for refusing to exchange your integrity for some story about God that would require you to compromise your integrity and lower your moral standards. You simply have not yet heard the pure and unadulterated story of Jesus Christ. He will speak to you even now in your heart…because He loves you, and He always has.