Christopher Hitchens Made Such a Vivid Impression

Christopher Hitchens passed this week.  I’ve written about him before.  And I’ve written to him as well.  Though he was an outspoken and proselytizing atheist, he could say interesting things that would actually encourage believers, even if in unintentional ways – as, for example, in an homage to the King James Bible.

R.W. Glenn of the Solid Food Media blog captures a very poignant and intriguing quote from Hitchens in the post My Favorite Atheist:

And then at one point – I think this is not on camera – I said if I could convert everyone in the world – not convert, convince – if I could convince everyone in the world to be a non-believer, and I’d really done brilliantly, and there’s only one [believer] left – one more, and then it’d be done: there’d be no more religion in the world, no more deism, theism, I wouldn’t do it. And Dawkins says, ‘What do you mean, you wouldn’t do it?’ I said, ‘I don’t quite know why I wouldn’t do it.’ And it’s not just because there’d be nothing left to argue with and no one left to argue with. It’s not just that. Though it would be that. Somehow, if I could drive it out of the world, I wouldn’t. And the incredulity with which he [Dawkins] looked at me stays with me still. I’ve got to say.

If you want to see video of Hitchens when he was speaking these words, click on this link to Justin Taylor’s blog post Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).  Justin has the video cued to the precise point, which is the conclusion of the documentary Collision.  Particularly in the wake of Hitchens’ death, it’s quite powerful.

4 Replies to “Christopher Hitchens Made Such a Vivid Impression”

  1. As a longtime observer and reader of Hitchens my hunch would be that Hitch possessed a certain affection for believers and for the historical contributions of religion towards enriching our culture. He himself attested to the beautiful art, sculpture, architecture and prose which arose out of the Western Christian tradition. From my observation of his debates with various fundamentalist clergymen, conducted in a spirit of good will, this affection would be consistent with his generally humane and compassionate character.

    Therefore I conclude that he simply meant that he would feel too much pity to strike the mortal blow. Perhaps he would have to pass the responsibility to less sentimental unbelievers like Dawkins 🙂

  2. Tony,

    You are, of course, entitled to your hunch.  Hitchens, however, seemed genuinely puzzled at himself (“I don’t quite know why I wouldn’t do it.”). And I think he was too self-aware, too articulate, and too much on record for those aspects you mentioned that he appreciated for your hunch to be true.  (Those things, by the way – “the beautiful art, sculpture, architecture and prose which arose out of the Western Christian tradition” – I consider useless when compared to the truth as taught by Jesus our Lord.

    In any case, neither of us will know for sure this side of heaven. How thankful I am everyone goes.

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