Why Christopher Hitchens is not Great

Posted: May 06, 2007 12:00 AM

The Marxist views of Christopher Hitchens have long been evident. His simple, logical support for a strong response to 9/11 had earned him as bestowed by his fellow leftists the label "necon" which he steadfastly refutes. In reality Christopher Hitchens is an angry man whose anger - while many times is justifiable - is also misplaced. The promotional tour he has embarked upon in the marketing of his newest book Why God Is Not Great demonstrates it.

When asked why he begrudged people the right to seek comfort in the thought of the Almighty he responded:

"Well, I say in the book... Absolutely fine by me if you want to believe this stuff, if you want to believe that a holy person is someone who avoids the birth canal in both directions for example. If your prophet, like every other prophet that's ever been recorded in history, had a virgin for a mother, why they think it would prove the truth of the doctrines is beyond me, but let them believe it - it's fine... as long as they leave me alone!"

He went on to support the idea that religion does oppress people because:

"They do not (leave me alone)! They want to ban the distribution of condoms in Africa. They say, 'AIDS is bad, but not as bad as condoms are.' Billions of people die on this proposition. They say they don't want me to benefit from stem cell research when I get sick... If they are Muslims they say that if I don't respect their prophet then I'm in physical danger. The parties of god are as we speak, everyday, ruining, destroying, laying waste to Iraqi society, something we can't be exactly indifferent to. A cartoonist in Denmark is not allowed to practice his trade for fear of murder or worse. And we're fed up with this... So no, they can not keep this wonderful belief as to themselves!"

His third major pillar of criticism was then leveled:

"They believe that they have a destiny in paradise, if they just observe a few stupid rules. They have a God who loves them and cares for them. Well if you believed a thing like that wouldn't you be really happy? What could hurt you? And this shows the stupidity and insecurity of the belief."

Hitchens also readily admits that he is not a scientist and that the argument of his book is to be understood from the "every man" perspective.

Even a cursory examination of Hitchens' thinking on the matter points out some needed observations. To begin with Hitchens' argument is flawed from its origin. His view that all world religions can and should be clumped into one pile of philosophical material is dishonest. As such it is illegitimate to argue against the validity of Islam and the claims of Christianity simultaneously. The distinctions that divide such belief systems are not incidental to the matter, but essential.

Hitchens blatantly misleads when he claims the "virgin birth" prophecy of the Old Testament is a wide spread historical claim of many religions. It is not, not in its most essential understanding.

But he moves beyond being wrong on substance, specifically in his claims against Christianity, to being wrong on methodologies. And again, context means everything. Evangelicals don't measure the issue of AIDS in Africa and do comparative analysis between which is worse - sexual behavior or sexual disease. Evangelicals make the argument that the sexual behavior leads to the sexual disease and that in educating people on the realities of the actual actions - lives can be saved. If education is the key, teaching someone that using a condom "may" protect them from a deadly disease is far less helpful than teaching them that a certain action will "always" protect them from it. And to assert that Africans are so animal-like in their ability to control themselves that they are incapable of making such choice is racist and violates the most fundamental of humanist’s beliefs

Christians do not make their case simply on the idea that, "God says condoms are evil." Rather the long view of God shows that He created us, and in doing so gave us guidance on the absolute best way to go about life.

On stem cell research he again makes an elemental straw-man comparison. The majority of Christians on the planet today support the overwhelming majority of stem cell research. The single form of research many object to is embryonic stem cells in which the life of a child is taken for no more of a reason than to experiment upon it. In addition the revelation that placenta cells are more plentiful, more concentrated, and always come from the birth of a child, should finally put his ill-conceived straw man to bed.

Hitchens does the most disservice to his readers and listeners when he attempts to equivocate Christianity to Islam. No where in Christianity does the doctrine, text, or deity call for the cutting off the heads of those who simply disagree. No where does the biblical text instruct Christians to wage jihad for minor doctrinal differences. Jesus himself forgave the adulterer and told her accusers to only punish her if they themselves were innocent.

In Hitchens' last flailing attempt to level criticism he asserts the keeping of rules is the ticket to paradise, and such rules are stupid and insecure. Never mind the fact that someone with Hitchens' intimidating intellect wasn't even honest enough in the construct of his argument to note that Christianity is in fact NOT a religion of rules. Rather the message of Christ's death and resurrection was simple, "you're not capable of keeping rules." Hence the sacrifice Jesus Christ went through - to use a biblical word - atoned for our sins. He paid the price we owed.

Hitchens has a soul that is angry. He sees the evil of 9/11 and has no capacity to explain it. His own indulgence resists the moral guidance God has left for him. He has saturated his mind with the far less believable claims of Marx, Darwin, and Einstein. Yet even he has not escaped the moral outrage that God put within him at the site of Islamic terrorism, the sweeping pandemic of AIDS in Africa, and the hypocrisy of "religious" leaders who still fall short of God's standards.

Hitchens' contempt is real, it is justified, and for the most part it stems from one source - though that source is not God, the Creator, but rather the sin of man's heart. In experiencing this contempt he even projects it upon others. By claiming that people are not made "happy" by the "God who loves them," Hitchens perpetrates one more falsehood. Christians are happy, filled with joy, secure in their purpose and direction. They are "enthusiastic." Which is a very accurate depiction of Christianity. The word's Greek origin meant literally "the God who dwells within." Christians today refer to Him as "the Holy Spirit."

At night when Christopher Hitchens lays his head on his pillow, there is a truth that washes over him that he can not escape. None of us can. And it is good for us to recognize it...

"There is a God, and I'm not him!"