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Christopher Hitchens’ Beef with God

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 17, 2010

I couldn’t help but notice The Week’s June 4th sidebar on Christopher Hitchens, the English-born author of the 2007 book God is Not Great. The Week’s claim to value is that it summarizes what everybody else is saying—from a variety of viewpoints—about the many issues which other publications report or comment on directly. I’ve recently subscribed to the print edition to better keep up with such things; there is also a website at www.theweek.com, but this is not a recommendation.

As I say, the sidebar on Hitchens caught my attention, as he is one of the more prominent “new atheists”, whose ideas are frequently linked with those of British scientist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 2006). This is so true, in fact, that when British literary theorist Terry Eagleton commented on their work, he lumped Hitchens with Dawkins to create a sort of anti-ChesterBelloc called “Ditchkins”. That’s good fun in itself, but not the point I’m slowly approaching.

It seems that Ditchkins—er, Hitchens—recently wrote a memoir creatively entitled Hitch-22, which has been reviewed in both the London Guardian and the London Times. According to the Guardian review, Hitchens reveals that “before he became known as a hard-drinking womanizer, he was enthusiastically bisexual, from his adolescent days at a British boarding school until his looks ‘declined to the point where only women would go to bed with me’.” Somehow one is not surprised. Has anyone besides myself noticed the correlation, in the modern period, between lack of sexual self-control and either religious dissidence or the rejection of God?

And according to the Times review, Hitchens seems to recognize in his memoir that “his opinions are fueled more by his heart than by his head.” Again, one is not surprised. Has anyone else noticed this tendency in those who protest too much against either orthodoxy or God Himself? One is reminded of the quarrel in Greek philosophy between those who argued that everything is material and those who argued that everything is in the mind. The two opinions have been jokingly described as the schools of no matter and never mind. In a related sense, the motive for rejecting God is often passion or pride, but never mind—which is to say, rarely rational.

Anyway, these points are taken from Hitchens’ own book. I just though you should know.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: BLRallo3059 - Jun. 19, 2010 8:54 AM ET USA

    Promiscuity has always been at the top of my list as a root cause for the lack of faith. But my other favorite contender is intellectual arrogance. How many in the educated classes scorn the idea a God smarter than themselves? My very first exposure to public ridicule for being a Catholic came at the hands of a college chemistry professor: he told me in front of several of my classmates that my beliefs were "medieval." I was a Chem major...he was not good for my GPA.

  • Posted by: Salome - Jun. 17, 2010 4:30 PM ET USA

    "Has anyone besides myself noticed the correlation, in the modern period, between lack of sexual self-control and either religious dissidence or the rejection of God?" Yes. I was beginning to think I was alone.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Jun. 17, 2010 3:22 PM ET USA

    Interesting - and in my experience it is the charge of irrationality that is most often hurled against theists.

  • Posted by: Gaby - Jun. 17, 2010 2:10 PM ET USA

    The correlation is so strong that someone should conduct a formal survey.

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