Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thanks be to God for an anti-theist

I’ve wasted too much time this morning trying to track to its published or spoken source this Christopher Hitchens quote:

“Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me.”
Hitchens, master of the English language, critic, pundit, self-described contrarian and militant anti-theist, died Thursday at age 62 of esophageal cancer.

If a life lived fully is its own reward, Hitchens had it. All about that can be found in great detail all over the Web.

So far as eternal reward is concerned --- another matter. Some have consigned him straight to hell; others see him perched before a celestial laptop preparing to write an essay recanting what he got wrong in “God is Not Good: How Religion Poisons Everything,” the 2007 book that drew him broadest attention, and related musings.

Hitchens apparently anticipated nothing at all, other than perhaps release --- the inevitability of which he acknowledged but did not welcome.

So far as I know there is no significance to the fact he died during Advent, approaching Christmas, a season he characterized (Slate, Dec. 15, 2008) as a “moral and aesthetic nightmare.” I have no knowledge concerning his eternal destination.

But I do tend to think that in Hitchens’ death, Christianity and other faith constructs (most notably of late Islam) that he relished excoriating lost a prophetic voice, someone who challenged assumptions, complacency, laziness and the tendency to engage in magic thinking. Some call that blasphemy.

The only sure thing about faith is that it does involve surrender of reason because it is intuitive, rising from within, often perceived as directly linked to the great Without.

Hitchens was right about that. Nothing about Christianity, for example, can be proven --- although there certainly are those who try. Scriptural “proofs” are proofs only for those who are (irrationally) led to believe that scripture is valid, however.

I may see God in evolving creation. Others see only the objective fruits of evolution.

Christians rely on what we sometimes call the Holy Spirit, indwelling link to Creator, for that leading and others. But that, too, is experiential, and in the end irrational as well.

What we can do rationally is evaluate the outcome, perhaps even the validity during this life at least, of our own irrational faith and that of others by looking at the fruit faith bears.

Hitchens' leading may have been to point out harshly that the fruits of faith are most often flawed, frequently rotten and occasionally pure poison. Thanks be to God for Christopher Hitchens.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Amen to that.