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Christopher Hitchens: A Confession

December 17th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Potpourri

This started out as a comment on Joel’s quite respectful comic about the death of Christopher Hitchens. In case you weren’t aware, Christopher Hitchens has been a pseudo-idol of mine for the entirety of the Current Farris Era (a little over a decade, I would guess). I was in a rather foul mood yesterday, due in part to this (from my perspective) abrupt but not shocking end to the man. The following is my attempt to convey how important his writings and persona are to me, as well as an admission that my love for Hitch is as deeply rooted in my own intellectual laziness as his eternal sparkle was conversely the result of his uncanny cerebral superpowers.

Christopher Hitchens was (and will forever be), aside from a great hero of mine, a very convenient crutch in a world of intelligent, well-meaning, and otherwise pleasant cow-orkers who, upon learning of my atheism, seek to “debate” with me over how untenable such a worldview is. After it becomes apparent that neither side is more open to re-evaluating a truth than the other, I often drop a copy of a Hitch book, essay, or article on their desk (or in their inbox) with a quick note along the lines of “Hey, it was fun, but this should explain why I’m really not interested in continuing this conversation.” Most of the time they send me a rebuttal such as “I see. I understand how someone such as yourself would be attracted to such a poorly-reasoned argument as Hitchens’s, but the evidence clearly indicates that he bases his conclusions more on emotion than fact.”

I get a good chuckle at that, refrain from taking the bait, and go on caring a lot less about who approves of my “worldview” than most of those folks do. Hitch just makes it very easy to find an eloquent way to end such a discussion, which is much different than trying to win one. I know I didn’t change the other guy’s mind, and I most likely didn’t even make him think twice about his position, but I do feel better having not fallen into the trap of getting upset over it beyond my capacity to hold my own intellectual ground.

And most of them do exactly the same thing for themselves with the writings of William Lane Craig. At the risk of sounding snotty (and feel free to chastise me if I indeed do): (A) Which of those two men is more entertaining to read or listen to? And (B) which name is better known?

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