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Christopher Hitchens an atheist in the foxhole?

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

Christopher Hitchens

From Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True blog (October 9, 2011), we learn: “Hitchens makes rare appearance in Texas”:

Christopher Hitchens showed up at the Texas Freethought Convention, where he appeared in a discussion with Richard Dawkins and received the Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year Award:

Still,

In introducing Hitchens and presenting him with the award that bears his name, Dawkins said that the old religious line that there are “no atheists in foxholes” is disproven daily by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is dying and he knows it, but stares reality in the eye without blinking, Dawkins said.

Coyne comments,

There seems to be no more pretense about whether Hitchens will survive his cancer, a situation that’s ineffably sad.

Apparently, Hitchens has been taking treatments for his esophageal cancer in Houston, so this isn’t one that can be blamed on Britain’s NHS (as as commenter has pointed out, he is a naturalized US citizen now). Here’s more from Chron.com. (More on survival rates for this cancer.)

Curiously, Christopher Hitchens’ brother Peter used to be an atheist too:

On a cycling trip to Burgundy he saw Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th-century Last Judgment, and this made a lasting impression. “I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of hell. I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.

I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.”

As so often, it was guilt, not fear, that changed his mind. The problem was not, what if I cease to exist at death, but yikes!, what if I don’t?

Here’s the two brothers in debate:

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9 Responses to Christopher Hitchens an atheist in the foxhole?

  1. What was that about not blaming Britain’s NHS?

    Why would you want to?

  2. …the Texas Freethought Convention…

    I find this “free-thought” self-identification thing on the part of atheistic Darwinists to be fascinating, because they have become the most virulent enemies of free thought, especially in academia and public education.

    Challenge Darwinian orthodoxy–i.e., the near-infinite creative power of random mutations and natural selection in the history of life–on purely logical, mathematical, evidential, and computational grounds, and you are somehow an enemy of free thought.

    No discussion of such challenges will be allowed, and those who hint that they have even minor misgivings about Darwinian orthodoxy must be punished with dismissal, denial of tenure, and the destruction of their reputations.

    This is the “free-thinking” universe of the Freethinkers.

  3. Liz,

    Take up my challenge and just pretend with your colleagues that you have thought about some of the ideas presented by the ID community, and you think that they deserve at least some consideration.

    I’ll bet that you will be threatened with immediate excommunication. At that point you can tell your inquisitors that you we just performing an intellectual experiment, and that you are indeed a devout disciple of Darwin. No worries.

  4. The same thing goes for the “Skeptic” label. Apparently most of them don’t realize that if you’re skeptical of what everyone else believes and utterly certain and invested in what you believe, you’re not much of a skeptic. You’re just yet another non-skeptic who thinks everyone else is wrong.

  5. Particularly since Hitchens is a naturalized US citizen…

  6. What has ID got to do with the British NHS

  7. Tell you what Gil-give me the strongest idea of ID, the empirical evidence supporting it, and a functional hypothesis I could test as as result.

    If it isn’t inherently stupid, already done, or something scientists are acutely aware of, I’ll present it to my colleagues at our next happy hour.

  8. test

  9. Rational thought is preferable to “free” thought. Rational thought is tightly constrained by the rules of reason, or if you prefer, the first principles of reason. Free thought is an oxymoron. And aren’t these people usually in the business of denying free will? How is there free thought without free will???

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