New book about Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, resolute atheist, never yielded to conversion

The Culture
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Christopher Hitchens was a fascinating figure. Along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett he ranked as one of the “Four Horsemen” of the New Atheism. With them he popularized a whole new wave of atheism and gave credence to millions who wished to reject any notion of God. He was angry, he was bombastic, he was clever, he was compelling. It is little wonder that he gained a huge following and became a worldwide celebrity.

Yet even while he was adamantly opposed to Christianity, he maintained friendships with a number of Christians, one of whom was Larry Taunton. Taunton’s recent book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens tells the surprising and fascinating story of their relationship and also provides an examination of Hitchens’ life and beliefs. “This book is not a biography of Christopher Hitchens. My objective is not to recount his life, but to give some account for his soul.”

Looking at Hitchens’ younger days and the dawning of his atheism, Taunton says, “Christopher hated God and was determined that he should master and tyrannize him. To do so, however, he now needed the tools of warfare. In atheism he had found a principle that corresponded to his grievance. Now he had to weaponize it.” He weaponized it through words. As he grew in his skill as a communicator, he grew in his ability to defend atheism and to refute all forms of theism. He used his words boldly and constantly, though, as Taunton shows, he did so out of ignoble motives: “The danger here—and Christopher fell wholeheartedly into its snares—was developing a love of words insofar as they were weapons for attack and defense of his position, rather than loving words insofar as they lead to truth.”

While there is little doubt that Hitchens had an acerbic wit and great skill with the pen, there is equally little doubt that he was often in over his head. He allowed his wit to compensate and distract from his ignorance in certain areas where he professed to be an expert. “Christopher was, remember, an actor, bluffing his opponents into overestimating his intellectual prowess.” Yet that bluffing was remarkably effective. While he may have lost many debates, he continued to win the hearts and minds of his many admirers.

This article continues at [] The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

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