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Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson: The God that Christopher Hitchens would need

Shortly before he died, fighting to the end, Christopher Hitchens gave an interview to Richard Dawkins (in the New Statesman: well worth tracking down). It was predictable that, defiant to the end, he would use it to reaffirm his atheism. But there were two other comments on religious themes which were less expected. Hitch said that he was unhappy about abortion. The debate could not be reduced to simple Leftist sloganising about "A woman's right to choose". Christopher clearly recognised that as apprentice human beings, foetuses have rights too. Although he did not offer a way of resolving the issue, he did at least recognise its complexity.

Discussing Jesus, there was an echo of C.S.Lewis. There is a widespread modern tendency to proclaim Jesus to be an ethical teacher of outstanding power while gently deriding His claims to be Divine: so old-fashioned, don't you think? Just as Lewis did, Hitch points out the problem. Christ Himself did not separate His teachings from His claim to be the Son of God. So if He was talking nonsense about His origins, why should we take Him seriously on anything else? Again, Christopher posed the question without suggesting an answer, but this was all typical of his restless intellectual honesty, which is why he eventually fell out with almost all the Lefties. Leftie-kind cannot bear very much reality.

No-one could ever make that claim about Christopher Hitchens. He was often wrong, but never for want of intellectual honesty. At this season of hope and re-birth, Christian readers might think of praying for his soul, which could be hard work. Hitch would need a God with a sense of humour, a delight in combative prose and a thick skin.

Merry Christmas!


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