Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, at age 62. He was a writer of considerable skill, and had become one of the public faces of New Atheism. I just read a comment on his life which quoted a speech he gave in October at the annual Atheist Alliance of America convention in Houston. The point was that Hitchens clung fiercely to his denial of God right to the end:
“We have the same job we always had: to say that there are no final solutions; there is no absolute truth; there is no supreme leader; there is no totalitarian solution that says if you would just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you would just give up, if you would simply abandon your critical faculties, the world of idiotic bliss can be yours.”
Other than the assertions that there is no absolute truth and there is no supreme being – which someone as smart as Christopher Hitchens had to know he couldn’t prove – I would say the job of the Christian overlaps very much with what Hitchens saw as the job of the atheist. May we never give up on inviting people into the Kingdom, a place where there is no totalitarian reign, where freedom of inquiry will be rewarded with joyous understanding, where the active embrace of our critical faculties serves the end of knowing God, caring for the world God has given us, and cultivating the beauty within it. I do see that as bliss, and if it is idiotic, then let me be a holy fool.