Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 25, 2016

"This was Christopher Hitchens"

And, to follow up on The Faith of Christopher Hitchens which I mentioned in class last week: I've finished it. It's well worth reading, giving us the startling picture of an improbable friendship between the firebrand atheist and Larry Taunton, a thoughtful and committed Christian from Alabama. They actually did a cross-country roadtrip together late in Hitch's life, studying and discussing the Bible (specifically the Book of John). But the author's speculation that Hitch may have been on the verge of a possible conversion, mirroring his earlier 9/11-inspired political conversion, is to me unpersuasive and ungenerous.

If you really want to understand Hitch's "faith" read Mortality, his moving memoir of illness and dying. He pretty clearly emerges from that account, and his widow's afterword, as an atheist who was at home in his terminal foxhole. He barely has time for the self-pitying "dumb question 'Why me'...?" Or, for why a committed atheist would befriend a theist. Nor have we.


  1. Final Report - What is my ideal afterlife?

    Part 1

    Why the Christian Heaven I was raised upon is NOT my ideal afterlife.

    As I’ve mentioned in class many times before, I was raised in a household that held the belief that we travel on to heaven after we die. I think a lot of my biggest struggles with my faith spawned from this notion of heaven. When I first began to question my own faith, one of the hardest aspects to give up was heaven. I wanted to cling to this idea of paradise and continued life after I died. I wanted to cling to the idea that I might one day be able to rejoice in the ghostly arms of my dead relatives after my own heart had stopped beating.

    However, when I finally made the decision to abandon to idea of heaven, I realized that it wasn’t even my own ideal choice of what could happen to me after I die. The Christian heaven that I was taught about was not a place that I wanted to go. This was a paradise and the only requirement to enter was the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. So every murderer and rapist who died confessing that Christ was God entered heaven? This does not sound like the sort of place in which I hope to spend eternity.

    Then there’s this idea that everything is good in heaven. So all murderers and rapists in heaven are somehow restricted from being evil people by this magical power in heaven that keeps people from doing bad things? I’ve already formed the opinion that good and bad are concepts that humans have created, so an all-good heaven can’t really exist to me, because good and bad are simply not concrete ideas. Does this mean that an all-good heaven is essentially a heaven where nobody does things that displease God? We’re told God gave us free will in life, and now we are stripped of that same privilege after we die.

    The most important part of life to me is the ability to make decisions. We are given brains and the gift of thought, and to me, it feels as if heaven may steal these gifts away from us. As much as I admire the idea of dying and seeing all my loved ones, how can I appreciate this all-good or all-God-pleasing heaven if there is no bad to contrast with it? If everything is good, then we will never make another important decision ever again after we die and go to heaven. Choosing between chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream on God’s endless heavenly ice cream buffet isn’t the sort of free will decisions I want to be making.

    Furthermore, the Christian heaven coexists with hell. I can’t will myself to believe that a more hellish place exists than a place where we are not given the option to be the people we want to be, and instead, are magically forced to be nice to each other every day. Heaven is not my ideal afterlife because heaven is boring and limited.

  2. I'm with you, looking for my heaven amidst the (figurative) cornfields (see "Field of Dreams") where I can still be ME...

    If you're not an Author, Evan, I'll send you an invite.