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Friday, September 3, 2010

30 Days of Blasphemy - Day 3 - Hitchens, Conversion, and Atheist Blasphemy

I was reflecting on Christopher Hitchens today - Atheist (I will reiterate my big A Atheist policy: If Goddies bend and break secular laws then I can capitalize Atheist), prolific author, and Oxford graduate who is sooo smart it makes lesser mortals' heads hurt. I was reading a recent article by Hitchens in Slate titled White Fright. White Fright is Hitchens' take on Glenn Beck's "Honoring Rallies for Honor" or was it "Rallies Honoring Rallies?" Whatever. His point is that white folks will soon be a minority in the USA and the Tea Party movement along with Beck's brand of demagoguery is a fear based reaction to that fact. Whether or not Mr. Hitchens' has been able to read the tea leaves correctly he brings up a salient fact: Power will be switching hands from one group to another set of people. The transferal of power is historically a dangerous time. One of the achievements of the young Republic is that Washington handed the reigns of power to John Adams who then handed them off to Thomas Jefferson. The US is the exception while Napoleon's seizure of power (who famously stated while in prison, They wanted me to be another Washington) typifies the danger.

But I digress.

Hitchens, as most of you know, is suffering from esophageal cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes and lungs (here is a link to an interview about the topic). He is undergoing treatment but acknowledges that he is dieing and states, "I will be a very lucky person to live another five years."  Being such a public figure for Atheism his cancer has brought out a strong reaction by Christians anywhere from, "I will pray for you," to, "This is God's judgment!" Of course, a common plea from the faithful is for the man to convert while he is still alive in order to gain Gods favor now (miraculous healing anyone?) and/or in the after life (maybe there are major perks for converted Atheists in heaven?). Hithchens response is that if he does convert then it will be because the cancer has gone to his brain and affected his cognitive ability.

Maybe... maybe not.

 Pascal's Wager states : Is it safer to believe in God even if there is no proof that one exists?  I gave a short answer in a previous post (click here). It's clear that the logical answer to Pascal's Wager is a resounding no. However, religion works on emotions. It is easy for me to say Pascal's Wager is bunk because I am not old (though not young) and in good health. The threat of death is not imminent, but I hesitate to dogmatically state I will go Pfffffft! (my sound of disdain) to the Wager so easily when elderly even if I do not suffer from any cognitive impairment. And I'm not saying that it's common for Atheists to find God  when faced with death (there are many Atheists in the military).  Sure, there are ways of predicting future behavior. My Behavioral Psych professor stated: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  What I am stating is that all we have is the best guess  about anything - whether it's about the existence of God, who we will be in love with, or even who we will be (in terms of beliefs) in five, ten, or twenty years in the future.

Ultimately, Atheism can suck. No Sky Fairy. No miracles. No after life/ magic candy mountain.  To illustrate Atheism's strengths I'll play off Winston Churchill's quote about democracy, Atheism is a horrible unless you compare it to any form of theism.  That's not a great bumper sticker. What is amazing is that there aren't less of us

If Hitchens converts (whether he has cognitive impairment or not) I'm not going to hold it against him.

For Christsakes, the man's got cancer.

This is Purgatory.

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