Yes, I know Hitchens has been dead for a while and that this article may seem a tad late (more than a month to be precise!), but since the ‘religious’ community (that is to say those who believe in God) has been mute on the subject, I thought it pertinent to say something. It isn’t that I’ve written this monologue as some sadistic form of religiously inspired gloat nor do I intend to offer a polemic refutation of atheism, but I think it useful to draw some meaning from the death of an ungodly celebrity who amongst both the irreligious and religious alike improperly found a shared level of respect. The sentiment of many theists is puzzling to say the least; clearly those whom Hitchens held in contempt are completely lost in the secular paradox of calls for the religious to be tolerant whilst the irreligious utter their bigoted profanities.
It is in being intimidated by Hitchen’s rhetorical debasement that the notion of believing in God has become amongst many a bit passé. Dawkins has repeatedly been exposed as an idiot unable to articulate himself with the same oratorical vigour as Hitchens, the true stalwart of New Atheism. But as was inevitable, the western media has announced the death of the disbeliever, and for the furore his eloquent words once created there is now an eerie silence. Most theists are quietly pleased, since public displays of delight at the demise of secularism’s flag-bearer is indeed blasphemy, an irony given that the champion of disbelief had no misgiving in declaring war on God.
Death has regrettably become a taboo subject in secular societies – many don’t relish the idea of having to deal with delicate subjects that question the basis of their materialistic self-worth and hedonistic tendencies, and as a result if anyone is seen to deal with the phenomenon we assume it some transcendent manifestation of their courage. But given that death is a distinct certainty, dealing with its onset cannot rationally be considered bravery. (What would you do otherwise, kill yourself?) Like the many thousands of people who contract terminal cancer every year Christopher Hitchens saw his end in sight. Admirers of all kinds, both theists and atheists, had swamped Hitchens with messages of prayer and gratitude, but with his customary egotism he scorned the belief of well-wishers. Christopher Hitchens was indeed the archetypal disbeliever, he adorned himself with a conceited demeanour underpinned by arrogant flippancy and an insatiable appetite for alcohol and impertinence. Yet given his extreme hatred for God, theists still felt it commendable (and a moral principle in this case quite clearly defined by the secular) to pay him unmerited good wishes.
Of course, my questioning the desirability to do so will be seen to many as distasteful, perhaps even offensive, yet for all those scorned, vilified and insulted, surely a bit more backbone should be the order of the day. Having been dead for over a month, even the pious have viewed it sacrilegious to mention Hitchens in a negative light, and alongside the worshipful homage paid by comrades-at-arms in addition to hymns of praise declaimed for the beloved, the religious community has either looked on timidly with an expression of bewilderment or felt contented to join in with the ungodly adulation. Some Christians will undoubtedly remind us of theological notions such as loving thy enemy and turning the other cheek, but this is not a personal matter between two people (the context of which the biblical verses refer to) but a situation where a man declares war against God. It is in this context that the Prophet King David orated, as stated in the Psalms,
Save us, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man… may the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”… You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
An insightful chapter that indeed addresses the current situation, our Christian brethren would do well to take note of this Davidic prayer addressed against who brag, with self-conceitedness, that never shall they be conquered by a higher power for they will prevail over God and the godly by what they say. Has not the vileness of Hitchens been exalted amongst the children of man with his eloquence the solitary basis of his celebrated notoriety? Rather conversely, Noam Chomsky once stated in an interview that “we don’t want to be swayed by superficial eloquence, by emotion and so on” and in response to the charge of being boring he asserted, “If I had the capacity to be a good speaker, which I don’t, I wouldn’t use it. I’m a boring speaker and I like it that way, I doubt that people are attracted to whatever the persona is; people are interested in the issues, and they’re interested in the issues because they are important.” Adulators have persistently overlooked the perfunctory approach adopted by Hitchens, and instead, the seeming profundity his articulacy deceivingly portrays has served to effortlessly dupe the supposed God-conscious. The philosopher David Hume quite brilliantly articulated the reality of the Hitchens line of attack in the famed excerpt,
eloquence, at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection, but addresses itself entirely to the desires and affections, captivating the willing hearers, and subduing their understanding.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than the debates Hitchens took part in during the latter part of his life where instead of providing substantial material that would appeal to both reason and reflection, he opted for articulate means of deprecating his opponents, and with the use of engaging articulacy would simply mock rivals positing simplistic arguments. His most celebrated anti-God/religion arguments have always lacked the most basic precepts of logic, and by ridiculing religious inductive reasoning he essentially ridiculed the very form of argument he himself would polemically present. He scorned “the stupid belief in an Earth-centered or man-centered (let alone God-centered) system,” yet built his worldview around the very limited human intellect, stating that “we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason.” This argument similarly posited by the Mu’tazilite and other speculative theologians was trampled on by generations of orthodox and early Muslim intellectuals who showed that any argument positing the supremacy of (human) reason was quite clearly man-centered belief. The offerings of Hitchens has never been more than the generic post-enlightenment concept of religion where he and his comrades have been unable to distinguish between religious theology and the actions of adherents, and where at its core New Atheism simplistically paints the world as needing moral relief from barbaric superstition. However, in addressing this unfounded foolishness the Cambridge academic Tim Winters (also known as Abdal Hakim Murad) asserts that it is quite questionable as to how we can have an ethics based society, if, as these fools opine, we should return to our simian nature, one where we are driven by the selfish gene – ultimately the principle that should, as they desire, drive all human action. He further argues that the humanism these and other atheists demand is in fact not humanism at all, “for if we mean by it the valorising of the higher ethical possibilities of the human condition and a true regard for our humanity rather than the unpleasant image of simian human nature then atheists have truly betrayed the humanistic ideal – it is not true humanism since they believe in monkeys and not human beings in terms of the great expressions of humanity – everything that has made us categorically different from animals. Inherently, humanism is not possible outside of the religious context.”
The atheist notion that we should to return to carnal intemperance is nothing more than a staunch insistence to continue with current moral degeneration and nonchalantly renounce God. The ideal most proliferated by these New Atheists is one of immorality, an example we find in the atheist bus campaign telling us that “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The ‘enjoyment’ the ad refers to is to commit those things Abrahamic faithstypically tend to censure – lewdness, general moral degeneracy and respect for fellow man. As articulated in various outlets, this world view is one which cares little for the value of morality and upholds the highest virtue as one based on selfish indulgences that pay little attention to the persisting harms that afflict society.
Martin Amis, a close friend of Hitchens, held that “atheism sounds like a proof of something, and it’s incredibly evident that we are nowhere near intelligent enough to understand the universe.” Indeed the militant secular atheism espoused by Hitchens, Dawkins and others is a staunch position which offers not the slightest vestige of proof for its grandest claim, that there is no God. Yet, individuals like Dawkins are ready to accept that in the unlikely event of there being a Creator, it is very possible that extra-terrestrial beings, themselves either created or a product of evolution, came to the world and created humans. Thus we find that the issue isn’t one of the impossibility of design (with Dawkins affirming the signature of a Creator) but that the Creator simply cannot be God. This anti-God ideology is not only unsubstantiated but also a hateful concept that exists to berate believers and detest an entity New Atheists subsequently claim doesn’t exist.
This fictitious and hostile narrative which pits itself against religion – an expression of “crude, uncultured human mammals” according to Hitchens (note the irony!), illiberally claims that religion should be eradicated since believers, no matter how secular, will inevitably impose their ideas on non-believers through interaction with the state and society. The incongruity with such a view is the expectation of such disbelievers that we should stand aside and allow them to rule over us with their vile irreverence imposing their non-belief on us.
It is clear that the most atheists have demonstrated is their unfathomable hatred for God and the unholy desire to destroy anything God-related. Allah the Most High mocks these simpletons for their futile efforts saying,
This verse profoundly portrays the vain attempts of the disbelievers to overcome God with their feeble armaments, indeed as al-Tabari put it in his masterful exegesis, it is as useless as attempting to blot out sunlight with your words, or to offer another example, holding up a sieve as a sunshade. The ineffectiveness of such efforts not only shows how much of a waste of time it is, but also the idiocy of the one attempting such a silly gesture.
In another place Allah staunchly establishes that,
Ibn Kathir, in his famed exegesis surveyed the notions presented in these two verses stating that “the Most High declares the aforementioned verse informing us of the state of the disbeliever – obdurate and hostile towards God and His Messenger… they (the disbelievers) stand on one side with guidance and truth on the other.” He went on to explore the implications of points raised stating that Allah “ordained and wrote in His first book as well as decreeing that never might His message be oppose, rejected or changed, and that actual victory would only be reserved for God, His book, His Messengers and His believing slaves, both in this life and hereafter.” This idea is then reinforced by the end of the verse that Allah is mighty and powerful, the significance of these attributes being that He shall overcome obstinately aggressive disbelievers with His might and power, “this being a decisive pronouncement and inescapable affair.”
Hitchens was neither controversial nor distinctively courageous as claimed, but merely a reactionary like so many others. Having witnessed both 9/11 and 7/7, he simplistically concluded that religion was the source of all evil and therefore must be exterminated. His views and those of his comrades are nothing but a symptom of a growing militant atheism we find in contemporary societies. The obsession to diminish the religious with its ever growing adherence is borne out through the creation of an illiberal psyche, one that must lay blame for contemporary political woes at the door of belief, or more pedantically put, God himself.
Furthermore, as is the case with the moral relativism of atheists, seldom are they able to formulate rudiments that establish a consistent pattern of behaviour. Lauded as courageous, Hitchens, we are told, needed to confront bullies and tyrants, yet his concurrence with former President Bush over the Iraqi invasion exposed the incongruous and perhaps true nature of the beast, from his rudimentary analysis of terrorism and its causes to the obtuse argument that the invasion of a sovereign state is justified by the wicked nature of its leader (since Hitchens would have then argued for the invasion of countless other states besides Iraq).
The fact is that Hitchens is dead, as will we all be, and God is alive. No matter how dismissive New Atheists wish to be about religion, people are, and will, enter into faith in droves. Current statistics show us that not only is religion making an extraordinary resurgence, but that Islam – according to atheists the worst of all religions, is the fastest growing religion in the west. Victory for this round, unfortunately for the atheists, goes to God, and never can there be one in which it doesn’t.
“When comes the aid of Allah and the victory, and you see that the people enter the religion of God in crowds, then glorify (God) by praising your Lord and seeking His forgiveness. Verily, He is the one who is continually forgiving.”