Christopher Hitchens, leader of the "new atheists" died this past week, and I have to admit my reaction was less than stellar. I think I said something like, "Well I wonder what he thinks of his atheism now?" Ugly.
The man is dead. He now has to face the consequence of judgement. I deserve judgement too. I don't deserve the eternal life I have.
There was a part of me that was saddened by the loss. A better part that saw the intellect, the impact and the keen pursuit of truth (albeit having gone in the wrong direction) that had made him a force to be reckoned with in academia.
Of course I'd never sat down and read anything he'd written ("so typical Philip"), but I had read stuff about him and had heard he made more sense than Richard Dawkins (which doesn't seem to be hard to do). So I've been doing some YouTube searches this morning and listened to a few of his arguments and debates.
(OK, I watched this video after I wrote this post, and now I'm even more deeply saddened that he's gone.)
I guys like him and the "new atheists" for two reasons: First, they are very passionate about faith. Albeit they are passionate about not having any faith. But their very passion,curiosity and intellectual curiosity remind me of their Creator. Second, they are underdogs. Now I'm not sure this is the case, but they consistently paint themselves as individuals who are persecuted for not having faith. Perhaps...
As I read the verse above, I was struck by the biblical view of being cool. Having a cool spirit, one who "restrains his words has knowledge". How often have I been duped into arguments with atheists, or people with different opinions and have furiously argued my point without ever realizing that what I'm searching for is not truth or knowledge but being right and being better.
As Christopher Hitchens has now found out that he is tragically wrong, my hope is that we Christians, who hold the truth that has been given to us and not realized by our superior intellect, will find empathy and mercy leading the way in our discussions with those who oppose the faith. At least that is my hope for me, and for the future atheists that cross my path. Hitchens is getting what I deserve, and I should be more upset by this.
(These thoughts spurred on by Walt Mueller's blog post at: http://learningmylines.blogspot.com/2011/12/christopher-hitchens-is-dead-how-did.html)