I was watching a Christopher Hitchens video recently, a debate he had with an atheist-turned-Christian.
This is really my first time watching Hitchens. I’ve heard about how great he is, and now I can highly recommend his videos.
He has his own distinct style, and comes across very strong. I wouldn’t have been able to handle him in the first months of my deconversion.
I couldn’t bear to pick up a book called God is Not Great, or one that called God a ‘delusion’ or a ‘virus.’ I still loved Jesus, even though I no longer truly believed in him. I felt like any direct attack on God would be an attack on everything good and true that I believed.
Instead, I read the testimonies of ex-Christians.
As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house and could do so without being caught, I bought Dan Barker’s Godless and John Loftus’ Why I Became an Atheist. Later I picked up Deconverted by Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist.
I read blogs and forums, seeking out deconversion stories. I began visiting exChristian.net regularly. I devoured Dan’s Deconversion on the Camels With Hammers blog. I read Rechelle Unplugged’s journey into atheism. I picked up on GodlessInDixie.com. I searched Libby Anne’s blog for stories of how she had left the faith—she called it throwing out the bathwater but not finding a baby.
They all attacked belief in Jesus, but in a respectful, more muted way. They understood what it was like to love Jesus, and how much time it can take to really let him go.
I wasn’t ready for Hitchens then; but when I watch him now I find him fascinating and even a little exciting.
My atheism at first had such an apologetic quality to it. I was thinking, yes, it looks like God doesn’t exist, but I’m really sad about it! I really wish God did exist! I think the world would be better if he did! I don’t reject your entire Christian reality, I just see problems with the ultimate truth of it!
The ex-Christians I read didn’t encourage that mindset, but they let me live with it for a while longer. Hitchens is different.
Hitchens doesn’t argue that Christians are immoral people. His number one argument is that the idea of God—an ultimate force controlling everything— is in itself immoral. Not only is God immoral because of all the bad things done in the old and new testaments, but the very concept of an omnipotent dictator is harmful. Hitchens believes humankind can be good. And he is proud to be a human being.
He believes humans can become great. He believes we can learn to do good, and stop doing evil. He believes we’re learning to be more fair, more loving, more free, and that we can continue to do so. And he believes that appeals to a deity detract from the work we’ve done, and even threaten to move us backward.
This man is proud to be a godless human, and for the first time, I can understand that. It’s a real shift in perspective.