Did Famous Atheist Christopher Hitchens Convert Before Death?
Hitchens’ friendship with a Christian has brought his reputation as an Atheist into question.
Based on the new book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist by renowned evangelical Christian writer Larry Alex Taunton, the uber-atheist Christopher Hitchens considered converting to Christianity.
Did Famous Atheist Christopher Hitchens Convert Before Death?[/tweetthis]
The book, published by Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson already sold out, creating so much buzz and sparking major pro and anti-atheism debates including TV shows on FOX and MSNBC. The book goes into detail on the unexpected friendship between the two men and details most of their private conversations. After being diagnosed with esophageal cancer which he succumbed to some 18 months later at 62, Christopher Hitchens the best-selling author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, apparently made a serious impact on his life.
The two met back in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2008 at a religious debate. Hitchens was known for taking part in many religious debates with well-known Christians. A long lasting friendship, both privately and in the public eye, resulted from then and Taunton would often arrange and moderate religious debates between Hitchens and noteworthy Christians in addition to doing joint interviews. The two travelled together twice on lengthy road trips after Hitchens’ diagnosis and from Taunton’s recollections of their conversations, the major basis of the book and his claims was formulated. Taunton states that he read chapters of the book of John on their trips and basically discussed Christianity with Christopher, debates that left Christopher with major doubts about his atheism and he contemplated converting.
He concludes that Hitchens failed to convert as he had created too big a reputation and built his whole life and wealth on his atheism to convert to Christianity.
After the 2001 fatal terrorist attacks, Hitchens notably supported the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars being very anti Islamo-facism. This was a major bonding point with evangelical Christians. In the book, Hitchens states that Christopher felt a strong cause for alarm based on the dangers of Islam with Quran quotes such as “infidels must pay a tax, convert or die", which could lead to serious repercussions if taken seriously.
The worst criticism has however come from Christopher’s closest friends and family. Steve Wasserman, who is the executive editor for Yale University Press, was a lifelong friend of Hitchens and co-executor of his estate. He termed the book’s claims as petty and appalling, saying it showed a lack of respect as the claims which go against everything Christopher believed in are largely unverifiable.
Benjamin Schwarz, who was Hitchens’ editor at The Atlantic states that Christopher’s tolerance for evangelicals was testament to his good nature and not to any covert religiosity.
In "the Faith of Christopher Hitchens" by @LarryTaunton we get a portrait of how to build bridges for real dialogue with unbelievers.
— Rice Broocks (@ricebroocks) April 24, 2016
Another critic is Michael Shermer, an atheist and the founder of Skeptic magazine. Despite liking the relationship between the two men, Shermer claims Taunton exaggerated Hitchens’ “flirtation with conversion.”
Taunton is also known to be friendly with other well-known atheists such as British scientist Richard Dawkins.
- Religion News Service
- World Religion News
- Christian Post
- Amazon – The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist
- Amazon – God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything