You might know who Christopher Hitchens is, or was. He died in 2011.
He was a very intelligent man, and I’m sure that debating him was an impossible task. He had a good memory for history, and he could defend his ideas aggressively. I would never want to be on a stage debating hum.
Probably his best-known book is “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” He was a militant atheist, and he was very entertaining as he spoke against religion and God. After the 9-11 attacks, he often argued against the religion of Islam. He also believed that the Christian evangelist Billy Graham was an evil liar, and he said so openly.
READ: Christopher Hitchens
In 2011, at the age of 62, while he was on a speaking tour, he was rushed to a hospital. The doctors discovered that he had cancer, and he died a year and a half later. His words are still with us, in books and recordings.
So, was he correct? Is all religion evil?
1) He is wrong:
I am writing this as a Christian, and I have some advice for any believer who might be offended by something that Christopher Hitchens said or wrote; Beware of the straw man. Debaters often use straw man arguments. They begin by describing someone that we all dislike. That person might be someone that they met, or possibly only someone who exists only in their imagination.
The next step is to assign that ugly caricature to the other side in the debate. “People like you do this [ … insert something ugly … ]”
You know, it’s impossible to defend yourself in an argument like that, and you should also know that the straw-man is a favorite debating technique. We all do it; you will probably hear a straw-man accusation at your next family reunion.
The Bible tells us:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15 and 16)
Christopher Hitchens spoke against most religions, but I can only defend myself. His picture of evil manipulating liars in church does not fit the Christians that I know, and God help me if I am ever like that.
The old saying is “Did you stop eating food when Momma burned the biscuits?” If you had a bad experience with one dentist, or a doctor, or a lawyer, did you cut them all out of your life?
Beware of the straw man.
2) He is right:
Another debating technique is an aggressive and offensive attack. When we are attacked, the unspoken command is that we must counterattack. The other side has created a war and we are on one side, and now we have to fight in a war that someone else forced on us.
They play the music, and we dance. We have no choice.
We are told in the Bible:
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22: 24 and 25)
I grew up in a very religious family, and we all went to church at least three times a week. It is easy for me to search my memory to recall something wrong that happened among religious people. I know now, I can only follow Jesus because I am forgiven, and that should make me humble. There is no place for pride and a large ego, among the Jesus people.
Christopher Hitchens was raised in a family that practised religion, and he was educated in religious schools. If he saw things that were wrong, we know he was an intelligent man. When we are criticized, we should always look for the truth in the harsh words. Denial only makes us weaker.
Probably the harshest critic of Christians, in an organized church, was a man named Jesus. He was so offended by a church in a city called Laodicea, that he said: “I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3: 16 and 17)
Yes, those are the words of Jesus, directed at a Christian church.
Organized human beings can do terrible things, and human beings, organized in the name of a religion, can do some of those things.
The truth is, we follow Jesus because we are wrong, and we need to be made right. If the “old man” returns, and shows what we used to be, we should be humble and ask God to forgive us and make us right.
It’s not easy to criticize that.