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Friday, December 16, 2011


Why I Will Miss Christopher Hitchens

There are things in life over which we have absolutely no control. Strike that. Let me say, instead: over the vast majority of things in our lives, we have absolutely no control.

We cannot control the actions of our friends and family. We cannot control disease. We cannot control how others perceive us, as much as Scientology wants us to think we can.

It is frightening. Truly, truly frightening.

Which is why I completely understand why people turn to religion. I've said it before: religion is about community and comfort and knowing that, even if you have no control over what happens, someone does. I get it. And I honestly don't have any desire to knock anyone out of their beliefs or even try to debate them. As long as they don't try to convince me that I have to believe as they do I am a-okay with any views they have that don't crap all over other people's rights.

I know that the vast majority of the country sees atheism as a rejection. A rejection of religion and a rejection of God and a rejection of "values". In fact, it's the opposite. Atheism, to me, is acceptance. It's the acceptance of this lack of control, this lack of ultimate and concrete meaning in life. It's acceptance of this and it's the decision to find your own meaning. The decision to be a moral person because it's the right thing to do, not because God will punish you if you aren't. The decision to try to make the world better not to reflect God's glory, but because it's our world and we need it to be the best place we can make it.

Obviously, I'm not the best spokesperson for atheism. I'm a guy who tends to write about vomit and weird smells. Which is why it's such a good thing to have men like Christopher Hitchens. I did not agree with everything the guy said. I think, in the writing of his that I did read, he tended to be a little harsh on people of faith. But he was a man of tremendous intellect and he was so very skilled at getting his points about this subject (and many, many others) across that I will miss him, even if I was not his biggest fan.

I'm betting there will be people--people of faith, mind you--who will be actually gleeful about the passing of this guy who spat in the face of their beliefs. And I'm not enough of a hypocrite to cry "Shame!" here because I said my share of snarky comments when Jerry Falwell died.* But I don't have a God who's going to punish me for being a dick. I have to just accept my dickishness and try to do better.

*Interesting tidbit: I could not for the life of me remember Falwell's name, but trying to find it on Google, I learned that there's actually a site called Religious

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