Monday, August 16, 2010

Seeking immortality in words, not religion

Christopher Hitchens, atheist author of "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," is most likely dying of esophageal cancer. Liesl Schillinger writes on how his writing of an essay on his experience of illness has
...elicited hundreds of responses from well-wishers (and some foes), who urge Mr. Hitchens in online comments (and in their prayers, many write) to accept salvation...When asked, “Do you find it insulting for people to pray for you?” Mr. Hitchens responded: “No, no. I take it kindly, under the assumption that they are praying for my recovery.”..All the same, Mr. Hitchens dismissed both the notion that his cancer would lead him to make a tardy profession of faith and the idea that, if it did, such a profession would be valid...“The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain,” he said. “I can’t guarantee that such an entity wouldn’t make such a ridiculous remark, but no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a remark.”
Hitchens' friend, novelist Martin Amis,
...said his friend, like other writers, surely believed that after death, “not all of you will die,” because the printed words they leave behind constitute a kind of immortality. He added, “The desire for immortality ... explains all the extraordinary achievements, both good and bad.”
Another British-born intellectual's faith in articulacy caught the public eye this summer. On Aug. 6, Tony Judt died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He had told a former student
...that he wanted his epitaph to read, “I did words.”

1 comment:

  1. What I’m most interested is in what Hitch will write after the “20th September prayer day”. Bottom line is that believers want him to change his entrenched atheism, maybe on the assumption that if a miracle cure occurs it would be very convincing evidence for the existence of divine enchantment (as Hitch puts it).