Saturday, 17 December 2011

Richard Dawkins' tribute to Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens lost his battle with cancer today at the age of 62.  It's sad for anyone of his age in the Western world to die so young and you feel for his friends and family.  I have to confess to not having read him really, unless you count 15 minutes in Waterstones while waiting for the rest of the family to finish looking for books.  I was looking through God Is Not Great and thought it was a bit flimsy to be honest.  But then you would probably expect me to say that.

I heard of his death on the radio this morning when Richard Dawkins was interviewed about him by Nicky Campbell on Radio Five Live.  I checked out the interview again on the BBC website when I was more awake to verify that I wasn't misquoting at all. 

Dawkins described Hitchens as...
“A wonderful orator, a great thinker, a great intellect, a great atheist”.

He went on to say... 

“He hated tyranny of all kinds.  He was against Stalin, he was against Mao, he was against Kim Il Sung and he was against God.  He hated tyrants of all kinds, whether real or imaginary”. 

“God, he saw, as a supernatural tyrant, a supernatural dictator”.

I can understand that some people do believe and some don't.  What I struggle with is that a few (certainly not all) of the new atheists are so set against religious faith that they attack it so forcefully.  To bracket God with Stalin and Mao and Kim Il Sung is very odd to me.  People like Dawkins ppear to be very angry about faith and yet their atheism doesn't seem to bring them any happiness.  Sometimes they come across as the superior boy on school who sneers and looks down at the others and then wonder why they have so few friends.

This is not a fresh or new or clever opinion.  I find myself echoing the thoughts of Marcus Brigstocke (who I very much like) who says the same in his book God Collar.  He may tend to agree with much of Dawkins says but he ackowledges that Dawkins doesn't do atheism many favours in the way he comes across as a know it all.  I think I'd like a debate over a pint of lemonade with Marcus (who is teetotal) where as I don't really fancy the thought of seeing Dawkins for a drink. 

Merry Christmas everyone.

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