Easily the most influential author behind my personal apostasy was Christopher Hitchens. The infamous contrarian demonstrated more courage and style in a single conversation than most people do in the whole of their careers. Whether or not you agreed with him on his various stances, you had to at least pause to consider his thoughts, and often times simply admire the eloquence in which he stated it.
Today is the fourth anniversary of Hitchens’ death after a difficult battle with esophageal cancer. Despite the fact that I was having an otherwise wonderful day on Dec. 15, 2011, I was crushed to hear about the untimely death of this, shall I say, personal hero. Though I try to veer away from any form of hero worship, I can’t deny the influence that this man has had on my life both pre and post-mortem.
When I hear atheists and secularists ask whether or not it’s futile to discuss faith with their religious friends and family, I always stop for a moment and think, “yeah, is it really worth the time and effort?” But almost immediately afterward, I remember that I too was a religious man at one time in my life, and if not for the persuasive arguments and wealth of character posited by Hitchens, I very well could still be a Christian. A miserable, confused, frustrated Christian who was spiritually bullied into never questioning his beliefs in order to discover his true nature.
You could argue that if it wasn’t Christopher Hitchens who I came across to help me question my beliefs that it would’ve been someone else. And that’s likely true. This is part of the reason I dislike hero worship. But still, that’s not how it happened.
Though he has shuffled off this mortal coil and cannot hear my gratitude, I wish to say thank you. My life has become all the richer, more moral, and more beautiful having read your words.
Here are a few of those words:
And if you wish to take a little more time, here is a wonderful debate/discussion featuring Hitchens, as well as Sam Harris: