Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Official : Hitch Did Not Convert

Religion has often been a crutch for the hopelessly weak and pathetic.  One of the many claims that I've heard so many people make is that people who were previously not religious declare suddenly the existence of God and convert on their deathbed.  Every creationist at some point or another has claimed that Darwin converted to Christianity on his deathbed...  Something which is known to be untrue.  I've had people claim to me that Einstein converted from Judaism to Christianity on his deathbead, which is funny since Einstein was essentially only a Jew by descent, and anything he said on his deathbed can't possibly be known because he is on record as having said it all in German...  and none of the attending doctors or nurses understood enough German to decipher it.  Richard Dawkins quipped at one point that he would put a tape recorder by his deathbed to ensure that nobody mistakes what he says.

Christopher Hitchens died last night of complications from his esophageal cancer.  He did not convert.  He did not call out for any god's help.  He did not accept anything supernatural right down to the very end.  He laid down his final "Hitchslap" with that.

In an interview some months back after Hitch had gone through a few cycles of chemo and radiation, the interviewer said that religious idiots predicted that he'd convert in his final days.  Hitchens responded rather beautifully to that, pointing out that even if that prediction were to come true, it would only illustrate the inherently flawed nature of even using that claim.

Most people are just generally afraid of their own mortality.  They do not cope well with the idea of the lives they enjoy and experience amongst friends and loved ones coming to an end.  Even those of us who do not generally fear death, would not be likely to welcome its arrival.  When they lie mere moments away from death, facing the realization of the nothingness that will follow, it's not uncommon to enter a state of panicked, irrational blubbering.  In Hitchens' words, if he were to convert on his deathbed, it would only be the result of a severe breakdown of his normal faculties as the sense of impending oblivion grew stronger.  As such, it should not be taken as anything more than the irrational babbling of a broken human being.

Hitchens of course, was a "Grumpy Anti-theist" well before I was born.  He never broke, and that is pretty much what all of us in the atheist community expected given his character.  Showing... quite clearly...  that he is greater in death than any creationist is in life.  We don't accept that there is anything to look forward to afterwards.  We don't look for solace in delusional visions of fluffy white clouds or in the rebirth of our self-identities in the body of another creature.  We approach mortality with open eyes and a clear mind without the atavistic retreat into the notion that our deaths are not really real death.  Do we want to die?  Of course not.  Nobody wants to die.  But it will happen to us all.  Our loved ones, and those whose lives we touched will feel the sorrow and even if there was an afterlife, there would be nothing you could ever do about that.

Do not give me that codswallop about "I don't see death as the end.  It's a new beginning!"  Yeah, "new beginning"... which still means something old ended.  Those of us with a working neocortex actually realize this.  Hitchens understood that full well and maintained his fiery aggression and sharp tongue right down to the twilight moment.  Somewhere out there on the blogosphere, there is a creationist hooey-peddler claiming that Chris Hitchens is in hell.  Somewhere else, there is another claiming he accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour in the depths of his soul at the final second.  Somewhere else still, a blogger is imagining his soul in another realm sipping double jiggers of Johnnie Walker Black.  Okay, the Johnnie Walker part fits, but still.  There's one thing in common with all of these statements.  Every one of them is untrue.  Chris' brother, a creationist himself, at least realized this much and did not deny it in his memoriam.  But I suppose it is too much to ask of other creationists to actually say things that are true.

He didn't live that way, so why would he die that way?