Since Christopher Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer in June, he has received thousands of letters and e-mails, some from believers asserting that he’s getting what he deserves, more from people saying they’re praying for his recovery. Hitchens says he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring. But he is annoyed that some writers hope he’ll have a last-minute conversion to Christianity.
“Under no persuasion could I be made to believe that a human sacrifice several thousand years ago vicariously redeems me from sin,” he says. “Nothing could persuade me that that was true — or moral, by the way. It’s white noise to me.”
His brother, Peter, is equally blunt: “There is actually no absolute right or wrong if there is no God,” he says.
Peter once shared his older brother’s views; he burned his Bible when he was a teenager in boarding school. But as he chronicled in his book, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith — which he wrote as a response to his brother’s anti-religious book — he felt drawn back to his Anglican faith starting in his late 20s.
He says his work as a journalist in Somalia and the former Soviet Union convinced him that civilization without religious morality devolves into brutality. Moral behavior requires more than higher reasoning, he says; it requires God.