Reports were that shortly before he died Christopher Hitchens, the well-known atheist, told friends and the press that if he were to make a last-minute deathbed conversion, they should not believe it. It would be his delirium, not his rational mind doing the converting, he told them.
Reports were, too, that when the deathbed was his obvious fate, as he lay dying of complications due to advanced throat cancer, he remained unrepentant and apparently unafraid of whatever came next.
Hitchens long prided himself in his ability to debate, debunk, and debase all claims of religion in regard to the afterlife. He particularly seemed to take enjoyment from intellectually dismantling the Bible and Christianity. There is no God, he consistently claimed, lacing much of his confutation with acerbic wit intended to dissect Christianity with a laser-like argumentation scalpel. He seemed to delight in humiliating his debate opponents with ridicule. Many people–Christians whose God the British, self-styled intellectual denied— prayed for him. The prayers were that he be healed both physically and spiritually.
A special day of prayer for him was arranged, which he summarily dismissed, as the following news item released as he lay dying reported.
Author and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, skipped Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day Monday. “I shall not be participating,” said Hitchens, author of the book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. ‘[Incantations,] I don’t think, have any effect on the material world’” (“Atheist Hitchens Skips His Prayer Day,” Drudge Report, 9/21/2010).
Hitchens’ fellow Brit, also an intellectual known for his derogatory views on religion, talked about the afterlife from the view of one who has lived at death’s door for many years. “Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview.
Hawking, 69, was expected to die within a few years of being diagnosed with degenerative motor neuron disease at the age of 21, but became one of the world’s most famous scientists with the publication of his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time.
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the Guardian newspaper. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark” (Nia Williams, Paul Casciato, ed., “Heaven Is a Fairy Story for People Afraid of the Dark,” Reuters, 5/16/2011).
Christopher Hitchens was, and Steven Hawking is, looked upon by the world as possessing genius. This is particularly true of Hawking, who is held up by some as almost the equal of Albert Einstein in terms of his cerebral brilliance. In his book, The Grand Design, published in 2010, Hawking stirred controversy among some religious leaders. The physicist declared in the book that there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe. God, in other words, isn’t relevant. As a matter of fact, in the minds of many of the world’s scientific “geniuses,” there is no god. Evolution is their religion, and man, himself, is god.
The Lord of heaven says the following about all of this: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good” (Psalms 53:1).
The world when David penned those words was likely almost tame compared to the lawlessness of our time. The intellectuals of these end-of-the-age days are at the head of the line of rebellious humanity. God’s words through David more nearly reflect this generation than David’s.
God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? Who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God. (Psalms 53: 2-4)
The genius of this world is but condemned foolishness in the eyes of God. His view of wisdom is all that matters. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9: 10)