... has been identified as being a prominent exponent of the "new atheism" movement. He and fellow high profile contemporary atheists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett have often been referred to as "The Four Horsemen" and the "Unholy Trinity". Hitchens is a secular humanist and anti-theist, and describes himself as a believer in the philosophical values of the Age of Enlightenment. His main argument is that the concept of God or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion, that inhibits it, as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. [source]The other day, I found an fascinating article written by his brother Peter Hitchen -- a former atheist who found his way back to Christianity after years of living in open rebellion and defiance to any notion of God. (The two brothers have engaged in open debates about theism, which I believe would have been truly amazing to experience!) The UK's Mail Online article is long, definitely worthy of a detailed reading, but here I will post some excerpts:
The article follows into Peter Hitchens' list of artguments and counterarguments that commonly occur between atheists and believers ... fascinating reading that I highly recommend.
How I found God and peace with my atheist brother: PETER HITCHENS traces his journey back to Christianity
During his teenage years and early 20s, Peter Hitchens lost his faith and rebelled against everything he had been brought up to believe in. Here, in a moving and thought-provoking account from his controversial new book, he describes his spiritual journey back to God - and the end of his feud with his brotherI set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was 15 years old. The book did not, as I had hoped, blaze fiercely and swiftly.
Only after much blowing and encouragement did I manage to get it to ignite at all, and I was left with a disagreeable, half-charred mess.
Most of my small invited audience drifted away long before I had finished, disappointed by the anticlimax and the pettiness of the thing. Thunder did not mutter.
It would be many years before I would feel a slight shiver of unease about my act of desecration. Did I then have any idea of the forces I was trifling with?
But this was my Year Zero. I was engaged in a full, perfect and complete rebellion against everything I had been brought up to believe.
As I had been raised to be an English gentleman, this was quite an involved process.
We were sure that we, and our civilisation, had grown out of the nursery myths of God, angels and Heaven. We had modern medicine, penicillin, jet engines, the Welfare State, the United Nations and ' science', which explained everything that needed to be explained.
My own, slow return to faith began when I was 30, in 1981. By this time, I was doing well in my chosen trade, journalism. I could afford pleasant holidays with my girlfriend, whom I should nowadays call my 'partner' since we were not then married, on the European continent.
I no longer avoided churches. I recognised in the great English cathedrals, and in many small parish churches, the old unsettling messages.
One was the inevitability of my own death, the other the undoubted fact that my despised forebears were neither crude nor ignorant, but men and women of great skill and engineering genius, a genius not contradicted or blocked by faith, but enhanced by it.
No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden's 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.
These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions.
On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.
I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.
I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.
At around the same time I rediscovered Christmas, which I had pretended to dislike for many years. I slipped into a carol service on a winter evening, diffident and anxious not to be seen.
I knew perfectly well that I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition, and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.
I am not exactly clear now how this led in a few months to my strong desire - unexpected by me or by my friends, but encouraged by my then unbelieving future wife - to be married in church.
But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England's marriage service, at St Bride's in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.
The swearing of great oaths concentrates the mind. So did the baptisms first of my daughter and then of my wife who, raised as a Marxist atheist, trod another rather different path to the same place.
I talked to few people about it, and was diffident about mentioning it in anything I wrote. I think it true to say that for many years I was more or less ashamed of confessing to any religious faith at all, except when I felt safe to do so.
It is a strange and welcome side effect of the growing attack on Christianity in British society that I have now overcome this.
Being Christian is one thing. Fighting for a cause is another, and much easier to acknowledge - for in recent times it has grown clear that the Christian religion is threatened with a dangerous defeat by secular forces which have never been so confident.
Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.
The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of powerworship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.
While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher's passion against God grew more virulent and confident.
As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe.
14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. [1 Peter 3: 14-16]