People say that atheism doesn’t deal with grief and death in a productive way. We are all different; we all want different things from grief. Some of us are happy to think that our personality and memories live on as a soul in some paradise. To me that is false comfort. It is the equivalent of telling a child that a dead dog has gone off to live on a farm. Some of us are happy that we have a life well lived (a luxury most of us cannot enjoy). I feel that what would please me most in life is that Hitchens lived his life well and enjoyed it. Lest we forget that sometimes life is its own reward.
There is life after death, just not in the way we think about it. We don’t persist but our body does. The elements and compounds that make up our intelligent reaction do not falter and will not falter till the very heat death of our universe. To me the line that gives me most peace is from The Amber Spyglass.
“Even if it means oblivion, friends, I’ll welcome it, because it won’t be nothing. We will be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we will be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we’ll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was”
Our mortality is almost guaranteed, our life is however ours to live. We can chose to do what we wish with it. Hitch lived his to make us think, to make us question ourselves and to make us grow as people because we question our own beliefs.
Hitchen’s misogyny was also well known and quite honestly? I don’t think the cigarettes, cigars and heavy boozing did him any favours. One can squarely point a finger at the cigars (a known causative of throat and oesophageal cancer).
Hitchens doesn’t just live on as the molecules that make up our word. A man is more than just the molecules he is made up of. Hitchens lives on his writing. I don’t think we should treat his writings as a bible, but we should certainly keep reading and critiquing his works for many of us grew as atheists because of them and atheists to come can learn from his work. It can inspire us to leave works of our own. The world is all we have and it is our responsibility to do what we can. To leave the world slightly better for our children and those who come after us. To leave them stories of real people and real achievements rather than the tired rules and morality of those who came before us. We need to build on that.
“That is why we need our full lives; we wouldn’t be able to build it. No one could if they put themselves first. We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind curious and patient and we’ve got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different worlds and then we’ll build… The Republic of Heaven”