Why did so many people admire Christopher Hitchens?

I’ve been watching a few debates featuring Christopher Hitchens over the last few days, and just can’t understand what people found attractive about him.

I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but he strikes me as a pompous, narrow minded contrarian cynic who in the absence of any good ideas of his own chooses to rubbish those of others.

He’s also amazingly arrogant…assuming that somehow the 85% of the world’s population who believe in a god or God have all somehow got it wrong and should defend their position to him.

He reminds of the brat who isn’t invited to the birthday party so has a tantrum to spoil it for others.

Any thoughts?

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I don’t respond well to him either. But his typical statements are quite a lot like your OP. Just saying.

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There’s a major difference between us. I am ready to give an explanation for my beliefs when asked…I don’t recall Hitch ever giving an insight into his own, or how he would better order the world.

I am pro Christianity, not anti atheist. I don’t go around criticising atheists for their beliefs, I respect their views and more importantly their right to hold them.

His main admirers are smug atheists whose main hobby seems to be mocking religion or watching it be mocked. It isn’t enough for them to just not believe in religion, it must be mocked. I think it’s quite sad personally, that they don’t have anything better to do. It’s like their hobbyl So you see lots of videos put up online along the lines of ‘Hitchens destroys the Bible’ etc. Those supporters are in fact so sad, that they even attack his brother and taunt him online, about how he isn’t as interesting or smart as his late brother was. Talk about needing a life.


I am sure, because he was an atheist, that he never gave an explanation for that belief, as he would not consider it a ‘belief’ any more than he would consider his understanding that Bigfoot does not exist is a ‘belief’ rather than a simple absence of evidence.

But one of the reasons for his impact is exactly that he gave reasons for his more specific conclusions for example his condemnation of St Theresa of Calcutta (with which I disagreed, by the way). He argued from facts and laid them out with a relentless logic. His problem was in providing balance and sufficient weight to countervailing points of view or the possibility of different conclusions.

I’d stand my suggestion that your OP is rather Hitchens-esque.

I always thought that Daniel Dennett was the atheist who made the most compelling arguments, and of course the Q&A between Dawkins (whom I also think is quite good at supporting his arguments (although I disagree with his views)) and Pell is legendary. But I agree with the OP in saying that anytime I watched Hitchens debate, he did seem pompous.

Something that always confused me about the Four Horsemen of Atheism was that Dawkins has a very credible background in biology and associated studies, Harris is very intelligent in the medical field of neuroscience, and Dennett is educated in the study of psychology and philosophy, but what was Hitchens’ background?

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He was an excellent writer (and not just anti-theist books). And an equally excellent talker. He hated hypochrisy with a passion and took no prisoners in debates. It was a scorched earth policy and he was, quite often, brutal. And he was a difficult man to like if you didn’t agree with his views. As I often didn’t.

But if you did agree with him then you couldn’t help but be stirred by what he said and how he said it. It was like a Springsteen concert - the sound and the fury gets you out of your seat and carries you along.

If you admired these traits in Trump, then you can understand why some atheists admired Hitchens. I don’t know if you admired Trump for these personality traits or not but plenty of his supporters did.

He was a contrarian. He was very intelligent. He was a good journalist and writer. He was scathing at his opposition. These tend to be traits that, if you agree with him (many didn’t), then you admired him for it.


Agreed wholeheartedly. I didn’t even begin to agree with him, but he was very intelligent, he expressed it well, and wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. I pray for his soul, but I did grudgingly admire the man.

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I agree. For me, there was a certain charm if not charisma to Hitchens at times. Harris and Dennett (both of whom I like a lot) lack this compelling personality-type that Hitchens (and even Dawkins) possessed.

I’d rather listen to Harris or Dennett any day because their substance goes far deeper than Hitchens or Dawkins are capable of. But I can’t deny the force of a person who combines a bit of charisma with rhetorical skills, like Hitchens did.

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Probably his five awards given while living: Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, National Magazine Award for Columns a.k.a. Ellie Award (thrice), Richard Dawkins Award, and three awards given posthumously in 2012: LennonOno Grant For Peace, The Orwell (Special) Prize, and PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

Richard Dawkins Award is given for writings on secularism and rationalism. Lannman award is for significant contributions to English-language literature, and the Ellie Award is for magazine-quality journalism. The LennonOnon Grant for Peace is for peace activists and the prize money went to to two charitable organizations. The Orwell was for his passionate contribution to political writing. The PEN … for Arguably, Essays by Christopher Hitchens.

This is typical of atheists. The standard line is that people created God out of fear and now that we have scientific explanations for everything God has become unnecessary. So I ask them to explain to me dark matter, dark energy and why there is a super massive black hole at the center of every galaxy. What? Scientists call all of those ‘mysteries’? so you don’t have all the answers?

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No. We don’t. Suggesting that we did would be arrogant. Doubt is an uncomfortable position…but certainty is absurd (Voltaire). I will gladly admit to a degree of uncertainty regarding my beliefs.

How about you?


No uncertainty, because I have faith. Reason can only take a person so far.

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I’ve read and listened to a lot of Harris and Dawkins (Dawkins mostly in regard to his work in biology). And I’ll agree with most of their views. And nod sagely in agreement. But Hitch would have me out of my seat, pacing the floor, either calling him an idiot or more likely loudly supporting him (with my wife looking on in bemusement).

Harris would probably suggest that we should perhaps sit down with the opposition and persuade them of our views. Hitch would grab the tattered flag, leap the battlements and demand ‘Who’s with me!’ And off you’d go despite yourself.

I was quite affected by his death.

You’re lucky to have the faith. But as for the certainty, I’m with Voltaire.

Of course you would be. Descartes said that by reason alone everything can be doubted, except one’s own existence.

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Vive le philosophie francais!

Nothing is typical of us atheists except that we don’t believe in god(s).

Calling people who disagree with you ‘typically arrogant’ is exactly the sort of thing for which you have criticised Hitchens.[

quote=“Dan_Defender, post:13, topic:632843”]
Scientists call all of those ‘mysteries’? so you don’t have all the answers?

Scientists, by definition, do not claim to have all the answers. That’s why they do science. Misrepresenting opponents by exaggeration was another of Hitchen’s habits.


We each have a belief, an overarching worldview through which we navigate life, whether that is Christian theism or naturalism. Hitchens never publicly articulated his, probably because he was afraid to place it under the same scrutiny as he afforded religion.

How would he suggest the world be governed? How would he decide what is morally acceptable? What would give mankind not an individual but a unitive purpose? How would his ideas comfort the suffering? How would his approach help the poor, the imprisoned, the sick? And so on.

I just believe he was an intellectual vandal who could destroy a house with his rhetoric but had absolutely no idea how to build one.

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