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Christopher Hitchens: 'It's not a good cancer to get'

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg spoke to Christopher Hitchens at his home in Washington, D.C. Currently undergoing treatments for esophageal cancer, Hitchens looks slim and appears to be losing his hair, yet he speaks with his characteristic forcefulness and conviction.

Goldberg digs right into religiosity, asking, "Do you find it insulting for people to pray for you?" Hitchens responds, "No, no, I take it kindly," as long as the prayers are for his recovery. Goldberg focuses the questions we see here -- there will be other clips, the Atlantic promises -- on the possibility of Hitchens having a religious conversion or awakening. Hitchens does not consider it likely; his response jumps from David Hume to Voltaire to Wooster and Jeeves.

Partway through the conversation, Goldberg and Hitchens are joined by Martin Amis, who describes himself as "very slightly to the right of Hitch on God," pushing the conversation back toward the question of the Divine.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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I lost my father 6 months ago. If you were to ever find a man as smart and perceptive as Chritopher Hitchens, I would argue it would have been Dad. MIT Masters in Civil Engineering, lead the reparations of the Niagara Falls, the clean-up of Lake Erie (and staunch agnostic).

I know that one can probably not out-wit cancer, but I am hoping Christopher finds a way. We SERIOUSLY need his impact to help guide us through the transition to large-scale secularism in our nation.

Christopher: GET BETTER!

Steve the Fan

I can't watch this. I love Christopher Hitchens I am just in tears.

From the adulation Hitchens recevies from the LA Times and as evidenced in some of these comments, it seems that he has managed to become something of a deity himself for secularists. Hitchens sweeping anti-religious fervor has done more to damage culture and society than to the build up in my opinion. I love the comment about Hitchen's uncompleted task of "guiding us to large scale secularism." We don't need Hitchen's help! To wit, we have managed this quite well on our own: gay marriage, porn, vapid film industry, abortion, contraception, test-tube babies, financial greed, political corruption, empty churches and synagogues, wars, racism, anti-religious fervor...what am I leaving out?

You'd think Hitchens was the first athiest. Lots of 'religious' folk don't like god. They just arent popular is all.

@Ken None of what you just said makes one bit of difference to the fact there is zero evidence for God, Believing in something with zero proof just because you claim it is the reverse of all those so called bad things you mentioned is simply the mind of a simpleton. Please pipe down in regards to claiming the anti-religious is the cause of wars. Religion has killed far greater numbers plus no1 has ever gone to war with Atheism as their reasoning that is a reach by the religious mentalists. ...Your predictability is really juvenile, You will name Stalin and Hitler as your atheist crusaders i suppose. Stalin was a non believer that is true..Hitler on the other hand mentioned God and his religion in a number of his speeches. and i quote Hitler " My feelings as a Christian points me to my lord and Saviour as a fighter."Spoken in a speech on April 12th 1922. So take your delusion elsewhere please. A man as Ill as Hitch and you come on here and spout your un-backed up drivel to somehow massage your own ego for its stupidness. What a good human being you are.

Karl: If no religion makes secularists so much at peace and arrives at a truth of our existence, why the spittle-laden, venomous response? I am simply pointing out that Hitchens fans seem to lionize, er, deitize his life and work, and that secularists have already achieved what Hitchens wants: a removal of God and Church from the public square.

I must say that the militant secularists I have met over the past 20 years tend to be quite defensive and angry folks. The invariable introduction of "Hilter as a Christian" to drive your point home has now become almost now trite. Your angry retort has done little to change my current opinion of militant atheism.

By the way, I wish no evil upon Chris Hitchens and hope (n.b. I did not say pray) he beats his cancer. That's not the way I play the game of life.

First time poster but avid reader of Mr. Hitchens. When learning about his plight on a business trip I was overcome with sadness as over the past few years I've wished on many occasions I could somehow just reach out to him and simply say how "the silent majority really does notice, really does appreciate and really does admire what you do and why you do it - even though we have no means of expressing it" I've tried to come up with ways to show this incredible example of a role model just how many people he has touched but I think the best way that i/we can show our admiration and respect for Mr. Hitchens is to buy his book "Available in find bookstores everywhere" ;) Think about it, the latest book is a memoir of his life, what better opportunity for the world to support Mr. Hitchens than to let him know for each book he sells, there is a real person who is wishing that he has many more years of battling idiocy on our behalf...

This is my small token effort and hopefully someone more technically saavy than i can pick this idea up and run with it so that maybe Richard Dawkins, Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann or anyone who has a medium to reach those of us who silently sit and admire Hitch can use it to promote a campaign to sell a million books before the end of his treatment. Then, maybe the next story on CNN will be of the viral twitter campaign supporting a true role model instead of one to name the next Kanye West song.

Mr. Hitchens, from one random Canadian to you, thank you for all you've done and all you are. You deserve to know about all of us who you've reach and hopefully this gives you strength you need to pull through.

I for one will go out and buy your book tomorrow morning and encourage someone to pick up this idea and run with it!

Ken: I am of the opinion "Atheists" are a group that do not need a name as they simply do not believe in myth and nonsense like the believer... So put a name like militant atheist as you wish to those who actively try to show religion for the pathetic, lacking in evidence nonsense that it is.
"Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines. "- Bertrand Russell

I won't be visiting this page anymore after this so i won't see your response, so have a good rest of the day and it was nice to have this brief chat.

We need you in the fight against the Anti-Christ papacy, Hitch! I pray you survive and thrive, in the Name of Jesus. (I'll miss you, in heaven, sir; I so love your wit and your charm. Honest!)

The Abrahamic crew have retreated so far from their inital stance that now they seek to convice us merely that there is a deity who was a prime mover at the big bang.
Such a retreat is sufficient to dismiss their ideologies totally. Whatever mystery there may be in the Universe they have no knowledge of it. So their malign glee whenever an atheist confronts death is nauseating and ultimately revealing.

What most depresses me is the low quality of argument brought by both sides of the 'God debate', indicating possibly the awful dumbing even of the intellectual elite.

The discussion usually makes no attempt to define what is meant by 'God'or to distinguish between the literal God of the Bible or a wider concept of 'Creative Force'. It doesn't discern the differenced between Religion and Spirituality, takes as a given that rationalism is opposed to 'God' in any form. In short it takes place in a condition of more or less total ignorance of the philosophical tradition - both Atheis and Deist - of the last thousand years.

Can we really do no better? Einstein and his ilk would probably shake their heads in despair.

Ken, what a strange list, it would be funny if I didn't find it quite disturbing that you can list gay marriage, contraception? and test tube babies along with terrorism and war, which let's face it is generally instigated by good church going folks!

Get well soon Hitch, there's work to be done!

He looks awful! I fear the worst for him but hope we do not lose him to cancer. I wouldn't lose one ounce of respect for the guy if he turned to religion. Any comfort or strength a person can muster at that stage in life is needed immensly. How anyone can slate a dying persons wishes is beyond me. I say all of this as a person with no religious beleifs.

Goldberg needed to shut his mouth a bit more when Hitchens was talking. Perhaps he thought he was fostering a chatty, unstilted atmosphere by talking over him, but he just came across as annoying. Shut up. Every word Hitchens speaks is infinitely more valuable than any noise that comes out of your mouth.

Hitchens has provided a voice for the multitudes who have the intellect and courage to reject the nonsense of religion but have been silenced or at least quieted by the insidious social pressure to conform if not by well grounded fear of the viciousness of the faithful. His illness is a reminder to all of us who think rationally that we must bear our share of the burden of helping humanity escape the horrors of irrational belief.

Well said Jim, I am lucky to live in a society where we don't feel the need to conform and stay silent. What Christopher Hitchens does for me was give me the language and the humour and the knowledge to aid me on my personal crusade to question, keep questioning and teach my children to question irrational belief.

I'm sorry to see Christopher Hitchens hit with cancer - and so should all of the people whom he debated. Hitchens' keen intellect and his gift for insight into words made the God debate more interesting. Not to knock the second string but Hitchens made a lot of other atheists look bookish and boring by comparison. Hitchens remains one of those rare intellects who can turn a millennial debate into something fresh and fun. It wasn't just the timing. Hitchens got people talking again - and the excitement he generated for this debate was something to behold.

Goldberg is a pretty poor interviewer. Goldberg said "You don't know how I'm going to die" missing the point that Hitchens was making, which was 'I want to die slower. Like you. Not faster, like I am now."

Then Goldberg again talks about himself, offering to get Hitchens better medical help, because he, Goldberg, is a Jewish hypochondriac and knows a lot of Doctors.

My computer froze up after that, but the Atlantic should hire better journalists. This interview should be about Hitchens, not Goldberg.
I'm available!

Just as it rains on the just and the unjust, Chris Hitchens cancer is not a curse, but it should focus his attention for the limited time he has to change his viewpoint. Hell does not cease to exist for those who don't believe in it and whether you believe in God or not, He is more than strong enough and willing enough to accept Chris with open arms.

I both feel bad for Chris' suffering though cancer and his suffering with the abscence of a relationship with God, one that may become eternal.

I agree with other posters that Mr. Goldberg's interviewing style was disruptive, somewhat arrogant, and flat out rude to Mr. Hitchens. Has talked over Mr. Hitchens throughout the entire interview, which shows poor professional technique. We needed to hear more uninterrupted Hitch.

Does anyone else find it ironic that Hitchens somewhat gives the green light to thoughts of prayer for his recovery?

Mr. Hitchens intellect and intellectual honesty needs no defense. But I do think it important to mention the strength and courage that this man has shown us--at the most critical of times. I think we all realize how close the religious have come to implementing their religious agenda in government, and I don't think the party's over yet.

Those of us who have studied, worked on ourselves and rid ourselves of fear and superstition, need to do what we can to prevent this poison from turning our great country into a theocracy. It can happen!

Christopher Hitchins has shown us great strength and if you've watch his various videos, you've seen the enormous amount of fear and negativity he encountered. Despite this, he kept writing, debating and interviewing--it's seems, right to the end.

Mr. Hitchens, you're a true humanist.

@ bobby
Please don't wish it on anyone that they may find comfort in god or the bible, if that's what floats your boat then fine but it really isn't going to help in this case. Hitch has made it abundantly clear that even if your god was proven to exist he would still find it/him/ her to be unworthy of worship. I absolutely agree

I love Hitchens he is such an enlightened and intelligent person.

Ken,ken,dear damaged human being:
America, the Great Secular Experiment, has gotten where it's at,by pushing back all Religious tripe. You are free in this Country to follow what ever Flying Spaghetti Monster you wish. Precisely due to our secular securing of all Religions freedoms....as long as you don't try to make me believe it! And here you are Ken proselytizing your beliefs on the rest of us! Not at all American. No religion would have survived if not for the first Amendment. It was written for termites like you.....so you couldn't gnaw at the beams and structure of a free and proudly progressive society. Thats what we have always been ...... no matter how many of our fellow fly have been ensnared by Religious Absurdity. Our Country is in great peril right now due to the rising fangs of Proselytizing no nothing brainwashed Christians. Who will if empowered, end this great nation and replace it with an already failed concept.
Which Religion due you push? And what of all the others? I can see already that your ready to demean your fellow man for ...... thinking. So away with you and your ilk. No good will come out of you.......try reasoning....try thinking ....try not being a name calling non debater!

Someone tell Chris that the University of Pittsburg and Germany are on the cutting edge of treatments of both freezing cancer cells where Hitches are and re-generating tissue from adult stem cells. Also organ replacement is beginning. It may come just in time. If Chris can stick around a little longer. But he should contact these Institutions of Research immediately.
I'm sure he has, due to his surrounding himself with intellectuals...So if I am redundant or late to the game, forgive my arrogance.....C.H. has little to learn from me. Good Luck dear man.

Hitch me to Hitchens. I'd cross the Styx with him and he'd bring me back.

I just watched the debate (on atheism from Alabama) with Christopher Hitchens and David Brelinski on Book TV, C-Span. Please fight the disease, Christopher. You've been so good to us. Even though I have to record the programs you are on in order to re-wind the tape so I can try and absorb what you are saying (that's my fault, not yours, as you are clear but I am, well, slow,) I thoroughly enjoy your thoughts and reason

I hope he recovers and can beat the cancer. It sounds serious and it is sad to see anyone in his condition.

I don't always agree with Hitchens but the man is an independent thinker and a great writer not to mention a man with a family.


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