From Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True blog (October 9, 2011), we learn: “Hitchens makes rare appearance in Texas”:
Christopher Hitchens showed up at the Texas Freethought Convention, where he appeared in a discussion with Richard Dawkins and received the Richard Dawkins Freethinker of the Year Award:
In introducing Hitchens and presenting him with the award that bears his name, Dawkins said that the old religious line that there are “no atheists in foxholes” is disproven daily by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is dying and he knows it, but stares reality in the eye without blinking, Dawkins said.
There seems to be no more pretense about whether Hitchens will survive his cancer, a situation that’s ineffably sad.
Apparently, Hitchens has been taking treatments for his esophageal cancer in Houston, so this isn’t one that can be blamed on Britain’s NHS (as as commenter has pointed out, he is a naturalized US citizen now). Here’s more from Chron.com. (More on survival rates for this cancer.)
Curiously, Christopher Hitchens’ brother Peter used to be an atheist too:
On a cycling trip to Burgundy he saw Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th-century Last Judgment, and this made a lasting impression. “I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of hell. 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.”
As so often, it was guilt, not fear, that changed his mind. The problem was not, what if I cease to exist at death, but yikes!, what if I don’t?
Here’s the two brothers in debate: