Hitchens Brothers Take Opposite Sides in Civilization, God Debate

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By Michelle A. Vu

WASHINGTON – Famed atheist Christopher Hitchens and his lesser known atheist-turned-Christian brother Peter Hitchens debated Tuesday over whether a civilization can survive without God.

Christopher, the elder of the two Hitchens, argued that civilization can survive without God and noted that millions of people in modern societies today are living in a post-religious society. He began his talk by discussing the word “Christendom,” or the Christian world, which has since disappeared.

“It’s hard to argue that they (people who live in post-religious society) lead conspicuously less civilized lives than their predecessor,” said Hitchens, author of the book God is Not Great, at a luncheon hosted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington.

But younger brother Peter, who is a practicing, conservative Anglican, pointed to a decaying society in the post-Christian world. In particular, he noted that the neighborhood in England he grew up in is now overrun by gangs. The younger Hitchens contended that the deterioration of British society is partly due to the decline of Christianity in the country.

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