Christopher and Peter Hitchens are two well known English writers/intellectuals who apparently disagree on many things–and particularly on religion.
Christopher is the devout atheist, Peter the devout Christian. Christopher is better known in the States for his books defending atheism and addressing the failings of organized religion.
Oh. One more thing–Christopher is dealing with esophageal cancer.
Despite attempts from his brother and other well-wishers, he still refuses to convert to Christianity as prospects of dying loom near.
Discussions of religious belief remain highly charged, controversial and deeply emotional. It is difficult for strong believers to debate such issues in anything close to dispassionate analysis. Religion is, after all, not a rational choice. It is about faith and belief, not proof and logic.
My own perspective might lie somewhere between the two Hitchens. I acknowledge the failings of organized religion and understand that they are all human constructs. I am deeply aware of the historical consequences of fanatical belief–wars, genocides, holocausts, jihads.
Yet I do acknowledge the good that organized religion can do–providing structure for the challenges of life including the rites of passage–birth, marriage, death. Religious people acting from the compassionate core of belief have done enormous good as well–charity, relief, caring.
I suppose my personal perspective favors a simplistic approach which recognizes the spiritual dimension to reality and an imperative to live a compassionate, caring, ethical existence NOT based on the desire to appease "god" or obediently follow he dictates of religion, but simply because it is the right, humane thing to do.
My own spiritual perspective is based on the evidence obtained from reliable sources who have experienced near-death experiences (NDE), after death communications (ADC) or medium related information.
To some this might seem as a weak and flimsy basis for belief. But the weight of accumulated "data" point me in that direction.
I have also gleaned various concepts from a variety of sources such as Buddhism and Kabbalah which appeal to me as well. Survival of consciousness and karma make sense to me. The view that our lives are spiritual journeys played out in human form offers meaning in the face of obvious tragedy and suffering. Reincarnation and the opportunity to learn and evolve also seem valid to me.
So perhaps I am the brother in between the Hitchens boys. Someday we will all find out who is "right". But for now we all need to live each day to the best of our abilities.