Nearly two months after being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, famed atheist Christopher Hitchens has lost much of his hair but his unbelief remains intact.
In his first television interview this week with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Hitchens said the only time he may "hedge [his] bets" is if he is very ill and half demented and doesn't have control over what he says.
While "the faithful love to spread these rumors" that on his death bed he finally accepted Christ, the atheist said he would not do "such a pathetic thing" while he's lucid.
"I could be quite sure of that," he told Cooper. And if there are any rumors saying otherwise, he said, "Don't believe it."
In June, Hitchens woke up one morning in New York feeling that maybe he was dying.
"The whole cave of my chest and thorax seemed to have been hollowed out and then refilled with slow-drying cement," he described in Vanity Fair magazine. "I could faintly hear myself breathe but could not manage to inflate my lungs."
Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and most recently Hitch-22, discovered he had esophageal cancer – the same cancer his father died of.
Though his father lived to be 79, Hitchens – who smoked and drank frequently – is 61 and the statistics in his case are very poor, he said.
"Not many people come through esophageal cancer and live to talk about it, or not for long," he said on CNN.
Hitchens – who has asserted that he distrusts anything that contradicts science or outrages reason and does not believe in heaven or hell – said he does not pray even as he faces a tough form of cancer.
"That's all meaningless to me," he said. "I don't think souls or bodies can be changed by incantation or anything else."
He expressed earlier that he was surprised by the number of prayer groups that formed – many of which are praying that Hitchens makes peace with God and gets saved. And he doesn't want to stop them.
"I say if it makes you feel better, then you have my blessing," he said of those praying for him.