Wow, he's saying he'd rather be dead than see God get any credit for his recovery. He'd rather die than be wrong in his atheist beliefs. Thus, essenstially, he'd rather be dead than have to live with God. It's a shame he will very probably learn the eternal implications of that mindset the hard way.
Yeah, that line stuck me the same way. Hitchens has got himself into the sort of lethally ironic situation in which the only way he wins is if he loses--only he won't be around to gloat about it when he does. And if (may God will it despite him) he does live, it will be under conditions that he at least fears will serve to undermine everything he's been going on about--if not in the minds of his targets, then--perhaps most unbearably of all--in his own mind. To save face, he's already pre-emptively ruled out any effect that a death-bed conversion might have on popular opinion by claiming that it would be the result of failing mental powers, drug-induced dementia, or mortal terror, which are apparently the only motives he can conceive of for a belief in God--which is part of his problem. (Not that mortal terror can't be a good place to start--it's just not a good place to still be at a couple of years down the road.)
It's a shame he will very probably learn the eternal implications of that mindset the hard way.
Probability and the history of the personality involved certainly suggest that this is the most likely outcome. But you never can tell--mortal terror has the effect of (in the words of Samuel Johnson} clearing the mind wonderfully, by displaying sharply antithetical (and absolutely final) alternatives and then demanding what might be called an existential leap. What happens under those conditions, no man--not even the one making the leap--may reliably predict until the moment is upon him, and he may not be consciously aware even then why he has chosen what he has chosen--only that some unsuspected and essential something has compelled him to leap one way or the other. Moments like this are hidden in glorious mystery, and are, I suspect, one of the reasons God created us with free will in the first place, and refuses to affect it directly--so that (in a sense) even He can be "surprised" by what happens next!
In our discussion of all this, I am afraid that we may forget that Mr. Hitchens is not a lay figure or a straw man in an idle philosophical debate--he is an actual man actually dying: and I would hate for any reluctance he might have about surviving after our prayers for him to be based on his very likely suspicion that he would be twitted and jeered at by many for changing his mind about God on the edge of disaster, or that our prayers would forever after be thrown back into his face as "evidence" that he was wrong about us after all. He is standing at precisely that point--in fear of his life--that most of us would do anything to avoid facing, but will nevertheless have to face eventually, one way or another; and whether he agrees with it or not--and especially if he doesn't--he needs our prayers.
What he does with the results of them is up to him. And the same goes for us.