Chris Hitchens, atheists and fighter for freethought, has died
Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, December 15. Mr. Hitchens had battled cancer for quite a while. He was an atheist and a supporter of reason and humanity over dogma and superstition. He was an excellent writer and debater. His book, God is not Great, I found a masterfully well written (and entertaing piece) on objections to religion. Let's face it, without men and women like Hitchens, religion would have even more of a free pass than it enjoys today.
Mr. Hitchens, who was of British birth but became an American citizen, could have of course never runned for public office in America, at least beyond a very local level. Religious superstition is a de facto requirement in such a thing. In fact, it is better to have the superstition being Islam or Hinduism, than none at all. I am sure that already right now, Christian right-wingers are telling themselves, and othes, that Hitchens converted on his death bed. Anyone of any fame who ever was a nonbeliever or who challenged their dominance, have been told the same about themselves.
In fact, it is quite an honor to have such a myth told about you. Charles Darwin himself, had such a thing told about him, after his death. Theists commonly state that people are put on earth by their deity with a plan. Well, if so, than Hitchens was put on earth to help bring reason, freethought and knowledge to his fellow human beings.
Here are quotes by Mr. Hitchens:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
“[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”
“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.”
“Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”
“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
“Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.”