A virgin can conceive. A dead body can walk again. Your leprosy can be cured. The blind can see. Nonsense. It’s not moral to lie to children. It’s not moral to lie to ignorant, uneducated people and tell them that if they only would believe nonsense, they can be saved. It’s immoral.— Christopher Hitchens
The most staggering Christopher Hitchens quotes that are glad to read
Alcohol is an excellent servant and a terrible master.
If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.
Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.
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.
Human beings are pattern-seeking animals who will prefer even a bad theory or a conspiracy theory to no theory at all.
High moral character is not a precondition for great moral accomplishments.
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.
Why do humans exist? A major part of the answer: because Pikaia Gracilens survived the Burgess decimation.
Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things.
.. one of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.
The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that 'if English was good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for me.
The transformation of part of the northern part of this continent into "America" inaugurated a nearly boundless epoch of opportunity and innovation, and thus deserves to be celebrated with great vim and gusto, with or without the participation of those who wish they had never been born.
No possible future government in Kabul can be worse than the Taliban, and no thinkable future government would allow the level of Al Qaeda gangsterism to recur. So the outcome is proportionate and congruent with international principles of self-defense.
Endless praise and adoration, limitless abnegation and abjection of self; a celestial North Korea.
Evolution has meant that our prefrontal lobes are too small, our adrenal glands are too big, and our reproductive organs apparently designed by committee; a recipe which, alone or in combination, is very certain to lead to some unhappiness and disorder.
My own opinion is enough for me. And I claim the right to defend it against any consensus, any majority anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.
Here’s someone who says there’s no such thing, it’s all intelligent design. How sure am I of my own views? Don’t take refuge in the false security of consensus, and the feeling that whatever you think you’re bound to be okay, because you’re in the safely moral majority.
Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.
We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.
Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.
The true essence of a dictatorship is in fact not its regularity but its unpredictability and caprice; those who live under it must never be able to relax, must never be quite sure if they have followed the rules correctly or not.
In the ordinary moral universe, the good will do the best they can, the worst will do the worst they can, but if you want to make good people do wicked things, you’ll need religion.
Who are your favourite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.
What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.
MT [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.
There is a limit to the success of conservative populism and the exploitation of "little guy" or "silent majority" rhetoric, and it is very often reached because of the emaciated, corrupted personalities of the demagogues themselves.
How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.
To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation - is that good for the world?
Margaret Thatcher has shown that there is power and dignity to be won by defying the status quo and the majority rather than by adapting to them. If the British left, which she froze into immobility like Medusa, could bring itself to learn from this, then we might not have to look upon her like again.
Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.
The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.
The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.
I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.
Skepticism rather than credulity is the highest principle that the human intellect can use to ennoble our existence.
One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human pre-history where nobody - not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms - had the smallest idea what was going on.
I'm not afraid of being dead, that's to say there's nothing to be afraid of.
I won't know I'm dead, would be my strong conviction. And if I find that I'm alive in any way at all, that'll be a pleasant surprise. I quite like surprises.
Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.
I have no time to waste on this planet being told what to do by those who think that God has given them instructions.
Shepherds don't look after sheep because they love them - although I do think some shepherds like their sheep too much. They look after their sheep so they can, first, fleece them and second, turn them into meat. That's much more like the priesthood as I know it.
It [defending Salmon Rushdie] was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual and the defense of free expression.
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.
We have preachers and savants who dilate endlessly on the sanctity of family and childhood but who tolerate a system in which a casual observer can correlate a child's social origin with its physical well-being.
I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.
To the dumb question, 'Why me?' the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, 'Why not?'
I'm a member of no party. I have no ideology. I'm a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that's all around us.
The secular state is the guarantee of religious pluralism.
This apparent paradox, again, is the simplest and most elegant of political truths.
I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
It was not for the sake of oil that the risky decision to cease this corrupt coexistence was made. But at least now the Iraqi people have a chance of controlling their own main resource, and it will be our task to ensure that the funding and revenue are transparent instead of opaque.
The best blended Scotch in the history of the world - which was also the favourite drink of the Iraqi Baath Party, as it still is of the Palestinian Authority and the Libyan dictatorship and large branches of the Saudi Arabian royal family - is Johnnie Walker Black. Breakfast of champions, accept no substitute.
I say 'Merry Christmas' to people I don't know, or to people I know are Christians. I say 'Happy Hanukkah' to people I know to be or suspect to be Jewish. And I don't say 'Happy Kwanzaa,' because I think African Americans get enough insults all year round.