I was shocked to learn that Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, at age 62. He was an author, journalist, critic, and one of the world's foremost intellectuals. The NYTimes described Hitchens as "a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief [God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, a book which everyone, believer or non-believer, should read], and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq."
According to Wikipedia, "Identified as a champion of the 'New Atheism' Movement, Hitchens described himself as an antitheist and a believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Hitchens said that a person 'could be an atheist and wish that belief in cod were correct,', but that "an antitheist is someone who is relieved that there's no evidence for such an assertion. He argued that the concept of god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization."
The Huffington Post notice features a video of Hitchens holding forth on "the benefits of reading your own obituary." He wrote in Vanity Fair that "In whatever kind of 'race' life may be, I am very abruptly become a finalist. He died of pneumonia as a complication of esophageal cancer.
Hitchens was an original thinker with a rapier wit. Here are two videos featuring him addressing audiences on religion in general, and evangelical bullies like Jerry Falwell in particular. Hitchens did not suffer fools gladly, and did not hesitate to call a space a spade. He will be missed.
Erratum ~ Yesterday I celebrated Beethoven's birthday a day early. To my knowledge it is the first time in the history of this forum that I've beat the other horses out of the gate so terribly. I'm not certain which troubles me more, that I posted a day early, or that no one appears to have noticed. In any event, happy birthday (again), Ludwig.