Tag Archive: Christopher Hitchens


The death Christopher Hitchens at the age of 62 comes as no surprise but robs the world of one of the great orators of our age. I didn’t always agree with his views, notably his support of the US attack on Iraq, but his opinions were always rationally argued and delivered with a wit and eloquence that put most public figures in the shade.

For this reason, I prefer watching clips of him on You Tube to reading his columns or books. This video of him talking about death and the afterlife  seems apt in the sad circumstances:

 Related links:
Illness made Hitchens a symbol of the honesty and dignity of atheism (Richard Dawkins – The Independent)
Consummate writer, brilliant friend (Ian McEwan – The Guardian)
Christopher Hitchens remembered (Slate tributes)

It may sound morbid, but I wanted to read this book before Christopher Hitchens dies.

Sadly. as Hitchens acknowledges in the introduction, his demise is likely to come sooner rather than later. He is undergoing chemotherapy for oesophageal cancer and the odds of making a recovery are not good.

Anyone thinking that this serious condition might make him reassess his rejection of belief in the afterlife or what he calls the “sinister fairy tales of Christianity” should think again. His illness has actually made him more determined to reaffirm his position: “The irruption of death into my life has enabled me to express a trifle more concretely my contempt for the false consolation of religion, and belief in the centrality of science and reason”.

This book confirms Hitchens as a high profile intellectual who revels in the chance of a good argument which is for him, far preferable to boredom, in the same way that hostility is preferable to indifference . This explains why he declares that his ideal place to live is “in a state of conflict or in a conflicted state”.

If you read this book, as I did, hoping to learn more about the man behind the public profile, you will be disappointed. This is a memoir rather than an autobiography so we read of events, people and places that have influenced him but find out very little about his private life. Continue reading

KUNKLE WOBBLE SHIFTS STARS

Parke Kunkle demonstrates the wobble effect.

The fact that approximately one-fourth of those living in the US believe in astrological signs is almost as depressing as the statistic that over 90%  believe in god or a universal spirit.

And judging by the viral reaction to an interview in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis it seems that many are also prepared to believe the word of a Minnesota Planetarium Society board member by the name of Parke Kunkle .

He it was who has confidently affirmed that a  “wobble” in the Earth’s rotation has caused changes in the signs of the zodiac. As a result there are, according to Kunkle, thirteen star signs instead of twelve. The new addition is Ophiuchus. Continue reading

If God really is as great as many people claim , he (she?)  would show some compassion and grant Christopher Hitchens a longer life.

Yet, as Hitchens is the first to  concede, the chances of him making a full recovery from cancer of the esophagus are very slim indeed.

If, as some will doubtless argue,  his condition  is the work of a vengeful deity then they should also be prepared to explain why the almighty has such sadistic tendencies – a thunderbolt would be more humane.

The truth of the matter is that the victims of this terrible disease are just as likely to be saints as sinners so when the chips are down it matters not one jot whether you a fervent believer or  unrepentant heathen.

Hitchens’ 2007 book, God Is Not Great,  may not convince entrenched believers of such a secular perspective but if you have even a merest shadow of a doubt of the higher being’s infallibility, I would urge you to read his arguments with an open mind.

At the very least the book should make you question the credibility of holy texts and the blind acceptance of religious teachings. Continue reading

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