Posts Tagged ‘quotes’

A Selection of Quotes from the Linguistic Genius of Christopher Hitchens



The clue is in the title.

On the importance of reaching agreement

I’m not looking for consensus, baby, I’m just not in the mood.

On the Church of England

It not only calls itself a flock, it looks very sheep-like.

On Mother Teresa

I would describe Mother Teresa as a fraud, a fanatic and a fundamentalist.

Everything everybody thinks they know about her is false.  Not just most of the things; all the things.  It must be the single most successful emotional con-job of the 20th century.  She was corrupt, nasty, cynical and cruel.

I would say it was a certainty that millions of people died because of her work and millions more were made poorer, stupider, more sick, more diseased, more fearful and more ignorant.

When Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, few people had the poor taste to ask what she had ever done, or even claimed to do for the cause of peace.

What’s motherly about her by the way?  Hideous virgin and fraud and fanatic and fundamentalist.  Shrivelled old bat.  As far from the nurture of motherhood as a woman could decently get!

MT was not a friend of the poor.  She was a friend of poverty.

On which side bears the burden of evidence

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

On fairness of the ad hominem argument

A man once accused me of trying to assassinate his character.  I said, “No, your character committed suicide a long time ago”.

On the intrinsic value of religious debate

Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.

On the death of controversial American televangelist, Jerry Falwell

I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.

The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing.  That you can get away with the most extraordinary offences to morality and to truth in this country, if you’ll just yourself called ‘reverend’.”

He woke up every morning, pinching his chubby little flanks, thinking ‘I’ve got away with it again’.

From his wobbly base of opportunist fund raising and degree-mill money-spinning in Lynchburg, Va., he set out to puddle his sausage-sized fingers into the intimate arrangements of people who had done no harm.

If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.

On religious faith as a guide to morality

My mother’s Jewish ancestors are told that until they got to Sinai, they’d been dragging themselves around the desert under the impression that adultery, murder, theft and perjury were all fine, and got to Mount Sinai only to be told it’s not kosher after all.

The Hitchens Challenge on whether there is a divine source to human morality

Name a moral statement or action, uttered or performed by a religious person that could not have been uttered or performed by an unbeliever.  I am still waiting for a response to this.  It carries an incidental corollary: think of a wicked action or statement that derived directly from religious faith, and you know what?  There is no tongue-tied silence at THAT point.  Everybody can instantly think of an example.

On the Bishop of Carlisle’s remarks that the 2007 floods in England were divine punishment for society’s acceptance of homosexuality

If there was a connection between metrology and morality, and religion has very often argued that there is, I don’t see why the floods hit northern Yorkshire.  I can think of some parts of London where they would have done a lot more good.

On his need for a soapbox

It’s the old demagogue in me.  I need the pulpit.  I need the podium.  And if I can’t be erect, then at least I can be upright.

On the Church’s co-operation with Fascism throughout the 1930s and 40s

Up to 50% of the Waffen-SS were confessing Catholics; none of them was ever excommunicated, even threatened with it, for taking part in the Final Solution.  But Joseph Goebbels was excommunicated.  For… marrying a Protestant!  You see, we do have our standards!

On Dubya’s contribution to the evolution –v- creationism/ intelligent design debate to “teach the argument” to school children

There isn’t an argument.  You don’t hear people saying, ‘Well children, chemistry class is over and then we’ll have a break and then there’ll be the alchemy period.’  ‘After we’ve done our astronomy, darlings, it’ll be the astrology class.’  You don’t get that and it would be ludicrous and hateful if it were.  But under the cover of religion, there is no stupidity that can’t be advocated.  But if that’s going to be the case and we’re going to teach the argument: then any church that gets a tax break or any church that gets any subsidy from the Faith Based Initiative, has to teach Darwin in Sunday school.  Is the President aware of this implication?  I take leave to doubt it.

On incitement to religious hatred law

Somebody said that anti-Semitism and Kristallnacht in Germany was the result of ten years of Jew bating.  Ten years?!  You must be joking!   It’s the result of 2,000 years of Christianity, based on one verse of one chapter of St. John’s Gospel, which led to a pogrom after every Easter sermon every year for hundreds of years. Because it claims that the Jews demanded the blood of Christ be on the heads of themselves and all their children to the remotest generation.

On the human condition

Our problem is this: our prefrontal lobes are too small.  And our adrenaline glands are too big.  And our thumb/ finger opposition isn’t all that it might be.  And we’re afraid of the dark, and we’re afraid to die, and we believe in the truths of holy books that are so stupid and so fabricated that a child can – and all children do, as you can tell by their questions – see through them.

On the Koran

It makes quite large claims for itself, doesn’t it?  It says it’s the final revelation.  It says that god spoke to one illiterate businessman in the Arabian peninsula three times through an archangel, and the resulting material – which as you can see when you read it – is largely plagiarised from the Old and the New Testament.   Almost all of it actually plagurised, ineptly – from the Old and the New Testament – is to be accepted as a divine revelation and as the final and unalterable one and those who do not accept this revelation are fit to be treated as cattle, infidels, potential chattel, slaves and victims.

Well I tell you what, I don’t think Mohammad ever heard those voices.  I don’t believe it.  And the likelihood that I’m right, as opposed to the likelihood that a businessman who couldn’t read, had bits of the Old and the New Testament re-dictated to him by an archangel, I think puts me much more near the position of being objectively correct.

On the Bible

Look anywhere you like in the world for slavery, for the subjection of women as chattel, for the burning and flogging of homosexuals, for ethnic cleansing, for anti-Semitism, for all of this, you look no further than a famous book that’s on every pulpit in this city.

On people’s expectations of other people

If you hear the Pope saying he believes in God, you think, well, the Pope is doing his job again today.  If you hear the Pope saying he’s really begun to doubt the existence of God, you begin to think he might be on to something.

On the importance of having your views challenged

How do I know that I know this, except that I’ve always been taught this and never heard anything else?  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 OK, because you’re in the safely moral majority.

On being well-travelled

I’ve been to all three Axis of Evil countries…

On endearing oneself to an audience in the Deep South

You know what they think about you people where I come from in the north.  You know what they think.  They think you’re just living in a wasteland of piety and prohibition, snake-handling, punctuated only by offences against chastity with domestic animals.  You and I know better.  We know that quite a lot of that’s not true.

On the Catholic Church’s policy of relocating priests guilty of paedophilia

In the very recent past, we have seen the Church of Rome befouled by its complicity with the unpardonable sin of child rape, or, as it might be phrased in Latin form, “no child’s behind left”.

On the fundamental element of telling good porkie pies

A good liar must have a good memory.  Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.

On religious faith as a source of consolation

I shall simply say that those who offer false consolation are false friends.

On the value of blind faith

Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals.  It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our scepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me.  Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.

On the appeal of Michael Moore

Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on.  And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.

On divine intervention

Miracles do not occur.  Dead people do not cure living people of disease.  It doesn’t happen, it’s a scandal.  There’s no tooth-fairy either.  There’s no Santa Claus.  I have to keep on breaking this stuff to people and every time they say, “Well, are you sure?”  And I say yes, absolutely I am.

On being a tad inebriated live on air

The woman is dead: D-E-A-D, it’s a four letter word.  There’s another four letter word.   All her biological and medical lines are flat: F-L-A-T.  She is the ex W-F-I-E of the wretched, luckless Michael Schiavo who has had to put up with great deal of innuendo and abuse also from your guests.

On freedom in religion

I don’t think it’s any more optional than Abraham saying to his son, “Do you want to come for a long and gloomy walk?”

On the Catholic Church’s moral equivalence of contraception with abortion

Aquinas believed that every single sperm contained a micro-embryo inside it and thus if you like – I hope I don’t offend anyone – hand jobs are genocide.  As for blow jobs; don’t start.

On the meaning of life

Well, I can only answer for myself.  What cheers me up?  I suppose mainly gloating over the misfortunes of other people.  I guess that has to be it, yeah, mainly crowing over the miseries of others.  It doesn’t always work, but it never completely fails.  And then there’s irony.  There’s irony, which is the gin in the Campari; the cream in the coffee.  Sex can have diminishing returns, but it’s amaaaazing.  No, that’s pretty much it and then it’s a clear run to the grave.

On the Archbishop of Canterbury

Dr Rowan Williams – who does the most perfect impersonation of a Welsh sheep I have ever seen – can go love his own fucking enemies; I don’t want him loving mine.

On the virgin birth

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise.  When his mother, Mary, was espoused with Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.’  Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danaë as a shower of gold and got her with child.  The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother’s flank.  Catilus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived.  The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdesteris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis.  The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan.  Krishna was born of the virgin Deveka.  Horus was born of the virgin Isis.  Mercury was born of the virgin Maia.  Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia.”

Even the Koran agrees that the Virgin Mary was born by an immaculate conception.  By the way, the Koran says that Jesus was not crucified at all, the Jews crucified someone else in his place and he never died.

There’s no end to the way that this kind of thing can be fabricated, but those who say you just tell by the potency and pungency of the story, for the memorability of it, that there must be something true about it, are simply inviting you to rely, not on your thinking faculties, or your intellectual capacity at all, but on straight-out credulity and on the repeated manufacture of things that appear to be part of the hard and soft wiring of legend in our mammalian primate history.

Apparently if you want to have a prophet, it’s better if his mother is a virgin.  Want to fabricate another one, that’s what will happen.

Actually, Joseph Smith [founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons], as far as I know, never made that claim.  But I think Mrs Smith was well enough known to the local newspaper reporters of the greater New York area, in which you can read up the whole history of that family, to make it rather unlikely that that thing could be sold.

On brotherly love

It’s awful to hear a member of the Hitchens family sounding like Harold Pinter on a bad day.

On credit where credit’s due

That was terrible, Dinesh.

[Ten minutes later, when D’Souza has sat through a humiliating rebuttal of the historical reliability of the New Testament and has had a second go in an attempt to repair the damage…]

Ok, so it goes on getting worse…

On the only safe way of getting oneself excommunicated by the Vatican

Pius Ncube goes.  The Vatican says, “That’s it, you’re no longer the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo.  You have to go, you’ve gone too far.”

Robert Mugabe, the communicant, the daily Catholic communicant, who thanks God for his electoral victory, which you may have seen, recently, celebrated so warmly by his people has not been forbidden the sacraments, hasn’t been excommunicated.

Now, Pius Ncube, the Bishop of Bulawayo, had an affair with his housekeeper.  Robert Mugabe has subjected his entire country to torture, famine, theft, expropriation, death, death squads and the rest of it, but it seems to me there is nothing he can do to get himself outside the church.  He’d probably have to recommend condoms or abortions at the rate he’s going before anything would be said about him, any condemnation would be thundered from the pulpit.

On choosing your words carefully

The phrase “mind-torched whack-jobs” that’s in the introduction to the paper this evening naturally upset me very much; I hate to be offensive or see religion lampooned, that’s why I didn’t call my book on Mother Teresa “Sacred Cow”, though something in me will always feel sorry that I didn’t do that.

On receiving the news that a screaming rabbi once held a chair at Oxford

I am bound to say that it seems there’s been a bit of a collapse of standards at my old university…

On Thomas Jefferson’s take on the Good Book

You can buy at any Unitarian book store to this day the Jefferson Bible which was what he found was left if he took a pair of scissors and cut out everything in the Bible that could not by any intelligent person believed be believed.  Makes for a slender, convenient read; I recommend it.

On the Torah as a moral guide

It’s true that genocide isn’t recommended in Genesis.  You have to read several books on before you are commanded to leave not one child of the Amalekites behind…  There are learned debates between rabbis in Israel, including rabbis of the Israeli defence force, on whether or not that commandment is still extant.  In other words whether the fact that there are no more Amalekites means that the commandment doesn’t work any more and learned commentaries are published on the possible applicability of this genocidal commandment to present-day conditions.  To know this is to tremble at the effects of religion on a people who are not supposed to have a reputation for bovine stupidity, let alone for racism, let alone for superstition.

On the inner-workings of Der Führer

I personally think I probably could overthrow the arguments for National Socialism in a fairly short time.  I would have great difficulty persuading myself that its founder and leader was a rational person.  I wouldn’t have declared war on the Soviet Union, the British Empire and the United States on the same year myself hoping to have a Thousand Year Reich; wouldn’t be the right way to go about it.

On Stephen Hawking overcoming physical impairment

There’s no secular case to be made for eugenics.  The whole point about our side is that we revere the brain.  If Hawking had no limbs at all and only a brain we’d like him the better for it.  But we would have something to ask perhaps about the person who designed him like that.

On the glory of god’s creation

I notice when people say, “Look at all we have to be thankful for,” or, “Look at what’s so wonderful,” they mean when the baby falls out of the window and bounced on the soft roof of a car, don’t they?  They say, “Oh, God had it his hand.”  They’ve nothing to say when the ditches are full of dead babies and no one did a thing.

Look at the beauty of the design of the plague vassilis or the incredible eagerness and hunger and ruthlessness and beauty of the cancer cell or the cobra.  Who created all this, is what I want to know?  If someone wants to take credit for this creation, let them take credit for the whole thing and for all the despair, misery that goes with it.  For all the babies that are born without brains at all, or with cancer, or with no chance of living beyond a day.  Who’s responsible for that?  In what mysterious ways does the divinity move when this occurs?

Wouldn’t you rather think, harsh as it is that at least it was all random?  But no, the solipsism must go on.

On his dream job

I’ve never wanted a political job, but if I was to be given grace and favour by the president, it would be the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco.

On the impossibility to excuse child rape

The rape and torture of children is not something to be relativised.  It’s not something to be excused as a few bad priests.  It’s certainly not be excused by the hideously false claim made by some Catholic conservatives that this wouldn’t have happened if queers hadn’t been allowed in the Church.   Sorry to say that queerdom in the Church is an old story too.  And it’s worse; it’s much worse than pornography and it’s much worse than bad language on TV.  And it’s the crime that cries out for punishment.  It’s the thing that if we were accused of on this side of the house we would die rather than admit.  And if we were guilty of it we would kill ourselves.  And it’s the one thing the Church has decided to excuse itself for under this papacy.

On the historicity of Matthew 27: 25 –v- the Final Solution

[Bishop Richard] Williamson… has long been a believer that – I’ll put this shortly – that the Holocaust did not occur, but the Jews did kill Christ.  In word others, “Genocide?  No.  Deicide?  Yes!”

On batting for the other side

For condemning my friend, Stephen Fry, for his nature.  For saying, “You couldn’t be a member of our Church, you’re born in sin.”  There’s a revolting piece of casuistry that’s sometimes offered on this point.  “Yeah, we hate the sin only.  We love the sinner”.  Stephen is, I’m sorry to say, not quite like other girls.  It’s his nature.  Actually, he is like other girls, in that he’s, when I last checked, absolutely boy-mad.  He’s not being condemned for what he does, he’s being condemned for who he is.  You’re a child made in the image of God.  Oh no you’re not, you’re faggot!  And you can’t join our Church and you can’t go to heaven.  This is disgraceful, it’s inhuman, it’s obscene, and it comes from a clutch of hysterical, sinister virgins who have already betrayed their charge in the children of their own Church.

On the only reason why he would like to see the Pope dead

I don’t wish any ill on any fellow primate or mammal of mine, even if this primate or mammal claims to be a primate in possession of a secret that is denied to me…  So I don’t at all look forward to the death of Joseph Ratzinger, I don’t.  Or any other Pope, not really.  Except for one tiny reason which I ought to confess and share with you.

When he dies, there’s quite a long interval till the conclave can meet to pick another Pope.  Sometimes it goes on for months till they get the white smoke.  And for that whole time, that whole interval – it’s a delicious, lucid interlude – there isn’t anyone on Earth who claims to be infallible.  Isn’t that nice?

All I want to propose in closing is this.  If the human species is to rise to the full height that’s demanded by its dignity and by its intelligence, we must all of us move to a state of affairs where that condition is permanent.  And I think we should get on with it.

On his primal urges

Those who ask confessions from other people should be willing to make one oneself.  I am obsessed with sex.  Ever since I discovered that my God-given male member was going to give me no peace, I decided to give it no rest in return.  Seems fair to me.

On the cure for world poverty

There is only one cure for world poverty that has ever been found or ever will and it’s very simple.  And it could be phrased very simply too.    It’s called the empowerment of women.  Go to Bangladesh or Bolivia – I have to ask you to hold your applause though I love you – go to Bangladesh or Bolivia, give women control over their reproduce cycle, throw in a handful of corn if you can, make them not just the beasts of burden and the beasts of childbearing that they’ve become and the floor will rise, it just will.  It never fails anywhere.  Against this one solution, the Catholic Church has set its face.  The efforts of the missionary Church in the Third World mean more people die, not less.  It’s as simple as that.  More famine, more disease, more ignorance, more random and avoidable death.

On the sort of person he would let near his children

I say that homosexuality is not just a form of sex; it’s a form of love and it deserves our respect for that reason.  In fact, when my children were young, I’d have been proud to have Stephen [Fry] as their babysitter and I’d tell them they were lucky.  And if anyone came to my door as a babysitter wearing holy orders, I’d first call a cab and then the police.

On the right to his own opinion

I don’t need a seconder.  My own opinion is enough for me and I claim the right to have it defended 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.