December 16, 2011
Christopher Hitchens died Thursday of complications from esophageal cancer. He was 62.
“Christopher Hitchens was a gifted writer and polemicist, with razor-sharp wit and an acute intellect, who was also a steadfast champion for secularism,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). “We are deeply saddened by his death.”
Hitchens was prolific, writing on a number of topics through his varied career as an author and journalist. His works covered topics as diverse as the Elgin marbles, Mother Teresa, and the equivocations of Bill Clinton.
Fortunately for those concerned about the influence of religion, Hitchens also turned his wide-ranging intellect to religion. His 2007 book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, became a best seller, and Hitchens became a well-known debater on the topic of religion. In the last several years, he was a fixture as a speaker for many secular organizations, including CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism.
Hitchens was a long-time columnist for Free Inquiry.
Hitchens left us many words of wisdom. But perhaps one quote stands out. In God Is Not Great, Hitchens wrote, “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” In this concise, insightful observation, Hitchens captures all that needs to be said about the independence of morality from religion.
Hitchens has left humanists and atheists a rich legacy of logic, fearless advocacy, and wit. It’s up to us to make good use of it.