Sad news from a few days ago informs me that Christopher Hitchens has died. I certainly didn’t share all of Hitchens’ beliefs, but he was a man of both wit and conviction, and I admired that he always argued both forcefully and in good faith. He didn’t pull ideological cheap shots, because, one got the sense, those were beneath him. When he gave offense it was only due to his scathing wit and his refusal to hedge or pad his beliefs. He said what he meant and refused to pull punches. He was a voice against sophistry and for reason.

I found this quote, reproduce in The Portable Atheist particularly apropos:

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali