I was genuinely saddened this morning when one of the first things I saw on my news feed was the death of Chris Hitchens. While I strongly disagreed with some of his points of view I had great respect for his intellect and articulateness and the whole hearted way in which he immersed himself in his convictions. And he always forced me to think, and think hard and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay any writer. Obviously, as an atheist, I agreed with most of his writings on the subject and was always a fan of his biting humour.
I also think he would have appreciated the flame war on twitter where Christians are behaving in a non-Christian manner (as some of them are wont to do) and threatening violence on those atheists who have begun using God is not Great in a hash tag as a tribute to the man (http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474980917773) . I can't help but think that Hitch would be amused by this one last controversy.
The world has suddenly become a much dumber place over night and I'll end with thoughts the man himself had of death:
"I'm not afraid of death myself, because I'm not going to know I'm dead."
"I have often thought that when I do die it will be out of sheer boredom."
"I do not especially like the idea that one day I shall be tapped on the shoulder and informed, not that the party is over but that it is most assuredly going on - only henceforth in my absence... MUCH more horrible, though, would be the announcement that the party was continuing forever, and that I was forbidden to leave."
and finally, as I'm sure we'll be enduring endless nonsense in the coming days:
"If I turn out to be mistaken [about the Afterlife], at the bar of judgment, I shall argue that I deserve credit for an honest conviction of unbelief and must in any case be acquitted of the charge of hypocrisy and sycophancy. If the omnipotent and omniscient one does turn out to be of the loving kind, I would expect this plea to do me more good than any trashy casuistry of the sort popularized by Blaise Pascal. One could also fall back upon the less-principled and more shiftily empirical defense offered by Bertrand Russell: 'Oh Lord, you did not give us enough evidence'."