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So long Chris Hitchens

December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens died today.

The world is a little less smart. And a little less honest.©

I never thought that we would need a Chris Hitchens in the world – believing that we would have all moved on from the child-like notions of organized religion back in the ‘70’s. But not only did we need him, we will need him more than ever in the coming years.

Conservatives are on the march these days, so the untimely death of Hitchens will be a step backwards for complacent liberals everywhere.

Children everywhere love/need a simplistic answer to their profound questions. “Daddy, where did we come from?” my daughter asked me when she was three.

“From an omnipotent Father”, I told her. “All-knowing, All-seeing.” It was as good an answer as any. At the time.

We now know that at the core of every single atom in the universe is a tiny spark of energy, that comes into, and goes out of existence (and comes back into existence…) at its own whim.

Where it goes, or conversely, where it comes from, we do not know. I’m sure that in a grand existence of multiple universes it dances around wherever it wants – never really “leaving” or “coming” – but simply existing.

The background noise to everything that is.

But to think the orthodox – be they Rabbis, Bishops, or Imams – can tell you that it’s God, and that the laws are revealed to them in sacred scripture, has always been, for me, utter nonsense.

But the Orthodox really do think like children. That is why they can be so malicious in their retributions against those who do not agree with them (which, for any particular religion, would be the majority of the world). It’s what allowed orthodox Jews this week to burn mosques in Israel. Or for the Taliban to bomb kindergarten classes in Afghanistan. And Christian history is full of inquisitions and book burnings and witch-hunts.

Organized religion – when it is in the hands of the orthodox – is a terrorist organization. Or an Organized Crime Syndicate. Take your pick. Christians. Jews. Muslims. Hindus. Buddhists. All of them.

We are a sub-species of Mammals who are still afraid of the dark. At some point in the last 10,000 years we stepped through the door of our own self-awareness – we ate of the tree – and were banished forever to the slavery of free will.

Chris Hitchens made his mark by declaring that enough-was-enough.

“God” was not great.

In fact, there was no God.

There is only us, and our wits. The planet is a fabulously beautiful flower blooming against a mysterious and dark backdrop of heavens, and we are the garden-keepers.

To kill, maim, control, destroy, and imprison in the name of your God (insert your God here) is the behaviour of Neanderthals. It is an ancient and tragic and stupid form of Tribalism.

That so many still insist on a literal interpretation of desert stories that date back 3,000 years is nonsensical beyond believe and does not bode well for our future – and how we will actually deal with the real problems of our times.

For their will be no God to protect us from ourselves and our insatiable dark desire to annihilate ourselves and destroy the environment in the process. For if the mouth of the Tigris River in southern Iraq was once the inspiration for our ideas of the Garden of Eden, that desert region of the world is now the siren call to all of our futures.

So, I sit here with a shot of scotch (Hitchens’ favourite drink) and salute one of the great voices for reason and intelligence. Who castigated against the forces of ignorance and superstition.

I’m sure he is already smoking cigars at some bar in Heaven with Mordecai Richler and Oscar Wilde.

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