Though he was born to Christian parents and grew up at a Christian boarding school, writer and critic, Christopher Hitchens was one of the leading antitheists and religious detractors in the contemporary world. These thought-provoking Christopher Hitchens quotes will make you question everything.
Christopher Hitchens began interesting himself with philosophy, theology, and politics as a college student at Oxford, England. When he was 21, he immigrated to the United States where he led a flourishing career as a journalist from the 1970s onward. He became famous for his smart and witty commentary on people like Mother Theresa, Bill Clinton, and the Royal Family.
Hitchens was an outspoken antitheist and earned the Freethinker of the Year Award for his book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
No matter what your personal beliefs are, it is said that it is wise to hear all perspectives in conversation. Here is our list of thought-provoking Christopher Hitchens quotes on life, religion, and morality.
Don’t forget to also check out these atheist quotes for asking valuable questions.
Christopher Hitchens quotes about religion
1. “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.” — Christopher Hitchens
2. “The thing about religion is that it’s the first and the worst. The worst because it’s the first.” — Christopher Hitchens
3. “Religion makes intelligent people say and do wacky things, believe and affirm crazy things.” — Christopher Hitchens
4. “I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah and that he rose again from the dead and by His sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.” — Christopher Hitchens
5. “It’s a curious thing in American life that the most abject nonsense will be excused if the utterer can claim the sanction of religion. A country that forbids an established church by law is prey to any denomination. The best that can be said is that this is pluralism of a kind.” — Christopher Hitchens
6. “How dismal it is to see present-day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.” — Christopher Hitchens
7. “Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, religion no longer offers an explanation for anything important.” — Christopher Hitchens
8. “Even if I accepted that Jesus – like almost every other prophet on record – was born of a virgin, I cannot think that this proves the divinity of his father or the truth of his teachings. The same would be true if I accepted that he had been resurrected.” — Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens quotes about antitheism
9. “If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.” — Christopher Hitchens
10. “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.” — Christopher Hitchens
11. “Beware the irrational, however seductive.” — Christopher Hitchens
12. “Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself.” — Christopher Hitchens
13. “I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with ‘you’ in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.” — Christopher Hitchens
14. “To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation – is that good for the world?” — Christopher Hitchens
15. “There are, after all, atheists who say they wish the fable were true but are unable to suspend the requisite disbelief, or who have relinquished belief only with regret. To this, I reply: who wishes that there was a permanent, unalterable celestial despotism that subjected us to continual surveillance and could convict us of thought-crime, and who regarded us as its private property even after we died? How happy we ought to be, at the reflection that there exists not a shred of respectable evidence to support such a horrible hypothesis.” — Christopher Hitchens
16. “Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.” — Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens quotes about life
17. “I have a strong constitution which has served me quite well, though if I hadn’t had such a strong one I might have led a more healthy life perhaps.” — Christopher Hitchens
18. “If you’ve led a rather bohemian and rackety life, as I have, it’s precisely the cancer that you’d expect to get. That’s a bit of a yawn.” — Christopher Hitchens
19. “Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others.” — Christopher Hitchens
20. “Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity.” — Christopher Hitchens
21. “Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.” — Christopher Hitchens
22. “Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.” — Christopher Hitchens
23. “If asked my opinion about virginity, I would say, “I’m opposed to it.” I don’t think it deserves to be celebrated, at any rate. Or at least, if I’m not opposed, I’m very highly skeptical and critical of it.” — Christopher Hitchens
24. “Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.” — Christopher Hitchens
25. “Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.” — Christopher Hitchens
26. “I’m not afraid of being dead, that’s to say there’s nothing to be afraid of. I won’t know I’m dead, would be my strong conviction. And if I find that I’m alive in any way at all, that’ll be a pleasant surprise. I quite like surprises.” — Christopher Hitchens
27. “One can’t live without fear, it’s a question of what is your attitude towards fear? I’m afraid of a sordid death. I’m afraid that I will die in an ugly or squalid way, and cancer can be very vigorous in that respect.” — Christopher Hitchens
28. “I’d like to prove to other people that it’s not the end of everything to be diagnosed with cancer.” — Christopher Hitchens
29. “To the dumb question, ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, ‘Why not?’” — Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens quotes about morality
30. “High moral character is not a precondition for great moral accomplishments.” — Christopher Hitchens
31. “A virgin can conceive. A dead body can walk again. Your leprosy can be cured. The blind can see. Nonsense. It’s not moral to lie to children. It’s not moral to lie to ignorant, uneducated people and tell them that if they only would believe nonsense, they can be saved. It’s immoral.” — Christopher Hitchens
32. “I’m not very impressed by people who yell “traitor” and “communist” and other less printable things. I don’t like it.” — Christopher Hitchens
33. “Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” — Christopher Hitchens
34. “Islamophobia: a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.” — Christopher Hitchens
35. “What they [the 9/11 attackers] abominate about ‘the west’, to put it in a phrase, is not what western liberals don’t like and can’t defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state.” — Christopher Hitchens
36. “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” — Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens quotes about humanity
37. “What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.” — Christopher Hitchens
38. “Human beings are pattern-seeking animals who will prefer even a bad theory or a conspiracy theory to no theory at all.” — Christopher Hitchens
39. “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” — Christopher Hitchens
40. “MT [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” — Christopher Hitchens
41. “Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things… one of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.” — Christopher Hitchens
42. “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.” — Christopher Hitchens
More thought-provoking Christopher Hitchens quotes
43. “If people I’ve never met or don’t know say that what I’ve written or done or said means anything to them, then I’m happy to take it at face value, for once. It cheers me up.” — Christopher Hitchens
44. “Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish.” — Christopher Hitchens
45. “Picture all experts as if they were mammals.” — Christopher Hitchens
46. “Suspect your own motives, and all excuses.” — Christopher Hitchens
47. “The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.” — Christopher Hitchens
48. “The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has—from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.” — Christopher Hitchens
49. “To ‘choose’ dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.” — Christopher Hitchens
50. “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” — Christopher Hitchens
What does morality mean to you?
Christopher Hitchens was a prolific writer who, in addition to his works in newspapers and journals, wrote 12 books and co-wrote, edited, or co-edited over 30 books. He was a world traveler and studied humanity and politics closely. He was liberal-leaning and in 2009, Forbes magazine listed him as one of the ‘25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media.’
Though he was a strong outspoken antitheist, Hitchens was not without morality. He believed strongly in his own moral code and believed morality was a human trait, not a religious consequence. He believed that all religions taught the same non-truth and that they were harmful, authoritarian, and were in conflict with freedom and scientific discovery.
We hope you enjoyed these Christopher Hitchens quotes and sayings. Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
April 8, 2021 7:00 AM EST