December 16th, 2011
08:25 AM ET

'A great voice falls silent': Christopher Hitchens tributes pour in on Twitter

By Nick Thompson, CNN

(CNN) - "My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends," wrote Christopher Hitchens in June before his death Friday from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 62.

Now, friends and peers of the British-American author have eulogized Hitchens on Twitter.

Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

The tributes were led by British novelist Salman Rushdie, who tweeted "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops."

Hitchens, an outspoken atheist and critic of religion, defended Rushdie when the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life in 1989 following the publication of "The Satanic Verses."

Richard Dawkins, a fellow atheist and author of "The God Delusion," tweeted: "Christopher Hitchens, finest orator of our time, fellow horseman, valiant fighter against all tyrants including God."

Read the full story here.
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Bible • Death

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. Emperor Norton

    It'd be nice if all the Christians on here would actually comment on atheism as it exists, as opposed to the angry, bitter straw man atheist many of them seem to have constructed for themselves.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • George

      That's because the only atheists we see on here are angry, bitter, and hateful.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I know you are, but what am I! Nyah nyah.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Rick

      Angry, bitter and hateful? That's everyday tripe for you, pendejo

      December 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      The problem is, you can't really comment on atheism because atheism isn't a religion. It's a lack of religion. Therefore it has no common thought processes. It's an unorganized group of people who don't believe in God. It's a bunch of people, no doubt with many differing viewpoints on the universe, who can believe in a wide variety of things as long as God is not one of them.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  2. Bjork Bjornsenjendensen

    It it really a shame that religious people never get to realize that they wasted their life on delusion. When they die and death turnes out to be exactly what it looks like – they just stop, simple as that – they don't get a moment or two to find out that they totally wasted their lives on an illusion when they could have been doing better things with their time. They never get that moment of enlightenment that the total lack of evidence for the existence of any deities did in fact mean there were none.

    Jesus, Thor, Athena, YHWH, Quetzlcoatl, Ra . . . superstitions, nothing more. And every religious person can easily see how absurd all the other religions are . . . but of course theirs is different.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  3. Ungodly Discipline

    RIP mate. You rocked.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  4. LinCA

    Sanity has lost a great spokesperson.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  5. Sam Yaza

    I drink my morning sake to this great man, may your body the soil and all though you do not believe may your soul to return to the cycle of life. Thank you for preaching the true evil written in the Abrahamic scriptures.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  6. that guy

    All dressed up and no where to go.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Nonimus

      ... just like everyone else.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    Morning has broken
    Like the first morning
    Blackbird has spoken
    Like the first bird
    Praise for the singing
    Praise for the morning
    Praise for them springing
    Fresh from the word

    Sweet the rains new fall
    Sunlit from heaven
    Like the first dew fall
    On the first grass
    Praise for the sweetness
    Of the wet garden
    Sprung in completeness
    Where his feet pass
    Mine is the sunlight
    Mine is the morning
    Born of the one light
    Eden so play
    Praise with elation
    Praise every morning
    God' s recreation
    Of the new day

    Morning has broken
    Like the first morning
    Blackbird has spoken
    Like the first bird
    Praise for the singing
    Praise for the morning
    Praise for them springing
    Fresh from the world

    (Farjeon Arr. Cat Stevens)

    December 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      It is a pity that Stevens converted to Islam. However, the great, wise, biblical Solomon turned apostate finally.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Electric Larry

      So Rainer, you couldn't think of anything to say, so you cut-and-pasted the insipid lyrics of a Muslim dingbat?

      Maybe you can post some Abba lyrics the next time you don't have anything in your head. Like right now.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Electric Larry

      Muslims at least don't dare to deny any divine creator.

      Regretably, they don't regocnize that The Creator and God is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

      Thus, atheists are worse than Muslims regarding their world view.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      One of my favorite songs. Thanks.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      The Bible proves that the Bible is wrong and that Christianity is a lie.

      I find that rather humorous.

      You keep convincing yourself that atheists are somehow worse than Muslims who stone women to death for being r@ped, behead those who disagree with their ideologies and suicide bomb innocent civilians for the "glory" of Allah.

      BTW – Allah is not a name, it is simply the Arabic word for God. You, the Muslims and the Jews all worship the same sociopathic genocidal r@pist.


      December 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Mike from CT


      Please explain "The Bible proves that the Bible is wrong and that Christianity is a lie." I am very interested.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Mike –

      I responded to you in another thread. If you'd like to go over it again here I'm more than willing to. Let me know.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Please, or post a link to which reply I know we have 4 of them going on

      I have not seen the "Bible is a lie" part, just the "I, in my opinion think it is absurd" not the same.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Ok well all my responses have been on this thread and the other one on Hitchens which are currently on the front page of the belief opinion page. I won't go super in depth as I know with a bit of browsing you will find them, but I will give at least one example right now.

      Genesis – according to the Word of God as written in the Bible, God made man (Adam) from dust and woman (Eve) from man's rib. He created the Heavens and the Earth in six days – just as they are now. Human beings, oak trees, German shepherds, kangaroos, the AIDS virus, gorillas, marijuana, red pandas and malaria. All living organisms were created just as they are today, and they've been here, unaltered, for all of Earth's history. According to the Bible.

      Except, we know that's not the case. We KNOW that life on this planet (and the planet's ecosystem and atmosphere themselves) evolved over literally BILLIONS of years. Human beings as we know ourselves have only been around for, at most, a couple hundred thousand years.

      So, the Bible got Genesis wrong. The Bible got Genesis wrong?? A book inspired by "God" couldn't even get the beginning of life on this planet right? If "God's" book is so very obviously and completely WRONG about this one very basic tenet, then how can I trust anything else it says?

      Do you see where I'm coming from?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Where does it say "just as they are now". Also AIDS would not have come in until after the fall.

      But it is funny how you after 20 years know billions of years of history then go on to confirm the bible about human existence.

      December 19, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  8. Jonathan

    Even though I've never heard of this man prior to this day, I am still saddened at his passing.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    From Wikipedia:

    "Hitchens often spoke out against the Abrahamic religions, or what he called "the three great monotheisms" (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). He said: "The real axis of evil is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam". In his book, God Is Not Great, Hitchens expanded his criticism to include all religions, including those rarely criticized by Western secularists such as Hinduism and neo-paganism. His book had mixed reactions, from praise in The New York Times for his "logical flourishes and conundrums"[129] to accusations of "intellectual and moral shabbiness" in the Financial Times.[130] God Is Not Great was nominated for a National Book Award on 10 October 2007.[131][132]"


    It is true that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Islam have caused a lot of sorrow for the mankind in history. I suppose Judaism affected the mankind merely a little.

    However, it is totally wrong to equate Catholizism and Christianity. Catholizism is merely distorted Christianity. Catholicism has nothing to do with true Christianity.

    Hitchen's statement Christianity would belong to the axis of evil is ridiculous. This statement has no objective basis.

    Was Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, evil? I guess, no. Christianity is good in itself like Jesus was good. It is i d i o t i c to equate the assessment of falsification of Christianity (for example the RCC) with the assessment of true Christianity.

    Christianity is good and was authorized and accredited by emperor Constantine the Great, who was the leader of the civilized world at his time. Thus, Christianity is the royal belief from time immemorial and everybody, who speaks out against Christianity commits a political offence.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • AGuest9

      Firstly, you accuse this Jesus (the so-called Christ) of being the "founder of Christianity". He supposedly told his followers of some deluded tales and instructed them to spread them as far as possible. His brother, James, grew power-hungry and took the reins of the group and formed a church in Jerusalem, based on his brother's musings. He grew it until he irritates those around him, and they killed him, as well as the other apostles (except "John", who we are expected to believe in those years, lived to over 100 years of age without the benefit of modern medicine).

      December 16, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      Deluded tales?

      Any proof?

      December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Clayton

      A political offense? Really? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

      December 16, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      @Rainer Braendlein, read the gospels.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  10. AGuest9

    Rest in Peace, Christopher Hitchens. You will be missed by all those who fight daily for free thought in our world.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Atheist Belief

      No point in saying that, he's dead and surely isn't aware of anything. Your thoughts are moot.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • AGuest9

      True, but it is customary to pay tribute to those of the greats no longer with us. His neurons have quit firing and he is no more.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  11. zAZENfreethink

    Such a great talent, great writer, great man, and one of the most logical, rational thinkers of our time.

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Hitchens. I learned a LOT from you.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  12. George

    He knows there's a God now.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • claybigsby

      maybe, maybe not...the fact you are working on the assumption of absolutes just shows your arrogance and ignorance.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Bob

      No, the great man known as Christopher Hitchens simply no longer exists.

      And George, you remain a stupid, deluded, ignorant, cowardly fool who believes in a vicious ass-hole of a god that doesn't exist.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • AGuest9

      How would he "know" that, George? His brain stopped working when the last electro-chemical impulse fired in his brain and the last neuron reached a quiesced state prior to its own death. Stop trying to scare us with your imagined boogeyman of a god.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Rick

      Old Georgie Boy.....still making statements you cannot prove? I suppose that bible up you rectum inhibits thought

      December 16, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Rick

      Georgie sees god as a p-r-i-c-k, which suggests that Georgie is, too.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Nonimus


      December 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  13. John


    December 16, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • .....

      TRASH ALERT – don't bother viewing this garbage, click the report abuse link to get rid of this stupid TROLL!

      December 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Question

    Athiests live all their life angry and mad at God. A God they don't believe exists.
    If you have one life to live why do you harbor so much anger against GOD?

    December 16, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • SeanNJ

      No, we don't.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Question

      Oh well, gotta point the obvious here.

      In the words of Dawkins

      "Christopher Hitchens, finest orator of our time, fellow horseman, valiant fighter against all tyrants including God"

      December 16, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Chuckles

      Oh dear, I think someone as spent too much time listening to father dullbob instead of actually speaking with an atheist. I don't harbor a single modic.um of anger towards god. I don't like the believers idea of god and I certainly do not support this god character in any of his endeavors but really it's the christian right and the horrible acts carried out in gods name that really annoys me.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • SeanNJ

      OK, well if god actually existed as described, he would indeed be a tyrant.

      But, since god in all likelihood doesn't exist, we're angry with and fight against the silliness of the idea, not the fictional character.

      But you knew that, cuz yer smart.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • CFGA

      Chuckie-That is just an excuse you use. ie., to say you are angry at the atrocities committed in the name of religion is one thing, that would be anger at people. Your anger is misplaced and that is the point.
      Something about that statement of Dawkins makes you wonder- that deep within every soul there is a serious questioning going on and that is-the question of evil. We all want to get rid of evil, we can't. As an alternative the human mind tries to rationalize this evil and blames God for all the evil in this world.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @CFGA: Ummmmm, no.

      We know people are responsible for evil. We don't blame it on a mythical god.

      However, when the thiests insist their god exists and is good and loving and shwhatnot, then we're forced to point out the inconsistency in those attributes.

      We don't believe in a god, and we don't harbor anger for or cast blame on something that doesn't exist. I guess it makes you feel better to think so, just like your faith, but it's simply not true.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • CFGA

      Sean-Think deeper. Death comes not just by killing each other, it comes from diseases, it comes from natural calamities and so on. Our human mind wants to wish this away.

      A believer knows that God is loving, understands that evil is part of this life we all inherited thanks to Adam/Eve.
      On the other hand-an atheist actually tries to rationalize all these ills and blames it on God, except that they reject God and then blame God. It only hurts them in the end. Dawkins statement proves he is fighting God.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @CFGA: *sigh* See my statement above.

      I don't blame god, because I don't believe it exists. I'm not angry with god, because I don't believe it exists.

      You, however, are exasperatingly dense.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • AGuest9

      How does one harbor hate for the non-existent? It's the non-existent's fan club members who are the most obvious purveyors of hate for those who are not like them.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • DamianKnight


      I don't think atheists are mad at God, per se. Really, they don't believe He exists, so why should they be mad at Him? What they are mad at are the hypocritical Christians who try to cram the Bible down their throats, create laws that affect them based on the Bible all while telling them they have a freedom of religion as long as it's some branch of Christianity. And then if they refute Christianity, they get some pompous blowhard standing up and condemning them to Hell and telling them they are immoral.

      I can understand their frustration. I'd be pretty mad too if someone tried to force their religion or belief system on me and make me adhere to their tenants.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • CFGA

      It is your life, you can fill your life with all the anger and bitterness you want against God and keep insisting that God does not exist.

      And yet ,Dawkins in his condolences thought it essential to mention GOD in that 140 char liner.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • AGuest9

      @CFGA, it was a Tweet – they are limited. It likely truncated "'s fan club".

      December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Rick

      We are not angry at a being we don't believe exists. We are amused by the arrogance of believers

      December 16, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • HellBent

      @CFGA – do you get angry at pink unicorns? Do you see any possible way in which you could conceivably get angry at pink unicorns. Many believers like to paint atheists as bitter angry people who have been scorned by religion. This is not only incorrect, this viewpoint really only shows the inability of the one holding it to understand that people don't think the way they do. It's really just a statement made out of ignorance – both at the group they're attempting to generalize and about the outlook that requires no deity.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Atheists who fight, fight against the idea of god(s) and what that idea entails and promotes, i.e. inherent worthlessness of humans and subjugation of the human mind by mindless faith.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  15. captain canuck eh

    This evening I will raise a glass to the memory of Christopher Hitchens, and drink heartily. Care to join me?

    And I will say in his honour, loudly, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."

    December 16, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Tear

      Sadly, Hitchens knows the truth now, just a bit late!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Tear, and you know that how?

      December 16, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • claybigsby

      HotAirAce: They dont...but they would like to think they do so their fear of death is comforted by imagination. The arrogance of christians is amazing.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Bob

      I'm with you, captain c.

      Cheers! Hitchens would have approved, and said so.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • LinCA

      I'll drink to that!

      December 16, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • AGuest9

      Definitely, a toast after dinner tonight.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  16. Reality

    "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
    ― Christopher Hitchens

    li“[O]wners 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 shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

    ― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer

    December 16, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Bob

      Great quotes from a great book, Reality.

      December 16, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  17. hippypoet

    quote by me, the hippypoet – this is not meant to be enjoyed but dwelled upon...

    "death – there is no reason to fear the end when one has started nor to fear what is unchangeable. And so is time, it flows without knowing it flows for it needs not no to complete its flow and in like manner is death to all that live. I fear only life and the horrors that can befall those who live."

    December 16, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  18. TruthPrevails

    “Do I fear death? No, I am not afraid of being dead because there's nothing to be afraid of, I won't know it. I fear dying, of dying I feel a sense of waste about it and I fear a sordid death, where I am incapacitated or imbecilic at the end which isn't something to be afraid of, it's something to be terrified of.”
    ― Christopher Hitchens.


    December 16, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • captain america

      As opposed to canadians who are always incapacitated and imbecilic. canadians actually think that the rest of us needs to hear from them.There's your sign

      December 16, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      You need to shut your idiot mouth, captain. Just shut up and show some respect for a great man that the world lost.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • captain canuck eh

      captain america, watch your step. Our near-stealth Canadian biological airforce is far from incapacitated. They invade your airspace at will,and are cr@pping on your lawn as I type this. Christopher Hitchens would have chuckled loudly at that.

      December 16, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  19. PeterVN

    Sad loss for the world. A brilliant and brave writer and thinker.

    I think "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof." was from him, among many other great, biting lines.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  20. Colin

    A powerful intellect and a gifted writer. He will be missed. I guess the theists who claim that "there are no atheists in foxholes" will have to eat their words. There was no 11th hour about face here.

    December 16, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • PeterVN

      Brave, brilliant guy. Spoke out loudly and clearly re what he stood for, no matter how unpopular or controversial his stance was. A hero to me.

      December 16, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Clayton

      Colin, you are very correct. I'm sure there are plenty of ways the religious nut-jobs will want to spin their failure of their "god" into their world-view.
      He fought for truth, justice, and a good glass of scotch. He defended Salmon Rushdie from the beginning against Islam and became a firm fighter against the madness that is Islam, supporting the war in Iraq to the dismay of many friends.
      He is missed. At least he left us some books to read. If he hadn't, we'd be stuck with gathering up all his essays piecemeal.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Books that make much more sense than The Babble! Thank You CH!!

      December 16, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Answer

      You can ask a trillion religious zealots on their deathbeds on god and when all counted -the sum of their total viewpoints will be absolutely insignificant.

      Yet IF ask one atheist to vouch for and support a religious zealots viewpoint on their fairy tale god it would be infinitely credible. That is why those zealots have always approached Christopher Hitchens about his 11th hour.

      We atheists have lost a great mind and a friend in Hitchens.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.