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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for…

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Christopher Hitchens (Editor)

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1,953204,990 (3.9)18
Title:The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
Authors:Christopher Hitchens
Info:Da Capo Press (2007), Edition: Edition Unstated, Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:religion, atheism

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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever by Christopher Hitchens (Editor) (2007)


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An outstanding collection of essays and extracts from godless and freethinking writers throughout the ages. Amongst the highlights are the pamphlet for which Shelly was thrown out of university and contributions from Bertrand Russell, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine. Some, such as Thomas Hardy and HL Mencken consign gods to the grave of history, while others argue strong cases for a morality that does not rely on the promise of reward or the threat of punishment from a creator. While some of the writings are distinctly anti-theistic, others argue for the wisdom of agnosticism. Nearly all are thoughtful, wise and thoroughly worth investigating, irrespective of the reader's own position on the spectrum of belief. ( )
1 vote Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
This is more the Hitch sharing with you his favorite readings than anything else, so you're not going to find too much his beloved writing style. I admit, I had to skim some of the earlier bits, but only because some ancient writings felt like such a heavy chore to me (perhaps they can be better appreciated in their own language?) Parts of it are alright. ( )
1 vote Michael_Rose | Jan 10, 2016 |
In "God is Not Great", Hitchens gives ready ammunition for Atheists doing battle with the delusional. In The Portable Atheist. he provides documentation for these little sound bites, culled from some of the great minds in human history. Make no mistake: the odds of getting a your average religious drone to read, much less comprehend the fairly dense material in this book is near zero, but it provides citable reference when necessary.

Hitchens calls on philosophers from throughout our history, political leaders, and even humorists such as Mark Twain. Omar Khayyam and Thomas Aquinas are cited, as are scientists ranging from Einstein to Copernicus. Many of the passages here are just plain difficult to read, encumbered with run-on sentences and flowery vocabulary. But as far as a selection of "Essential Readings", Hitchens does a fine job assembling texts that validate what we already know. ( )
1 vote JeffV | Jun 21, 2015 |
There was some good information in here but overall, this book was drier and less profound than I was expecting. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
bookshelves: essays, philosophy, nonfiction, published-2007, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, sciences, fraudio
Read from January 03 to 05, 2014

The Portable Atheist read by Nicolas Ball

anthology of atheist writing through the ages.

1. Introduction by Christopher Hitchens
2. Lucretius: from the Nature of Things
3. Kayyam: A paraphrase from several literal translations
4. Hobbes: Of Religion
5. Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise
6. Hume: Natural History of Religion
7. Hume: Of Miracles
8. Boswell: An account of my last interview with Hume
9. Shelley: A Refutation of Deism
10. Stuart Mill: Moral Influences in My Early Youth
11. Marx: Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy
12. George Eliot: Evangelical Teaching (Yes! THAT Eliot of Middlemarch fame)
13. Darwin: Autobiography
14. Stephens: An Agnostic Apology
15. France: Miracles
16. Twain: Thoughts of God
17. Twain: Bible Teachings and Religious Practice
18. Conrad: author's note
19. Hardy: God's Funeral
20. Goldman: The Philosophy of Atheism
21. Lovecraft: A Letter On Religion
22. Freud: The Future of an Illusion
23. Einstein: Selected Writings on Religion
24. Russell: An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
25. Rushdie: Imagine There's No Heaven: A letter to the Sixth Billionth World Citizen

“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Russell's essay was the longest and the most engossing, however for beauty, it was hard to beat Kayyam's advocation of love over belief. To be kept for a re-visit at some point.

Please could the next person to wade through these essays leave a note for me about which Pope who was solicited for help by RSPCA and had it turned down because animals don't have souls. I don't think a name was mentioned. If this was published 2007 then that would make it Benedict XVI but as Themis-Athena points out, Benedict had a dog at one stage. Thanks.

4* Arguably
4* The Portable Atheist
TR Mortality
TR God Is Not Great

aNobii ( )
2 vote mimal | Jan 4, 2014 |
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Dedicated to the memory of Primo Levi (1919-1987) who had the moral fortitude to refuse false consolation even while enduring the "selection" process of Auschwitz.
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At the close of his imperishable novel La Peste ("The Plague"), Albert Camus gives us a picture of the thoughts of the good Dr. Rieux, as the town of Oran celebrates its recovery from - its survival of - a terrible visitation of disease. (Introduction)
It is sometimes argued that disbelief in a fearful and tempting heavenly despotism makes life into something arid and tedious and cynical: a mere existence without any consolation or any awareness of the numinous or the transcendent. What nonsense this is. . . Believing then - as this religious objection implicitly concedes - that human life is actually worth living, one can combat one's natural pessimism by stoicism and the refusal of illusion, while embellishing the scene with any one of the following. There are the beauties of science and the extraordinary marvels of nature. There is the consolation and irony of philosophy. There are the infinite splendors of literature and poetry, not excluding the liturgical and devotional aspects of these, such as those found in John Donne or George Herbert. There is the grand resource of art and music and architecture, again not excluding those elements that aspire to the sublime. In all of these pursuits, any one of them enough to absorb a lifetime, there may be found a sense of awe and magnificence that does not depend at all on any invocation of the supernatural.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306816083, Paperback)

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of God Is Not Great, a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages--with never-before-published pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.Christopher Hitchens continues to make the case for a splendidly godless universe in this first-ever gathering of the influential voices--past and present--that have shaped his side of the current (and raging) God/no-god debate. With Hitchens as your erudite and witty guide, you’ll be led through a wealth of philosophy, literature, and scientific inquiry, including generous portions of the words of Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and many others well-known and lesser known. And they’re all set in context and commented upon as only Christopher Hitchens--“political and literary journalist extraordinaire” (Los Angeles Times)--can. Atheist? Believer? Uncertain? No matter: The Portable Atheist will speak to you and engage you every step of the way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presents excerpts on the subject of religion from the writings of such notable non-believers as John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Richard Dawkins, and Salman Rushdie.

(summary from another edition)

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