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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for…

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Christopher Hitchens (Editor)

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2,003225,050 (3.89)18
Title:The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer
Authors:Christopher Hitchens
Info:Da Capo Press (2007), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 499 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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This is a marvelous book and points out a number of problems inherent in all religions. Through the use of excerpts taken from essays and various works, Christopher Hitchens makes a case against God. The problems I have with religion are pretty long lasting; ever since I was around the age of 10 or 11, I have been in doubt of God. I can only say that I am glad I live in this day and age, where religious people don't torture you for your beliefs or lack thereof anymore.

Anyway, forty-seven authors combined their powers to produce this piece. Many of the contributors are dead, like Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, and Albert Einstein, but their words are quite timeless. Some of the authors might still be alive, but it is hard to say, since it was printed in 2007.

Some of the authors talk about the problem of a just and loving God creating hell, others point out the similarity of Jesus Christ to other characters of mythology like Attis, and yet others talk about how silly the idea is in terms of modern science. When you allow a magical sky-man to explain something, you explain nothing. All in all, I have heard all of these arguments before, so none of it was really new to me. Even the story of Jesus on the cross, sacrificing himself to himself, comes from Odin hanging himself at the World Tree to gain knowledge.

Anyway, I would read it again, or I would go to the contributing authors works and stuff. It all seems quite fascinating. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
A collection of writings from many and varied sources, collated by Hitchens, each with an introductionary paragraph. Probably one best for picking at, rather than reading cover to cover. ( )
  adam.currey | Jan 4, 2019 |
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. ( )
2 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 |
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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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