As a sort of follow up to my previous post on the Global Atheist Convention, here is Hitchens on religion from his wonderful and essential Letters to a Young Contrarian:
"[Judaism] along with Islam and Christianity [insists] that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensable condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing."
Cardinal George Pell's cringe-inducing desperation and ignorance on last night's Q & A impeccably evidences Hitchen's belief in atheism's importance in the empowering of the intellect. As I (and others) had predicted elsewhere, this 'debate' with Richard Dawkins was a pretty dismal affair, though not without its moments (I shared Dawkins' and the studio audience's disbelieving laughter as Pell began yet another of his dull and pointless anecdotes by talking about 'preparing young boys'. The pregnant pause which followed was a thing of wonder, though ultimately said more about the flaws of the 'debate' than anything else; why was not a single question on child abuse in the Catholic church put to Pell?)