We make no saint of Thomas Jefferson—we leave the mindless business of canonization and the worship of humans to the fanatics—but aware as we are of his many crimes and contradictions we say with confidence that his memory and example will endure long after the moral pygmies who try to blot out his name have been forgotten.

A wide and vague impression exists that so-called Eastern religion is more contemplative, innocuous, and humane than the proselytizing monotheisms of the West. Don't believe a word of this: try asking the children of Indochina who were dumped by their parents for inherited deformities that were attributed to sins in a previous 'life.

Don't write in to ask whether I would prefer Gingrich to Clinton. Ask, rather, whether Clinton prefers Gingrich to you. Go triangulate yourself.

My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.

Incidentally, I have also learned a bit about the importance of avoiding feminine embarrassment ('Daddy,' wrote Sophia when she enrolled at the New School where I teach, 'people will ask "why is old Christopher Hitchens kissing that girl?"') and shall now cease and desist.

I don't have any terrific self-esteem issues but I do sometimes realise I've been too lucky and that I'm over-praised. It makes me nervous. I have this sense of being overrated.

I'm here as a product of process of evolution, which doesn't make very many exceptions. And which rates life relatively cheaply.

I have often wondered, that persons who make a boast of professing the Christian religion, namely, love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men, should quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues they claim, is the readiest criterion of their faith.

To 'choose' dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are.

I still make sure to go, at least once every year, to a country where things cannot be taken for granted, and where there is either too much law and order or too little.

There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb. But in general I feel better, and no less radical, and you will feel better too, I guarantee, once you leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking.

In our native terms, the ironic style is often compounded with the sardonic and the hard-boiled; even the effortlessly superior. But irony originates in the glance and the shrug of the loser, the outsider, the despised minority. It is a nuance that comes most effortlessly to the oppressed.

The most educated person in the world now has to admit-- I shall not say confess-- that he or she knows less and less but at least knows less and less about more and more.

I leave it to the faithful to burn each other's churches and mosques and synagogues, which they can always be relied upon to do.

It's true that obscenity is a matter of taste and in the eye of the beholder.

There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.

Your ideal authors ought to pull you from the foundering of your previous existence, not smilingly guide you into a friendly and peaceable harbor.

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.

Dogma in power does have a unique chilling ingredient not exhibited by power, however ghastly, wielded for its own traditional sake.

Why not, in exchange for the pains and humiliations of being superseded, at least exert the influence that the effete may always bring to bear upon the brash?

Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things…one of the beginnings of the human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority, its indispensable.

Revolution from above, in some states and cases, is [...] often preferable to the status quo, or to no revolution at all.

One of the great emancipating results of genomics is to show that all racial and color differences are recent, superficial, and misleading.

Be ... suspicious ... of all those who employ the term 'we' or 'us' without your permission. This is [a] form of surreptitious conscription ... Always ask who this 'we' is; as often as not it's an attempt to smuggle tribalism through the customs.

For most of my life I let women do the driving and was happy to let them.

And how easy it is to recognize the revenant shapes that the old unchanging enemies—racism, leader worship, superstition—assume when they reappear amongst us (often bodyguarded by their new apologists).

Which mere primate is so damn sure that he can know the mind of god?

Evolution has meant that our prefrontal lobes are too small, our adrenal glands are too big, and our reproductive organs apparently designed by committee; a recipe which, alone or in combination, is very certain to lead to some unhappiness and disorder.

A good liar must have a good memory.

You don't say 'they all do it' unless you know you've been doing it too.

One of the very many connections between religious belief an the sinister, spoiled, selfish childhood of our species is the repressed desire to see everything smashed up and ruined and brought to naught.

I must have been one of the least surprised people on earth on September 11. I felt very braced for that. I knew something like that was going to come.

Created sick, and then commanded to be well. This is one of the first, easiest, and most obvious of the satirical maxims that eventually lay waste to the illusion of faith.

All the time, I've felt that life is a wager and that I probably was getting more out of leading a bohemian existence as a writer than I would have if I didn't.

Kierkegaard so shrewdly observes, one is condemned to live it forward and review it backward.

The anti-life of [Jerry Falwell] proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and truth in this country if you'll just get yourself called Reverend. People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup.

I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.

As long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffuse feeling, and Republics weak because they appeal to the understanding.

Religion, then, partakes of equal elements of the canine and the feline. It exacts maximum servility and abjection, requiring you to regard yourself as conceived and born in sin and owing a duty to a stern creator. But in return, it places you at the center of the universe and assures you that you are the personal object of a heavenly plan.

My little ankle-strap sandals curled with embarrassment for her.

If you can't hear, I hope it's not my fault.

The fragility of love is what is most at stake here—humanity's most crucial three-word avowal is often uttered only to find itself suddenly embarrassing or orphaned or isolated or ill-timed—but strangely enough it can work better as a literal or reassuring statement than a transcendent or numinous or ecstatic one.

I myself hope to live long enough to graduate from being a 'bad boy,' which I once was, to becoming a curmudgeon....

Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.

The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the land question in Zimbabwe is the single most decisive one.

For those who find it remarkable that we live in a universe of Something, just wait. Nothingness is heading on a collision course right toward us.