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Axel Bennett
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How Christopher Hitchens Edited The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever


Christopher Hitchens: The Portable Atheist




If you are looking for a book that challenges your views on religion, philosophy, and politics, you might want to check out The Portable Atheist, a collection of essays and excerpts by some of the most influential thinkers and writers in history, edited and introduced by the late Christopher Hitchens. In this article, we will explore who Christopher Hitchens was, what The Portable Atheist is about, why it is relevant today, and how you can read it in epub format.




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Introduction




Who was Christopher Hitchens?




Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a British-American journalist, author, critic, and public intellectual. He was known for his sharp wit, provocative style, and fearless criticism of anything he deemed irrational, hypocritical, or oppressive. He wrote for various publications such as The Nation, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and Slate, and authored several books on topics ranging from literature and history to politics and religion. Some of his most famous works include God Is Not Great, Hitch-22, Letters to a Young Contrarian, and Mortality.


What is The Portable Atheist?




The Portable Atheist is a book that was published in 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. It is a compilation of 47 essays and excerpts by various authors who express their atheistic or agnostic views on religion and its impact on human society. The book covers a wide range of perspectives from different eras, cultures, and disciplines, such as philosophy, science, literature, poetry, and journalism. Some of the contributors include Lucretius, David Hume, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Richard Dawkins, Salman Rushdie, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


Why is it relevant today?




The Portable Atheist is relevant today because it offers a comprehensive and compelling case for atheism in a world that is still dominated by religious beliefs and conflicts. It challenges the common assumptions and arguments that are used to justify or defend faith, and exposes the flaws and harms of organized religion. It also provides a positive vision for a secular and humanistic society that values reason, evidence, freedom, and democracy over dogma, superstition, authority, and violence. It invites the reader to think critically and independently about their own beliefs and values.


The main arguments of The Portable Atheist




The origins of atheism




Ancient Greece and Rome




The book begins with some of the earliest expressions of atheism in Western civilization. These include the writings of Lucretius, a Roman poet and philosopher who argued that the universe is made of atoms and void, and that the gods are indifferent to human affairs; Epicurus, a Greek philosopher who taught that the goal of life is to attain pleasure and avoid pain, and that fear of death and the gods is irrational; and Cicero, a Roman statesman and orator who criticized the contradictions and absurdities of the popular religions of his time.


The Enlightenment




The book then moves on to the period of the Enlightenment, when reason and science began to challenge the authority and dogma of the church. These include the writings of David Hume, a Scottish philosopher who questioned the validity of miracles, prophecy, and revelation, and argued that natural causes can explain everything; Thomas Paine, an American revolutionary and pamphleteer who denounced the corruption and cruelty of Christianity, and advocated for deism, a belief in a distant and impersonal god; and Baron d'Holbach, a French philosopher who rejected all forms of supernaturalism, and claimed that religion is a source of ignorance, prejudice, and oppression.


Modern science




The book also features some of the most influential scientific discoveries and theories that have undermined the traditional religious views of the world. These include the writings of Charles Darwin, an English naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection, which explains the diversity and complexity of life without invoking a divine creator; Albert Einstein, a German physicist who developed the theory of relativity, which revolutionized our understanding of space and time; and Carl Sagan, an American astronomer who popularized science and cosmology, and emphasized the wonder and awe of the natural universe.


The critiques of religion




The moral failures of faith




The book contains many examples of how religion has failed to provide a moral foundation for human society. These include the writings of Mark Twain, an American writer and humorist who satirized the hypocrisy and immorality of Christianity, especially its endorsement of slavery, war, and cruelty; George Orwell, an English writer and journalist who exposed the totalitarian nature of religion, especially its use of propaganda, censorship, and indoctrination; and Christopher Hitchens himself, who argued that religion poisons everything, from politics and culture to sex and health.


The irrationality of belief




The book also presents many arguments against the rationality and validity of religious belief. These include the writings of Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher and mathematician who challenged the existence of God using logic and evidence; Richard Dawkins, an English biologist and atheist activist who criticized the concept of God as a delusion, a meme, and a virus; and Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher and cognitive scientist who analyzed the psychological and evolutionary origins of religion as a natural phenomenon.


The dangers of dogma




The book further illustrates how religion can lead to violence, intolerance, and fanaticism. These include the writings of Salman Rushdie, an Indian-British novelist who faced death threats from Islamic extremists for his novel The Satanic Verses, which was accused of blasphemy; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-Dutch activist who escaped from an arranged marriage and became an outspoken critic of Islam's oppression of women; and Sam Harris, an American neuroscientist and philosopher who warned about the dangers of religious fundamentalism in the age of terrorism.


The alternatives to religion




Humanism and secularism




The book does not only criticize religion but also offers positive alternatives to it. These include the writings of John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher and economist who advocated for utilitarianism, a moral philosophy that aims to maximize happiness for all; Emma Goldman, a Russian-American anarchist and feminist who championed individual freedom and social justice; and Paul Kurtz, an American philosopher and humanist who promoted secular humanism as a worldview that affirms human dignity, values, and rights.


Reason and evidence




The book also emphasizes the importance of reason and evidence as the basis for knowledge and understanding. These include the writings of Thomas Jefferson, an American founding father and president who defended religious liberty and separation of church and state; Carl Sagan again, who advocated for skepticism and critical thinking; and Steven Weinberg, an American physicist and Nobel laureate who argued that science is the best way to discover the truth about reality.


Freedom and democracy




The book further celebrates the ideals of freedom and democracy as the foundations of a civilized society. These include the writings of Thomas Paine again, who inspired the American and French revolutions; George Eliot, an English novelist and humanist ```html who explored the moral and social consequences of religious doubt; and Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil rights leader and pastor who fought for racial equality and justice. How to read The Portable Atheist in epub format




What is epub format?




Epub is a digital file format that stands for electronic publication. It is designed to display books and other texts on various devices, such as e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and computers. Epub files are compatible with most e-book platforms and applications, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, and Adobe Digital Editions.


What are the benefits of epub format?




Epub format has several benefits over other formats, such as PDF or MOBI. Some of these benefits are:


  • Epub files are flexible and adaptable. They can adjust to different screen sizes and orientations, and allow the user to customize the font size, style, color, and layout.



  • Epub files are interactive and dynamic. They can include hyperlinks, images, audio, video, animations, and other multimedia features.



  • Epub files are accessible and inclusive. They can support various accessibility features, such as text-to-speech, captions, annotations, bookmarks, and dictionaries.



  • Epub files are lightweight and portable. They have a smaller file size than PDF or MOBI files, which means they take up less storage space and can be transferred faster.



How to download and open epub files?




If you want to read The Portable Atheist in epub format, you will need to download the file from a reliable source and open it with a compatible device or application. Here are some steps you can follow:


  • Find a website that offers The Portable Atheist in epub format. You can search for it on Google or use a specific e-book store or library. Make sure the website is trustworthy and secure before downloading anything.



  • Download the epub file to your device. Depending on your device and browser settings, you may need to choose a download location or confirm the download action.



  • Open the epub file with an e-book reader or application. If you have a dedicated e-reader device, such as Kindle or Nook, you may need to transfer the file from your computer to your device using a USB cable or a wireless connection. If you have a tablet, smartphone, or computer, you may need to install an e-book reader application, such as iBooks or Google Play Books, if you don't have one already.



  • Enjoy reading The Portable Atheist. You can navigate through the book using the table of contents, bookmarks, or page numbers. You can also adjust the settings to suit your preferences.



Conclusion




The Portable Atheist is a book that offers a comprehensive and compelling case for atheism in a world that is still dominated by religious beliefs and conflicts. It features 47 essays and excerpts by some of the most influential thinkers and writers in history who express their atheistic or agnostic views on religion and its impact on human society. It covers a wide range of perspectives from different eras, cultures, and disciplines such as philosophy, science, literature, poetry, and journalism. It challenges the common assumptions and arguments that are used to justify or defend faith, and exposes the flaws and harms of organized religion. It also provides a positive vision for a secular and humanistic society that values reason, evidence, freedom, and democracy over dogma, superstition, authority, and violence. It invites the reader to think critically and independently about their own beliefs and values. You can read The Portable Atheist in epub format on various devices and applications that offer flexibility, interactivity, accessibility, and portability. If you are interested in learning more about atheism, or if you are looking for a book that challenges your views on religion, philosophy, and politics, you might want to check out The Portable Atheist.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about The Portable Atheist:


  • Who is the target audience of The Portable Atheist?



The Portable Atheist is suitable for anyone who is curious about atheism, whether they are atheists themselves, agnostics, skeptics, or believers. It is also suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about the history and diversity of atheistic thought, and the arguments and evidence that support it.


  • What is the main purpose of The Portable Atheist?



The main purpose of The Portable Atheist is to present a comprehensive and compelling case for atheism in a world that is still dominated by religious beliefs and conflicts. It aims to challenge the common assumptions and arguments that are used to justify or defend faith, and to expose the flaws and harms of organized religion. It also aims to provide a positive vision for a secular and humanistic society that values reason, evidence, freedom, and democracy over dogma, superstition, authority, and violence.


  • How is The Portable Atheist different from other books on atheism?



The Portable Atheist is different from other books on atheism in several ways. First, it is not a single-authored book, but a collection of essays and excerpts by various authors who express their atheistic or agnostic views on religion and its impact on human society. Second, it covers a wide range of perspectives from different eras, cultures, and disciplines such as philosophy, science, literature, poetry, and journalism. Third, it offers not only critiques of religion but also alternatives to it.


  • What are some of the challenges or criticisms of The Portable Atheist?



Some of the challenges or criticisms of The Portable Atheist are that it is biased, selective, outdated, or incomplete. Some may argue that it is biased because it only presents one side of the debate, and ignores or dismisses the positive aspects or contributions of religion. Some may argue that it is selective because it cherry-picks the most extreme or negative examples of religion, and overlooks the diversity or complexity of religious phenomena. Some may argue that it is outdated because it relies on old or obsolete sources, and fails to address the contemporary or emerging issues or challenges of religion. Some may argue that it is incomplete because it does not cover all the possible arguments or perspectives on atheism, and leaves out some important or influential authors or works.


  • How can I get the most out of reading The Portable Atheist?



You can get the most out of reading The Portable Atheist by following these tips:


  • Read with an open mind. Don't let your preconceptions or biases prevent you from considering the arguments and evidence that are presented in the book.



  • Read with a critical eye. Don't accept everything at face value. Question the sources, methods, assumptions, logic, and implications of the claims that are made in the book.



  • Read with a curious spirit. Don't be afraid to explore new ideas or perspectives. Seek out more information or resources on the topics that interest you in the book.



  • Read with a dialogical attitude. Don't read in isolation. Share your thoughts and opinions with others who have read or are interested in reading the book.



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