Well, I’m overwhelmed, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, and I did promise Richard that if my voice didn’t go to rags, I would try and speak to you a bit, if that’s all right, in acknowledgement. But I do so acutely aware that I’m the one standing between you and the Saturday night fever and the bars and the entertainments and so forth. And also, we have a Q&A, we hope. So I’ll be terse as far as it lies within my power. I once got involved, you know, full of my own presidential impeachment in Washington, but you may remember we had to learn a lot about a woman called Jennifer Flowers. Do you recall? Name spelled with a G. Merchant, Merchant Worcester, P.G. Wodehouse’s great hero, said always beware of women who spelled gladiolas with a W or anything like. Any heedless of this, the president plunged on. In the course of this, I had to discover about her. Now, she’d once entered a Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest and had come forth. You may picture, therefore, comrades, my emotions of receiving not just the Richard Dawkins prize, but the Richard Dawkins prize from his own hand. Some years ago, a group of us meditated hospitalities happened to my houses with my hometown to see how we might review the battle against.

Unfortunately, after pleading partly guilty than myself, I thought I’d better come up with something before anyone else did. And it was supposed to be the Four Horsemen of the Counter Apocalypse, but we settled with it. And of course, long may this illusion flourish. It has promoted me to parity with Professors Dawkins, Dennis, and Sam Harris. I have said my whole life that I’d like to think against the spread of delusion, but rather wish this one a fair wind. It’s rather nice to be associated with that company. It is true, however, that if we hadn’t done it, someone was going to. There was going to have to be some kind of pushback against what we could see coming. It was going to be a volunteer effort; it was going to communicate itself that way. How else were we going to reply to the increasing menace, rising menace of Islamic Jihad? How are we going to, for example, deal with the emergence of probably the most reactionary papacy since the mid-19th century? How, how are we going- excuse me, I’m so sorry, I have to cough a little bit. I was afraid this would happen. I do terribly apologize. A very reactionary Eastern Orthodox Church, if it comes to that as well. The Eastern Catholic forces, thank you. Now arranged, many of them behind the dark and sinister figure of Vladimir Putin. Then one mustn’t exempt, of course, the millennial settlers in Palestine who believe that by bringing in as many fanatics of Jewish origin as they can and forcing out as many Palestinian Arabs as they can, they may bring on the Messiah and indeed the Apocalypse. And look forward to the common destruction of our species with relish. And this, I think, there’s a special responsibility upon us, particularly because the backers, these people tend to be in the United States. And though many of them don’t like the Jewish people and have no love for, um, always have accepted Jesus as their personal savior, they nonetheless are prepared to support extreme Jews, rather as the rope used to support the hanging man, make use of him while he brings on the Messiah. And then our reign of tribulation can begin.

To what a wonderful bargain to be offering a democratic country. Richard is sometimes accused, you’ve heard it, of being over-strident. Before my voice went, I sometimes got accused of it too. It’s, um, it’s a bit more reasonable in my case. I’m a sort of street-fighting polemicist from way back. I ask for it, and I get it, and I can dish it out. Richard is the defender of a great discipline, a wonderful discipline, biology, with revolutionary and transformative power in the way we think, in our attitudes to medicine, and to our issues, to our origins, and to finding out how beautiful and rare and wonderful, even miraculous, reality really is when we look in the face. How should he not be strident to see his discipline being attacked and defamed, to see attempts being made to drive it out of the academy, to have the pseudo-scientific garbage taught now under the rubric of equal time? In the old days, the fundamentalists, if they could ban something, did ban it, as the Scopes trial proved. Losing that battle, they decided to go for equal time and American way fairness. Now they want it to be a sort of civil liberties and free speech issue. They’ve even got President Bush at one point to say, ‘Let’s teach the debate.’ Well, by all means, let’s teach the debate, but only in history class or perhaps in civics. What we’re not going to have is, ‘Well, boys and girls, I hope you enjoyed the chemistry period. Be ready for alchemy when you come back.’

After the breakup with this, we will not put. We’re not going to have our children stratified and insulted by the teaching of garbage of this kind. And it seems to me an outrage that has fewer friends in his profession. It’s for them, I think, to rally and draw the sword and say, with our help too, that this nonsense will not pass. Now, some of you know, well, I guess you will know now that the words of one of my favorite poets, Ernest Dallason, are quite often with me. Thousands stole them, actually, from the Roman poet Horus. I’m not as I was. And though, as I know as well as you do, there’s no point in arguing about the actual date or time of departure because I like to think there would be no good time. I hope you agree with that. There would always be something that I urgently felt I would just do or say. And one mustn’t define or give into self-pity about that. But at this present moment, I have to say, I feel very envious of someone who’s young and active and starting out in this argument. Just think of the extraordinary things that are happening to us.

Go, for example, to the Smithsonian Museum, to the new, I hope you’ve done it, to the new Hall of Human Origins, magnificently curated new exhibition, which shows, among other things, the branch or branches along which, perhaps three, certainly three, maybe four if you count Indonesia, humanoid, shall we say, anthropoid species died out not very long ago, within measurable distance of 75,000 years or so. Possibly destroyed by us, possibly not. We don’t know. We know they decorated their graves. We think they probably had language ability. We don’t know if they had souls. I’m sorry I can’t help you. We probably assumed that they were deluded into having some kind of god, but no religion has yet pronounced on these cousins and brothers and sisters of ours because they don’t fit. There’s no way of fitting them into the ridiculous story that makes this tape brian wind round and round again and replay it and lead to us to the grand solid conclusion that this whole thing is designed with us in mind. But what a wonderful thing to be starting out in this tremendous new field of endeavor. How fabulous it would be if you had a gift for physics to get a job as an intern with Lawrence Krauss, for example, who’s just beginning to unravel, as very, very few people have yet dared to do, the idea of the alternate and parallel universe. And with each horizon that we reach, we see more bending beautifully towards and away from us, the knowledge we have, saying not just of the sentience, but also the cognition of animals. It’s all of it incredibly recent, a matter of decades, and enormously rich, and yet again, very much challenging our own claim to primacy or supremacy in the biosphere, and rich in every possible kind of discovery.”

I suppose I should begin to close now because I’ve said all I wanted to say for myself, and I will join Richard if I may. You can ask me a question or two with your indulgence, but to say that I’m not going to quit until I absolutely have to. But, did I, oh please look this way? Well, I wasn’t finished. I’m not done until I absolutely have to. But, I so envy those who could glimpse. I only mentioned three or four of the things that have magnetized, charmed, and gratified me to think about in the recent past. And how much I hope that each of you forms some such ambition this evening and carries it forward. In the meantime, we have the same job we always had, to say as thinking people and as humans that there are no final solutions. There is no absolute truth, there is no supreme leader, there is no totalitarian solution that says that if you will just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you will just give up, if you will simply abandon your critical faculties, a world of idiotic bliss can be yours. You will certainly lose the faculties, and you may not know as a result that the idiotic bliss is even more idiotic than it looks. But we have to begin by repudiating all such claims, grand rabbis, chief ayatollahs, infallible popes, the peddlers of surrogate and mutant quasi-political religion, and worship the dear leader, the great leader. We have no need of any of this. And looking at them and their record and the pathos of their supporters, I realized that it is they who are the grand imposters, and my only imposter this evening was smiled by comparison.

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Watch the memorable moment when renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins bestows the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award upon the late intellectual and writer Christopher Hitchens. Immerse yourself in this captivating video capturing the Houston ceremony where Hitchens receives recognition for his impactful contributions to atheism, freethought, and intellectual discourse.

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