Christopher Hitchens
The writer and polemicist Christopher Hitchens has died. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

The world has lost one of its greatest orators, writers, debaters and contrarians with the death of Christopher Hitchens at 62.

Hitchens passed away Thursday following a battle with one opponent his brilliant mind could not beat - cancer.

His life is a catalogue of razor-sharp wit and fiery polemic, which earned him as many enemies as it did fans.

Right up until he died, Hitchens wrote and argued, most recently as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair as well as Slate.

Here is just a small selection from the sizable archive of Hitchens quotes:

"Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay."

"[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

On George Bush: "He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things."

"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."

"If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox."

"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."

"Jesus is Santa Claus for adults."

"I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information."

"I know what's coming. I know no one beats these odds. And it's a matter of getting used to that and growing up and realising that you're expelled from your mother's uterus as if shot from a cannon towards a barn door studded with old nail files and rusty hooks. It's a matter of how you use up the intervening time in an intelligent and ironic way ... and try not to do anything ghastly to your fellow creatures."

"[I have] three delightful children who are everything to me and who are my only chance of even a glimpse of a second life, let alone an immortal one, and I'll tell you something: if I was told to sacrifice them to prove my devotion to God; if I was told to do what all monotheists are told to do and admire the man who said, 'Yes, I'll gut my kid to show my love of God', I'd say no - fuck you."