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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything » User review

A cogent diatribe against the world's organized religions

  • Mar 24, 2011
Rating:
+4
An atheist manifesto, GOD IS NOT GREAT contains content that ranges from thought-provoking essays to vitriolic diatribes against both the existence of an all-powerful God and the current and historical conduct of the three largest mainstream monotheistic religions of the world - Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Hitchens does a good job summarizing his own thesis in this pointed paragraph:

"If I cannot definitely prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past and that its foundational books are transparent fables, and that it is a man-made imposition, and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry, and that it has subsisted largely on lies and fears, and been the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as of slavery, genocide, racism, and tyranny, I can almost certainly claim that religion is now fully aware of these criticisms. It is also fully aware of the ever-mounting evidence, concerning the origins of the cosmos and the origin of species, which consign it to marginality if not to irrelevance."

Sadly, Hitchens did not need to look far to find well known examples of the evils perpetrated by slavish adherence to dogma and by the outlandishly arrogant assumption that a "benevolent" God has granted preference to one group of people to the exclusion of all others.

While I personally enjoyed the book and found it sad, brutal, shocking, informative and, to a great extent, a confirmation of beliefs that I already held, I suspect it is also an exercise in futility. That is to say, people like me will enjoy it simply because it is such a hard-core affirmation of their personal tenets of life. Others will find the book despicable, because they are believing members of those groups that Hitchens has chosen to criticize so brutally. Perhaps (but somehow I doubt it) there will be a small handful of Christians, Moslems or Jews on the margin of their religion whose faith may be shaken and it is to this group that Hitchens is perhaps addressing himself.

Just so you know where I personally stand on the issues, you may find it interesting to hear that I am definitely a theist. On the other hand, I cannot presume to suggest that this deity in which I believe is a personal God that has any specific interest in me or in humankind here on this tiny planet we call earth. The concept of an infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful deity is so far beyond my ken that I wouldn't even begin to ascribe any attributes to such a deity that are capable of human description. Hitchen's beliefs are perhaps similar to my own:

"If something is in me which can be called religious then it is in the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

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March 24, 2011
Brilliant review, Paul!
 
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About the reviewer
Paul Weiss ()
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   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Wiki

Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy.(May 30)
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Details

ISBN-10: 0446697966
ISBN-13: 978-0446697965
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction
Publisher: Twelve
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