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."
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Paul Weiss (cpw1952)
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
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.