God Is Not Great
Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris's recent bestseller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.

God Is Not Great Details

TitleGod Is Not Great
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 28th, 2018
PublisherTwelve
ISBN-139780446579803
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Religion, Atheism, Science, Politics

God Is Not Great Review

  • Oceana2602
    January 1, 1970
    Let me begin this review by telling you that I'm an atheist. In fact, I'm with Douglas Adams in calling myself a "radical atheist", just to make sure that everyone gets the point. Yes, really. It's in my profile.So my opinion about this book really has nothing to do with my personal convictions. Well, not my personal religious convictions, of which there are none. It has everything to do with my personal convictions as an atheist. And as an atheist, I'm offended by this book.Hitchens is not, and Let me begin this review by telling you that I'm an atheist. In fact, I'm with Douglas Adams in calling myself a "radical atheist", just to make sure that everyone gets the point. Yes, really. It's in my profile.So my opinion about this book really has nothing to do with my personal convictions. Well, not my personal religious convictions, of which there are none. It has everything to do with my personal convictions as an atheist. And as an atheist, I'm offended by this book.Hitchens is not, and I quote from the numerous book reviews so helpfully printed on the first few pages of my paperback copy,"witty, impressive, entertaining, funny, challenging" or, GOD forbid (pardon the pun), "excellent".He is not even polemical, since that would require some factual discussion. He is simply inflammatory.Hitchens bashes religion in 341 pages, complete with references and an index. (I guess that way he can pretend that his "work" has some academic value). Now, the book is called "God is not great - How Religion poisons everything". What the hell did she expect this to be, you will probably ask.Let me tell you.I expected this to be a serious, well presented argument of why the world would be better off without religion. I expected there to be a theoretical discussion about how a world without religion can not only work, but work better than one with religion. And I expected there to be a dicussion and dissection of religious beliefs and their influence on human interaction and how these beliefs, in a modern society, are not necessary anymore, and/or are probably even hindering the development of our society.Instead I get 341 pages on the most stupidest things people do in the name of religion, like, fundamentalist muslims telling poor people not to get polio vaccinations, and arguments like 'jews and muslims hate pigs because pigs are dirty and eat their young if they are trapped in little stables, but the muslims completely stole that idea from the jew' (complete with a really touching page on why pigs are really cute animals and that human babies love little pigs. Cause you can never be wrong with the human baby argument.)Cause not eating pigs is really one of the worst problems caused by religions in modern times. Poor pigs, they feel all left out. Well, I don't eat pigs, and I certainly don't think that makes me a bad person. Just a mostly vegetarian one who can't stomach pig meat.But wait, the pig thing is leading somewhere. It is leading, piggies beware, to the oh so representative story of the muslims who, because of the ban on pigs, try to ban things like "Winnie-the-Pooh", or "The Three little piglets". Because yes, that's certainly a REAL problem, and, you know, EVERY muslim thinks that way. Plus, since America is SO GOOD with its non-censorship policies, it's always a really good idea for Americans to hold up the "STOP CENSORSHIP" banner to other nations. (this was sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell).I'm sorry, but almost everyone I know is religious. NO ONE I know is a radical muslim, christian, jew or whatever. Maybe that's why I have the nagging feeling that most religious people are really quite normal and do not propose bans on children's books or tell people not to get vaccinated in the name of god.And I really think pointing out the tiny minority of FREAKS in a religion, any religion, btw, in order to ban the whole thing, is kind of ineffective. What does Hitches want to say with that? That religion is okay, as long as they keep in check the radicals? As a radical atheist, I'm confused.Arguing with the most extreme examples is certain to get you heard, but in my experience, it isn't very effective. It's too easy to say, yes, Hitchens, you are right, but religion isn't really like that. The [insert religious work of your choice] doesn't really say that. And then the normal religious people will lean back and stay as happily religious as they are.That there is a reason why people are religious, that religions have shaped our societies and our behaviors as humans for as long as we can think?Hitchens doesn't mention it.And that there is no more need for religion in the present we live in, that religion has in fact become THE factor that is most likely to hinder the evolution of humans as a race? Not a word.Or wait, maybe he does mention that somewhere in the 241 pages I chose not to read, because I have better things to do with my time. But I doubt it.I bought this book because I was led to believe that Hitchens is one THE top intellectuals of the USA, and one of the important proponents of the so-called "new atheism". (whatever that is)If he is, I feel sorry for us "old atheists". And I'm calling myself that because I most certainly do not want to be connected to a movement that does itself exactly what it criticizes in religious radicals: attack and condemn, without reason or explanation. That's what Hitchens does in this book. Hitchens may think that he is an atheist, and he may argue on behalf of atheism. But in doing so, he turns his atheism into the one thing that I am strongly against: a new religion.And that does not only offend my as an atheist, it also harms atheism as such. Which is the fundamental difference between me and Hitches: we both are convinced that there is no god. But where I only want people to take responsibility for their own mistakes and to not blame a superior being, where I want them to be human because they are, and not because some religion dictates how and why they should be human, Hitchens does not seem to think that far. He just jumped onto the popular train ("new" atheim? Really?) to point his finger at the most outrageous and stupid examples of radical religious people he could find.Newsflash, Mr. Hitchens: there are idiots everywhere, but you cannot judge the whole system upon them.Case in point.P.S.: Oh, and I should probably mention that the book isn't very well written either. The language, especially the first chapter, is pompous. The structure of the "arguments" is, at best, random. Also, the author seems to have chosen not to religiously follow the rules of logic. Or to, you know, be logical at all.*closes book and throws it on the sale pile*
    more
  • Manny
    January 1, 1970
    There's a debate I keep getting into about the difference between atheism and religious belief: someone claims that atheism is just another faith, and I disagree. This seems like a good place to summarize my objections.I would first like to draw a clear distinction between dogmatic and sceptical atheism. If someone blindly believes that there is no God, and no evidence whatsoever would change their opinion, then I quite agree that, for such people, atheism is indeed another religion. (A mathemat There's a debate I keep getting into about the difference between atheism and religious belief: someone claims that atheism is just another faith, and I disagree. This seems like a good place to summarize my objections.I would first like to draw a clear distinction between dogmatic and sceptical atheism. If someone blindly believes that there is no God, and no evidence whatsoever would change their opinion, then I quite agree that, for such people, atheism is indeed another religion. (A mathematician might say that it's the null religion). But most atheists aren't like that. They don't believe in God because they don't see compelling evidence to do so, but, were such evidence produced, they would change their minds. If you still wish to argue that sceptical atheism is a faith, it seems to me that you are in general arguing that one should abolish the distinction between faith and reasoned judgement, a step most people would be reluctant to take. When I say that I don't believe snow is green, my statement is based on having seen a lot of snow. Most of it was white (some was a dirty gray), and none of it was green. If I did see green snow, I'd change my position to saying that snow was usually white, but occasionally green.Of course, evidence isn't always as direct as looking at snow. I don't believe that any mountain in the world is taller than Mount Everest. I have never even been in the Himalayas, and directly verifying the claim would also involve visiting and measuring every mountain in the world, a difficult undertaking. Nonetheless, I have met people whose job it is to verify claims of this kind, and I know that they are good at what they do. If a geographer published an erroneous claim about the identity of the world's tallest mountain, I am sure that another geographer would take great pleasure in showing him that he was wrong, and would try to set the record straight. It's easy to measure the height of a mountain to an accuracy of at worst a metre or two. Soon the debate would be over, and almost everyone would agree.Moving on to things more directly divine, I don't believe that thunder is the sound of the god Thor throwing his hammer. I believe it's the sound of a large-scale electrical discharge made when clouds become sufficiently charged. Again, my evidence is largely based on other people's testimony, but the account of thunder in terms of electrical discharges is solid, coherent and meshes well with things I have seen. For example, discharges created by van der Graaf generators look enough like lightning that it's hard to write that off as a coincidence. I also know that the statistics on the efficacy of lightning conductors are very one-sided. None the less, if I were to meet Thor in person, as Natalie Portman does in the recent movie, I would no doubt revise my opinions.Well: I don't believe in the existence of the monotheistic God who created the universe simply because I don't see enough evidence. My lack of belief in that God is pretty much the same as my lack of belief in green snow, my lack of belief in a mountain taller than Everest and my lack of belief in big blond guys in thunder clouds throwing hammers. If I did see evidence, I'd change my mind. (Carl Sagan's novel Contact makes this point very nicely). But, until then, I'm sceptical, and I don't see that my scepticism is an act of faith. It's only the normal exercise of reasoned judgement.
    more
  • Bill Kerwin
    January 1, 1970
    A wicked, witty condemnation of all things religious. As a person of faith, I find that Hitchens often sounds like a blind man ridiculing the value of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. But he is particularly fine on the noxious ways in which religion intersects with the most murderous forms of politics. And of course--as is always the case with Hitchens--the book is witty and well written.As a reader of the Nation for over a quarter of a century, I enjoyed Christopher Hitchens political analysis and right A wicked, witty condemnation of all things religious. As a person of faith, I find that Hitchens often sounds like a blind man ridiculing the value of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. But he is particularly fine on the noxious ways in which religion intersects with the most murderous forms of politics. And of course--as is always the case with Hitchens--the book is witty and well written.As a reader of the Nation for over a quarter of a century, I enjoyed Christopher Hitchens political analysis and righteous invective for many years. I always thought he was at his best when he attacked specific individuals for their public positions and private failings, and his refusal--like the best 18th century satirists--to draw any line between the two. I relished his take-downs of Bob Hope, Mel Gibson, Michael Moore and the Dalai Lama, and thought some of his best work was contained in his book-length tirades against Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Mother Teresa (the latter book distinguished by its outrageous title, The Missionary Position).Hitchens was outraged whenever he observed public figures overly praised for their few good deeds, excused for their corrupt habitual practices, and lauded for their wrong-headed opinions. He summoned every fact and argument--fair or unfair--in the service of his eloquent and venomous pen, fashioned an image of himself as a champion of truth, and, in so doing, produced satire of a quality perhaps not seen since the days of Swift and Pope, a quarter of a millennium ago.Unfortunately, Hitchens chooses to apply the same old formula in this attack on the Great Jehovah, and for once he is out of his depth. It is not so much that he lacks knowledge--although his grasp of theological controversy is much weaker than his grip on practical politics--but that he chooses to take God to task in much the same way he formerly used to criticize Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms. God may very well be a person--as the orthodox Christian theologians maintain--but, if so, he is not a person in the precisely same sense, for example, that George Galloway and Cindy Sheehan are persons.In attacking God himself in this way, Hitchens reveals his own pettiness, appearing less like a great moralist and more like a peevish gadfly. It is a pity too, for many of the great religious crimes he chronicles would constitute, in some other book, a devastating condemnation of organized religion itself.Now, if Hitch would have instead written a book about Bin Laden or Pat Robertson--or about John Paul II or Benedict XVI--what an excellent polemic it might have been!
    more
  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    January 1, 1970
    I read this months ago and never got around to the review...Simply stated, Hitchens puts into words all the reasons I shy away from organized religion. The prejudices, sexism, the overall foolishness... At the same time, he seems oblivious to the fact that there are religious people out there doing great things; feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, building for the homeless. Hey Hitchens! I get that you are atheist. That's fine, but knock that chip off your shoulder already! Belief that decent I read this months ago and never got around to the review...Simply stated, Hitchens puts into words all the reasons I shy away from organized religion. The prejudices, sexism, the overall foolishness... At the same time, he seems oblivious to the fact that there are religious people out there doing great things; feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, building for the homeless. Hey Hitchens! I get that you are atheist. That's fine, but knock that chip off your shoulder already! Belief that decent religious people exist does not mean you have to agree with them or believe in their God.Mr. Hitchens, may I suggest a few new titles for your book? Try "God Can Be Great, But Freaks Poison Religion" or "How Jerks Screw Up Religion".
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Witty, fact-based, amusing rant. I laughed out loud many times!I think part of the rage Hitchens encounters derives from the fact that he is funny. If he put on a scholarly, serious tone, and imitated the behaviour of priests in the way he poses his arguments, he would not be hated in the way he is. But the ridicule makes him a target. I happen to like entertaining arguments more than tedious, nonsensical discussions on evidence for made-up assertions, and cheer Hitchens on when he offers his ow Witty, fact-based, amusing rant. I laughed out loud many times!I think part of the rage Hitchens encounters derives from the fact that he is funny. If he put on a scholarly, serious tone, and imitated the behaviour of priests in the way he poses his arguments, he would not be hated in the way he is. But the ridicule makes him a target. I happen to like entertaining arguments more than tedious, nonsensical discussions on evidence for made-up assertions, and cheer Hitchens on when he offers his own (beware literalists, ironical!) belief:“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either.”If there is one thing I would like to add, it is my amusement at discussions between scientists and creationists. Besides the fact that scientists will happily accept new evidence and change their theories if knowledge in their field expands, as opposed to creationists, who stubbornly will change reality to fit their ancient ideas from an illiterate, patriarchal and tribal era, there is another flaw in the creationist vindictive search for loopholes in evolutionary science:Even if they happen to prove that evolutionists made a mistake or two in their research, that does not by any means make their own claims more valid! Why is the default setting a minority Christian fundamentalist belief in the literal truth of the Bible? ANY other explanation is equally valid without proof. The world on the turtle's back, the simulation of a brain in a vat, anything can be true if we do not accept evidence as a basis. As far as I am concerned, there is more proof in the world for Greek gods than for the so-called "justice" of the monotheistic gods in their various interpretations.And Hitchens makes a beautiful statement for the diversity of gods in the human world of notorious storytellers:“God did not create man in his own image. Evidently, it was quite the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.” So, I guess in 17th century Europe, I would now be burned as a witch. Can I please have a trial like the one in Monty Python's Holy Grail? I'll wear a false nose and wart if necessary:"- Crowd: A witch! A witch! A witch! We found a witch! We've got a witch! A witch! A witch! We have found a witch. May we burn her?- How do you know she is a witch- She looks like one.- Bring her forward.- I'm not a witch! I'm not a witch !- But you are dressed as one.- They dressed me like this. - No, we didn't.- And this isn't my nose. It's a false one.- Well? - We did do the nose.- The nose? - And the hat. But she is a witch !- Did you dress her up like this? - No, no!- Yes. A bit.- She has got a wart.- What makes you think she's a witch?- She turned me into a newt!- A newt?- I got better.- Burn her anyway!- Quiet! Quiet!- There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.- Are there? What are they? Tell us. - Do they hurt?- Tell me, what do you do with witches?- Burn them!- And what do you burn, apart from witches?- More witches! - Wood!- So why do witches burn?- 'Cause they're made of wood? - Good!- How do we tell if she is made of wood? - Build a bridge out of her.- But can you not also make bridges out of stone?- Oh, yeah.- Does wood sink in water?- No, it floats. - Throw her into the pond!- What also floats in water?- Bread. - Apples.- Very small rocks. - Cider! Great gravy.- Cherries. Mud. - Churches.- Lead. - A duck!- Exactly.- So, logically--- If she weighs the same as a duck...- she's made of wood.- And therefore?- A witch!- A duck! A duck! - Here's a duck.- We shaIl use my largest scales.- Burn the witch !- Remove the supports!- A witch!- It's a fair cop.- Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science?- I am Arthur, king of the Britons."
    more
  • Melly
    January 1, 1970
    As a fellow Atheist, Mr. Hitchens is preaching to choir, so to speak, in this informative, captivating work in which Hitchens judiciously provides historically documented and personal examples of what he sees as an ever-increasing war being waged by a variety of religious fundamental organizations. In our very own country we have troops of well-funded, born-again fanatics preaching hatred of anyone who doesn’t fall in line with their standards. Worse, these groups instill a deep-rooted fear in t As a fellow Atheist, Mr. Hitchens is preaching to choir, so to speak, in this informative, captivating work in which Hitchens judiciously provides historically documented and personal examples of what he sees as an ever-increasing war being waged by a variety of religious fundamental organizations. In our very own country we have troops of well-funded, born-again fanatics preaching hatred of anyone who doesn’t fall in line with their standards. Worse, these groups instill a deep-rooted fear in the most vulnerable, forced members of their congregation; young, helpless, defenseless children, sometimes as young as three. Hitchens provides chilling eye-witness accounts of these tactics which are slowly tearing away at the fabric of this great nation. Regardless of your religious beliefs, if you have an open mind and enjoy reading well written, fact-based, relevant nonfiction, then you will enjoy this book. Certainly, deeply religious people may find certain parts upsetting as fundamental beliefs are challenged with factual, cited information. Hitchens has a way of peeling away the absurdity of certain religious beliefs and how these beliefs, at their very core, are contrary to very ideals shouted to the masses during worship services. Something I learned at an early age, as a baptized Roman Catholic about to be confirmed, is that before anyone blindly accepts what they’ve been told over a period of time about a particular religion, it is your right, your responsibility and your duty to pick up a couple of books about Judaism, Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, Heavens Gate Kool-Aid Lovers or whatever they were all about, even Mormonism and Jehovah Witness, and read. Read about each of these religious. Get a book along the lines of Religion for Dummies (there is a joke in there somewhere) and get an overview of what these groups are all about. Then study philosophy and science and art and history. Read Ayn Rand and Aristotle and Plato and study and research and think for yourself. And then, one day, years later, you’ll realize what is true for you and that will be your own religion. There are too many great stories in Hitchens’ book but some of my personal favorites pertain to religious interference with women’s reproductive rights. Islamic authorities of the Council of Ulemas in Indonesia urged that condoms only be made available to married coupled (HUH?), and then only with a prescription. He also quotes an article from Foreign Policy magazine in which a n official of Pakistan’s AIDS Control Program stated that the [AIDS] problem was smaller in his country because of “better social and Islamic values,” This, in a state where the law allows a woman to be sentenced to be gang-raped in order to expiate the “shame” of a crime committed by her brother. Good ol’ repression and denial. The building blocks of religion. Pro or con. Christian or Agnostic. Cubs or White Sox. This book will, if nothing else, be educational and thought-provoking. I give this FIVE Pac Mans
    more
  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Not long ago, I watched a couple of those "How The Universe Works" shows, and it kinda traumatized me. In however many billions of years, the sun is going to die, and slightly before that the Earth will be incinerated, and everything that we are, were, will be, and will have built will cease to exist. I can comprehend that. Earth's only one part of a solar system in a tiny part of one galaxy of hundreds of billions of galaxies that exist in the vastness of the universe. See? I know that someday Not long ago, I watched a couple of those "How The Universe Works" shows, and it kinda traumatized me. In however many billions of years, the sun is going to die, and slightly before that the Earth will be incinerated, and everything that we are, were, will be, and will have built will cease to exist. I can comprehend that. Earth's only one part of a solar system in a tiny part of one galaxy of hundreds of billions of galaxies that exist in the vastness of the universe. See? I know that someday (thankfully not very soon), Earth is a goner. But what's hard for me to comprehend is that eventually, the rest of the universe will end too. That's just mind-boggling to me. That something so vast, and so seemingly infinite, can just end... well, it makes me almost wish that there was something more, to almost want to have faith that there is some sort of creator who set all of this in place and then breathed life into it, and who has a plan and a purpose for what it will eventually become, rather than there being nothing but a ticking clock until the end of everything. Almost, because it's sometimes comforting in the face of the end of all existence. But I don't. Even if I DID have that faith, that would be all. I could never be religious, because I don't believe in religion. And that is the crux of this book for me. A little anecdote before I continue: A couple weeks ago, The Boy's family came to stay with us for a few days to visit. They are religiousy, grace-before-dinner (heh, almost typo'd 'sinner' there), "God has a plan" types, who give God credit for everything. They hit all green lights driving through town? God was with them, etc. I try not to get sucked into conversations about religion with The Boy's grandma, because she's a sweet lady who just can't see things being other than how she sees them, and she believes that she's only trying to help me "find God". I know she wouldn't understand my lack of desire to have anything to do with religion, so I just avoid the topic altogether whenever possible.The last day of their visit, the inevitable happened and she cornered me while I was making dinner:Her: "So, have you found a church yet?"Me: "Umm, no... OhIhavetocheckthefoodnow... *mumblemumble*"Her: "Oh, well you'll find one... you just have to keep trying! You know, you'd really like my church. It's the biggest in the area. We have to drive 45 minutes to get there, but I really like it because it's got gold on the windowsills and they've got their own TV and radio stations and..." (I zoned out around this point, just holding up my end of the conversation by muttering "Oh?" and "That's nice..." every time she stopped for air.)Then: "So, why don't you go to church?"Me: (DAMMIT!!) "Oh, well... I don't believe in organized religion."Her: "Oh, you mean like those Catholics? They are always standing and sitting and chanting at just the right times! They are really organized!"Me: O_o "Yeahhhhh... that's not exactly the kind of 'organized' I meant..."Hitchens' point, as the sub-title indicates, is that RELIGION poisons everything. Simply put, it's a pissing contest, winner decided by headcount (or body count, as the case may be), between groups who are each claiming that THEIRS is the Right and One True Religion... and thus intolerance and hatred and fear is born. Religions tell people that they are going to spend eternity in suffering unless they Follow The Rules... when The Rules themselves can cause immense suffering in people, from fear of eternal damnation, to circumcision (both male and female), to homophobic violence, to genocide, just to name a few. Seems like a lose/lose to me.Organized religion seeks (and too often succeeds) to exert control over people's thoughts and behavior, imposing standards of purity that are nearly impossible to attain, even in the most pious believer. But more than that, they also insert themselves into politics, seeking to impose their particular brand of 'morality' on everyone, which inevitably leads to human rights violations and less freedom for people of all beliefs. Religion spawns creatures of such vile ugliness and pure evil that I can't even comprehend them... And that's just the Westboro Baptist Church. Ahh, such wholesome, joyful hatred. I agreed with much of what Hitchens said in this book on the subject of religion, because I do think that can be toxic, but we actually differ on the faith aspect. I felt uncomfortable with some of his attitudes toward people who believe in God/Allah/Buddha/Krishna/etc, resorting to dismissive name-calling several times. I realize that this is a fine line for me to walk, because religion and faith/belief are tied so closely together. But I feel like faith/belief in and of itself is not a bad thing, nor does it make the person who holds it stupid or naive or less worthy of respect. I have no problem with faith, or belief in any God, whatever they may be called. That is an individual's decision and it's personal to them. I make no claims of knowing there is NOT a God, so I cannot say anyone who believes in one is wrong. My issue is when faith is bound up in religion as an institution that uses it as a method of control and intolerance. That is when I feel that a line is crossed, and in my opinion, the result is far more harm than good, if viewed in large-scale terms.
    more
  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    I'm probably going to court some hateful comments by trying to write a review of this book, but I think Hitch would be proud that I am making the attempt.I have been reading Hitch's work for years, including his essays on mortality and atheism, so I knew the gist of his arguments against religion, but it was enlightening going through this entire book. He synthesizes a tremendous amount of research from history, philosophy, science and current events, and he argues that "religion poisons everyth I'm probably going to court some hateful comments by trying to write a review of this book, but I think Hitch would be proud that I am making the attempt.I have been reading Hitch's work for years, including his essays on mortality and atheism, so I knew the gist of his arguments against religion, but it was enlightening going through this entire book. He synthesizes a tremendous amount of research from history, philosophy, science and current events, and he argues that "religion poisons everything." No religion is spared his glare -- he gives time to all faiths and prophets. He makes his case using his great wit and flair for words, and the result is a compelling read.Here are a few favorite passages:"Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse. And if we chance to forget what that must have been like, we have only to look at those states and societies where the clergy still has the power to dictate its own terms. The pathetic vestiges of this can still be seen, in modern societies, in the efforts made by religion to secure control over education, or to exempt itself from tax, or to pass laws forbidding people to insult its omnipotent and omniscient deity, or even his prophet."[On the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and referencing a speech by Abba Eban] "Two peoples of roughly equivalent size had a claim to the same land. [Eban said] the solution was, obviously, to create two states side by side. Surely something so evident was within the wit of man to encompass? And so it would have been, decades ago, if the messianic rabbis and mullahs and priests could have been kept out of it. But the exclusive claims to god-given authority, made by hysterical clerics on both sides and further stoked by Armageddon-minded Christians who hope to bring on the Apocalypse (preceded by the death or conversion of all Jews), have made the situation insufferable, and put the whole of humanity in the position of hostage to a quarrel that now features the threat of nuclear war. Religion poisons everything. As well as a menace to civilization, it has become a threat to human survival."[On atheism and his co-thinkers] "Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake ... We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books. Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and -- since there is no other metaphor -- also the soul."Hitch died in December 2011, and damn how I miss that brilliant, cantankerous ol' rabble-rouser. If you have ever seen him interviewed or heard him give a speech, you know he has a fantastic voice, so I need to make a plug for his audiobooks, which are excellently narrated. And if you want to read some Hitchens but don't want to get all religion-y, I highly recommend his autobiography "Hitch-22."
    more
  • Matthew Wesley
    January 1, 1970
    This book is fundamentally flawed in argument, but can be enjoyable to read. Christopher Hitchens, however, is an exceptionally witty writer, who often finds clever ways to express himself. His writing is conversational, flowing, but sometimes elitist, arrogant, and pretentious. His humor is evident throughout the book, but it is consistently divisive and adversarial.As an atheist, I find the writing enjoyable, intelligent, and humorous. I do not need to be further convinced of the dangers of fa This book is fundamentally flawed in argument, but can be enjoyable to read. Christopher Hitchens, however, is an exceptionally witty writer, who often finds clever ways to express himself. His writing is conversational, flowing, but sometimes elitist, arrogant, and pretentious. His humor is evident throughout the book, but it is consistently divisive and adversarial.As an atheist, I find the writing enjoyable, intelligent, and humorous. I do not need to be further convinced of the dangers of faith and religion, so I am willing to tolerate fallacies and offensive comments while I enjoy the witty writing. For the religious or the uncertain, however, this book may seem too irreverent and offensive to be of any intellectual value. Few faithful people would be willing to entertain the author's notions long enough to see where he has valid points and separate them from his snideness. This is a true shame, because there are some worthwhile messages.The main message is that religion can be a bad influence on things. Unfortunately, the author phrases this as the fallacious "religion poisons everything." Christopher Hitchens provides many poignant examples of wrongdoing founded in faith and religion, but this does not imply that everything done by religion is bad. It is unfortunate that the conclusion of the book is overstated, because a more cautious assessment of the dangers of religious rejection of reason would be valuable and accessible to more people.I would recommend that people interested in the subject matter instead review the extensive on-line collection of atheist writing. Much of it is more welcoming and less arrogant. www.infidels.org is a good source of such material, and it has an excellent introduction to atheism that is valuable both to atheists and to Christians (http://www.infidels.org/library/moder...). The library also includes written works oriented towards people of other faiths as well.
    more
  • Abubakar Mehdi
    January 1, 1970
    Since I can't say anything with out being labelled as a 'heretic' or a 'heathen', I will just say this;Not everything, but it does poison a lot of things. And its first victims are Reason and Common sense.
  • Joel
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine if a basketball fan set out to discredit baseball and converts its adherents to his chosen sport. He would note the rather dubious creation myth still celebrated in the sports' Hall of Fame, the Black Sox scandal, the exclusion of African American players until the 1950s, frequent brawls between teams that literally clear the benches, and two most successful players of the last decade being almost undoubted cheats. He could go on to argue that the uniforms are childish, the habits of pla Imagine if a basketball fan set out to discredit baseball and converts its adherents to his chosen sport. He would note the rather dubious creation myth still celebrated in the sports' Hall of Fame, the Black Sox scandal, the exclusion of African American players until the 1950s, frequent brawls between teams that literally clear the benches, and two most successful players of the last decade being almost undoubted cheats. He could go on to argue that the uniforms are childish, the habits of players disgusting (and their salaries even more so), and the rules hopelessly complex and inconsistent. Finally, he might say, subjecting children to such a game through organized little leagues is perhaps a form of child abuse. After all, it subjects them to needless stress to perform in an environment where even the most successful fail more than half the time and relies on shouting coaches for motivation. The basketball fan might then make a few comments on the beauty of a Larry Bird jumper, the deftness of a Magic Johnson behind-the-back pass, and the awe-inspiring grace of a Jordan dunk and thus safely conclude the argument convinced that his case was proved. Replace baseball with religions and basketball with enlightenment rationalism and you've essentially got God is Not Great. Hitchens' book is a catalog of the sins of religions and a well considered and highly pointed one at that. I found much I want to think over a bit more in my faith after watching it fall under Hitchens's inspection. Still, it seems like the same sort of catalog can be written up about any organized human endeavor and the fact that organized religions are not free of the human stain hardly surprises. What is surprising is the extent to which Hitchens' goes to leave no saint unblemished. Why he chooses to blame Indian partition on Gandhi, when Gandhi advocated contra Jinnah for a united India is beyond me. Similar is the portrayal of Mother Teresa as an opportunistic nun (I am sure the people she served wish there were more such opportunists). I suspect Mother Teresa is cast in such an unfavorable light more from the antipathy Hitchens feels for his fellow polemicist Malcolm Muggeridge, who first filmed her, than anything she's done. (In Hitchens estimation Muggeridge is an idiot as are most people he disagrees with). I suppose an atheist will find most of this comforting, though he may be pricked by a niggling doubt (a similar doubt to the doubt a theist such as myself has when reading some of C.S. Lewis' work) that the case for atheism is just a little too easily made here.
    more
  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    So. I've read it, front to back. Hitchens laments that the faithful (of whatever persuasion) "have believed what the priests and rabbis and imams tell them about what the unbelievers think" (10), and (it follows) he rages that priests, rabbis and imams would presume to know or communicate what atheists think and why. And yet, what is Hitchens's book if not 300 pages of an unbeliever telling other unbelievers what believers think and why? The hypocrisy here, and elsewhere in the book, is bald as So. I've read it, front to back. Hitchens laments that the faithful (of whatever persuasion) "have believed what the priests and rabbis and imams tell them about what the unbelievers think" (10), and (it follows) he rages that priests, rabbis and imams would presume to know or communicate what atheists think and why. And yet, what is Hitchens's book if not 300 pages of an unbeliever telling other unbelievers what believers think and why? The hypocrisy here, and elsewhere in the book, is bald as can be. Time and again, he holds religious institutions fiercely accountable for their contempt - e.g. organized religion is "contemptuous of women" (56) - even as he himself exhibits and condones contempt no less virulent for being on the page than one might see in a religious setting. Indeed, he writes that it is with "contempt [one must:] regard" (58) believers who reflect on and/or long to witness the end of the world. People "must" regard them with contempt, he writes, "must" allowing for no disagreement, no wiggle room. Hitchens here fashions himself the moral arbiter in his arguments against religions having fashioned themselves moral arbiters. Later still, he criticizes Evelyn Waugh's comments about remarriage constituting an addition of spittle in the face of Christ as a wickedness that outstrips Waugh's own infidelities. At this point, I'll make it known that I, too, am critical of Waugh's opinion on remarriage (and of his having expressed it to a friend on the cusp of remarriage), but who except Hitchens has made Hitchens qualified to rank Waugh's wickednesses? Again, his proclamation is arbitrary, and his authority specious at best. Or earlier in the book when he writes: "The harder work of inquiry, proof, and demonstration is infinitely more rewarding [...:] than any theology" (71)...according to whom? Hitchens. Later, writing of Spinoza: "his meditations on the human condition have provided more real consolation to thoughtful people than has any religion" (262)...again, according to whom? Hitchens. Although, what's even likelier here is a subtle dig at religious people on the whole in the suggestion that none of them is "thoughtful." He makes statement after statement that cannot be made, counting on his snide sense of humor to persuade people into believing their intellects are being used in siding with his arguments, when, in truth, their intellects are being appealed to less than their vanities. No one likes to side with the folks being humiliated (except Christ, anyway), and his wit insures his readers will at least want to side with him, even when their consciences and critical aptitudes discourage it. His incessant rollcall of insults, referring to various believers as "orangutans" (56), "ignoramus" (64), "goons" (275), "barbarian" (275), "pathetic fraud" (270), "boobies" (269), "hypocrites" (212) - all language that suggests Hitchens is every bit the "bigot and [...:] persecutor" (180) he rakes Martin Luther over the coals for having been. And when he condemns Mahayanna Buddhism's assertion that sometimes (it is perceived) one should be killed in order to preserve untold numbers of lives (203), one cannot but think of Hitchens's own vocal support for the war in Iraq, for the invasion of a sovereign nation on grounds debatable at best, dubious at worst, and resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. (It also warrants mentioning here that Hitchens's intellectual compatriot Sam Harris has written that a nuclear first strike in which tens of millions might die might be permissible if it meant saving more lives in the long run. Chris Hedges, in his book I Don't Believe in Atheists, takes Harris to task for this.)And then there is his admiration of Socrates's concession that he might have been wrong, Socrates having said "in effect: I do not know for certain about death and the gods - but I am as certain as I can be that you do not know, either" (257). This is an attribution Hitchens gives to Socrates, and one he applauds, and likely believes he shares. But the book is evidence otherwise. His cherry-picking in the texts he uses, the spin he brings to bear in the historical epochs he unfolds, and the manipulation of context in which he situates certain literary and scientific appropriations (one would think Dostoevsky hadn't been a Christian! or that Stephen Jay Gould hadn't been conciliatory and respectful to religion!) are embarrassments. Hitchens is a bright man, and he should be bright enough to see that replacing centuries of religious hostilities with 300 pages of secular ridicule does nothing to set the bar higher than it has been. The book is a rant in which numerous good points are made - e.g. "Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it." (266) - and in which others are woefully ignored (e.g. that just as human decency precedes religion, so, too, does the impulse - to wreak havoc and cause harm - he attributes to religion itself). One final thing I'll mention is how unfortunate it is that Hitchens cannot seem to fathom the ways in which truth and facts are different entities, if often compliments. He's a literary critic and should know this better than anyone! Just as Northrop Frye has discussed at length, the Old Testament was never intended as a literal document - the culture that conceived of it understood this, so why can't Hitchens? The stories in the Old Testament are not facts and were not meant to be taken as such, so criticizing their being more akin to fables merely because a contingent of modern religious folk have misunderstood their meaning reveals Hitchens's response to be more a reaction than a response and reveals a misunderstanding in him as deep as the one in the literalist perspective of which he's so unforgiving. Ironically, one of the best explanations of the assertion that truth is as often found in an absence of fact as in fact can be seen in Enduring Love, a novel by Ian McEwan - the writer to whom God is not Great is dedicated. In it, Clarissa, a Keats scholar commenting on a disputed urban legend-like encounter between Keats and Wordsworth, says: "It isn't true, but it tells the truth" (183). Similarly, the Old Testament isn't true as we understand "true" to be "factual," but it does tell the truth - about mankind, his nature, his shortcomings, his sense of longing, his sense of the sacred, etc. Enduring Love's exploration of this question with regard to religion - and not just Keats - plumbs much deeper, too, than I've mentioned here. Again, that Hitchens seems incapable of distinguishing between "truth" and "facts" or "data" is bizarre, given his standing as a literary critic. However learned he is, and whatever the book's nominal pluses, its tone is offensive, its conclusions misguided and its suppositions the product less of inquiry than of resentment. If there were a 1 1/2 star rating to give it, I would, but God is not Great warrants rounding down far more than rounding up.
    more
  • Marc Horton
    January 1, 1970
    Obviously, anyone who can write a less-than-flattering book about Mother Teresa is not concerned with offending anyone. More or less, here's the rub: "God" explained a lot, back before we had Science and The Enlightenment, and now, humanity suffers at the hand of religious zealots whose battles spill over into the lives of the innocent. And one point that I'm sure would make my mother cry: it is possible to live a moral and good life without "God." Given the right subject, he's actually pretty f Obviously, anyone who can write a less-than-flattering book about Mother Teresa is not concerned with offending anyone. More or less, here's the rub: "God" explained a lot, back before we had Science and The Enlightenment, and now, humanity suffers at the hand of religious zealots whose battles spill over into the lives of the innocent. And one point that I'm sure would make my mother cry: it is possible to live a moral and good life without "God." Given the right subject, he's actually pretty funny, though he always dangerously treads the line between being obnoxiously and prodigiously smart. So, while I've disagreed with some his past books and ideas, this is one that fellow misanthropic humanists would do well to read. I'm reminded of a favorite Bill Hicks quote: "Humans? We're a virus with shoes."
    more
  • Edward Lorn
    January 1, 1970
    A few days ago, a storm rolled through where I live and knocked out our power for a few hours and our internet for an entire day. (#firstworldproblems) Unfortunately, my Playstation 4 was in the middle of an update when all this occurred. The power outage shut down my PS4, and the update ended up becoming corrupted, along with my harddrive. I lost all my data. Hundred of hours of grinding in games like Fallout 4, Far Cry 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil VII, and loads more. The PS4 had to be A few days ago, a storm rolled through where I live and knocked out our power for a few hours and our internet for an entire day. (#firstworldproblems) Unfortunately, my Playstation 4 was in the middle of an update when all this occurred. The power outage shut down my PS4, and the update ended up becoming corrupted, along with my harddrive. I lost all my data. Hundred of hours of grinding in games like Fallout 4, Far Cry 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil VII, and loads more. The PS4 had to be returned to factory settings and the HDD wiped in safe mode before we could so much as load a game. Certain games would not work without first installing updates online, so I took my console to my mother's house (she has a different internet provider than us; one that came right back up after the storm. Fuck you, AT&T.) to do the updates so that we'd have something to do while the internet was out at our place. Now for a little backstory: My mother, who lives on my land in a separate trailer, sometimes piggybacks off our internet because her ISP (Xfinity) has a 10gb data cap. We have a 150gb cap. Any time she gets close she hops over to the extended network and uses ours. No biggie. Share and share alike. About a month ago, she mentioned wanting to cancel her internet, which she pays $70 a month for, and using solely our internet and chipping in on our bill. I said, "Why not. Sounds good to me." Fast forward to the day of the storm. I'm over her place, updating my PS4, and my mother says to me, "I think this is a sign from God that I should keep my internet." I gave her a look that I probably would've gotten slapped for had I still been a child and said, "So what you're saying is that your god knocked out my power and internet and corrupted the data on my $400 video game system that had hundreds of hours of progress on its harddrive all because he wanted to send you a message that you should continue to pay $70 a month for a service you can't really afford because you tithe 10% of your already limited social security check every month to a church that worships him?"She sighed in disappointment and did not respond. My being an atheist has long upset her, and this book would likely give her a stroke because it logically argues against every religion and religious practice known to man. Best of all, Hitchens discusses the foundation of all religion: solipsism.And before you cry foul at how terrible I treat my mother and her fragile religious beliefs, you should know that I buy her groceries and cook her dinner every night because she can't afford to do so herself. Why can't she support herself? You guessed it, she blows her food money on tithing at a church whose members didn't so much as call her when she broke two ribs and fractured a third. They sure as shit sent her a tithe reminder in the mail, though, which she gladly returned with check enclosed. And yes, they had been informed of her fall and injuries. Classy buncha assholes, huh?My point is, I'm there for her when her god isn't, yet he still gets the credit. I think only an atheist can appreciate how annoying that is, to be the bad guy because I don't believe in her invisible man of choice even though I do everything in my power to make sure she has everything she needs. I feel like a parent supporting their child's drug addiction. Oh well. Thanks for listening to me vent.In summation: There's not much in God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything that I didn't already know, but it was still worth the read. To be clear, most atheists are atheists because they already know the information in this book. But if you're looking to further your education, or intend to attempt to dissuade a loved one from religion, or plan to attempt to erase the brainwashing of an indoctrinated child, I recommend reading this first. Hitchens cites all sources and argues intelligently against ignorant beliefs and silly superstitions. But I think my favorite part of the book is how accurately he displays the dangerous nature of all religions and not just extremist secs. All religions are poisonous, taken to the extreme or not. The only rational argument for them is how effective they are at controlling the uneducated masses.Final Judgment: Required reading.
    more
  • EisNinE
    January 1, 1970
    Up til a few hundred years ago, religion used to be our way of understanding all the shit we didn't have answers for - which was a lot... stars, rainbows, the causal relationship between fucking and dropping babies*(FN) - and a way to feel like we had emergency options when we were completely helpless: times of plague, famine and warfare. There were gods we could try to please or mollify by killing things, and then harass for military, climatic and antiviral favors. It usually didn't amount to m Up til a few hundred years ago, religion used to be our way of understanding all the shit we didn't have answers for - which was a lot... stars, rainbows, the causal relationship between fucking and dropping babies*(FN) - and a way to feel like we had emergency options when we were completely helpless: times of plague, famine and warfare. There were gods we could try to please or mollify by killing things, and then harass for military, climatic and antiviral favors. It usually didn't amount to much, but one lucky break in 50 is enough to keep faith alive for the desperate. The gods were like us, capricious and selfish. Then it was god, singular, for very specific and random reasons; archaeologists and anthropologists are still finding fun new evidence to confuse themselves with, which I'll get to in a moment. In the monotheistic beginning, god wasn't any better than the gods that came as a matching set. He had his own crew, and still acted like a mercurial, genocidal dick. It really wasn't until 2000 years ago that Christianity made excuses for his temper tantrums, and repainted Yahweh as a kind and loving god, despite a shitload of evidence to the contrary. The cruel games he played with Abraham & Job, the fact that he cursed the entire human race to disease, natural disasters, and death in general, all because he got his feelings hurt when two morons ate the wrong fruit... what the fuck? If god existed, why would anyone think this twat deserved 'faith'? Seen objectively, the god of the Old Testament is the best argument against 'faith' around. Any ideology that makes a virtue of willful ignorance, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, needs to be killed with napalm.Yahweh originally belonged to his own cozy little pantheon, and even had a wife. But he left his clique behind after a group of Canaanites who were stuck doing the shit-work broke off from the herd, to survive and occasionally thrive as 'the Israelites'. They took this god with them when they left. He was a lesser god in the Canaanite pantheon... or one that came from yet another pantheon, if this group was enslaved and absorbed as a conquered neighbor. Whatever. This persecuted group of low-rung 'untouchable' types would graduate to a more upscale form of persecution after getting themselves enslaved again by the Egyptians... at which point some anti-god sentiment would be understandable. But the Israelites felt this deity took care of them when prayers to Ba'al went ignored, and it's likely that this streamlined monotheism, with its the strange reluctance to use a proper name, and strong rejection of 'graven images' - since if authorities found an idol, it was damning evidence of religious devotion to a god whose worshipers were executed immediately, putting entire proto-Israelite communities at risk - did not emerge despite religious persecution, but because of it. God's wife was jettisoned with the idols; this religion needed to travel fast and silent. Even his name was abbreviated, chucking the bloated vowels, almost a code now: the 'tetragrammaton', just four consonants, pronounced today as Yahweh or Jehovah. He was still the blood-and-thunder bad-ass that the Hebrews needed him to be, but he was slowly picking up the loving, motherly characteristics of the wife he left behind once they settled down, moving closer to the Christian concept of god. He wasn't capricious or cruel. He was fair and loving... although he did get drunk with Satan once and pick on Job; he just kind of laughed as the devil killed Job's family, gave him weeping, smelly skin ulcers, and treated him like a bitch... all on a bar-stool bet. He felt bad about it the morning after, though... and made it up to Job with a shiny new family. And an awesome goat.This new-and-improved, loving and caring, monotheistic 'Yahweh' supposedly wasn't governed by human faults and weaknesses, even if he let it slip to Moses we were created in his image. It may seem ridiculous from a modern POV, but it all seemed sensible to them. And Christians, Jews and Muslims are still in denial about this murderous piece of shit.Insecurity is definitely a part of the divine character, since he constantly needs reassurances that we love him, even after the douchebag kills our cats and grandmothers. It's always our fault; 'it's not you, God, it's me'. Those tens of thousands of babies that die every day obviously have it coming for their sins. If god's so deadset against abortion, maybe he should prove it by not killing the children of parents who wanted to start a family. So contrary to whatever his biographers and publicity agents have been telling us for several millennia, god's just as flaky and mercurial as Jupiter and, well... Mercury. Looking back at all the genocidal and sadistic Old Testament tantrums - Sodom and Gomorrah, the Flood, cursing several billion people to pain and death because their great-great-great-great-etc. grandparents ate some fucking fruit - you'd have to conclude that if god did exist, he'd be a psychotic douchebag and all-around piece of shit. Every bit of suffering in the universe was his doing, yet we're still supposed to thank him for shoving this shit sandwich down our collective throat, to grovel and smile and beg for vague nothings via prayer. Yeah... fuck that. If you're... how should I phrase this... stupid enough to bother with a prayer, and -- shockingly -- it doesn't work out... the problem's on your end. Unplug it, plug it back in, and pray harder, ferfucksake. He apparently needs 7 billion people to pray at him daily, so he can look at himself in the quantum mirror and smile/frown/grow tentacles, but he can't be bothered to answer a single one. Are you certain you've done everything right? Yeah? There you go, you're too proud of your righteousness. That's not it? Well... file it under 'moves in mysterious ways'. For the desperate and the stupid, faith is invulnerable to reason. What would you think of a person who bought an ant farm, then tossed it into the furnace a day later because the ants wouldn't tap-dance when he asked politely? God's nuttiness is several orders of magnitude more severe. Thank god for not existing. Now that all those answers religion provided are no longer needed - and wrong about absolutely everything - it's only purpose is to whisper bullshit in the ear of the 'troubled soul', and provide reasons for humanity to kill itself over long outdated lies. We might as well murder each other over slight historical disagreements about Santa Claus. Elves or gnomes? Reindeer or caribou? Scarlet red or cherry red?*(They'd narrowed it down to wind and water as the most likely culprits for pregnancy, before agriculture became a thing and matriarchies became patriarchies; like flint knives and mastering fire, it's hard to know if an understanding of sex led to agriculture, or vice versa.)P.S.: For all those Christian demagogues on Youtube and Facebook and wherever-the-fuck, all those windbags who repeat moronic shit like 'there's no atheists in foxholes': Hitchens spent a long time in that proverbial foxhole, suffering the ravages of terminal cancer; and amazingly, neither his encroaching mortality nor the beauty of cancer inspired any last minute prayers or conversions. In fact, he spent his final days talking publicly about the same blasphemous, irreverent shit he had before god saw fit to smite his articulate ass with the emperor of all maladies.
    more
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Surprisingly, I wasn't beguiled by this book as much as I thought I would be. I like Hitchens's irreverent delivery on everything -- but this seemed to fall rather flat. (Or at least, "flattish"). Couldn't quite put my finger on it, except to say that it seems that any kind of sustained rant has the immediate effect of getting me to tune out.A rant is a good thing -- get it off your chest, say what you have to say, with good points to back it all up, and then move on. Hitchens lingers on the pag Surprisingly, I wasn't beguiled by this book as much as I thought I would be. I like Hitchens's irreverent delivery on everything -- but this seemed to fall rather flat. (Or at least, "flattish"). Couldn't quite put my finger on it, except to say that it seems that any kind of sustained rant has the immediate effect of getting me to tune out.A rant is a good thing -- get it off your chest, say what you have to say, with good points to back it all up, and then move on. Hitchens lingers on the page just a little too long and makes me feel that not only does religion poison everything, but so do clever intellectuals. Know thyself -- and know when to shut up -- are worthier conceits than verbal diarrhea.I felt much this way in viewing Bill Maher's Religulous. Clever, acerbic, funny, to-the-point: but then he just didn't know where to stop. Hammer to the head, over and over -- and over -- again ... that I took refuge in prayer that it would all end soon. The irony of that!I agree with everything Hitchens (and Maher) says, but for me, once is enough. (That is, tell me once, I learn my lesson and move on.) That being said, he does leave the believers with a lot of food for thought in this simple quote:Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.I note, with some temerity, that those words are not applicable only to religion, however, but to the state of political figures making their rise in today's world. Change the title to Man is Not Great, and it would be more applicable.
    more
  • peiman-mir5 rezakhani
    January 1, 1970
    دوستانِ گرانقدر، در این کتابِ ارزشمند، به اختصار از موهوماتی چون: وحی و برهان هایِ گوناگونِ اثباتِ خدا، معجزه و نیروهایِ متافیزیکی، چرت و پرت هایِ دینی و مذهبی در موردِ خوک، کتابهایِ احمقانۀ عهد جدید و قدیم، تجاوز و کشتارِ مردم بیگناه توسط سردمدارانِ ادیان مختلف در تاریخ، جهنم و بهشت، تاثیرِ دین در رفتار و گفتار، به پایان رسیدنِ ادیان و سوء استفاده ادیان از دین و ... سخن به میان آمده ... در کل خواندنِ این کتاب را به فرزندانِ خردگرایِ سرزمینم توصیه میکنم.. عالی بود-------------------------------- ‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، در این کتابِ ارزشمند، به اختصار از موهوماتی چون: وحی و برهان هایِ گوناگونِ اثباتِ خدا، معجزه و نیروهایِ متافیزیکی، چرت و پرت هایِ دینی و مذهبی در موردِ خوک، کتابهایِ احمقانۀ عهد جدید و قدیم، تجاوز و کشتارِ مردم بیگناه توسط سردمدارانِ ادیان مختلف در تاریخ، جهنم و بهشت، تاثیرِ دین در رفتار و گفتار، به پایان رسیدنِ ادیان و سوء استفاده ادیان از دین و ... سخن به میان آمده ... در کل خواندنِ این کتاب را به فرزندانِ خردگرایِ سرزمینم توصیه میکنم.. عالی بود--------------------------------------------------‎دوستان عزیزتر از جانم و ایرانیانِ آگاه و خردگرا، «دیوید هیوم» فیلسوفِ اسکاتلندی میگوید: بپندارید که معجزه، دگرگونی دلخواه در نظمِ طبیعت باشد‎به نظرِ من در این جمله از این فیلسوفِ بزرگ، ده ها و صدها، تعریف گنجانده شده است، در هزاران سال پیش موجوداتِ بی وجدان که خود را انسان مینامیدند و مردم آنها را پیامبر و راهنما خطاب میکردند، با سوء استفاده از سادگیِ ملتِ خود، دروغهای کثیف را که به آرزوهای مردم مرتبط بود را با نامِ معجزه در حلقِ مردم بیچاره فرو میکردند‎از قرن ها پیش پرواز یکی از بزرگترین آرزوهایِ انسان بوده است، از این رو پیامبرِ اسلام به مردم گفت، شبانگاه با یابویِ سفیدی به اسمِ "براق" رفته به اورشلیم و بعد هم همه میدانیم که تشریف بردن آسمونِ هفتم... شما دقت کنید که چقدر یک موجود باید نادان و بیشعور باشد که این دروغ کثیف را باور کند و به آن ایمان داشته باشد... یا سلیمانِ کلّاش و متقلب، میگوید با قالیچه از این سرِ دنیا به آن سرِ دنیا میرفته است و جن ها گوش به فرمانِ وی بوده اند...یا پروازِ عیسی به آسمان ... یا به صورتِ احمقانه همیشه فرشتگان را صاحبِ بال میدانستند و هزاران هزار آرزویِ دیگر که توسط پیامبران به صورتِ معجزه به کیسۀ باورِ مردم انداخته شده است‎اینها تنها مواردی بود که با پرواز در ارتباط بوده است‎با پیشرفتِ علم، در قرنِ حاضر، دیگر مردم به این معجزات اعتقادی ندارند... البته به غیر از مردمِ ساده باور و خرافه پرستِ ساکن در سرزمینِ پاک و متمدنِ ایران زمین که این عرب پرستانِ بیشعور و ساده لوح سرزمینمان را به گند کشیده اند****************************‎دوستانِ گرامی، اگر شما و هر انسان دیگری، ادعا کند که شاهدِ یک معجزه بوده است، این میتواند دو دلیل داشته باشد،... اول: طبقِ گفتۀ فیلسوفِ اسکاتلندی، قوانینِ طبیعت، طبقِ خواستۀ شما، از کار افتاده است ... دوم: شما دچار توّهم شده اید و متوجه نیستید که چه دیده اید و روانپریش هستید‎امیدوارم با پیشرفتِ علم، ما هم بتوانیم خرد و اندیشه خویش را به روزرسانی کنیم و از این فاضلابِ کثیفِ خرافاتِ دینی و مذهبی رهایی پیدا کنیم‎زیرا تنها با مطالعه و خردگرایی، میتوانیم خطِ بطلانی بر رویِ موهومات و خرافاتِ کثافت و عرب پرستی بکشیم، که هزار سال است که مثلِ انگل بر جانِ سرزمینِ ما افتاده است**************************** ‎خبر داری ای شیخ دانا که من‎خدا نا شناسم.... خدا ناشناس‎نه سربسته گویم در این ره سخن‎نه از چوب تکفیر دارم هراس‎بله... ایرانی اگر از عرب و عرب پرست، هراس داشته باشه که ایرانی نیست****************************‎دوستانِ خردگرا، امیدوارم از خواندنِ این کتاب، نهایتِ استفاده را ببرید‎«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»
    more
  • Kerissa Ward
    January 1, 1970
    Ever since 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger' I have been a fan of Christopher Hitchens. I knew that he was an atheist, but because of my own spritual searching I was reluctant to read this book when it first came out. I finally picked up the book because I have been on a non-fiction binge lately and I knew that by reading his book I was guaranteed an intelligent treatise. By the time I finished the book, I was very glad that I had read it.Hitchens doesn't so much attack God as he attacks religion. Ever since 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger' I have been a fan of Christopher Hitchens. I knew that he was an atheist, but because of my own spritual searching I was reluctant to read this book when it first came out. I finally picked up the book because I have been on a non-fiction binge lately and I knew that by reading his book I was guaranteed an intelligent treatise. By the time I finished the book, I was very glad that I had read it.Hitchens doesn't so much attack God as he attacks religion. He begins the book by describing himself as a boy, learning passages from the Bible, and the moment he felt that there must not be a God because of a comment his teacher makes. The tales of his boyhood experiences with religion and atheism are used for making his one of his thesis -- that organized religion ruins everything. He points out that it seems one goal of organized religion is to make humans relinquish independent and rational thought.One of the great things about the book is that the chapters are clearly and concisely laid out. In fact, I found the chapter sequence to be quite methodical. As is his usual trait when Hitchens is arguing against something, he builds his arguments gradually and strongly.Right after I bought the book I read online that many people who considered themselves evangelical have bought the book in a sort of know-thy-enemy way. I wonder if they felt like they any kind of rebuttal, because Hitchens -- through his extensive readings and reportage -- has built a historically sound case against the three organized religions.It is worthy to note, while Hitchens does deride some of the beliefs and practices of the big three, he does not sneer of the entirety of the faiths. He knows that there are good people in these faiths who only wish to do good. It the people who take their faiths to the extremes and misinterpret the written word that Hitchens takes most issue with.My only critique is that I do not think he addressed the evolution vs creationism as effectively as he could have. He makes mention of it several times, but does not explore it deeply.Otherwise anyone with any kind of brainpower should read this book.
    more
  • Kawther (TheVillainLibrary)
    January 1, 1970
    The title says it all, so you know what to expect from this book, so if you're very religious and easily offended.. stay away, or read it because you might need it.The author presented many valid points, most of his arguments were good but he focused on the extreme points of religion while i would have preferred a more general realistic approach. I wasn't beguiled as i thought i would be when I picked up this book.I had few problems with the writing, the structure of the book was unappealing and The title says it all, so you know what to expect from this book, so if you're very religious and easily offended.. stay away, or read it because you might need it.The author presented many valid points, most of his arguments were good but he focused on the extreme points of religion while i would have preferred a more general realistic approach. I wasn't beguiled as i thought i would be when I picked up this book.I had few problems with the writing, the structure of the book was unappealing and It was dragged out many times which resulted in a severe boredom while reading this
    more
  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    This book received two stars because of the writing. Hitchens writes well. I could have given it five stars for the value it holds for the Christian community - it serves as easy target practice. It is too bad that I only have 4000 characters at my disposal. Otherwise, I would love to go through this book in painstaking detail, pointing out the flabby and flaccid naked emperor while we all point and laugh at how confident the ignorant, intellectually naked emperor struts up and down the street.T This book received two stars because of the writing. Hitchens writes well. I could have given it five stars for the value it holds for the Christian community - it serves as easy target practice. It is too bad that I only have 4000 characters at my disposal. Otherwise, I would love to go through this book in painstaking detail, pointing out the flabby and flaccid naked emperor while we all point and laugh at how confident the ignorant, intellectually naked emperor struts up and down the street.There has always been a power struggle between the clear, cogent, and well-reasoned arguments of the philosopher on the one hand, and the bottom-feeding sophist on the other. Hitchens proudly stands in the line of the latter. Hitchens doesn't bother to define "god," "religion," "poison," and how it poisons "everything." Why bother? He and his ilk have already defeated the theist fair and square, no need to take care in how well you argue. Indeed, so sure is Hitchens of the truth of his conclusion that he barely deals with any thing a Christian thinker has had to say, besides Paley. But of course Collins or Dembski would be a better target if you’re going to attack design. (Oh, I think he mentions Agustine, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Newman, just for the purpose of pointing out that they have written "evil and foolish things.") He never bothers to engage any serious Christian thinker or argument (no, I am not saying that Agustine, Aquinas, Lewis, &c. are not serious Christian thinkers. I'm saying that he didn't engage them.) No Plantinga, Swinburne, Collins, Alston, Craig, just to name a few. Not only that, but his approach is double minded. For example, he begins by saying that the religious adherent is "the intended reader of this book." But for almost every page after that he subjects his "intended reader" to scorn and ridicule. Is this any way to treat your “intended reader?” Indeed, he begins chapter two by asking his reader to imagine that they believe in an all powerful being. But if Christians like me are, as he says, his "intended audience," then we don't have to "imagine", now do we? We might as well top this paragraph off by pointing out that Hitchens has a chapter called "The Tawdriness of the Miraculous and the Decline of Hell." But, after speaking about the miraculous, the chapter ends. ... He says nary a word about hell! These were just a couple of lowlights. I could multiply these types of criticisms all too easily.The book claims that Hitchens was named #5 on a list of top 100 intellectuals. Which theist does he unleash the artillery of his massive brain power on? His 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Watts! He spends more time critiquing her than any competent theological or theistic philosopher.He says that we do evil because we evolved that way. So, religion isn't to blame, Mammaw Nature is. He appeals to "Ockham's razor, yet he doesn't use it, like other naturalists have, to whittle away mental states like beliefs and pain (he relies on these states for his arguments, though). He doesn't use it to whittle away moral claims. There’s much he can’t explain using his razor as he does. He critiques the designer because of poor design, yet he gives no indication that he knows what the design plan was aiming to achieve. You can't call the designer a bad designer without knowing his intentions. And, dysteleogy assumes teleology. He never bothers to address the arguments which seek to show that if our cognitive faculties evolved given a naturalistic understanding of the universe, we have no reason to belief our beliefs are aimed at truth. They'd just be aimed at survival. Hitchens drops the ball over and over again. Unfortunately I don't have the time, or key strokes, to really get into this. Overall, the book was a flop. If this is the best The New Atheism has to offer, theists can relax.
    more
  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t know why I feel the nagging need to clarify something before we even get started.I am an atheist myself, however new to the group I might be. Indeed, until a very recent time, I spent a big period of my life believing I’m an agnostic. How do I put this mildly? Agnosticism is the safe route, it’s the one in between the dirty street filled with drug dealers and that very safe boulevard. It’s the one you’d take if your mom told you to take the shortest route home and you decided to be a bit I don’t know why I feel the nagging need to clarify something before we even get started.I am an atheist myself, however new to the group I might be. Indeed, until a very recent time, I spent a big period of my life believing I’m an agnostic. How do I put this mildly? Agnosticism is the safe route, it’s the one in between the dirty street filled with drug dealers and that very safe boulevard. It’s the one you’d take if your mom told you to take the shortest route home and you decided to be a bit of a rebel. But just a bit, mind you, not a lot. Because the basic concept of agnosticism, in relation to God, is that “we don’t know”. We don’t know, we can’t know, therefore we can’t make suppositions based on thin air. But, what agnosticism offers in return is the acceptance that there is actually something out there, luring in the divine space, waiting for us to recognize it to its true form and power. Basically, you get the “safety-belt” package that allows you to say, if you ever find yourself blamed in front of said divinity, that you couldn’t be sure. Which is, I used to believe, much more acceptable than… Than atheism, really. Than flat-out acknowledging and believing and living up to this belief that there is no God. If death is not final and you find yourself face to face with the supreme Judge… you’re fucked. I guess I didn’t want to be a little rebel anymore and blossomed into a full blown hooligan. I have never in my life been a believer. Not a single moment have I said: “I believe in God.” I have been raised with only one rule as guidance: “think for yourself”. As a kid, my family took me to a vast number of churches, not only of my religion, even if predominantly confined by it; big churches, small churches, some covered in gold, some built of wood, some carved in rock; some with a lot of fervent followers, others with just a lonely, old priest watching over the precincts… I have visited other countries and entered their churches, seen their shrines, watched their processions. I have had a fair amount of religious visiting done – but never in the name of God. Not once, in my entire life, have I gone to a church/religious space with the purpose of praying or bowing to the maker. If there was a reason, I guess it was to witness art, beauty in religious architecture, in believer’s paintings, in faith based sacred images. It was to see human-made wonders, ironically. I have shared meals with priests and slept with nuns in their rooms, in the mountains; I have experienced the simplicity that religion can instill into the lives of men and women, who devote their entire beings towards a better existence at the end of their current one. I have also seen the gold-adorned lives some religious people dwell in because of this foolish and completely idiotic belief that a creator would need to be worshipped with precious stones; How, did the creator not also create the poor?.. Or maybe he had an eye for sparkle. I guess my point is, the concept of God in itself was useless to my formation, to my life. I have not had any advantage from being baptized into the Orthodox Church, no real need fulfilled by my affiliation to a certain religious cult. Knowing the Ten Commandments hasn’t overthrown my innate sense of right and wrong. The Genesis hasn’t impaired my ability to understand and believe in the Darwinist model. I have a moral code and fairly tough ethics without having followed God’s rules a single day. My life has been much more impacted upon by the fact that I was born into a white, middle-class, fairly well-off European family and that I have been given the proper education during each stage of my life in order to propel me to my current position and allow me to pursue my (apparently) fucked-up dreams. But, at some point in my intellectual journey, I realized I had to know more about religion. I simply had to. There was no way around it, I had too many questions that hadn’t received answers. What also prompted me to analyze the matter more profoundly was the attitude of religious people in my vicinity when confronted with a non-believer. I have had confrontations (mainly in a scholarly environment, but just as meaningful ones outside of it) with people who had blamed me for my decisions and professed harsh consequences upon my doings, supported by their faith, when all I had done was ask questions. I do have opinions, mind you. I do think religion has become a political/economical tool and that humans have, in their majority, lost the true meaning of it (which is achieving spirituality). Also, on my bitter road filled with deception in becoming an atheist, I found myself more and more disgusted with religious people and faith preachers and church goers, all because of their sense of superiority over me, their smug characters, thinking they have the divinity watching over their backs, that a divinity cares for them, repudiating reason and thinking and skepticism and empirical evidence to the dungeons of hell and their inhabitants to even worse tortures… I’m sure you could say atheists become atheists because of people more than because of God. I am not one of those who will talk against the concept of God; however, against the fantasies that the Bible (or any other scripture) professes as historically true, I will; against stupidity and racism and extremist followers and the banishment of science, I will; against mindless, spineless and remorseless individuals who coerce their children into fear and revulsion, perpetuating this tradition of imbecility over generations, I will. Against all of that and many more, I will speak up.After all this ranting, I want you to take this away: I understand the need for religion. I understand why we turned to it in the first place and why we still cling to it now. I am not an “anti-theist”. I do not speak against God. I question him, his existence, his preaching, his absurd needs and his megalomaniac commands. I judge him, yes, and his followers, as they also judge me in return. You could call it mutual distrust, really. But, if it’s true, if God exists, then I’m content with my atheist position. I believe I have the right to burn in Hell, or in all versions of it that exist. If you are a religious person reading this, please pray to your God that I may suffer. Please, bring the flames on, an eternity of torture for this pitiful apostate that I am! I beg of you, prove me wrong. I’ll be the happiest for that – indeed, I, in a very sadomasochistic way, look forward to it. I fully intend to burn in Hell if that is the punishment for critical thinking and freedom of opinion. Make crackling strips out of my skin! Scrambled brains out of the contents of my skull! And never grant me forgiveness for wanting to understand the world by the power of my own mind. I don’t need to be excused for my own egocentric nature. Not by someone who is content in giving up his identity to a whimsical being of a far-away land. In any case, if death is not final, I’ll still be going to hell even without being an atheist. I’m a sinner by birth, supposedly. Being an atheist just makes me a conscious one. DONE! Now, let’s move on to an apologetic review that is supposed to be worth reading the whole rant that you just went through… Oh, well, I doubt it. What I promise I will not talk about: how awesome Christopher Hitchens is. What I will talk about: how awesome Christopher Hitchens’ work is. “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” is one in a long series of published papers that Hitchens has dawned upon us readers, that concern the matter of a divine being’s existence. Now, Hitchens is, as Woody Allen so humorously puts it, “the loyal opposition”. He is an atheist and a very articulate one indeed. When reading his work, you must be aware of the position he is taking: he is against blind faith and all for finding proof. As always, as in his speeches and his essays, he doesn’t cut off the path to discussion; rather he wants to open one. He questions everything, tries to shed light on the scriptures and the relationship between human and divine and all in all succeeds in making a very serious and solid case for his motion.I have read some commentaries that he just mindlessly gives examples about how different people do different bad things in the name of their religion, and the readers who said that were arguing that these are useless extracts. I believe not. Of course he is going to point out what individuals do in the name of religion, that is the exact purpose of it all, how far humans will go and to what extent they will cause suffering and ignite wars and deny the most basic needs to others because of what their God (read: whimsical being of a far-away land with a very serious ego problem) has said. Now, Hitchens doesn’t differentiate between Gods. If one is false, all are. The God’s importance doesn’t reside in the number of his followers, for this author. He talks the same about the three big monotheist religions, as well as about the remote cults of distant lands. The reason why so much of his work is concentrated around the Judaic, Muslim, and Christian preaching is that these three have had a massive effect on our society, as we experience it today. He speaks against them not with the purpose of defiling the “fantasy” itself, but in need to show how ridiculous and irrelevant they are for humanity today. They were very useful in the dawn of time, when volcanoes erupting at every corner and people found dead in the morning could not receive a proper explanation. After all, religion is a very early and very primitive attempt at science! Hitchens doesn’t deny that, and never once attacks the spiritual need of humans to unite and find solace – what he offers, instead, is solace through knowledge. For all it’s worth it, I need to address the writing. You can see that this man has loved reading since he was a kid. You can see he knows literature in a very intimate way; his choice of words, his rhythm, the subtle irony underlining the entire work, everything points out to a wonderfully complex and cultured mind behind those pages. And cultured he had to be, given the enormity of the subjects he chose to tackle in his entire career. This is, in my opinion, a very good piece of non-fiction writing. It shows through a very thorough research, even if it is centered on finding the right facts to support his claims. I can throw away my subjective, atheist self, look at this work with my objective, detail-obsessed reader’s eye and find only minor twerks in this study. I, for one, love the way Hitchens writes, because I feel he’s having a conversation with me. And, in the end, that is every writer’s dream – the extension of one’s thoughts into another’s mind without the two actually being in each other’s presence. Atheists … you know you liked it. Even if it was the sort of: "oh wow he said it much better than I could have" like, you enjoyed it. Believers … you know you can’t deny its truth. Even if you're backed up by all your faith, don't Hitchens' arguments pick at your reason?All the rest … pick a side. Does Hitchens ask for too much? Just pick a damn side.
    more
  • Sketchbook
    January 1, 1970
    Growing up w Protestant clergy all over the family (but, most thankfully, loving parents), I never took any of the Blubble seriously, or weekly "devotionals," which one older sister hugged as a way to say to parents, "Hey, LOVE ME!" ~ They did. But she had a problem : I made my parents laugh. When Pops intoned, "Man cannot live by bread alone," I retorted, "What about chocolate croissants?" Parents cracked up and, of course, said, Ssssh, but sis was inflamed. I knew fr the get-go that relig wa Growing up w Protestant clergy all over the family (but, most thankfully, loving parents), I never took any of the Blubble seriously, or weekly "devotionals," which one older sister hugged as a way to say to parents, "Hey, LOVE ME!" ~ They did. But she had a problem : I made my parents laugh. When Pops intoned, "Man cannot live by bread alone," I retorted, "What about chocolate croissants?" Parents cracked up and, of course, said, Ssssh, but sis was inflamed. I knew fr the get-go that relig was bosh...how to explain this?? A genetic quirk? (Or wazzit cos all the religios I had to be poohlite to were dowdy frumps or oogly fat boors?? Beauty could only be found in movie zines...)Hitchens has written a scholarly and brilliant book on how relig "poisons everything." Relig, he avers, is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or gurus actually said or did. And yet -- they still claim to know! Not to just know, "but to know everything." Author further asks : "If god was the creator of all things, why are we s'posed to praise him incessantly for doing what came to him naturally?"I could go on. But if ye are not a stiff-necked people, you will let Hitchens do it.
    more
  • Brad
    January 1, 1970
    My newly teenage son was off for a weekend of acting workshops, and he found himself in a religious discussion with his mostly pious friends. He didn't give it much thought, and simply stated that he was atheist. More than a few of his religious friends didn't speak to him for the rest of the weekend, and now he awaits his return to acting class this week to see if they will still see him as a friend or will have cast him aside. He's been angry with himself ever since for telling the truth. He w My newly teenage son was off for a weekend of acting workshops, and he found himself in a religious discussion with his mostly pious friends. He didn't give it much thought, and simply stated that he was atheist. More than a few of his religious friends didn't speak to him for the rest of the weekend, and now he awaits his return to acting class this week to see if they will still see him as a friend or will have cast him aside. He's been angry with himself ever since for telling the truth. He wishes he'd kept his mouth shut. I am sure most atheists have a similar story, or even multiple stories wherein we were ostracized for our position, lost people we cared about or found ourselves hiding in the irreligious closet so as to avoid the social stigma our position carries. Much of Christopher Hitchens God is Not Great is, I feel, a conversation about this. Oh sure, he is doing plenty to deconstruct religion and belief, to point out the damage religion has done and continues to do, to reveal all the ways it "poisons everything," even to point out that those supposedly secular moments of horror that the religious try to pin on atheism are still bound up in religion and faith, but at its most simple and effective, God is Not Great is a conversation from one atheist to other atheists. Of all the books I've read by famous atheists, it strikes me that Hitchens is the least concerned with religious folks. He has no illusions whatsoever that his words might convert the faithful. Nowhere in these pages is that his goal. This book is not a sermon that attempts to reach a new congregation but only reaches the choir, it is a conversation between like minded individuals about why we are atheist, what it means to be atheist, about all of those things that led us to atheism, and about how we can navigate a world that despises and fears us. God is Not Great is one of the most reassuring of all the atheist texts of the last decade or two. It's nice to be reminded that, indeed, we are not alone in our unbelief.
    more
  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    Description: In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris's The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Description: In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris's The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.So, to answer the question Why do human beings exist? it is simply because the Ottoia prolifica worm survived the Burgess decimation.5* God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything4* Mortality 4* The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever4* Arguably: Selected Essays3* Letters to a Young Contrarian4* The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and PracticeTR The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish
    more
  • Joanne Manaster
    January 1, 1970
    The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is that he has not said anything new in atheistic arguments, although he says it very well! Hitchens is hilarious and I would run up to anyone who'd listen and read sections of his book out loud to them!A friend once was on a panel with him and he was completely drunk. She said he was so lucid and his arguments so well thought out and pointed that he was so much better while fueled on alcohol than the rest of us could ever hope to be so The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is that he has not said anything new in atheistic arguments, although he says it very well! Hitchens is hilarious and I would run up to anyone who'd listen and read sections of his book out loud to them!A friend once was on a panel with him and he was completely drunk. She said he was so lucid and his arguments so well thought out and pointed that he was so much better while fueled on alcohol than the rest of us could ever hope to be sober. That is how much of a genius this man is!
    more
  • J.K. Grice
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not preachy on religion, and everybody has their own take on spirituality and their own beliefs, which is how it should be. So......this book may not be for every reader out there. As an agnostic myself, I found GOD IS NOT GREAT to be an inspiring read for me personally.
    more
  • Mike Puma
    January 1, 1970
    Hitchens makes a compelling case against the major world religions and claims of religion being ‘essentially a force for good.’ His essays are presented with his characteristic wit, erudition and bravado (in the positive sense of defiance and courage). Unafraid to name names, point fingers, and challenge orthodoxy, Hitchens makes his case masterfully and in a most readable manner. As previous reviewers have mentioned, he’s mainly ‘preaching to the choir’ but he also provides an abundance of info Hitchens makes a compelling case against the major world religions and claims of religion being ‘essentially a force for good.’ His essays are presented with his characteristic wit, erudition and bravado (in the positive sense of defiance and courage). Unafraid to name names, point fingers, and challenge orthodoxy, Hitchens makes his case masterfully and in a most readable manner. As previous reviewers have mentioned, he’s mainly ‘preaching to the choir’ but he also provides an abundance of information to newly realized skeptics and atheists in search of additional ‘ground to stand on’ when faced with the inevitable challenges of the religious. Fans of Hitchens might appreciate the following sites:All things Hitchens: http://www.hitchensweb.com/ for video relevant to this book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD0B-X...
    more
  • Joey
    January 1, 1970
    When my friends or the new people I'm acquainted with find out that I am an atheist ,they tend to raise their eyebrows or purse their lips. It is unusual for someone  like me in the Philippines to not believe in God/god. The same as what happened a long time ago, when my best friend based in Thailand confirmed that I belong now to the  members of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism", she was worried that I would no longer be saved in the event that the Judgment Day came. She insisted that I believ When my friends or the new people I'm acquainted with find out that I am an atheist ,they tend to raise their eyebrows or purse their lips. It is unusual for someone  like me in the Philippines to not believe in God/god. The same as what happened a long time ago, when my best friend based in Thailand confirmed that I belong now to the  members of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism", she was worried that I would no longer be saved in the event that the Judgment Day came. She insisted that I believe in him.Inculcated in militant character,I explained my side in flagrant defiance. As a result, we had had heated debates many times; our friendship almost turned to ice in view of our irrepressibly acrimonious opinions. In the end, we still  make sure that her religion will never shake the foundation of our friendship.Christopher Hitchens is one of the major influences on my being an apostate. Actually, I've read his God is not Great once,  and I decided to read it for the second time because I wanted to understand its contents more. It was still unintelligible to me since I read its free PDF. That's why I was not even able to write my review of it. Besides, I was not scholarly ready yet to give my thoughts of it; it needs deeper assimilation.Hitchens  strongly emphasized that religion kills every thing. He believed that  it causes violence, irrationality, intolerance, alliance to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, investment in ignorance and hostility to free inquiry, scorn for women and coercion toward children and sectarian.To deduce  his arguments, he  wrote  various personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. The result? Voila! A book that believers must find ridiculous beyond logical explanation, a big threat to their incessantly dominant indoctrination.After reading it, I felt like I had a rude awakening for Hitchens' views  that religion causes violence, religion is full of superstitions, religion in particular is hazardous to health, some religions are just copy-cats,  both the old and the  new testaments are inconsistent, religion has been the root of corruption, religious dominance can come to an end,religion  has been emphasizing   the meaning of sin, religion abuses children, and people can live without religion.In the end, what Hitchens wanted to point out, the way I see it overall, is that there has been a culture of ignorance in that people conform to the facts they find universal. Go figure!I've been an avowed atheist for four years, since I read some books dealing with atheism. (Well, if you are deeply religious cringing at what I'm blabbering about here  now, you might opine that I should not read such anti-religion books, for they  corrupt my mind. Duh! )So, comparatively speaking, I would say that my life is better than before. I am now comfortable to live the way I want. I don't need to conform to religious customs I find paradoxical. I don't need to shape my life according to what the bible dictates  to me. Rather, I lead my life based on what I know what is right for the sake of humanity. I might call it the " universal conscience". And don't even dare tell me that conscience is a godly gift. As a matter of fact, I have proven prominent atheists' belief  that a person can be good without the misleading guidance of religion. However, contrary to the militant attitude of Hitchens, I still believe that respect for one's religious views is the best way  to gain rapprochement among us ,only if we know our limitations without being affected by our deep-seated devotion and fanaticism. No wonder Hitchens strongly believes that religion kills everything.For those people who have the same struggle  with their religious conviction, I suggest that you firs read God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or  Atheism: The Case Against God  by George H. Smith. I believe that these books are the springboard for breaking all the spells that have been binding you for a long time. Good luck and let me know then about your thoughts of them. Happy reading!  :)
    more
  • CB Brim
    January 1, 1970
    This book reads like campaign propaganda. It is not a balanced inquiry into religion as a phenomenon or social force, it is a position piece and a purposefully constructed argument. Just like any effective propagandist Hitchens selects the most outrageous examples possible and attributes them to even the most cursory adherent of the enemy camp. Hitchens paints a black and white portrait of any person who has any ounce of religious thought as a fanatical fundamentalist who implicitly accepts any This book reads like campaign propaganda. It is not a balanced inquiry into religion as a phenomenon or social force, it is a position piece and a purposefully constructed argument. Just like any effective propagandist Hitchens selects the most outrageous examples possible and attributes them to even the most cursory adherent of the enemy camp. Hitchens paints a black and white portrait of any person who has any ounce of religious thought as a fanatical fundamentalist who implicitly accepts any story or claim in any religious text ever written.Because it is largely propoganda, every chapter in this book could be easily countered with an oppositely titled rebuttal. For example 'Religion Kills People' -> 'Religion Saves People'. Anyone with 20 minutes and Google could write that argument (whether it's true or not isnt' the point). This is because Hitchens is not excercising objective thought here, he is running an attack campaign on an opponent of his own dogmatic definition.At it's core this book is a rant deriding fundamentalists, but with it's strict and extreme definitions, at the end of it all you get the feeling like you are laughing at competitors in the special olympics. Yes, some people are bad at religion. A lot of fundamentalists are raging idiots. However, if someone wonders whether there is a God, or even spiritual forces, they do not automatically believe that God made frogs rain in Egypt and saved the Jews with magic sky-bread, a la Hitchens' tunnel vision viewpoint.Hitchens fails to realize that it's not the adherents that need discussing, but the impetus and origins, and as such fails to address any of the questions that deserve real inquiry. Why do we find religion in every human culture ever encountered? Why do these ideas resonate with us, not to mention, what about the questions or fears they try to assuage in the first place? Just because some ideas are poorly concieved doesn't mean the inspirations are illegitimate.At the end of it, this book is little more than the literary equivalent of internet flame bait.p.s. Hitchens' closing remark that religion is obsolete because the Internet provides wider access to literature and poetry is one of the most laughable things I've ever read. Besides barely making sense, it's a statement that makes me think, after writing an entire book on the subject, Hitchens still has no idea what draws people to religion in the first place.
    more
  • Mikey B.
    January 1, 1970
    Hallelujah – the atheists strike back! This is a personal and direct assault on the whole “God” concept. Hitchens buys none of it; its just fables and hearsay (upon hearsay) past down from antiquity. Religions cause wars, they indoctrinate the young and they are immoral - the very opposite of what they claim to be.Since the 18th century science has started to trump religion. The microscope, the telescope, discovery of fossils, exploration – all have either imploded religion or opened alternative Hallelujah – the atheists strike back! This is a personal and direct assault on the whole “God” concept. Hitchens buys none of it; its just fables and hearsay (upon hearsay) past down from antiquity. Religions cause wars, they indoctrinate the young and they are immoral - the very opposite of what they claim to be.Since the 18th century science has started to trump religion. The microscope, the telescope, discovery of fossils, exploration – all have either imploded religion or opened alternative wide vistas.But why is religion so persistent – I don’t know if Hitchens successfully answers this troublesome question? Hitchens is more comfortable dealing and attacking the Judeo-Christian world than other religions. And sometimes he is too relentless. He misses the point with Gandhi. It is the way India achieved independence that is historically significant. Gandhi promoted innovative means of protest – marches, strikes – and more importantly, he never directly used violence or espoused violence and never accumulated wealth. Gandhi is not solely remembered as a religious leader. As for the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. – it was the local black clergy in the Deep South that organized, funded and precipitated the struggle for freedom. Later, clergy from across the U.S. actively participated (at the risk of their lives) in Freedom Rides, the Voting Rights march in Selma and many more. Credit must be given where it is due. Mr.Hitchens is also rather hard on the personality of Jesus. Many analysts find Jesus’ teaching to be “revolutionary” in the sense of being anti-materialistic. A few have argued that the entire hierarchy and wealth of the Church – Catholic and Protestant - is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.Nevertheless thank God for Christopher Hitchens! I am so sick of hearing Presidential candidates talking about their faith and how often they pray. As Mr. Hitchens points out it was people of faith who carried out the September 11th attacks. I also subscribe with Mr. Hitchens when he equates revolutionary dictatorships with theocracies. They espouse dogma and repression. Hitler was a Messiah to the German people.Religion condones the abuse and indoctrination of children. Its’ ancient (and sometimes ludicrous) texts prevent free inquiry and purport to have all answers. It is ridiculous to rely on texts of long ago to regulate your life.
    more
Write a review