Monday, February 17, 2014

Review of "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything"

One of the purposes of this blog is to review literature. I read one book a month, and then I will write a review of it, outlining its contents, saying whether or not the book was interesting, and whether it is worth a persons time to pick up the book and read it.

This month the book I read was entitled "god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" by the late Christopher Hitchens. For those who think that I made a typo error in not capitalizing the word "God", I did not make a mistake. Hitch detests God so much he does not once capitalize the word during the entire volume.

Hitchens narrative is a mix of history and his own personal life, beginning when he was about nine years old. He says that while his teacher was teaching him about God, he suddenly had a revelation (ironic, since he seems to despise revelation) that God did not exist. He then outlines that most of the problems in the world are tied back to religion, and that it must cease for mankind to live. He remarks that he would not wish to eradicate religion if it would "leave him alone", but since it won't he must seek to destroy it.

Hitchens then goes on to show how he believes that religion is man-made, and shows demonstrations of how the sacred texts show that. He mostly attacks the Abrahamic religions, but he does devote some time to Buddhism and Hinduism in his chapter "Their is no Eastern Solution".

At the end, Hitch calls the religious to a new era of enlightenment, and to begin using science and reason as the mode of establishing ethics and morality in civilization.

Hitchens is my favorite author, and I am a great admirer of him. However, he never really develops a thesis for his book, he just rants and rambles about the problems religion has caused. His book title would suggest that he is trying to disprove that God exists, but this is not actually dealt with in the book. He never even really defines what he means by the word "God".

One of the worst flaws of the book is that it shows very bad scholarship. Hitchens never gives any footnotes, so it is hard to know where he is quoting from. Some of his quotes show that he never read the book he quoted from, for example he quotes the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas as having said "I am a man of only one book." However, what Aquinas had really said was "Beware the man of only one book."

It is clear to me that Mr. Hitchens does not understand religion at all, and is very wrong in his assessment "Religion is a threat to civilization." Since the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece were very religious and very advanced in science, literature, and philosophy, this can hardly be the case.

If one is wishing to convert to atheism, perhaps this book will be for you. I found it hard to keep reading and to be abuse of talent. I hope that someone has convinced Hitch that God is great and the religion does not poison everything. I am sure he will tell that story well.

3 comments:

  1. How to you reconcile ripping this book and him being your favorite author?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great stuff. I thought that he would have quoted accurately since he is a very intelligent man. I guess we all have our flaws or he waa just drunk writing it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, Tarik!

    I'm surprised. You seem to have some quite fundamental misunderstandings about what Hitchens is saying. May I mention a few?

    "Hitch detests God so much he does not once capitalize the word during the entire volume."

    Unless I'm very much mistaken (always possible), Hitch did not believe in the existence of "god", and so could not despise him, her, or it.

    "He says that while his teacher was teaching him about God, he suddenly had a revelation (ironic, since he seems to despise revelation) that God did not exist."

    Really? Are you seriously implying that "revelation" applies only to communication from a god? Or, more specifically, from the God you believe in?

    "I hope that someone has convinced Hitch that God is great and the religion does not poison everything. I am sure he will tell that story well."

    You know that your favourite author dies more than 2 years before you wrote your review, right? When and how do you think he may "tell that story well"?

    ReplyDelete