God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Paperback – Sep 2 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* God is getting bad press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith(2005) and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have questioned the existence of any spiritual being and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not only does religion poison everything, which he argues by explaining several ways in which religion is immoral, but the world would be better off without religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts. Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment. Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of approval. With such chapter titles as "Religion Kills" and "Is Religion Child Abuse?" Hitchens intends to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless. Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions not only the virgin birth but the very existence of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though this book argues many points, I feel it is only focused on a few points of why religion itself is a horrid collection of lies. It focuses mostly on historical religious events and how they influenced society then and now.
If you wish to read more scientific, or philosophical literature on the same subject, check out books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.
I was so relieved to find within it all the intelligently constructed arguments that rang so true with me that I no longer felt any pangs of guilt for not believing in "the Faith of my Fathers". I loved this book. Now I feel I must read all the rest of Hitchen's books. It's all there. The total proof of evolution lies just down the road in the Burgess Shale. Now I have no doubts. There is no god. Man invented him in his own image. I don't need it.
Thank you Christopher Hitchens.
And I think he accomplishes his goal. Hitchens is an atheist, but has done so much research into the topic of religion. His arguments against religion are very well made.
I heard Hitchens commenting about his book. He mentioned this was a personal issue for him. In the seventh grade he started to question religious beliefs. It was the first thing that he really thought about. I also had the same feelings in the seventh grade about religious beliefs.
In summary, I would say that this book basically says everything about religion, that most people are afraid to say.
Hitchens' one-liners in God is not Great will delight atheists who cannot imagine why anyone would take this nonsense seriously, let alone use it as a foundation for their values. Perhaps the freshest contribution Hitchens makes is introducing the general public to the fine points of Mormonism, surely one of the most infantile and ridiculous collection of claims to ever grace the face of the earth. Mormons' clean living habits, which are highly commendable, serve to mask a total detachment from both current and historical reality when it comes to their deranged belief system.
But for the most part, there are no new arguments or information in this book, and Hitchens is preaching to an already convinced irreligious choir. In the same way that he challenges believers to give an example of a moral act that could not have been performed by a non-believer, I would challenge Hitchens to present even one person whose belief in the existence of God has been shaken by this book: sadly I don't think this person exists.
Regardless of how idiotic religious beliefs may seem to non-believers, the fact is that they have persisted among the majority of people, in a majority of cultures, for thousands of years, so they obviously have something going for them.Read more ›
The contention by "J" that Hitchens argues that "religions are closed-minded and have only brought about the oppression of women and children without any knowledge of the social and intellectual advances that many religions have afforded us" is proof positive "J" has indeed not read this book. Hitchens simply balances the claims of religion versus the results and argues that overall, religious dogma is merely a holdover from the time when humans had little to no information about how the world is actually constituted. While he does skirt around the shortcomings of scientific reason, Hitchens rightly reminds us that science has actually enhanced the mystery of "creation" rather than spoiling the fun.
Hitchens may be a lot of things: a misanthrope, a contrarian, and sometimes a bit of an arrogant jerk, but to say he is a "closed-minded journalist" without having read this work (which is shot through with references to the Classics, religious scholarship, science, history and literature) is an insult to Hitchens and the book-buying public. Hitchens can look after himself; the book-buying public is so advised.
Most recent customer reviews
Very compelling writing style. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fast delivery, quality product and great price! Highly recommended!Published 3 months ago by Michael
This may very well be one of the best books ever written on the subject of religion and the very real effects of belief in the God. Read morePublished 4 months ago by VenetianSorcerer
An excellent book written by a fine writer, and brilliant researcherPublished 4 months ago by Adrian Lindsay