god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Christopher Hitchens is a good polemicist and it shows in his book. This is not a book presenting research or theological discussion, but it does present forceful arguments against religion and the religious.

First of all, I like the title god is not Great which alludes to the Arabic Allahu Akbar (God is Great).

Secondly, Christopher Hitchens is a polemicist by his own admission and one should keep that in mind while reading this book. This is not an analysis of religion (going over its evolutionary origins for example) or even a high-minded atheist response to religion like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

Keeping that in mind, I actually liked god is not Great. Hitchens is a good writer. He knows how to turn a phrase and his allusions to literature references were also clever and interesting.

His case against religion is flawed but not completely wrong. There are lots of bad and evil things the religious and organized religion have done or condoned. Despite all those issues, I think we can only say that religion does not make one better or worse. This in itself is a major indictment of religion.

However, as discussed in Religion Explained, religion and religious beliefs have natural evolutionary origins and arise out of how our mind works. So religion is here to stay. Even people who do not consider themselves religious usually have beliefs that can be classified as religion.

You can read some excerpts from the book on Slate.

When I was reading god is not Great, I decided to live-blog (or live-forum) it at UrduWeb.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

3 thoughts on “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”

  1. Bush is president of USA. If one says he is the President or one does not agree, makes no difference. So, it is useless to discuss that God is the Great or not.

    What about the imaginations that such or such things happened a million years back? It remains to be conclusions based on certain suppositions.

  2. That book was at my work. Even if it free for the taking, I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up. But upon reading your entry, I think I will nab it and see for myself.

    But reading the excerpts on Slate, two things struck me (and again, this is strictly going off the excepts, not his book):

    1. His diatribe against religion seems to have a specific target: Abrahamic religions (specifically Islam). I don’t know if in his book he discusses other religions, and whether he recognizes that they too have their fanatics, extreme conformities, and so on.

    2. He points out the extremist tendences and self authorization for carrying out atrocities. You could say this about political idealogies as well, including the secular ones. For example, the die hard capitalists, the radical free market-ists, etc who are unyeilding when it comes to opposing ideologies, other viewpoints, etc.

    PS. I really like the layout of your blog. It’s very clean and classy.

  3. Desi Italiana: Thanks.

    1. There is a chapter titled There is no “Eastern” solution. There are a few other examples of non-Abrahmic religions scattered in the book, but the main focus is Abrahmic religions generally and Christianity in particular.
    2. Hitchens does cover that argument, though his response is not convincing to any religious person.

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