Christopher Hitchens – God is not Great

 God is not Great is a popular book by Christopher Hitchens on the topic of atheism. He is one of an unholy trinity of writers on the topic in the last few years, the others being Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. The book is available in bookshops around Bangkok.

In brief, Hitchens takes a look through the different religions in different periods of history gleefully bouncing up and down on all the misdemeanors that he can find. And there are many; but surely we all know that the Church conspired with the Nazi regime, or hounded and cut off the free thinking of Copernicus or Newton … Unlike Dawkins book The God Delusion, Hitchens seems unable to offer any substantial arguments around faith or its rejection that go any deeper than listing the shortcomings of religion as a social institution. And without the humour of Dawkins too. In short, I can’t claim to have learned a single worthwhile thing through attending this book and it makes me happy that I belong to the ranks of the religious rather than the atheist, if for no other reason than it is more poetic than the armchair scoffing of the unreligious intelligentsia.

God is not Great - CoverThis tearing down of others is a common trait that I see with Westerners these days perhaps inspired by the UK’s gutter press. But sniping and putting others down with criticisms is not leaving readers with anything positive to take home. At least Dawkins made atheism sound fun and interesting. The only real word to describe Hitchens book is a ‘tirade’ and as such he is losing the chance, with me at least, to put forward any kind of philosophical position of interest. We all know about the mistakes of Religion as a social institution, and hardly need them listed and paraded before us. How about an investigation into what the attractions of religion are, or why it is so enduring. At least then there would be some kind of debate, something of interest to compensate for the part of a tree that was sacrificed in the printing of this book.


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One Response to Christopher Hitchens – God is not Great

  1. Will says:

    Madeleine Bunting, reviewing Hitchens in the London Guardian, writes that “Hitchens sums up monotheism as ‘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 non-events.’ He takes the verbal equivalent of an AK47 to shoot down hallowed religious figures, questioning whether Muhammad was an epileptic, declaring Mahatma Gandhi an ‘obscurantist’ who distorted and retarded Indian independence, and Martin Luther King a ‘plagiarist and an orgiast’ and in no real sense a Christian, while the Dalai Lama is a ‘medieval princeling’ who is the continuation of a “parasitic monastic elite.” Still, I think the New Atheists are useful, like sand paper, in helping us to articulate a coherent spiritual practice. And don’t forget philosopher Daniel Dennett’s very interesting “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.”

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