22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A little disappointing, and not really an argument
, 5 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Rage Against God: Why Faith is the Foundation of Civilisation (Hardcover)
I read this book as one journeying like Mr Hitchens from Atheism toward (Anglican) Christianity, and I was disappointed he did not write more on this. In general I agree that Dawkins and Hitchens major are wrong. In particular, I find the arguments here weak, and I am always suspicious of anyone who puts the word "science" in quotation marks where it is not gramatically appropriate (it was just then, when I did it!).
So, I found much to both agree and disagree with here. A few examples of where I disagree. I was honestly bored by the first part of the book. Very readable in style, but it just seemed to me that Mr Hitchens bitterly regrets his youthful rejection of the church, and was saddened on his return to it as a changed entity. His views here seem parochial, elitist, and not without snobbery. If he genuinely believes that the Church is the only remaining bulwark against the abuses of the powerful (and it so happens I agree with him, it is), then to be effective in this role the church needs to grow and to widen its appeal; not remain some elitist club of the upper middle class, muttering the BCP in empty churches. And I have come to enjoy the BCP, despite a lower middle class and Roman Catholic upbringing which fails to recognise the Church or the England whose loss Hitchens bemoans. This section of the book comes across as mawkish and embittered whingeing.
I continue to believe that atheism doesn't in itself lead to any of the iniquities Hitchens speaks of; there is a sense that he is caricaturing here. The landscape of belief is much more complicated than you might suppose from reading this, and it includes people I would categorise as "practical atheists", who would put C of E on their census forms, yet rarely think about Christianity at all, never go to church, live decent lives, and get included in the "71% Christian" population statistics the the Church always crows about while attracting a fraction of that to worship.
On the subject of the religious instruction of children as child abuse, I think the comparison is too strong, speaking as someone who spent much of his childhood terrified by adults telling him he would burn in hell for the slightest wrongdoing. I think the church gets it's instruction wrong anyway - I've had to relearn Christianity as an adult and constantly wonder "why didn't they explain this properly when I was a child?" - perhaps I would not have understood it, but I came to reject something that was a caricature of Christianity - and Christianity itself was entirely to blame.
There are numerous other areas of the particular where I disagree with Hitchens - it would be tiresome to list them all - but I agree with his conclusions about the "new atheism", and just wish he had written more about what had led him down this path.
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