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174 of 179 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Review of the BAD in Religions, 16 April 2012
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This review is from: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Paperback)
Christopher Hitchens died last year and until he died I had never heard of him. I read eulogies from his fellow journalists and then heard no more until last week when, by chance, I came across some video clips of Hitchens speaking about his views on religion and I found them fascinating.

I then found that Hitchens had written a book, God is not Great: how religion poisons everything. I bought the book and have now read it.

Firstly, I have only read a couple of chapters of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and I have to say that Hitchens did a far better job than Dawkins.

Religious people do not like God is not Great. Not because it tests their faith but because of what it reveals about what goes on in the name of religion. Hitchens tells us, almost in passing, that he has received death threats, nasty phone calls and threats of violence for holding his view that he believes that religions poison everything.

Having been born and brought up in a country where freedom of speech is taken for granted, I wonder at who it could be that would so object to someone's views that they threaten murder. That's for their conscience!

As for the book, it is entertainingly written and full of stories aimed at the three main monotheisms: Christianity, Jewry, Islam. He regales us with story after story of the things that clerics hiding under these three banners get up to and have got up to for millennia. Hitchens reveals a great number of sources too: he's not just letting off steam.

I have to say that I read this book for the overview it provided and not to learn the deep and detailed information that Hitchens sometimes goes into: it's there if you want it, of course.

I like Hitchens' style as it is keen, ascerbic, funny, witty, well sourced and contains many words that I had never come across before. At least it will improve your vocabulary.

I have to say that another motivation for reading the book is that I arrived at a similar position to Hitchens vis a vis religion over the last two or three years having seen religious brainwashing and its consequences at first hand. No God will work in that way with those people: something else is most definitely going on and I could support these things no longer, having realised what was happening.

I imagine there will be people who read this mini review and who might feel angry with me for having written it: well, that's for you to come to terms with. I am glad I read the book, I learned many things about religions that I did not previously know and Hitchens gives a message that we all ought to consider. You do not have to agree with him!

What's wrong with the book? Well, Hitchens has a mission, to clarify why he thinks religions poison everything. He gives no time to the good that good people in religions often do. He does not attempt to redress any imbalances in his arguments at all in this respect. If he were alive to answer this point I am sure he would ask, why on earth should I?

Overall, if you are deeply committed to your religion you might not want to read this book but I think you should suspend your faith, read it and then explore fully what Hitchens has to say. Don't dismiss this book with anger in your heart! If you give Hitchens a fair hearing and stick to your guns then fine.

I recommend this book to everyone but if your English reading skills are weak, it will be difficult for you: Hitchens' English language skills are highly developed and he's writing for an educated audience. No offence to anyone, just a friendly warning!

DW
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jan 2013 08:08:06 GMT
R. Davis says:
Well said and quite well put. Like you I have studied Hitchens, Dawkins, Grayling etc at length and find their arguments both compelling, absolutely lucid and in all cases, to the point. Religion in my view should soon be an event in past history, it has no place in the 21st century.

Posted on 2 Feb 2013 12:54:48 GMT
Habu 1 says:
Hi Duncan....its quite ironic that you have mentioned something that Hitchens may have found amusing. Towards the end of your account you mention that...' he gives no time to the good that good people in religions often do.' Unfortunately you have missed the whole point in that a person does NOT have to be 'in religion' to do good. The person comes before 'the religion'.
Would those people stop being good without religion?...if so its more than religion that they need!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2013 21:09:59 GMT
Thanks for that response Mr Webster but I don't think I have missed the point. Here is the reason for thinking that:

the older I get and the more I visit countries where religion is even in the name of the country, I feel sadder and sadder for the people who live there. The downtrodden and the highly educated alike can be brainwashed into reading religious tracts, praying n times a day, wearing religious garb ... la la la.

I know many people are happy to be religious but many aren't.

In spite of that and in spite of my belief that all religions are tosh, I also believe that many religious people are good and honest people in spite of their religious beliefs.

Rather than thinking that a person has to be religious to do good, I think that all people have the capacity to do good built into them, even the religious types.

Best wishes

Duncan

Posted on 6 Feb 2013 19:18:05 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 10 Feb 2013 22:44:50 GMT]

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 16:32:22 BDT
He can spell 'acerbic' too.
Nice review.
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