God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

This was an interesting and eye opening read.

Christopher Hitchens, a well known atheist, takes it upon himself to debunk the ‘myth’ of God and to illustrate how religion really effs things up.

Having struggled with matters of faith and religion myself over the past few years, I gave this a read for a different perspective. I was blown away. Not just by the things that I was reading but how thorough and brilliantly laid out it all was. Hitchens definitely didn’t believe in doing anything half-assed. His knowledge of biblical, theological and humanist history is astonishing and his essays are understandable and relatable.

His main thesis is, of course, that religion poisons everything. Religion doesn’t make people better or more moral human beings, in fact, more often than not it does the opposite. He touches upon the scandals of abuse at the hands of religious elders in many faiths, delves into the similarities (referring to them as plagiarism) between the big religions and even some pagan rituals and history, and does his best to rationally state the case for atheism.

I was in the book store today and saw that God Is Not Great was on the table for books that had changed people’s lives. I have no doubt that people read this book and thought, possibly for the very first time, about the role of faith and religion in their lives. The very basis of faith is that you just believe, you don’t question it. Hitchens forces you to confront your beliefs – he’s not gentle about it. I can’t imagine ever getting in a fight with him…

Being an outspoken Atheist did not come without risks. He speaks freely about the death threats he and his family received because of his stance. He talks about Salam Rushdie and the fatwa placed on his life after the debacle surrounding The Satanic Verses. But he’s also uniquely experienced in the ways of religion. He was raised in a Protestant country with a quasi-Jewish mother and married in a Greek Orthodox Church (ergo, he converted). He’s been to places ripped apart by questions of faith: Belfast, Beirut and Baghdad to name a few. And his theological knowledge could probably rival that of most pastors.

He’s definitely an equal opportunity offender – he states the case against Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism, even Buddhism.

This forceful portrait of the evils of religion was an eye opening read. I’m not sure where it left me in terms of my own struggles and thoughts but I’m glad I read it. It was the different perspective that I was looking for.