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I recently borrowed this book 'God Is Not Great' by Christopher Hitchens from my library as I thought it sounded interesting and provocative. My personal standing is that I consider myself to be deeply spiritual but I have always had a loathing of organised religions and of the core beliefs all almost all of the most popular religions. However, having been introduced to Christianity as a child and with all of the ideas this religion impresses it is difficult to untangle the ideology of indoctrinated religion with that of atheism. Hitchens calls himself an 'infidel' and states that his brand of atheism is "Protestant atheism" since it was with the King James bible that he first found himself disagreeing. He is clear in his position from the outset, stating in the first chapter that "religion poisons everything".
The book is a vast study of many religions and each chapter sees the author relate his personal experiences where he has learned why religion is a negative aspect of the human experience. Hitchens work is intelligent, far-reaching and educational although I do find his caustic and sometimes angry tone unappealing. As someone who hasn't fully let go of the idea of a mystical God figure I feel like I'm being hit with a sledgehammer when I read some of Hitchen's insults. It's like being told repeatedly that you are an idiot and here's why!
Hitchens discusses the relationship with politics and religion. He also discusses 9/11 from every angle and is damning in his condemnation of all figures who were motivated by religion before and after the horrific events of that day.
There are also some more witty and amusing segments in the book where Hitchens highlights how ridiculous some of the prohibitions of certain religions really are. These include dietary restrictions as well as other tasks and rules that are present in some religions. He then discusses the impact of religion on children in a chapter entitled "Is religion Child Abuse?" in addition to exploring why religions legislate sexual behaviour.
Hitchens leads us through a discussion of the Old and New Testaments as well as the Koran and I found some interesting new and revealing information here. Hitchens finally concludes by calling for a 'new enlightenment' and for reason and rationality to overcome the outdated ideas of religion.
This book is challenging, eye opening and I felt a great relief in reading it because it addresses every concern I have about religion. However, some of Hitchens' comments are glib and he often attacks notions without fully dissecting why they continue to be of importance to the religious man. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone but it may be of particular interest to those who struggle with the notion of their being a God.