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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Paperback – April 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is 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 nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* God is getting bad press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith(2005) and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have questioned the existence of any spiritual being and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not only does religion poison everything, which he argues by explaining several ways in which religion is immoral, but the world would be better off without religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts. Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment. Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of approval. With such chapter titles as "Religion Kills" and "Is Religion Child Abuse?" Hitchens intends to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless. Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions not only the virgin birth but the very existence of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top customer reviews
It's all been said about the eloquence and wit and knowledge and courage of Hitchens. Subscribe to it all.
We need brave men and women to come forth and break the fear of offending this dark ages' proponents of an evil, dogmatic, violent and absolutist global society where science and art and literature and free thinking and debating and scrutiny and study and curiosity and fun and openness and tolerance have no place.
It's urgent to keep the fight against the final fight, the final war, the final word, the final truth, intending to put an end to the only way humans are supposed to live: the tentative and unfinished and interrogative and curious and sternly studious life. Striving enlightenment and beauty and knowledge and awe is our path in the world and this path can only be walked on by repudiating absolutist violent claims based on absolutist violent books that belong in History and in the past.
Hitchens' book changed my life in profound and wonderful ways. By encouraging the use and strengthening of one's own faculties, it can truly awaken the slumbering intellect of the faithful and lead the reader down an exhilarating rabbit hole of human knowledge and fearless inquiry.
It's a great contemporary work to whet a new reader's appetite for greats such as Spinoza, Russell, Hume, Lucretius and the like.
I've purchased this book as a gift multiple times and it never fails to positively motivate my friends and family to think for themselves.
In a post-nuclear world, where a reality tv gameshow host holds the highest office in the land, we need more Hitchens. His works live on! Buy and share! Share the truly good news that god is not great and we are the architects of our own fate!