I don’t think I would have read God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens if it hadn’t been in the 99p kindle sale at Christmas. Maybe that was someone’s idea of irony.
The premise is that not only is there no god, or any other creative consciousness, but also that organized religion is mad, bad and dangerous to know. Using personal anecdotes, documented history and analysis of texts, Hitchens takes us through more than a dozen reasons why religion is bad for your health and probably makes you a less moral person.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can’t say I had my point of view changed. I came to the book already primed to agree with Hitchens’ points. Partly because his arguments are based on a Marxist critique of religion and partly because I’ve read the Bible and came to many of the same conclusions myself. The one thing I did learn is that the Buddhists aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Not as peaceable as you might think.
If you believe there is a God, especially one of the Abrahamic persuasion, you are unlikely to have your faith shaken. Hitchens goes in for grandstanding much more than persuasion, and I would think his tone would inspire defensiveness and rebuttal. I’m sure it would get my back up. Unfortunately, the same is true if you’re undecided. This is not a book that will commend a god-free enlightenment to you (for that, I’d recommend Towards the Light by A.C. Grayling). If you are an atheist (and I am, for all my flirting with animism/paganism), then this is a rallying cry for the cause and really good fun. Recommended or not recommended depending on your starting position.
As much as I’m not a fan of organised religion, I didn’t enjoy this book. I agree that it’s not likely to convert anyone, and I think that it’s due to how vitriolic he gets in places – which I found very off-putting. I can’t help but feel that if he had presented his evidence in a more impartial, less insulting, manner, it could have been more effective.
There’s also something slightly gleeful about the vitriol, which is a bit off-putting.