God is Not Great: The gospel according to Hitchens
Title: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, USA
Reviewed by: Faith Oneya
If I was forced to pick a religious stand, then it would be “a questioning Christian”. I know that fence-sitting as far as philosophies go, but I’m conflicted.
Having been raised a Christian and taught to value piety over much else, I only started questioning religious doctrines when I was a university student.
But my “Whys?” were closeted. My “Whys” have graduated to loud whispers, as I’m still uncomfortable to be known publicly as a Questioner. I do believe in God, even if I have a multitude of questions about the Bible.
That’s why I was not too shocked when my religious barber nearly fainted upon seeing the title of the book I was holding in my hands. It was titled God is Not Great:How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens.
“You don’t believe in God?” he asked, unable to keep shock from his voice.
“I have questions about Christianity,” I answered, as usual, unable to commit to a stand. Perhaps my uncertainty is what attracted me to God is Not Great, for it articulated boldly and loudly the questions in my heart.
It does not help that the author is a journalist, for journalists are naturally sceptical people. It’s in every journalist’s DNA to be curious and to question things.
“Provocative” could be an adequate way of describing this book, although a devout Christian, Muslim or Jew may refer to it as blasphemous.
The language in the book is as unfiltered as it gets. From “Religion Kills” to “The Tawdriness of the Miraculous and the Decline of Hell” to “Is Religion Child Abuse?”, the chapters are definitely meant to provoke, and I daresay offend.
The arguments are difficult to ignore, even for the staunchest of believers, for, like any other good journalist, Hitchens laces each claim with a heavy dose of facts and historical background.
The writer’s undeniable wittiness in writing will make even the most upset reader read on, just to see where the arguments lead. A case in point is this phrase from page 339:
Religion has run out of justifications. Thanks to the telescope and the microscope, it is no longer offers an explanation of anything important.
And just to clear the air about whether or not he respects religion, the author clarifies in the acknowledgements section that he covers his head when he enters the synagogue and takes off his shoes when he goes to the mosque. One can’t marvel at the level of research that the atheist dedicated time to write this book which he “has been writing his whole life, and will continue to do so”.
Anyone intending to read this text should do so with an open mind, mindful of the fact that every view you ever held about religion with be challenged and possibly changed. This book will provoke you, whether you are a staunch Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Jew, agnostic, spiritualist or atheist.