Book Discussion: God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

This book is quite the finishing touch on the great life of Hitchens. His argument throughout this book is that religion has poisoned history. He concludes the book with the argument that in order to solve this we will need a new enlightenment, however he specifies that it will not need to depend on the work of a few gifted men. Instead he posits that this kind of enlightenment is within the grasp of the average person. This is why I believe writing blogs and getting the word out will have some effect. The average person does not think of the issue of religion often, and as such follows the Church of whoever he/she was taught to. Apart from that, religious people are the overwhelming majority today, so it seems almost unnecessary to deviate from religion because how could all these people be wrong? Well, here we have the fallacy of group think. People assume that others in their religion chose it based on rational thinking, so they therefore conclude that they don’t have to do the thinking. However, the others have chosen their religion the same way they did, so this assumption is void.

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Hitchens’ book also discusses a topic not tackled by many intellectuals of the day that is, even if religion is false, does that mean we should attack it? His answer to this question is a resounding yes. My answer is also a yes, as Hitchens has put some great arguments forward. My personal favorite argument of his, is the Old Testament. This book is something that two of the major religions of our day swear by, however it’s morals are dangerously off. God himself commands genocide, and sets up hundreds of irrelevant laws (such as that you can’t wear clothes with multiple fabrics) as I mentioned before in “We don’t need religious morality”. This book is the cornerstone for two major religions, and yet we can’t help but notice it seems much more to be written by humans than an all powerful entity. In another chapter of his book he notes that because religion holds onto the past so dearly, it still bears the mark of its lowly origin in a significantly less moral world than the one we live in today. This is to be found true in the Old Testament, but also in the simple structure of religion. Almost every religion has some sort of reward and punishment after death. In Hinduism a man is reincarnated as something better if they follow their tenets, and worse if they do not. Heaven and Hell are the traditional rewards and punishments, as they are found in the three major monotheistic religions. The fact is that this was a recruitment tactic. It’s pretty clear that the major religions must have recruitment tactics otherwise they would not have been the major religions.

Overall this was a well thought out and stimulating book that was a great swan song for Hitchens.

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