Review of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, is a book launched in the year 2007. Authored by Christopher Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair magazine and a radical atheist speaker, this book aims to shatter the religious convictions. This review tracks what is good in the book, and what I personally found should have been done better.

To start with, I liked God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The book is very intellectually stimulating and makes you question a lot of things that you held unquestionable till now. The aim of this book is to get more 'converts', if you may call it that. As Christopher Hitchens himself states, he wishes the fence sitters with respect to religion to jump to one side or the other. His atheism is evident in his writing, which demonstrates his conviction that there is negligible chance of there being a God. At the same time, he wishes the deeply religious people to think about their religious conviction. He accomplishes these two aims pretty well in this book. He was a reputed columnist before he wrote this book and this is evident from the language he uses. There are quite a few words that requires the use of a dictionary, at least for a non-English speaker. He does have a nice way of writing, which unlike my writing, has the power to keep the reader hooked till the end. I was also lucky to have just joined my present company and being on bench when I got the book, which helped me finish it considerably fast.

Hitchens uses arguments from historical flaws in the holy books as a major weapon against the God claims that these make. For example, he sites how the time of birth of Jesus mentioned in records does not coincide with the rule of King Herod. Another point he notes is, Romans, who were very good at documenting did not document such an important even as Jesus. There are also a few controversies raised about Muhammad.

Another point he tackles is, how a lot of the birth stories in Christianity have been found in several cultures much farther in history, including mythologies of Greece, Egypt etc. What he is trying to build is a case that most of the holy books of today are a farce built on older mythologies and adapted further. Also that a book with so many historical fallacies cannot be considered as a divine inspiration.

What should have been done better

Coming to the flaws, a lot of arguments used by him have become cliche, but can't necessarily blame him. The arguments are against much more cliche arguments. I also notice some lack of research in what he suggests, or probably I am the one who is ill informed. One of the things I noticed in his book, as well as in many of his speeches and debates is the claim that Sri Krishna was born of the Virgin Devaki, which he quotes when someone tries to point out the miracle of Jesus's Virgin Birth. As far as I know of the story, Krishna is not claimed to be born of a virgin, or am I wrong? Sri Ram does claim a divine intervention in his birth, but even there nothing of the mother being a virgin is mentioned. Now, claims which are not well researched can go against a book which is expected to raise curiosity and skepticism in a person.

Another point I noted about him is he refers to this Ashram in India where he has been. This happens to be the Rajneesh Ashram, also known as Osho Ashram. Now, this cannot exactly be claimed as a religions Ashram. In fact many people consider it as against religious beliefs. A lot of practices in fact challenging things considered sacred by many. If his aim at quoting having stayed in an Ashram is to show the ills of religion, this definitely is not a good option. If his aim is to show the ills of blind follower-ship or herd mentality, this could be a really good example though. Off tangent, I must confess, from what I have learnt about the Osho Ashram, I would really like to be a member or at least pay a visit and see all the 'natural beauty' inside, if you know what I mean.

Who should and should not read this book

Overall, this is a book that I would recommend people to read, specially those who are already having doubts about the religions and the God Hypothesis. It is recommended even for others who have an open mind or are enquirers. Those who are easily offended about comments against religion please avoid this. Staunch Christians and Muslims would save a lot of hurt by avoiding this book, because these are the two religions which have been used most times for citing examples, followed by Judaism.

Disclaimer:The fact that I am an atheist and a fan of Mr. Hitchens does have a chance of influencing this review.

Article by Jash Jacob
Jash Jacob is a Business Intelligence developer who has been contributing to ISC since a few months. His interests include Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, Movies, Novels, Reading scientific news and debates and listening to music. He also comments on random things in life in his personal blog. If you so wish, you may contact him through his profile or through forum response.

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Author: Sarojah27 Jan 2014 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Mostly the books written by Judaism followers will be unique like this and even people around us also can see the liking to Judaism and always we can see quotes from the three religions we follow today in India. And as you said the author has no t done properly the research on Hindu epics and that is why the claim of Krishna is not correct.

While coming to that god is not great, it coincides with my recent hearing of speech by a pandit that it goes like this: king is greater than god because he can send any one who does wrong beyond control to a place out of his area or control where as god cannot do as the whole universe is his area or his control. So I take this book in this kind of ideology only and anyway thanks to your review of the book.

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