Book Review: “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens

The only way I can get through books anymore is to buy audiobooks which I can listen to on my iPhone when I am driving around or on the treadmill.

One of my more recent purchases was “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens.

My first impression of the book was tainted by the voice of the author, who chose to narrate the audiobook. He has the “pompous british professor” voice down to a ‘T’, which made me feel like I was going to get preached to for the next 8.5 hours (the approximate length of the audiobook). After about 1/2 hour of listening, I became convinced that the life experience and background research that the author put into the book was worth putting up with the pomposity!

One of the things I liked best about the book was the even hand that the author took with the world’s major religions. He did not choose to deride any one in particular, but rather picked examples from many faiths to prove his points about how religions have a negative impact on society. He doesn’t even spare Buddhism, with several negative points made at the expense of the Dalai Lama.

Counting Salman Rushdie as one of his friends, and occasional house guest, I am sure Christopher Hitchens had no expectations of making new friends with such a book, in fact, I respect him greatly for the guts it took to provide such rational argument considering the potential personal repercussions (he has already received several death threats).

Some interesting topics that ‘God is Not Great’ touches on include:

  • Many examples of how organized religion impeded the progress of science
  • How the worldwide cure for Polio was stopped in its tracks by religion
  • Why martyrs really get 72 golden raisins and not the 72 virgins they thought they were getting (doh!)
  • The many many contradictions in all religions that make it hard to understand what guidance is intended by god
  • The true nature of religions texts, with their various editions, omission, mis-translations and additions
  • How the separation of church and state is blurring in the world’s most powerful country, and how this is negatively impacting world politics
  • Discussions on the ‘morality’ of atheists as compared with the devout
  • Why people should not be exposed to religion until adulthood
Whatever your religious leanings, I think this book is a must have in your collection if you spend any time contemplating religion!

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