I bought this book, because during a speech by Daniel Dennett he mentioned in his research on de-conversions that this Book, God is Not Great was a major catalyst for some pastors and preachers to de-convert. And for some it was the final straw. (So, I thought it would be a good counter book to Mere Christianity, which also has claims of converting atheist to believers). So because of the reputation of this book and what Daniel Dennett said, this book was a must read.
The book overall was very interesting read and a very condensly informative one as well. I would say his writing style reflects that very much of his personality when he gives formal public speeches. That the overall general content of the book does well to represent the title and purpose of the Book, ‘How Religion Poisons Everything.’
It only takes two chapters to tell that Christopher Hitchens has lived an extraordinary and eventful life. He starts off with the basic and waste no time in calling religion Man-Made. In that there is nothing unique about Christianity, or any religion for that fact. One thing that pleasantly surprised me was his fairness in attacking all religions, not just Christianity or any Abrahamic religion.
He bashes Old Testament Judaism in Chapter 7. Calls New Testament Christianity Evil in Chapter 8. Calls Islam a borrowed Religion in Chapter 9. Tramples on Hinduism and Buddhism in Chapter 14. Even takes a few stabs at Deism in Chapter 6. One can definitely say that Hitchens dislikes all religions equally. I positivity loved Chapter 9 the history Islam and the Koran, because that was one topic I was ignorant of.
Furthermore in Chapter four of his book he talks about the dangers of religion how it poisons the Physical Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Diet, and Rational Thinking of cultural society. He goes into how religion is more of contributor to the degeneration of people health vs. being a positive contributor and influence. He even mentions one of my favorite stories in history, which is the one of Pierre-Simeon Laplace telling Napoleon that he had no need for the hypothesis of God when explaining celestial mechanics. And explains in pg.95, that the whole known body of science and physics works without the assumption of God.
In fact he points out that the delusion of Christian religion and instability is almost so norm that in Jerusalem that those who feel that they are new returned ‘Messiah’ are suffering from the mental psychological malfunction of Jerusalem Syndrome. And so common it is, the police and security forces have been trained on how to identify it and handle it
I think one of the greatest points he makes in the book, is that when people believe that God is on their side and favors them they will believe and do anything. For when people think they have the favor of God on their side they will try to dignify their actions with the excuse that they are on the side of God’s will. For typically even the most good or most evil will try to justify their wicked actions with their religion that says how God favors their position without care nor regard for others. So we ask; Does religion really make people behave better?
“The trip began with my friends breaking some coconuts on a rock to ensure a safe journey. This evidently did not work, because halfway across the island our driver plowed straight into a man who out in front of us as we were racing, too fast, through a village. The man was horribly injured and- this being a Sinhala Village- the crowd instantly gathered was not well disposed to these Tamil intruders. It was a very sticky situation, but I was able to defuse it somewhat by being an Englishman wearing an off-white Graham Greene type suit, and by having press credentials that had been issued by the London Metropolitan Police. This impressed the local cop enough to have us temporarily released, and my companions, who had been very scared indeed, were more than grateful for my presence and for my ability to talk fast. In fact, they their cult headquarters to announce that Sai Baba himself had been with us, in the temporary shape of my own person. From then on, I was treated literally with reverence, and not allowed to carry anything or fetch my own food. It did occur to me meanwhile to check on that man we had run over: he had died of his injuries in the hospital.” (Pg. 75)
There were several things I personally I found of disinterest of the book. I would say he has a tendency to almost go over board at times, especially when discussing certain people in history. (That he does almost name calling.) And not giving a full story behind some of the historical examples he give. For example, he talks about a Catholic Bishop name Misago in Rwanda (pg. 191) and gives an impression that he played part in the massacre of 82 Tutsi school children. But a quick inquiry easily shows that the Bishop was cleared of charges, (however some still feel he played a part in not doing enough to prevent the massacre.)
He even quotes early church father Tertullian in saying, “I believe [in God] because it is absurd.” And denounces Tertullian for such a narrow view of faith. However I was disappointed that he didn’t give a contextual & historical background to the quote to make sure he and any other reader is understanding it within context. He does have a tendency in he book, to not go into detail on the full story of what he is talking about in analogy. So if you don’t know the history or the context of the historical analogy you can get lost.
And then he gives two very off the cuff remarks in calling the new testament a greater evil then the old testament. And that Early Church Father Augustine was a Self-Centered Facist. (Pg. 64). He even bashes Ghandi as some point and does an entire chapter on pork, called a short digression of the pig. That I found slightly of no interest to me. In all honesty, in the book it does come off at times as the ramblings of an angry atheist.
Overall this was a very informative and very jammed packed of historical information. He leaves no stoned unturned in his dismantling of religion and dogma of religion. Really for me this was much tougher read than I expected because his writing style was not something I thoroughly enjoyed. (But that is just my personal opinion.) Most people (Based off of other reviews I have read, enjoyed his writing style.) It is very much like the way he speaks in public forums, but for me that style just did not mesh well for me personally.
If I had to describe this book, I would describe it as A.P. (advanced placement) atheism. Because it goes over alot of historical and academic information if you are not familiar with the story, you may get lost in what he is trying to convey.