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God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

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naomi24 | 09:05 Mon 05th Jan 2009 | Religion & Spirituality
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I'm halfway through reading this and up to now, am very impressed. Has anyone else read it? Any thoughts?


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Surely people would say I read a great book only if that book says what they wanted it to say.
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Luna, it's a bit too complex to explain here, but from what I've read so far it would appear the author has chosen a very appropriate title. Why not try it?

Wiz, It is immensely readable, and as far as I can see (since I haven't finished it yet) it offers powerful and extremely rational arguments.

I've read In God We Doubt, and I've also just finished The Dawkins Delusion, by Alister McGrath & Joanna Collicutt McGrath. Have you read it? It's a scrap of a book of under 70 pages, the sole purpose of which appears to be to desparage Dawkins. I do like to read material that offers various points of view, and was hoping that this would give a reasoned resonse to the God Delusion, but It offers little other than personal vilification of Dawkins, and was therefore not worth the effort. Lucky it wasn't a lengthy work - not a great deal of time wasted.
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Keyplus, Surely people would say I read a great book only if that book says what they wanted it to say.

Ah. That explains it. That must be why you think the Koran is a great book.
naomi, by chance I have just ordered the Hitchens book and look forward to it.
All the so-called 'ripostes' to The God Delusion are as inadequate as the McGrath book. I have most of them on my shelf.

I highly recommend Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. It does an astonishing demolition job on religion in general and Christianity in particular in only 89 pages plus Notes. Its logic is as crystal clear as that of Dawkins.

I have heard some fatuous things said about books in my time, keyplus, but that must be quite the most mindless.
Touche, Naomi!

(add accent to taste)

I enjoyed it, but you do have to remember Hitchens is a polemicist and writes in a deliberately provocative way. I often wonder how those who think Dawkins is antagonistic would cope with the full force of the wrath of Hitchens.
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I think you will appreciate it very much, Chakka - and thanks for the recommendation. I'll order it.

Waldo, Much as I admire Dawkins, I thought precisely the same as you. Dawkins is a pussy cat by comparison.
I'm interested to know why all you confirmed non-believers read these books. I mean if it's patently a load of nonsense in the first place, what further insight is there to be gained from ploughing through these texts?
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Have you got to the bit about the Book of Mormon yet? Genuinely hilarious.
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Ludwig, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm interested in the history, the myth, and the psychology of religion, and have studied the subject for years. It is my passion. Well, one of them - I'm not telling you about the others! ;o)

As Wizard says, atheists (especially, in my opinion, most of those who contribute to R&S), are, in the main, extremely well-read. Their studies have not been confined to one book, or one to doctrine and they haven�t gleaned their ideas from teachers bent on indoctrination. They have examined the subject from all angles on a personal level, and have consequently made a truly informed choice, which is why they are confident in their knowledge and are unafraid to face opposition. (Surprisingly perhaps, you�ll find that many atheists were once religious - until they stopped listening to other men and started thinking and researching for themselves).

Additionally, you have to remember that religion affects all our lives whether we want it to or not, so we all have a vested interest.
ludwig, these books do not need 'ploughing through'; they are so elegantly written (though I haven't read Hitchens yet) that they flow off the page.

Wiz and naomi have given you your answer, to which I will add this:

In my youth I was a bog-standard Christian, and therefore as ignorant of my religion as most Christians are. When I was moved to learn something about it I discovered that the Jesus story had no historical or factual basis. This revelation involved a vast amount of reading of all manner of religious and non-religious books.

Had I not done that (and I haven't stopped) I would now be an ignorant Christian instead of a well-informed atheist.
nonetheless, chakka, the fact that your shelves are full of books proving God's non-existence sort of bears out what keyplus says, doesn't it?
naomi, you might find this review interesting - it's not from a religious journal. c22-000b5df10621.html

Basically it takes issue with Hitchens' attempts to blame religion for everything, by arguing (a) many Christians have done good and (b) many atheists have done evil and (c) Hitchens' attempts to get round this are intellectually dishonest.
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jno, thank you for that, it was interesting. However, if you're talking about intellectual dishonesty, I would say that the author of this article has utilised the very ploy he accuses Hitchens of.

The contention that 'many Christians have done good and many atheists have done evil' is a fatuous one, since there's no doubt whatsoever that the reverse is also true. Skapinker says that the Nazis remain responsible for their crimes whoever collaborated with them, but that doesn't exonerate the church in its complicity, does it? When he talks about Stalin, who 'understood and mimicked his people's religious superstitions', the inference is that Hitchens suggests that Stalin was indeed religious. He does not - and Skapinker accuses Hitchens of intellectual dishonestly!

Referring to Martin Luther King, Skapinker says 'Let�s leave aside the possibility that King�s lack of interest in revenge came from the Gospels' - and well he should, since Hitchens is perfectly correct in saying that King's conviction didn't stem wholly from Christianity. Much of it, in particular his policy on non-violence, was influenced by Gandhi.

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Skapinker's contention that 'many have argued that child sacrifice was common', and that 'many scholars regard an eye for an eye as a warning against excessive vengeance' is irrelevant. Why does he not produce statements from other scholars who claim differently? This is intellectual dishonesty indeed. The fact is that despite countless varying opinions, the bible - and other religious texts - say what they say, and religion encourages people to believe what's written. As unpalatable as Skapinker may find it, Hitchens has simply, and quite brilliantly, exposed the brutal facts of the evils of religion. Any intellectual dishonestly, or 'moral shabbiness', as Skapinker puts it, stem clearly from his own pen.

As for Keyplus' contention being borne out, I have actually asked him what he's read, and he admits only to having read Islamic literature and small sections of the bible, so what you have to bear in mind is that he refuses to read anything that, as Wizard says, challenges his world view. I know little of Chakka on a personal level, but I am willing to guarantee that his bookshelves, like mine, certainly Wizard's, and many other people's here, contain not only books of this nature, but also practically every version of the bible, together with a copy of the Book or Mormon, the Koran, and works associated with most other religions too - so Chakka was absolutely correct in saying that Keyplus' statement was mindless. It was.

Thank you again for the article.
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Sorry, two typos there - and both 'dishonestly' instead of 'dishonesty'. Didn't mean it - honestly!
Naomi � You think that I refused to read anything that challenges my belief. And it is your own perception that I (along with) all the other people who believe in religion have shut their eyes. Yes one thing is sure that I do not want to waste my time on books where someone would say that because Hitler or Stalin killed many people in the name of religion so we do not believe in religion or God. Because you do not have to be atheist to disagree with a religion or a book (of any religion) that spreads violence for no valid reason. But then again if few people think that killing or punishing someone who is a threat to society is violence then those people are day dreaming. Current situation of yob culture and stabbings is a good example for that.

Then we come to the books on your, wiz or Chakka�s shelves. I am sure the books you have on your shelves also be the books written by people who are against those religions. I have seen a copy of Quran translated by a Hindu. I showed the translation to Non Muslim Arabs and even they were laughing the way this person had twisted the words.

Now my advice has always been that if you want to know about any religion then find the information from wherever you like but do not restrict yourself only to anti websites or sources. If anyone is seriously curious about Islam then you would find clear, logical and answers based on proven facts on Sky dish channel 820 and just watch it few days in the evening specifically after 8.00PM till about 11.00PM and I am sure most your questions would be answered, and not only about Islam. It would be about all the religions.

I have said this before and would say again, even Quran itself challenges people to go and gain knowledge and it does not say that it should be only Islamic knowledge.

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God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

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