Summary and book reviews of God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

God Is Not Great

How Religion Poisons Everything

by Christopher Hitchens

God Is Not Great
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  • First Published:
    May 2007, 307 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 272 pages

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Book Summary

Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris's recent bestseller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.

Putting It Mildly

If the intended reader of this book should want to go beyond disagreement with its author and try to identify the sins and deformities that animated him to write it (and I have certainly noticed that those who publicly affirm charity and compassion and forgiveness are often inclined to take this course), then he or she will not just be quarreling with the unknowable and ineffable creator who—presumably—opted to make me this way. They will be defiling the memory of a good, sincere, simple woman, of stable and decent faith, named Mrs. Jean Watts.

It was Mrs. Watts’s task, when I was a boy of about nine and attending a school on the edge of Dartmoor, in southwestern England, to instruct me in lessons about nature, and also about scripture. She would take me and my fellows on walks, in an especially lovely part of my beautiful country of birth, and teach us to tell the different birds, trees, and plants from one another. The amazing variety to be ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Name an ethical statement or action, made or performed by a person of faith, that could not have been made or performed by a nonbeliever.
  2. Do you agree with the author's assertion in chapter two, "Religion Kills"?
  3. Do you think religion's cultural contributions have outweighed the tribal conflicts it has provoked?
  4. Do you believe there is a biological or psychological basis for religious faith?
  5. Does discussion of personal religious faith belong in the public square?
  6. Do you believe an atheist could be elected President of the United States?
  7. Should political speeches include the phrase, "God bless America"?
  8. Do you agree with the author's analysis of the central paradox at the core of ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Washington Post

Hitchens says a lot of true things in this wrongheaded book...Christopher Hitchens is a brilliant man, and there is no living journalist I more enjoy reading. But I have never encountered a book whose author is so fundamentally unacquainted with its subject.

Publishers Weekly

The best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos...its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy.

Kirkus Reviews

A] pleasingly intemperate assault on organized religion...it's clear from page to page that Hitchens...is having a grand time twitting the folks in the white collars and purple dresses, in the turbans and beehives. Like-minded readers will enjoy his arguments, too.

Library Journal

This provocative, challenging, and passionate work - a religious believer's and apologist's nightmare - is recommended without reservation.

Booklist - June Sawyers

Starred Review. [Hitchens] is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy...he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about.

Reader Reviews

nueva

necessary read
Chris Hitchens is an astute observer - he gets a little too personal, but,overall his comments are intelligent, although sometimes he can be a bit strident. A must read after God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

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