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god is not great reviewed

I know that Christopher Hitchens’ new book god is not great has been reviewed to death so I’m going to take a slightly different approach in that I’m not going to review the whole book, others have done a better job here here here. I am actually only going to concentrate on the last bit of the book primarily the last chapter, In Conclusion: The Need for a New Enlightenment.

My review will be short considering that this chapter is considerably shorter than the others. It will also be short because I was anticipating some kind of direction or suggestions on how the average man or woman could help further this new Enlightenment. Unfortunately Mr. Hitchens doesn’t deliver. His direction or idea of this New Enlightenment is contained within the last 2 paragraphs at the end of the last chapter.

True he does layout essentially what needs to be done and no I’m not really sure what I was expecting him to be able to lay out. He seems like a reasonably smart guy I guess I was just expecting something a little more concrete. Instead we are left with his belief that “the study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals” can now be pursued with religion hindering that pursuit, along with “unfettered scientific inquiry” and the information that will be discovered and now so easily disseminated across the Internet. The author seems very keen on separating our sexual lives from fear, disease and tyranny as long as we are able to “banish all religions from the discourse”.  This conclusion is wholly unsatisfying.

Now having written this fairly neutral to negative review I will say that I loved this book. I’ve heard many of the things before such as the second (or third or fourth or fourteenth) hand nature of the Bible and the Koran. And it is true, while written with a decidedly British tongue, it is very direct and can be very dismissive and confrontational.

There are many quotable items in this book and some of them are delivered very well such as when discussing the 10 commandments and how they are really very unnecessary he writes, “however little one thinks of the Jewish tradition, it is surely insulting to the people of Moses to imagine that they had come this far under the impression that murder, adultery, theft, and perjury were permissable.”

Another good one is immediately after the above he throws a barb at Christians in regards to Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan, “on that Jericho road he is speaking of a man who acted in a humane and generous manner without, obviously, every having heard of Christianity, let alone having followed the pitilesss teachings of the god of Moses, who never mentions human solidarity and compassion at all.”

If you are looking for a witty and abrasive book about religion you have certainly found it. If you are looking for some constructive steps to bringing about a New Enlightenment don’t look to the New Atheists (or at least this one).

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Filed under: Religion, Reviews

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