An age old question and indisputably one of the most commonly asked is "Why do people believe in God? Or, as Christopher Hitchens has asked in his own imitable way, "Why do people need to believe in God?" And with this question forming the basis of his argument, Hitchensí God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything [Twelve] lights into organized religion with the intensity of an Aggie Bonfire.
The book begins simply enough, with a listing of atrocities committed in the name of The Invisible Guy in the Sky, and poses a vital question to believers and non-believers alike: Why would anyone be drawn to such a thing as religion that has killed, maimed, and harmed billions throughout its entire history, while espousing such virtues as compassion, love, and most importantly, forgiveness and tolerance? It is with this obvious hypocrisy that Hitchens declares his verdict: God is not great.
Now, I know what you're saying: "He can't judge all of religion because a few religious quacks fucked it up for everybody." Maybe that's true, but itís hard to disagree with Hitchens. Take Jesus, for example (the end-all, know-all omniscient magical savior) who cast out demons and turned them to pigs. What did the pigs ever do to Jesus? Hitchens is only presenting to believers what they already know, but choose to overlook and call ďFaith.Ē Jesus was lucky that PETA wasn't around then.
Believers, however, may appreciate the lighter, sweeter moments of the book, which paints a picture of the complete Hitchens. Heís not such a bad guy, but rather a quiet, compassionate man searching for truth. Yet those set in their beliefs (and/or too stupid, too oblivious, or too brainwashed to view a subject from all sides) will undoubtedly refuse to read this. Thatís sad, because the book in its entirety isn't so much an insult to religion, but rather, a carefully examined alternative.
Donít call Christopher Hitchens controversial. Religion is the controversy. It's built upon fear and manipulation, and this book only reiterates and supports that point. You owe it to yourself to read this book.