Saturday, November 10, 2007

god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Christopher Hitchens is an atheist, and he is not shy about it. Unlike some atheist, he is not indifferent toward religion, he is angry about it. This book is a 283 page rant that painfully spells out the ills of religion. Hitchens does not pull any punches on any form of religion, although he does tend to concentrate the most energy on Judaism and Christianity. Each chapter has a loose structure for providing an angle for revealing examples of how religion has destroyed lives and wreaked havoc.

As I was reading, I could not help but think that the same examples that Hitchens was using could also be applied to governments and nation-states. Hitchens solution to the problem of religion is the hope that it will just go away. Should the same be said for governments and nations? The truth of the matter is that every single type of institution that exists has been or will be guilty of some great atrocity.

My biggest problem with this book was that Hitchens never really offers an alternative for living well. He spends a small part of the end hoping for a New Enlightenment where humans will be able to overcome the myth of religion, but he is not able to offer any type of vision for a better world.

My knee-jerk reaction throughout my reading of this book was to argue Hitchens at every point and essentially say, "Yeah, but..." I tried really hard to read with an open mind as I was engaging someone who obviously thinks very differently from me. I think that all too often Christians are quick to argue and debate, while being slow to listen. The more I learn about God, the more I am convinced that God does not need humans to argue for God's existence or defend God's sovereignty. God is perfectly capable of taking care of God's self. Reading this book with this attitude allowed me to come to the conclusion that I think Hitchens may be right - religion has caused unnecessary pain and suffering and grief. Perhaps Christians should begin to focus less on the noise of apologetics and more on the practices of confession and repentance. Perhaps we should more concerned with modeling lives of love than being "right." Just a thought.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I don't believe in atheists. Everybody has a god. If it's not God, or money, it may be one's self, or one's spouse, or one's job. Atheists are just the kings of denial.