Sunday, October 21, 2007

god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Subtitled: How Religion Poisons Everything. I rate this book highly mostly because I agree with it. As the subtitle suggests, religion has done far more harm than good, and it's all based on nothing. That about sums up the book, but Hitchens manages to be pretty bitchy about it along the way, and his condescension isn't going to win him any friends. As an athiest who appreciates the teachings of Buddha, I also thought his dismissive attitude toward Buddhism (which in its purest form shouldn't be regarded as a religion) was rash and probably done to strengthen his hypothesis. It wouldn't do to have exceptions to the rule. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I recommend highly the last chapter: The Need for a New Enlightenment. Here’s an excerpt:
“Above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man, and woman. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by easy electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

But you have to admit that the absence of religion in the form of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot has done the worst damage in all of mankind's history.

Morality is only a subjective matter in a world without God. Without an absolute source for morality, power i.e. the state, will be the definer of what is right.

Even Buddha dealt in terms of the absolute.

Clifford Garstang said...

I don't have to admit that at all, and Hitchens writes about it effectively in the book. Hitler would not have been able to do what he did without the cooperation of the church; if god exists, the evil of Stalin and Pol Pot existed in spite of him, so what good is religion? To say that there is no morality without religion is to ignore the origins of moral teaching, which predate monotheism and derive from the natural order. You might want to take a look at the book.