Hitchens’ book has stayed a best seller for months. It’s still selling like hotcakes. That’s too bad, because it’s one of the most effective ANTI-CHRISTIAN books I’ve ever read. Scary, huh? His book is called: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens writes with the intrigue of a journalist and the passion of a crusader. Unfortunately, his crusade is to wipe religion, including Christianity, off the map.
If you read uncritically, you’ll soon be on Hitchens’ side. Religion does spoil everything. If there is a God, he is not great.
Hitchens’ method is to string together horrific accounts of religious atrocities, and then tag it with, “See? I told you so. Religion really does spoil everything.”
Hitchens disarms the reader by telling the story of his own religious upbringing, savoring the inability of his tutors to answer the hard questions, and disappointing us only by having no whacks on his knuckles with a ruler.
But from here, it’s all downhill for the faithful. He leaps immediately upon the Catholic clergy scandal. Stories of bishops forbidding contraception, thereby exacerbating the STD rate in third-world nations. Stories of hands cut off by Islamic fundamentalists. Of raped women becoming outcasts due to religious scruples. Not a happy picture.
You can’t really argue with him on one point: Religion does indeed poison everything. And that is why true, biblical Christianity, is not a religion, as the adage goes. It’s a relationship with God through Jesus. The examples Hitchens cites are all distortions of biblical Christianity. No self-respecting Evangelical would approve of what he attacks. Moses, the Prophets David, the Apostles, Jesus, and every other writer of Scripture REJECTS RELIGION.
The root word for religion means “to bind.” Picture manacles along with a ball and chain. Religion takes people captive.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8, NKJV.
Jesus doesn’t bind us; he sets us free. And that is all the difference in the world.
Yes, many evils have been perpetrated in the name of our Savior. For these repent. But for every one of these evils, there has been a far greater good. Example: Slavery. Christians used the Bible to justify it; but other Christians used the Bible to end it. Even today, it is only in Christianized cultures that slavery is outlawed. It still continues in lots of other cultures. And, to use Hitchens’ own example, even as Christians have opposed birth control (for reasons I don’t understand and don’t agree with), they have also founded the world’s orphanages and hospitals and schools and clinics. Take away Christianity, and the world would be a darker, more evil place. Picture Aldous Huxley’s 1984.
Hitchens’ book misses the mark in other important ways, too. For one, I haven’t done the statistical analysis, but the majority of his examples are of Islamic atrocities. He lumps all relgions into the same category — a huge mistake by my estimation.
Plus, Mark Roberts has pointed out many factual errors in Hitchens’ book.
His biggest omission, however, is his failure to point out the monumental evil that atheism has perpetrated through the centuries. Communists slaughtered more people than did any other group in world history. Add in Naziism and Fascism, and any fair-minded observer using Hitchens’ own standards would have to conclude:
Godlessness is Not Great; How Atheism Poisons Everything