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God is Not Great

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Jon Pizzo
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This book explores how religion has poisoned almost every critical event in world history. This means every religion, including Christianity. This book paints a great picture of religion allowing the reader to see religion as it really is, not as religious people pretend it is. It is called God is Not Great.

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  • 4 months later...

I saw it the other day at a bookstore and it really looked interesting. From the blurb, it seemed that it promoted a reason and science-oriented lifesytle and destroyed mysticism. Nevertheless, I hesitated to buy it since so many potentially good books are later ruined by flawed philosophy and cultural relativism. Is it the case here?

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I too would be interested on hearing what Christopher Hitchens' perspective on morality is. I suspect that he makes the same errors as Richard Dawkins does in his book The God Delusion. That is, implicitly accepting that one should accept altruism as the code of morality but just looking for a secular source to solidify altruism. Dawkins even explicitly recommends Immanuel Kant as a great secular source of morality.

I thank my friend who originally made this observation on Richard Dawkins.

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I highly recommend this book as well, and also purusing some of Hitchen's videos on YouTube, he can be quite an entertaining debater sometimes.

Hitchens views appear very similar to Objectivism in many ways, however for some strange reason he despises Rand. In one article I read on his on Slate, he was speaking sincerely of a soldier who was an atheist and decided to join the army and fight in Iraq, citing Hitchens as one of his biggest influences. The article mentions the books the soldier carried with him, one of which was "Atlas Shrugged" to that Hitchens (in this other wise somber article) said 'We'll, nobodies perfect' The dig at Rand was strangely out of place for the context of the article. In another debate I caught he spoke of being offended by flushing a book down a toilet, and made a reference that should he flush Atlas Shrugged down the toilet he should not fear for his life afterward.

His basis for morality, like most of the secular materialists, has no philosophical foundation. He seems to push 'the golden rule' and state that morality explicitly existed before religion (usually citing the good semaritan or the jews before seeing the 10 commandments) Obviously I find this to be his biggest weak point.

Similarly, frequent charges against his book were that many more people have been killed in the name of communism, whose atheism is seen as a counter, then in the name of the religion. I find his counter arguments weak, which generally center around the predominant psychological attitudes present in post czarist Russia, instead of focusing on religious type thought as the source of these ills, he seems to focus on specific religions. Hitchens usually points to 'enlightement era values' and says show me a society which killed in the name of those values' The lack of a philosophical foundation for morality seems evident to me in Hitchens, but I love his stuff. Shermer stands on stronger ground on this front, and is explicitly a supporter of free markets and individual freedoms, he also seems to like Rand, though certainly does not consider himself an objectivist. Shermer focuses on religious thought as the worse kind of evil, characterizing it as thought which is based on faith explicitly as evidence or despite it, and not faith in a particular god or story. Founding any belief system on anything other than reason is what he considers religious thought, and Soviet Marxism in nearly every form was a cultist like religion by that standard (and I think by any standard of religion which encompasses the worlds religions)

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  • 1 month later...

I am reading the book for the second time. This book is destined to be a classic.

One of the most fascinating observations in the book is when he comments on some of the brave Christian fundamentalist missionaries who are presently helping defectors who have escaped from North Korea. One missionary that Hitchens interviewed was honest enough to admit that North Korean defectors are not particularly receptive to sermons about an all-powerful savior. To them, who have just escaped from what is a totalitarian cult of leader worship, the hero worship of Jesus Christ is a little too familiar to them.

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I did enjoy this book for its ability to tear into religions specifically, but like Matus1976 found the lack of opposing philosophical backing to be fairly glaring. As DarkWaters said, he tends to rely on secular altruism in many cases.

Its an enjoyable read and has a few nice factoids in it, but I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best book ever written, even on this subject.

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  • 5 months later...

I've finally read the book and it was much better than I expected. Lots of interesting concrete examples and very reasonable throghout.

There are some flaws, like his failure to identify all socialism with religious attitudes, not just Stalin's. But anyway, a great read.

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  • 4 months later...
This book explores how religion has poisoned almost every critical event in world history. This means every religion, including Christianity. This book paints a great picture of religion allowing the reader to see religion as it really is, not as religious people pretend it is. It is called God is Not Great.

Watch out for Hitchens, Dawkins and other "New Atheists". On the surface he may seem like down-to-earth opponents to religion, but he promotes a non-objective, mystical epistemology by claiming that humans are moved by some "innate conscience". This is the exact opposite of Objectivism. He merely offers a substitute for faith, but the method is clearly the same.

I would like to point you to a revealing article denouncing these New Atheists:

http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues...ew-atheists.asp

P.S. You can get one free copy of The Objectivist Standard from their website. I got the issue featuring this article in the mail recently. If anybody's interested in the application of Objectivism in current events, I highly recommend TOS.

Edited by veebers
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  • 5 months later...

Just finishing it up myself. For its historical context of religion, it's really good. It's difficult to believe how the religious can defend the history of faith with honesty. However, I have the same takeaways as others in this thread. Otherwise good people are forced toward religion because they associate atheism with amorality and immorality. Without fleshing out a positive morality for atheism, individuals will continue not to trust the irreligious.

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  • 5 months later...

From what I have found out Hitchens is a recovering Trotskyist, he admits to no longer be a socialist but still a Marxist! He comes across as a man of great intelligence but having not found a solid foundation philosophical foundation he wonders as if lost.

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From what I have found out Hitchens is a recovering Trotskyist, he admits to no longer be a socialist but still a Marxist! He comes across as a man of great intelligence but having not found a solid foundation philosophical foundation he wonders as if lost.

I read the book probably more than a year ago. That dynamic was one of the more interesting parts of it. He identified that the communist trotskyist thing had a lot of similarities to religion and god concepts.

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  • 6 months later...

From what I have found out Hitchens is a recovering Trotskyist, he admits to no longer be a socialist but still a Marxist! He comes across as a man of great intelligence but having not found a solid foundation philosophical foundation he wonders as if lost.

The way I read into it(haven't read his books so this could be rather uninformed); he seems to believe in utilitarianism to some extent, but seems to realize that communism is not the way to maximize that.

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