God is not great by Christopher Hitchens

God is not great by Christopher Hitchens. The book can be found with the subtitle The case against religion or How Religion Poisons Everything. This is the second book I read by Christopher Hitchens, the first one being The Missionary Position. Mother Theresa in theory and in practice. Both books have quite a jaw-dropping sounding name, but neither is as controversial as the name suggests.

I think the book is well written and balanced, talking about religion in general, with examples from many religions, including mormons. So is not an attack to a specific religion. I don’t agree with everything he said, e.g. he says Hitler was an atheist. I don’t agree. After reading Mein Kampf, I would say Hitler was a church-going-choir-singing-Catholic.

As with other book reviews I’ve made, I’m going to share some of the quotes I enjoyed most and/or I would like to remember. Hopefully it will make you, the reader, want to pick up the book and read it.

God is not great by Christopher Hitchens

“The Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danae as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother’s flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochli was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and give birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia. For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street.”

After a Norwegian publisher was shot in the back, because he published a work of fiction considered “apostasy” by Muslims, “the Vatican, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the chief sephardic rabbi of Israel all took a stand in sympathy with the ayatollah.”

“Muslim zealots in Europe are demanding that the Three Little Pigs, and Miss Piggy, Winnie-the-Pooh’s Piglet, and other traditional pets and characters be removed from the innocent gaze of their children.”

In Nigeria, a polio-free country, Islamic figures said that the vaccine is a conspiracy by the United States against the Muslims and they were trying to sterilize them. In a few months, polio was back. Due to pilgrims, it reached as far as Mecca. Other previous polio-free countries were affected too. Same things happened with condoms, that lead to an increase in the number people infected with AIDS.

In another chapter, Hitchens talks about peri’ah metsitah, the Jewish circumcision procedure that involves a mohel sucking the foreskin of the baby boy penis (yes, with his mouth). He mentions a case of a 57 year old mohel from New York that gave genital herpes to baby boys, and two of them died. Nothing happened, because it was a case of “free exercise of religion”. For me, reading about this, is a harrowing account of pedophilia.

God is not great by Christopher Hitchens. First page

“I know that Pythagoras refuted astrology by the simple means of pointing out that identical twins do not have the same future.” I wasn’t aware of that, despite reading a book about Pythagoras recently.

“If god really wanted people to be free of such thoughts [envy of other’s fortunes], he should have taken more care to invent a different species.”

Among other examples, Hitchens also talks about Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a Rwandan priest accused of genocide and multiple accounts of rape, who was smuggled out of the country by French priests. He is now living in France, where he is employed as a priest by the Catholic church. Not the first time things like this happened, as he describes the “rat line”, or the Catholic organization, “blessed” by Vatican, that would help many Nazi escape to South America.

“Shia Muslims offer temporary marriage, selling men the permission to take a wife for an hour or two with the usual vows and then divorce her when they are done.”

God is not great by Christopher Hitchens

Details about the picture: The book is borrowed from the library and it is a very used copy.
The dice are a reference to Einstein (he said “God doesn’t play dice”). He is mentioned several times in the book, as an atheist that was presented as a deist by many religious people and organizations.
Hitchens gives a few quotes of Einstein including: “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but expressed it clearly”. and “I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it”.
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes.
Published by: Atlantic Books
Year it was published: 2007
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Non-fiction. Philosophy-Religion.
Pages: 307

About the author: Christopher Hitchens was born in 1949, in Portsmouth, England. He read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford. Hitchens got married twice. He died in 2011 of pneumonia brought on by esophageal cancer.
One of the concepts he is known for is Hitchens’s razor: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
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