Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Christopher Hitchens: "God is not great"

[...] God is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything, although sweeping in its erudition, is a righteous harangue. When Ruth Gledhill of The Times recently interviewed Richard Dawkins about his scientific debunking of faith, The God Delusion, she found him less angry than his confrontational writing style suggested. But Hitchens is never far below boiling point. He is an evangelical secularist, an atheist warlord. Religion, he writes, is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children”.

This is the book he has been writing all his life, since his primary school teacher remarked how kind the Almighty was to make trees and grass green, a colour so restful to the human eye, and he knew she was wrong, that our eyes were adjusted to nature, not the other way about.

“Marx says criticism of religion is the beginning of all criticism,” Hitchens says. “Philosophy starts where religion ends, just as chemistry starts where alchemy breaks off or astronomy starts where astrology runs out. It is the necessary argument. Not believing in the supernatural is the critical thing.”


He was married to his first wife in a Greek Orthodox church, to his second, Carol Blue, by a rabbi. He had his son, Alexander, now 23, baptised. He educates his daughter, Antonia, 13, at a Quaker school, Sidwell Friends, alma mater of Chelsea Clin ton and Al Gore’s son. He has taken her to Washington’s Anglican cathedral to familiarise her with the liturgy. He worries that without the scriptures – which he can quote chapter and verse – she will never understand Milton or Shakespeare.

“The point is,” he says, “religion should be private: I am not paying my taxes to support it. I’m not going to have children taught that metaphysical things are true.”
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