- A review of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens
The book has been written with two main purposes in mind: to show that all religions are false, and to prove that their effects are near-universally pernicious. In each case, Hitchens's argument proceeds principally by anecdote, and at his best he is as convincing as that particular style allows, which is to say not terribly. He succeeds in demonstrating that many faiths are frauds and many prophets have been fakers, that believers commit all sorts of terrible crimes and that Buddhists are no more pacific than Southern Baptists, and that the Bible is neither a work of academic history nor a biology textbook. Then again, I was convinced of these points already, and hoped that Hitchens would pick a fight on more contested territory, such as the origin and nature of spiritual experience, which seems a more likely source for man's persistent religiosity than, say, the fear of thunderstorms or the stubborn refusal to crack open The Origin of Species. But like most apologists for atheism, he evinces little interest in the topic of religion as it is actually lived, preferring to stick to the safer ground of putting the godly in the dock and cataloguing their crimes against humanity.