Hitchens & God, cont…

Hitchens & God, cont… September 21, 2007

I wrote about Christopher Hitchens’ latest book, God is Not Great – or more correctly about the debate tour he made to promote it, here.

But this is a more serious look at the man and the tome, a review by Bejamin Wiker.

The most significant problem with Hitchens’s argument is precisely that it does belong in the 18th century, that is, in a time when it was still possible to declaim upon How Religion Poisons Everything (the subtitle of Hitchens’s book). In those heady days of overt deism and covert atheism, enemies of religion could gather together, exchange stories of religious hypocrisy and savagery, and imagine that once the poisoned barbs of Christianity were removed from innocent human flesh, and priests and kings were suitably strung up by each other’s entrails, the world would breathe a long and peaceful sigh of relief.

That was before the French Revolution, before Stalin, before Hitler, before Mao, before Pol Pot; in short, before any actual attempt to politically eliminate either Christianity in particular or all religion in general, and set up a regime based entirely on secular foundations. Before it was ever tried in earnest, the intellectual atheist could wade through many a hypothetical reverie of the innocent and Edenic future of practical atheism.

That is the whole problem with Hitchens’s book: He still thinks he has that enviable luxury. His finale — a mere seven pages long — is titled “The Need for a New Enlightenment,” as if it hadn’t been tried already and found woefully wanting.


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