27 April 2007

Excerpts of God is not Great

Via BigHeathenMike and OneGoodMove, here are excerpts of Chris Hitchens's new book God is not Great in Slate. I heard about this book before but never actually learned about what's in it. From a review on Amazon,
In the genre of athiest criticism of religion, Hitchens' book fills a niche. Where, for example, Bertrand Russel approaches religion with a philosophical mind, and Richard Dawkins approaches religion with a scientific mind, Hitchens approaches religion with a literary mind....And in this sense Hitchens has hit upon an angle to come at religion that is not usually trodden: popular religion, unlike great literature, resists the tragic, the ambiguous, and the particular. Thus if you love literature, and identify with frail humanity via literature, you will resist the easy platitudes of religion.
I'm not really one of a literary mind (I only grudgingly took the madatory English credits in high school), so getting the Dawkins book is higher on my priorities list, but it looks interesting.

One other thing, the subtitle of this book is How Religion Poisons Everything. Some have pointed out that this is unnecessarily sweeping, much like Dawkins's documentary The Root of All Evil. Maybe. It sure poisons many things. One thing is for certain: the cover of this book is poisoned. Seriously, gaudy orange background and tacky fonts? What were they thinking?

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At April 27, 2007 9:29 a.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

For the cover, Hemant the Friendly Atheist also weighs in (briefly) on the ugliness of the cover.

At April 27, 2007 11:23 a.m., Blogger TheBrummell said...

gaudy orange background

Orange seems to be an 'in' scheme these days. Freakonomics, Collapse, and others on my bookshelf all went with the bright orange - why?

At April 27, 2007 4:30 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

It's very hard on the eyes, that's for sure. It will bo noticed, then instinctively avoided.

At April 27, 2007 6:55 p.m., Anonymous mel said...

Another question: why is the British cover so much nicer? This was also true, I think, of Dawkin's book where the North American version is some gaudy reflective silver thing. Who is it that thinks Americans like this stuff? Could it be a quiet theist conspiracy in the publishing world? Nawww. It must be the Brit's impression of us.

KA, I have The God Delusion right here which I'm enjoying and should post on more. But I'm really looking forward to Hitchens'. I rather agree with the "poisons everything" premise, having experienced the poison's bite in my own life. I realize that not everyone has had similar experiences and that for some, as for me in the past, religion is a potent medicine, tonic, elixir.

But I strongly suspect that religion primarily soothes the ills that it creates...makes us sick so that it can then claim to heal us -- an instigator of M√ľnchhausen's Syndrome. Here's an example:

Why does the Gospel make me feel better? Because it proclaims the good news that Jesus died for my sins. And who says that I have sinned such that I can only be healed by an act of god? Jesus. So religion first convinces me that I am bad. Tells me that only god can make me good. Then delivers god's medicine for my relief.

This is just a single example of many and I think that the poison is apparent. It's only hidden behind the claim that anything poisonous is not religion. Classic snake oil.

At May 11, 2007 5:49 p.m., Blogger Sacred Slut said...

I would have called that yellow myself. It certainly POPS as the designers like to say.

I don't necessarily disagree that religion poisons much of life, if not everything. My quibble with the subtitle is that it puts off some people who might otherwise at least leaf through the book. The title is already provocative enough, seems to me.

At May 16, 2007 4:16 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

SS, on second viewing, it is more yellow than orange. Could be the differences in the monitors I use at home and at work. Or I'm just a typical male that sees the world in old fashioned 16 colour VGA.

You certainly can't miss the book when you see it. The only question is, is the response to pick it up or to flee?


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