Book Review: God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Book Review: God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

I’d read three books prior to this one. The first said, “God exists.” The second said, “God does not exist.” The third said “God exists.” And the fourth said, “god is not great.”

Upon beginning this book, I had just barely made it out of Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator with my sanity. Strobel’s entire book was a biased scam of fallacy after fallacy in an insultingly illogical argument for intelligent design. I began God is Not Great ready to be refreshed hearing something from my own side of the argument, but what I found within its pages was even better.

What I got wasn’t another The God Delusion, rebutting arguments for God and sprinkled with a few examples of the harm done by or the origins of religion. This was instead the inverse: 283 pages of how religion poisons everything (I honestly shouldn’t have been so surprised; it was right there on the cover) with the occasional remark on a fallacy or two regarding the existence of God himself which never earned more than a chapter. In my opinion, there are enough books on why God is or is not real (but this is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed exploring them). And after all this time, I’m starting to see that they all say more or less the same things. There are only so many arguments to present and refute.

Possibly the most obvious thing to any reader of Hitchens’ most famous work, or even an observer of its cover, is a very deliberate abandonment of language rules. In the simple act of never hitting Shift when typing a “g” while typing the word “god”, Hitchens made a bold statement sure to irk any religious readers. I admire his tenacity at breaking this rule, because at times it was legitimately grammatically incorrect (such as when it is being used as the specific name of the Christian god), but it was a sacrifice he was willing to make in the name of pettiness that not many of us can hope to achieve.

I found God is Not Great to be sufficiently more cohesive than its year-older counterpart (at least it seems that they are always paired together), Dawkins’ The God Delusion. The former has its purpose and it serves it well; I see it as an introductory course for those new to atheism or at least questioning God and who dare to learn more. But The God Delusion is quite spread out: it touches on everything from the Kalam cosmological argument to the trolley problem to the roots of religion, and everything in between. Hitchens here homes in on historical examples of religion causing harm, and in some ways it made me realize that God being evil or harmful may be a more pressing issue than whether he exists at all, for if he does, then we must now make the decision on whether he is worthy of our praise. Hitchens makes his answer clear.

Recently I asked my fiancé, if we were to ask my mother to read one book from our atheist point of view (as a way of balancing out her conversion attempts), which book he would choose. He responded that he would suggest God is Not Great. Granted, it is the only atheism book he has completed so far, but I’m sure that many of you who have read far more than either of us would agree. My mother has no interest at all in scientific or reason-based arguments: she is more concerned with, as she says, the heart, rather than the head. Well, while most books may persuade the head out of belief, this persuades the heart out of awe. It shows the believer why we can still not like a deity in whom we don’t believe.

One of the biggest reasons why I can’t force myself to believe is beyond the logical arguments for god: it’s the fact that once you see just how fabricated and malicious religion (every religion) really is, you can’t unsee it. What you can do is see it for yourself—all its bloody, manipulative, totalitarian horror—and to do that is to read God is Not Great.

67 thoughts on “Book Review: God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

  • May 6, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for the heads up……….. Just bought the UK version via UK Amazon. Interestingly, the title in the UK version is all in uppercase thus circumventing any problems re grammatical rules.

  • May 6, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Christians very rarely read atheist books. Other secular bloggers (Neil Carter of Godless in Dixie and Nate at Finding Truth for example) will read their Christian loved ones’ reccomended apologetics books. However, those same friends and relatives refuse to read suggested secular books. (Personally, as a deconvert, I wouldn’t waste my time reading an apologetics book. You know my story, you understand why.) As far as this book goes, just the title alone would horribly upset your mother. To even suggest that YHWH might not be great is offensive to a Christian. She wouldn’t get past the cover.

  • May 6, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I agree with Charity …. I think God is not Great would be too much “in your face” for your mom. You might consider Thomas Paine’s book, The Age of Reason. Or even my book … 🙂 …. as it’s about my personal journey away from Christianity without the hardcore arguments against “God.”

  • May 6, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    The kindest thing I can say regarding Hitchens’ book is that it makes me deeply appreciate studious research, since he evidently put in no more than a single afternoon’s work into his own.

  • May 6, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    I have an entire website devoted to countering Hitchens’ historical arguments. I would love it if you would check it out. I’m also open to any challenge or question you may have.

    The heart cannot embrace that which themind rejects.

    • May 6, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      I read but a little of the blog about the Inquisition. How exactly did you counter Hitchens? You admitted the Inquisition was led by a corrupted church and it did diabolical deeds. The facts Hitchens lays out are actually confirmed by you.

      • May 6, 2018 at 11:55 pm

        Yes…people who called themselves Christians burned people at the stake, but these Christians weren’t faithful to the scriptures. They corrupted the teachings of Christ with philosophy and man-made traditions. They disobeyed the Bible. It wasn’t atheists who finally conquered the Inquisition; it was men and women of God, courageously giving their lives in faithfulness to Jesus and his wonderful Word, who were finally able to bring down the stronghold of the Inquisition.

        • May 7, 2018 at 1:44 pm

          Interesting, Diana, Do you have any sources for this?

          • May 7, 2018 at 11:18 pm

            [1] Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1968), 88, 409e-410a.

            [2] Justin Martyr, “First Apology of Justin,” Early Christian Fathers: Volume I, trans. Cyril C. Richardson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1952), 287.

            [3] Tertullian, “Apology 39,” as quoted by Philip Schaff in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Erdman’s Publishing Co., 1973). Christian Classics Ethereal Library, (accessed 01/25/2009).

            [4] Lucian, “Lucian of Samosata: The Passing of Peregrinus, “The Tertullian Project,” (accessed 02/09/2009).

            [5] Clement of Alexandria, The Pedagogous, New Advent, (accessed 01/15/2009).

            [6] Julian, “Letter to Arsacius.” Based in part on the translation of Edward J. Chinook, A Few Notes on Julian and a Translation of His Public Letters (London: David Nutt, 1901), 75-78, as quoted by D. Brendan Nagle and Stanley M. Burnstein in The Ancient World: Readings on Social and Cultural History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995), 314-315. Then Again: Primary Source, html (accessed 02/07/2009.

            [8] John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 29-30.

            [9] Ibid.,30.

            [10] Dionysius, “Letter to Eusebius,” as quoted by Arnold Harnack in The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, trans. and ed. James Moffatt (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1972), 171.

            [11] Cyprian, “Letter to Demetrianus,” as quoted by Arnold Harnack in The Mission and Expansion of Christianity, 172.

            [12] Eusebius, “The Ecclesiastical History,” The Essential Eusebius. trans. Colm Luibheid (New York: The New American Library, 1966), 162-163.

            [13] Aristotle, “Politics,” The Basic Works of Aristotle. ed. Richard McKeon (New York: Random House, 1941), 1131-1132.

            [14] “The Didache,” Early Christian Fathers, Volume I, trans. and ed. Cyril C. Richardson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), 176.

            [15] Clement, “Letter to the Romans,” Early Christian Fathers, Volume I, trans. Cyril C. Richardson (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), 176.

            [16] William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews (Westminster: John Knox Press, 2002), 226.

            [17] “The Shepherd of Hermas,” Apostolic Fathers, trans. J.B. Lightfoot and ed. J.R. Harner (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker House Books, 1967), Wesley Center Online, (accessed 02/23/2008).

            [18] Barclay, Letter to the Hebrews, 226-227.

            [19] Plutarch, “Of Superstition,” Plutarch’s Moralia: Twenty Essays, trans. Philemon Holland (London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1911), 387-388.

            [20] Ibid.

            [21] Seneca, “De Ira,” as quoted by Alvin J. Schmidt in How Christianity Changed the World, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 49.

            [22][22] G. Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri, p. 33

            [23] “The Epistle to Diognetus,” Early Christian Writings, trans. Maxwell Staniforth, trans. Andrew Louth (London: Penguin Books, 1987), 145.

            [24] “The Didache,” Early Christian Writings, 191.

            [25] Barnabus, “The Epistle of Barnabus,” Early Christian Writings, 180.

            [26] Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 50.

            [27] Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica. Vol II. (Chicago: William Benton, 1952), 440.

            [28] Alister E. McGrath, Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1998), 114.

            [29] Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 110.

            [30] Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1978), 141.

            Note that they’re almost all primary sources.

          • May 8, 2018 at 8:16 am

            I guess I should have been more specific. What is you’re source for:
            “…who finally conquered the Inquisition; it was men and women of God, courageously giving their lives in faithfulness to Jesus and his wonderful Word, who were finally able to bring down the stronghold of the Inquisition.”

          • May 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

            It’s common knowledge in any history source that the Protestant Reformation (which came about because of the stands taken by Luther, Huss, Tydale, Wycliffe, etc . . . .) caused the power of the Holy Roman Empire to be crushed. Emperor Ferdinand II went against the Peace of Augsburg (an agreement signed in 1555 allowing territories in the empire to choose Lutheranism or Catholicism) and began to impose Catholicism on Protestant areas. This led to the horrible Thirty Years War which finally ended with the Peace of Westphalia, an agreement which allowed states to have spiritual sovereignty over each of their own territories. It also ensured that Christians living in any territory where their denomination was not the established church would have the right to worship as they pleased. This provision crushed the power of the Inquisition. Pope Innocent X opposed the settlement, of course, because it dismantled his power. He called it “unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane” and “empty of meaning and effect for all time” (in his papal decree “Zelo Domus Dei”). If those men who were committed to the Word alone (as each of them declared), and not to the Catholic hierarchy and false teachings, hadn’t taken their stands, there would have been no Thirty Years War and no Treaty of Westphalia which broke the power of the Inquisition.

          • May 10, 2018 at 6:04 am

            Earlier I asked what non-Christian’s were punished for being heretical and I see you answered that question. It seems to me that it wasn’t just Christians that attempted to put an end to the inquisition but the people who were being persecuted. Napoleon was also involved in ending the Inquisition.

          • May 12, 2018 at 4:17 am

            Yes, Napolean was a man of the Enlightenment. He stopped the Spanish Inquisition for a while, but it returned when he lost power.

            My point is that because some men stood up for biblical truth (rather than supporting the mess the medieval Catholic Church had become), the Protestant Reformation challenged the stranglehold of terror that the Catholic Church had on Europe. The rallying cry of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura!” (Scripture Alone!) They challenged the hodge podge of doctrine that had developed in the Catholic Church–which included purgatory (a Greek idea) and indulgences. There may have been others who were persecuted, but they didn’t rise up to oppose the Inquisition like Bible-believing Christians did.

          • May 12, 2018 at 10:12 am

            “There may have been others who were persecuted, but they didn’t rise up to oppose the Inquisition like Bible-believing Christians did.”

            How do you conclude this? What is your source for this information? My source states among other things, changes began during the period of Enlightenment thanks to Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu.

            You may also want to research the role of “bible-believing Christians” and their role in the early American colonies such as Protestant intolerance in America.

            Show me some sources!

          • May 12, 2018 at 5:20 pm

            The Enlightenment was a by-product of the Protestant Reformation also.


            Note the dates in the above link.

            The Protestant Reformation was BEFORE the Scientific Revolution which was before the Enlightenment.

            Enlightenment philosophy was formed out of Isaac Newton’s argument that God was the “First Cause” in the universe. The deists believed that God was the Grand Watchmaker who wound up the universe like a clock and put it in motion.

            Newton wanted to find the “mind of God in His creation.” What he discovered was the epitome of scientific knowledge in that day. The deists, wanting to represent what they thought was the highest in human thought, synthesized Newtonian physics with Christianity.

            Enlightenment philosophers argued for religious toleration and against the Inquisition, but this was long after the Protestants rebelled and fought against the Holy Roman Empire.

            When the philosophers were developing their political ideology, they remembered the power of the Inquisition and made provision in their writings to ensure that religious tyranny would never grip humanity again.

            I don’t know what kind of sources you would like for me to prove this: perhaps a timeline of history…

          • May 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm

            Your source is your own block, that’s rich.

            “I don’t know what kind of sources you would like for me to prove this: perhaps a timeline of history…”

            I just asked where you found your source for “…who finally conquered the Inquisition; it was men and women of God, courageously giving their lives in faithfulness to Jesus and his wonderful Word, who were finally able to bring down the stronghold of the Inquisition.”

            Sounds like the only source you have is your own opinion.

          • May 14, 2018 at 10:13 pm

            The flow of history:

            Wycliffe and Huss confronted the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church by standing on the scriptures as the truth.
            They were condemned as heretics by the Inquisition. Huss was burned at the stake.
            Luther was upset with Tetzel selling indulgences and pounded the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. The newly invented printing press spread his arguments throughout Europe.
            Many people were convinced by his arguments and began to leave the Catholic Church and form a Protestant Church.
            The Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic Church were not happy about this threat to their power and they demanded that the Protestants worship in the Catholic way.
            The Protestants refused. The Thirty Years War was the result. Most of the dead were Catholics. This horrible war caused the Catholics to finally concede and seek peace.
            The name of the resolution was The Peace of Westphalia. This series of treaties guaranteed that sovereign states could determine their own religions, thus crushing the power of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire.
            Another provision of this Peace was that any person who lived in a territory that didn’t believe the same way as they did would be given religious liberty.

            Conclusion: The power of the Holy Roman Empire to hunt down heretics and use the power of the Inquisitor to condemn, torture, or condemn was a direct result of the Protestant Reformation…and the Protestant Reformation occurred as a result of those Bible-believing heroes who took their stand on the Word of God.

            The Enlightenment came 150 years AFTER the Protestant Reformation. They were essentially a mop- up operation.

            I don’t know how to document all of the above facts…maybe you could look them up in a high school or college history book.

          • May 14, 2018 at 10:17 pm

            I apologize for the long post. I numbered each thought and separated it into individual paragraphs but it came out as one big paragraph. 😬

          • May 8, 2018 at 10:43 am

            I’ve checked a couple of these sources…no where does it conclude that these martyrs are responsible for the end of the inquisition. The fact that some died for what they believed was a true Christian faith does not make them the sole reason for the end of the inquisition. Also at the time, what political weight could any atheists have to put an end to such atrocities. You were likely to be ignored by your “good” Christians and “bad” Christians alike? And your other writing such as the Epistle of Barnabus and Dognetus do nothing to state the truth of your claims about “true” Christians ending the inquisition.

        • May 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

          This seems little more than a No True Scotsman argument, which in this case is a “No True Christian” argument. Your own interpretation of scripture isn’t what decides what Christianity is. For over 700 years, mainstream Christianity was brutal and opposition whether what you consider true Christianity, paganism, atheism had no place as decided by the Church. And absolutely secular ideals played a big role in ending the inquisition. To say that atheism played little role…you are probably right, since atheists weren’t tolerated by many Christians, so making yourself known as an atheists wasn’t a smart thing to do. Even in the U.S. it still isn’t overly easy to be openly atheist.

          • May 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm

            Exactly! That’s why I asked for her sources. I read her blog and before she would explain the “Inquisition”, she went through a dialog of the good works done by Christians… but never really connected the who/what/where of “men and women of God, courageously giving their lives in faithfulness to Jesus and his wonderful Word, who were finally able to bring down the stronghold of the Inquisition.”

          • May 8, 2018 at 12:21 am

            Some of the men I mentioned in the article were John Wycliffe (an Oxford professor who was condemned a heretic by the Catholic Church), John Huss (a pastor who was burned at the stake by the Inquisition), William Tyndale (a Bible translator who was strangled and burned), Martin Luther (who appeared before the Inquisition, but wouldn’t recant and had to pretend to be a knight and hide out in a castle for two years after his appearance before the court). The strong stands of these men led to the dissolution of Catholic religious tyranny. Christians who loved the Word more than they loved their life, and were willing to die for Jesus’ sake, were heroes to those who lived under the yoke of ritualistic, false teachings.

          • May 8, 2018 at 8:18 am

            and how many non-christian’s were condemned as heretical?

          • May 8, 2018 at 8:25 am

            You specifically said
            “It wasn’t atheists who finally conquered the Inquisition; it was men and women of God, courageously giving their lives in faithfulness to Jesus”

            What is your source? How do you know atheists were not involved? Wouldn’t they be one of the groups persecuted? How about Jews? Muslims? From what I understand, Napoleon also had a hand in stopping the Spanish Inquisition once he took over Spain.

          • May 8, 2018 at 12:33 am

            By the way, I also tried to explain how the early church turned away from their early compassion and kindness and became hard and cruel and willing to torture and murder in the name of God.

          • May 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm

            Swarn Gill: My argument isn’t that the Protestant Reformers INTERPRETED the scriptures differently than the medieval Catholics, instead I argue that the Catholics were adding outside sources of authority to biblical teachings. They gave Greek philosophy and man-made traditions/rules the same, or greater, authority than they gave the Bible.

          • May 8, 2018 at 7:51 am

            I don’t think Greek philosophy advocated the kind of violence committed by the church. The Greek culture was far more peaceful than the Holy Roman Empire. Everybody uses outside influence to interpret scripture. If you don’t think the Old Testament isn’t absolutely full of violence you haven’t read it. There is plenty of biblical justification for the violence committed by the Holy Roman Empire.

          • May 9, 2018 at 10:23 pm

            I don’t think Jesus advocated the kind of violence advocated by the church. He said those without sin should cast the first stone at the adulterous woman. He also knew the true church and the false church would exist simultaneously. He explained this in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. In this parable he distinctly instructed the church to let the good seed and the weeds grow up together, allowing the harvesters to sort them out at the end. This was a warning against seeking out heretics. If the church failed to heed the instructions of Jesus and his Word, should the Christian faith or its founder be blamed?

            Concerning Greek culture, they certainly DID advocate death to heretics. Socrates was accused of impiety against the Greek gods. As a result, he was forced to drink poisonous hemlock.

          • May 10, 2018 at 8:35 am

            You act like the Bible is just the 4 gospels. And there are plenty of places in the new testament that talk about the violence of God and the punishment of those who don’t believe. It’s not a stretch for those who follow the bible to think they are doing God’s work punishing those who don’t believe. But you can’t just say the bible is entirely about the teachings of Jesus.

            And almost every religion has shown intolerance towards heretics. So what of it? That’s how religion works. This is why Chris Hitchens is arguing against the value of religion. Religion doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and questions. This is why people are leaving religion in droves where education is strong and the state allows religious freedom. In countries where you can be killed or arrested for apostasy, it’s a point of survival to remain religious.

            You are also confusing what the state decided to do to socrates as opposed to what Greek philosophy advocated. The reason Socrates was punished by the state is because he advocated tolerance to different ideas. This is the Greek philosophy that passed on to Europeans during the reformation and renaissance, not the philosophy of the Greek state.

          • May 12, 2018 at 2:16 am

            The reason I always point to the Gospels is because the church is under the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is old and obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). Any Christian who demands that sinners receive a religious death penalty has not understood the gospel. The main message of the gospel is that Christ died for sinners. He paid the penalty for our sin. The world is under grace until he returns. (This doesn’t mean people are free from civil penalties for things like murder or theft.)

            John Locke’s “Essay on Toleration” explains the Christian position against conversion by force. He uses the Bible to defend his treatise on religious toleration by quoting Jesus’ words in Luke 22: 25-26: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them . . . but not so with you.” Jesus shed his own blood to pay the penalty for out sins.

          • May 12, 2018 at 4:37 am

            “You are also confusing what the state decided to do to socrates as opposed to what Greek philosophy advocated. The reason Socrates was punished by the state is because he advocated tolerance to different ideas. This is the Greek philosophy that passed on to Europeans during the reformation and renaissance, not the philosophy of the Greek state.”

            This is a good point, @ Swarn Gill.

          • May 8, 2018 at 9:44 am

            But I’ll bite. Please explain what tenets of Greek philosophy justified locking up and executing people who didn’t subscribe to your religious beliefs? I mean I can find a lot of passages in the Bible that justify that.

            Also it’s important to note that it’s all man made. The bible too. You can believe that it’s divine revelation, but this is a matter of faith. The only true thing we can say for sure is that every line of the bible passed to the page through the fingers of a man, and thus is subject to fallability.

            And to even claim that protestants are some purer version of Christianity is ridiculous considering what they did to the “heathen” aboriginals on this continent. Not to mention their dislike of Catholics that they routinely discriminated against. Oh and then there was the protestant justification of slavery and the Salem witch trials.
            But meh…minor details I suppose.

          • May 9, 2018 at 11:58 pm

            Exactly. I agree that Protestants were guilty of disobeying the scriptures too. I’m not a promoter of any denomination. I only defend Jesus and His Word.

            Concerning aboriginals, perhaps I could refer you to my post on colonial abuses:


            There were four groups going out into the world at that time: Catholic missionaries, social Darwinists, traders and explorers, and evangelical Christians. It’s necessary to look at the fruit of each group and discerning their differences before making judgments.

            As far as the Smithsonian link you posted, it’s easy to understand why many Americans would be fearful of Catholic influence, since the Inquisition was still fresh in their memories. How could America remain free under the influence of the Pope? It’s one of those paradoxes that we find ourselves in today when disputing the influence of Islam and Sharia law in America.

          • May 10, 2018 at 8:39 am

            Again you are cherry picking data. You choose the church that is the most peaceful and thus you say is the best representation of your faith. And all other churches are false. This simply is based on opinion. Other denominations used scripture just as often to justify their oppression and abuses. Because you reject those churches it doesn’t make them an any less valid form of Christianity. Again if the bible is so unclear as to allow for that many interpretations of what value is it?

            And sure protestants had good reasons to fear, but they certainly didn’t take the moral high ground when showing tolerance towards Catholics. That exactly the opposite thing that Jesus advocated according to your view isn’t it?

          • May 12, 2018 at 2:50 am

            I choose the church that adheres to the words of the New Testament. I don’t cast aside the Old Testament because it identifies the future Messiah, (and says he fulfills the Law and the Prophets), but a Christian is no longer under the Old Covenant. (2 Cor. 3) The Lord said these words at the Last Supper: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20)

            I’ve said before that I don’t advocate any form of denomination. Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians held slaves. Lutherans put swastikas on their altars. Catholics burned people at the stake. Calvin burned the anti-Trinitarian Servetus “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” To say that any of them did these things with the approval of Jesus or his gospels is what I take issue with. I argue that any church who doesn’t live by the words of their founder–and in fact blatantly disobeys them–is not a valid form of that religion.

            On the other hand, there were many Christians in history who DID obey the teachings of Jesus. They did “rightly divide the Word of Truth). When their works and words aligned with the scriptures, they were heroic!

          • May 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm

            Gee Diana, you should be a preacher and get paid for your efforts … you seem to have all the Christian rhetoric memorized.

          • May 8, 2018 at 10:22 am

            @ Diana

            instead I argue that the Catholics were adding outside sources of authority to biblical teachings

            Much in the same vein that Eusebius corrupted the text by Josephus and interpolated the Testimonium Flavianum?

          • May 10, 2018 at 12:37 am

            Hi Arkenaten. It’s been a while. 🙂

            Not exactly…I’m not talking about interjecting new testimony into the biblical text, I’m talking about joining ideology, philosophy, science, or new revelations with the biblical text.

            For example, some Christians claim to have a new word from God every morning! The book, “Jesus Calling” is a best seller right now, and it invites people to listen to the voice of a spiritual Jesus. This has led to much confusion! This was how Islam came into being. Muhammad had a visitation by an angel bringing him a new religion. Mormonism also got its start from an angel inscribing the golden plates.

            Not only is the faith corrupted by spiritual entities (which is prohibited by Galatians 1:8) it’s also corrupted by science. For example, the Catholic church allowed Aristotelian “natural philosophy” to be entrenched in their doctrines ever since Aquinas. It hindered so many practical blessings from being discovered, such as pasteurization, germ theory, food preservation, and the healing of wounds.

            Many Protestant southerners blended polygenism (scientific racism) in with their perverted biblical beliefs. The latest science was used as a strong defense and justification for treating Africans as a sub-species.

            Hitler was a great proponent of social Darwinism, and many in the German church accepted it as truth since it was the latest science of its day. The Nazi regime was very scientific in their method of killing and experimentation.

            I could go on and on and on about the different ways that Christians have been unfaithful to the Bible by adding to or taking away from the truth. Christians have to stop being so easily seduced into believing the latest ideology, philosophy, or science–if it conflicts with the Word of God.

            In every case, there were Christians in each era who opposed the false and corrupted church. They are now looked back on as heroes who were on the right side of history.

          • May 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm

            Wonderful! So you acknowledge that the Testimonium Flavianum is a piece of spurious forgery.
            Why don’t we consider this Strike One as regards trying to establish any degree of historicity?
            If we look at the biblical text there are numerous examples of interpolation and outright fraud.

            Couple this with the geographical, geological, biological and historical errors how can you trust the text in any way so as to be objective?

          • May 12, 2018 at 4:23 am

            So you’ve decided that the gospels weren’t written by the four authors who claimed to have written them.

            My question to you then is this: “Who is the mysterious person(s) who wrote them, and where is your evidence that this person(s) exists?

          • May 12, 2018 at 12:40 pm

            No, they were not. Then names were only applied mid to late second century.
            Ask a biblical scholar.

            I have no idea who these person/s were. And neither do you.

          • May 14, 2018 at 9:40 pm

            I say they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Just like I could argue that Hitchens wrote “god is not great” or you wrote the above comment. You have NO idea who your mysterious writer is, but you would rather believe in a person for whom no evidence exists than to believe in the message of those who all major historians agree were the writers of the gospels.

          • May 15, 2018 at 4:09 am

            but you would rather believe in a person for whom no evidence exists than to believe in the message of those who all major historians agree were the writers of the gospels.

            Almost every recognised historian, biblical scholar and (as far as I am aware) the Catholic church, are on record stating that the gospels are anonymous.
            Furthermore, around 600 verses, some almost verbatim, were lifted from Mark by the author of Matthew.
            So why would someone who was an original author and eyewitness plagiarize another writers account?
            I reiterate, As I know you are not stupid or, in this day and age, ignorant, so you are simply a liar.

          • May 16, 2018 at 8:48 pm


            All I’m saying is that I tend to trust the traditional authorship, while you have no traditions, facts, or evidence that your source ever even existed. If someone other than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John wrote the gospels, why is there no claim in any early writings that this person who created the Jesus “myth” was the actual writer? Why are there no complaints by any of the historians of the day? Not one of them seems to doubt the veracity of the gospels. They refer to Jesus as a real person. They mention his followers by name. (Whether part of Josephus’ testimony was enhanced by later writers has nothing to do with the

          • May 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

            Not one of them seems to doubt the veracity of the gospels. They refer to Jesus as a real person.

            Which ”historians of the day” are you talking about?

          • May 16, 2018 at 8:51 pm

            (continued…) the rest of the testimonies by Tacitus, Lucian, Celsus, Pliny the Younger, Seutonius, Mara Bar Serapion, Thallus, Phlegon, etc…

          • May 16, 2018 at 9:19 pm

            I don’t put much stock in the historical critics. I don’t believe in the “Q source” hypothesis . . . I also don’t believe in the stupid conclusions of the Jesus Seminar. They make their declarations with no actual authority. I also know that Bart Ehrman is a very controversial author. Many scholars oppose his conclusions.

            The reason that scholars have to say the gospels are anonymous is because there are only fragments of the earliest extant gospels. That doesn’t mean they were NEVER attributed to their authors. In fact, because the gospels were sent all around the ancient world, and the existing full gospels are attributed to the correct writers (the attributions are the same), doesn’t it make sense that they would have been copied from gospels that had the proper attribution? Communication was difficult, yet gospels found in one part of the ancient world have the same author as one found in another part that was far away.

            Which view makes more sense: that the four gospels were written by a person trying to create a mythological figure (in four different voices), or actual testimony from four different sources? (Even if the Q source is true, that doesn’t make Jesus mythological.)

            Come on, Arkenaten! How can you deny all the evidence for the existence of Jesus? How can you even begin to believe that an anonymous writer somehow created a mythological figure whose existence was never denied in history–even by his enemies?! Don’t you realize that your position is completely based on faith that this writer existed with no evidence whatsoever to prove your position?

          • May 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

            Matthew copied from Mark There are approx 600 verses he lifted from the first gospel and some almost verbatim.
            An eyewitness would not need to do this.

            I am not necessarily denying there was a smelly little 1st century itinerant Jewish preacher but the Lake Tiberius Pedestrian of the Bible, Jesus of Nazareth is simply a narrative construct for whom there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
            However, if you have any non christian non biblical contemporary evidence for this character, feel free to present it.

          • May 8, 2018 at 1:09 am

            Would it be fair to call all Muslims terrorists? Don’t we demand some sort of fairness and discernment? My argument is that all Christians are not the same. Furthermore, those who loved the pure Word, and weren’t influenced by scientific theories, philosophy, man-made traditions, etc… were always on the right side of history. Over and over, those who remained faithful to the Bible are now our heroes. Hitchens said religion poisoned everything. He had a difficult time admitting that a person like Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian. But then he would probably find it difficult to admit that William Wilberforce (the British parliamentarian who worked tirelessly against slavery) was an evangelical Christian. Or that Corrie ten Boom (who hid Jews) or Frederick Douglass (a black abolitionist), or William Lloyd Garrison (a white abolitionist who worked alongside Douglass), or countless others who acted heroically, did it because of their love for Jesus and his Word. Are all religions equal? Did the influence of the religion started by Jesus poison EVERYTHING? Is that a FAIR assessment?

          • May 8, 2018 at 8:10 am

            Your cherry picking data, just as bad as you claim Hitchens is. You also ignore many great people throughout history who were not Christian. And I woudn’t claim that all Muslims are terrorists, but the fact that there is a religious doctrine that justifies extreme behavior is problematic. When it comes to the bible we aren’t talking about a faction as small as the Westboro Baptist church, historically we are talking about mainstream and widespread Christian belief, using the bible as justification for its actions. Sure it may be that certain parts of the bible are ignored over other parts, but every Christian does that to justify what they think Christianity means. The fact that you interpret the bible in the most charitable way possible is great for you, but a book translated through many dead languages and by many scribes is rife has much ambiguity and even those who translated at their own interpretation reflecting the times they lived in. There is nothing uniquely Christian about notions like compassion, equality, and charity. These all existed long before Christianity. There is a reason why less violence in society is strongly correlated with increased secularism. Even the passive resistance and civil disobedience of MLK, Jr., is not some Christian tenet. It’s existed in the past by many Christian and non-Christian alike. Gandhi being a fine example. The fact that you take the best examples of your faith and try to say this is what your faith is about is a wholly dishonest venture.

          • May 9, 2018 at 10:35 pm

            Have you seen my article on what the world was like without Jesus?


            Secularism is not connected to less violence. Consider the French Revolution which ended in the guillotine. Consider the Communist Revolutions in many countries. These were godless endeavors and they all ended with profound bloodshed. The passive resistance of MLK and Gandhi was based on the teachings of Jesus. MLK specifically used the story of Shadrach, Meshech, and Adednigo as examples of civil disobedience in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

          • May 10, 2018 at 8:57 am

            How is this is any sort of proof to your assertion. You’ve quoted a biased western author who was surely trying to justify imperialism. If you want to read a real book try Guns, Germs, and Steel. You’ll even learn how cannibalism develops in a society. It’s not through some evil perversion, but a simple lack of available nutrition.

            Your article is laughable in terms of proof. Let’s talk about the number of wars that existed in Europe. Let’s talk about peaceful societies in India, China, Egypt, Mesopotamia…that all existed long before Jesus existed. Let’s talk about how hunter gatherers lived before civilization, and the lack of class structures and communal living and togetherness they shared. To simply imply that all aboriginals were more violent than “civilized” nations any point in history is a claim you can’t back up with what you’ve presented. How about showing some sort of massive drop in the number of wars when Jesus showed up. At least that would be some sort of data. But if you search through anthropological data you would have a hard time demonstrating that hunter-gatherers were any less peaceful than “civilized” people. What you will see is that there is no sharp line of demarcation in the historical record once Jesus makes an appearance. But even if that was the case, you’d actually have to present that data to prove your assertion.

            Further Gandhi was influenced by many religions. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism all influenced his non-violent approach to civil disobedience. Certainly he was a fan of Jesus, but to suggest that’s where he got all his ideas from is an unproveable assertion. The story of Jesus Christ is hardly unique. There are many such stories of sons of Gods making sacrifices before Jesus’ time.

            Again, believe what you wish to believe, but you don’t seem to understand what constitutes as proof to your claims. All you’ve presented is a clear example of confirmation bias.

          • May 12, 2018 at 4:03 am

            The point I make in that article is that the entire world WAS in darkness before Christian missionaries preached the Good News of Jesus to the Gentile nations. You may believe in Rousseau’s “noble savage,” but without Jesus and his teachings in the hearts and minds of people, societies were governed by terror. They were also filled with superstition and fear, and cannibalism was part of their religious rituals, along with human sacrifice.

            When missionaries entered India, they encountered a caste system, fear of killing disease-carrying animals because of reincarnation, and suttee (widow-burning). The great missionary William Carey recorded the horrors he encountered.

            In the South Pacific, the islands were filled with cannibals, tribal warfare, rape, and idol worship. They had fears of ghosts. Many missionaries were eaten by cannibals. John Paton is still a great hero to the people of the South Pacific for his efforts at sharing the gospel.

            When Mary Slessor reached central Africa, she discovered the same thing: tribal warfare, cannibalism, and irrational superstition of things like twins. She dedicated herself to helping the abandoned babies. When they saw she didn’t die or become harmed, the people became curious. The image of her running barefoot through the jungle, leaping on a log, and stretching out her arms just before the spears began to fly is etched in my mind. She had so earned their respect that she ended up asking them to sit under a tree, and while she knit, she listened to their arguments and made a judgment which led to a peaceful resolution.

            The Europeans weren’t much better. The Vandals, Visigoths, and Vikings ruled the north. The Romans ruled with violence–torture, crucifixion, boiling in oil, etc…they enjoyed blood sport, They were NOT civilized. civilized.

            The Greeks may not have enjoyed blood sport (in fact, their forms of murder were usually bloodless), but they exposed their babies (especially girls) and elderly to the elements, leaving them to die slow deaths while tied to boards (much like crucifixion without the nails), They also developed the “brazen bull” and used poison.

            The Aztecs and Incas of South America practiced human sacrifice and cranial deformation. Sometimes thousands would die in one day.

            The longer it took for the gospel to get to a society, the longer they remained in a state of terror and darkness. Some tribes weren’t reached until the 20th century. (Elizabeth Elliot’s story is a case in point.)

            If religion poisoned everything, then you would have to argue that a perpetual state of cannibalism, fear of the irrational, tribal warfare, and human sacrifice were GOOD. Because most of the world only changed when the religion of Jesus came to them.

            The South Koreans and North Koreans are examples of two societies that follow different gods. The South Koreans have become more and more Christian and their economy and people have thrived. The North Koreans are not allowed to hear about Jesus. Many missionaries who go there are imprisoned or killed. The Kims practice Juche ideology: man is the master of his own destiny. And it’s a filled with fear and idol worship (of the Kims).

            I don’t believe I said that Gandhi ONLY followed Jesus, but he was surely influenced by Jesus.

          • May 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

            I have been reticent to respond to your comments, mostly because I’m having a hard time in seeing anything beyond the racism they seem to espouse. To simply use white, western, colonial opinions of other cultures as the standard by which you judge the cultures is racist, even if you don’t see yourself that way. Again you choose examples that suit your narratives, while ignoring older and more advanced civilizations prior to Jesus which also didn’t practice things like human sacrifice or canniablism. Judaism itself forbade human sacrifice before the birth of Jesus.

            In regards to cannibalism, Jesus isn’t needed to end cannibalism, only easy access to a chicken sandwich. You demonstrate a profound misunderstanding about why some practices come about, and attribute some special morality to Christianity that existed well before the time of Christ in various cultures.

            So I’m really not interested in discussing it further as your understanding of history is so limited as to not have the ability to support your claims.

  • May 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Giving your mom this book would do more harm than good. The attacks on faith would be taken too personally and, I guess, she would extend her defensiveness towards you because you suggested it. I think the discussion with your mom should strictly be about how you can live a good life and be a good person without a god. You can be moral, kind and generous without having a god to tell you how. You are willing to accept the unknown and be awed by the beauty of the cosmos without attribution to a celestial designer. Let her know that life is not meaningless without a god, but instead, give you the opportunity to create meaning and that meaning benefits all around you – god or no god.

    • May 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Well said. As an atheist I guess it’s easy to attack organised religion (there are many faults with it after all). But it’s not so easy to build each other up and promote a lifestyle and worldview without a god in the picture. I think the latter is much more effective at times, since you’re not attacking them and forcing them to get defensive or attack back. Hopefully, they will someday consider what you’ve said with an open mind too.

  • May 6, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    It sounds like it might be a good read for me at some point. As for your mother reading it? I am not so sure of that though, it’s just not the right time.
    I haven’t actually read a lot of Atheist books apart from The God Delusion. I guess once I decided I didn’t believe in the Christian God anymore I didn’t need any more convincing after that. This book sounds like an interesting read though.

    • May 6, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      I agree about reading books about relgion, for OR against. We feel what we feel, and one more book won’t improve the landscape…however I do admire people who do, it’s just not my thing.

      • May 6, 2018 at 11:00 pm

        Yeah CA is making quite a commitment to read and review all these books, gotta admire that! I don’t get much reading in these days, unless I’m on a nice extended holiday 🙂

  • May 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    For years I read the Christian apologetics books, and until I read anything from the other perspective, I thought they sounded reasonable. When I first admitted to myself that I no longer believed, this was one of the first books I read. It really helped me. Great review.

  • May 10, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Nice review. I think the main point Hitch was making with his choice of title was to refute the Islamic phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’.

  • June 19, 2018 at 3:47 am

    Thank you for this review. I’ve recently started my journey on scepticism and embracing that I’m an Agnostic Atheist through my page/posts. I just started reading this and wanted to learn more about it as I dive deep into the book.


What do you think?