Read Richard Dawkin's review of Christopher Hitchen's God is Not Great.
A truly astonishing piece of brown-nosing.
There are lots of good arguments against religion, and those who want to read them should perhaps read Bertrand Russell's Why I am Not a Christian.
What is so annoying about Hitchens AND Dawkins is their belief that they are somehow rigorous and academic thinkers, and that the vast erudition displayed by thinkers of all religious traditions is simply tosh.
So lets get this straight: Hitchen's book is shallow (with constant flip comments and use of easy targets. Two examples within a few pages could be greatly multiplied: at one stage Hitchen's attacks a auxiliary bishop for denouncing condoms, two pages later the man has become "Archbishop of Rio"; a page later Hitchen's claims that most historians accept Jesus must have been born after 4 AD (in fact, the usual consensus is that he must have been born before 4 BC). These are, in themselves, minor points, but are entirely typical of the sloppiness and lack of erudition of both authors.
I was a little disappointed when I read Dawkins. I have enjoyed his other works such as the Ancestors Tale, but this seemed hasty and almost like stream of consiousness. Although I agree with several of his reasons to distrust religion, his constant attack as a scientist against what he believes is a barbarian practice got rather tiresome. Oh well.
Now that Benedict has been serving for a while, what do you think of his holiness? I was raised to trust the Latin Mass over others so I have a soft spot for his views on that, but having enjoyed your discussions about John Paul II I was curious as to what you think of the new pontiff.
I am almost done with Hitchens's book. I also noticed his mistake about the birth date of Jesus. I just assumed that it was a typo because he later appears to correct himself in the chapter about the new testament. I also found it strange that he makes a big fuss bout religions, mostly christianity, making a big deal about virgin births and then later he mentions how the word in hebrew for "virgin" can also mean maiden" or "yong woman". Looked like a contradiction on my part.
He also repeatedly attacks Thomas Aquinas but gives the man no credit for (in my opinion) coming up with Newtons Law of Inertia about 4 hundred years before Newton did.
The chapter I'm on now, chapter 18 entitled "The Resistance of The Rational" I found to be very confusing. He uses logical arguements by past intelectuals like Ben Franklin, Voltaire and others as an early form of atheism (which he said in the begining of the chapter he would not do) and tries to ty them together somehow.
Of course, the whole point of the book is that religion "poisons everything". But I don't see religion as the poison, I see human nature as the poison and religion as a rationization for acting in these ways. If there was no Islam, that does not mean that there would be no terrorists in the Middle East and if there was no Christianity, that does not mean that there would have never been The Crusades. Another reason would have been used to rationalize the execution of these acts. (Southpark did a good episode about this last year)
All in all, I like the book, but anyone of faith who reads it and is in dout afterwards was not very strong in his or her faith in the first place (in my opinion). That is all.
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