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really enjoyed how Peter Hitchens talks about the history of his country the history of Russia and and the results of driving God from the public square. It is a case study that every atheist should look into before they call for the dismantling of the Christian faith. The other point is that an atheist should be more intellectually honest. Equating the God of the Christian narrative to the god of the Muslim narrative is just intellectually dishonest. into convenient. without the brutality in murdering nature of fundamental Muslims the atheist is left with deflated historical points that are very flimsy. I believe that Peter looks at this subject in the most honest and compelling way.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Firstly, you cannot read this book without first reading Christopher Hitchens' book God Is Not Great. Simply stated, Peter Hitchens book is meant to be a rebuttal against what he calls his brothers atheist polemic. I think the book falls short of actually representing a comprehensive rebuttal but Hitchens writing is so well crafted and the circumstance of his relationship with Christopher so intriguing that I enjoyed the book nonetheless.
I expected a sort of "anti-atheist" book which put forward reasons to disbelieve atheist propositions, supplanting them with even more valid reasons to believe in the existence of God. Peter didn't do that, instead he spends the first half of the book on a completely fascinating nostalgic remembrance of Britain after WW2 during his early childhood, then goes on to catalog his experiences as a journalist in soviet Russia and anarchic Somalia as a way of demonstrating the effect of atheism when practiced as a matter of governance.
Still, Hitchens ultimately fails to rebut much of anything Christopher says in his book, or really anything Harris, Dennett, or Dawkins say either. About 2 hours into the book I was angry at Peter for sucking me in to something I didn't ask to hear but the book ultimately won me over and especially the epilogue, where Peter discusses his relationship as Christopher's brother with startling honesty. As the oldest of 2 male children, I can relate completely to Peters melancholy about the lifelong rift between him and his older brother. Read the book if you've got the money or a spare credit. Peter is a great writer and his book is quite fascinating. It just never achieves exactly what he said it would--but somehow that didn't detract from it being a wonderful 4 hours. If you're looking for an actual "anti-atheist" book I recommend searching Audible for What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza.
36 of 45 people found this review helpful
If you were expecting, as I was, a balanced and reasoned discussion to counter the positions put forward by his brother, Christopher Hitchens then you are bound to be disappointed. I bought the book to find balance. Instead I think I stumbled into the worst of sibling rivalry! This Hitchens postulates that athiests have launched a virulent attack on Christianity. I have found instead that they are more usually simply indifferent to old superstitions - certainly, no athiest has ever set out to convert me to their (non) belief! He claims that dictators and governments through the ages have hijacked, exploited or replaced religious beliefs to their own ends. He fails to see the possibility that if, as the other Hitchens contends, religion is man-made and a tool for control then it is no surprise. He says fear was the reason for his rekindling of belief and that morality is impossible without a divine presence. He provides no cogent support for these contentions so, as religion demands - just take his word for it. But most crucially he has also not interrogated why he, in common with the rest of homo sapiens, has the need to 'believe' in the first place. It has, after all, been wired into the structure of widely divergent societies since the development of the neocortex. For that he'd need to read Sex Time and Power by Leonard Schlain (also available as an audio book on this site) and a far, far better investment.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful
Ignore the negative reviews, this is a beautifully written response to his brothers book 'God Is Not Great'.
I agree with Hitchens that there is an attempt by secularists to destroy Christianity (Dawkins has admitted that this is one of his aims). Malcolm says that most atheists are indifferent to christianity. If only this were so. A growing number of atheists are actively hostile to christianity. Indeed Christopher's book is an attempt to ridicule faith and to convert religious readers to atheism just like many of the new atheist books. On a personal level I have met more than a few atheists willing to attempt to convert me whenever the subject arises.
As for Malcolms claim that Peter gives no evidence for his contention that fear helped rekindle his faith, what evidence could he give? It does seem that we'll have to take his word for it. I don't think Peter would claim that morality is impossible without god only absolute morality. If there is no god then morality becomes subjective. The chapter in this book about Peters years living in the Soviet Union is an attempt to show what happens when fanatical atheists (who had many of the core beliefs that the new atheists have today) took control of a society and forced god out of public life. The atheist utopians who siezed control of Russia where anything but indifferent to religion. They attemped to destroy it just like our own atheist utopians are doing today (although in fairness I think its unlikely that Dawkins et al will take to murdering priests and nuns and destroying churchs like their atheist counterparts in the Soviet Union did).
Malcolm states that Peter hasn't looked into the reason that he and the rest of humans (except atheists apparently) have a need to believe. Why should he? Evolutionary explanations of the origins of the religious impulse are notoriously speculative given that they are based on fanciful theories and not evidence.
In short a wonderful book!
4 of 7 people found this review helpful