I’m giving up on “God Is Not Great – How religion poisons everything.” by Christopher Hitchens for the second time. On my first attempt I made it to 23% on my Kindle; this time around I stuck it out to 32%.
I’m a great admirer of Hitchens, and if I were the type to cultivate heroes, he would be one of them. I’ve probably watched 20+ hours of him in various debates/lectures/interviews on YouTube and nothing is more entertaining than watching him destroy a Jesus freak with logic and merciless acerbic wit.
I don’t think there’s anything he has said that I disagree with (apart from his support for America’s unprovoked attack on Iraq, and the subsequent decade-long train wreck of a war), and there’s nothing I have said that he couldn’t have said better. I hold the man to be a true intellectual giant.
BUT, watching him demolish some poor creationist dimwit on stage doesn’t necessarily translate well to the written format. Un-reciprocated snark and belittlement has little entertainment value. While the man clearly is a good debater and wordsmith, it quickly gets annoying when he tries to make a point of, and prove, his superiority in this regard in every other sentence. It makes you look like an arrogant prick. Furthermore, this style is most probably a turnoff for the very audience he (presumably) aims to convert, which makes me doubt his motivation in the first place.
While I do not consider myself anywhere near his academic league and intellectual stature, I haven’t read anything of his that I haven’t thought, or reasoned, myself at some level, however murky and dim. He has, nevertheless, helped illuminate and clarify my own nebulous speculations, I’ll give him that.
While I enjoy him “live” and respect him greatly, there is a strong element of snobbery about him and he clearly takes some sadistic joy in figuratively disemboweling his opponents that may be entertaining in a debate, but tiresome in writing. I’m not at all sure I would have liked him in person (and he probably wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with me). I might still give one of his non-atheist themed books a try, e.g “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” or his indictment of Mother Teresa, “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice“.
In conclusion, lest there should be any doubt; I believe the world is a better place for Christopher Hitchens having graced us with his presence, cut untimely short as it was.