This book about the pernicious effect of religion throughout history has shaken my faith – my faith, that is, in my journalistic idol, whom we believers know by the name of ‘Hitch’. In God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens transubstantiates his erudition into lovingly crafted but cheap jibes, which he directs at his targets in an unfair and tasteless manner. So far, so good. That is why we lesser hacks worship at his shrine. It can be huge fun watching an intellectual landing a really low blow.
The moment when I began to entertain what Catholics call ‘Doubts’ was when Hitch strayed into my own territory and began talking about one of the very few things about which I know more than he does – religion: enough, anyway, to spot basic errors of fact, of which there are plenty in God Is Not Great.
‘Perhaps aware that its unsupported arguments are not entirely persuasive,’ writes Hitchens, ‘and perhaps uneasy about its own greedy accumulation of temporal power and wealth, religion has never ceased to proclaim the Apocalypse and the day of judgment.’ There are so many untrue assumptions knitted into this sentence that it’s