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God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Christopher Hitchens
4.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (12 commentaires client)

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Putting It Mildly

If the intended reader of this book should want to go beyond disagreement with its author and try to identify the sins and deformities that animated him to write it (and I have certainly noticed that those who publicly affirm charity and compassion and forgiveness are often inclined to take this course), then he or she will not just be
quarreling with the unknowable and ineffable creator who–presumably–opted to make me this way. They will be defiling the memory of a good, sincere, simple woman, of stable and decent faith, named Mrs. Jean Watts.

It was Mrs. Watts’s task, when I was a boy of about nine and attending a school on the edge of Dartmoor, in southwestern England, to instruct me in lessons about nature, and also about scripture. She would take me and my fellows on walks, in an especially lovely part of my beautiful country of birth, and teach us to tell the different birds, trees, and plants from one another. The amazing variety to be found in a hedgerow; the wonder of a clutch of eggs found in an intricate nest; the way that if the nettles stung your legs (we had to wear shorts) there would be a soothing dock leaf planted near to hand: all this has stayed in my mind, just like the “gamekeeper’s museum,” where the local peasantry would display the corpses of rats, weasels, and other vermin and predators, presumably supplied by some less kindly deity. If you read John Clare’s imperishable rural poems you will catch the music of what I mean to convey.

At later lessons we would be given a printed slip of paper entitled “Search the Scriptures,” which was sent to the school by whatever national authority supervised the teaching of religion. (This, along with daily prayer services, was compulsory and enforced by the state.) The slip would contain a single verse from the Old or New Testament, and the assignment was to look up the verse and then to tell the class or the teacher, orally or in writing, what the story and the moral was. I used to love this exercise, and even to excel at it so that (like Bertie Wooster) I frequently passed “top” in scripture class. It was my first introduction to practical and textual criticism. I would read all the chapters that led up to the verse, and all the ones that followed it, to be sure that I had got the “point” of the original clue. I can still do this, greatly to the annoyance of some of my enemies, and still have respect for those whose style is sometimes dismissed as “merely” Talmudic, or Koranic, or “fundamentalist.” This is good and necessary mental and literary training.

However, there came a day when poor, dear Mrs. Watts overreached herself. Seeking ambitiously to fuse her two roles as nature instructor and Bible teacher, she said, “So you see, children, how powerful and generous God is. He has made all the trees and grass to be green, which is exactly the color that is most restful to our eyes. Imagine if instead, the vegetation was all purple, or orange, how awful that would be.”

And now behold what this pious old trout hath wrought. I liked Mrs. Watts: she was an affectionate and childless widow who had a friendly old sheepdog who really was named Rover, and she would invite us for sweets and treats after hours to her slightly ramshackle old house near the railway line. If Satan chose her to tempt me into error he was much more inventive than the subtle serpent in the Garden of Eden. She never raised her voice or offered violence–which couldn’t be said for all my teachers–and in general was one of those people, of the sort whose memorial is in Middlemarch, of whom it may be said that if “things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been,” this is “half-owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

However, I was frankly appalled by what she said. My little ankle-strap sandals curled with embarrassment for her. At the age of nine I had not even a conception of the argument from design, or of Darwinian evolution as its rival, or of the relationship between photosynthesis and chlorophyll. The secrets of the genome were as hidden from me as they were, at that time, to everyone else. I had not then visited scenes of nature where almost everything was hideously indifferent or hostile to human life, if not life itself. I simply knew, almost as if I had privileged access to a higher authority, that my teacher had managed to get everything wrong in just two sentences. The eyes were adjusted to nature, and not the other way about.

I must not pretend to remember everything perfectly, or in order, after this epiphany, but in a fairly short time I had also begun to notice other oddities. Why, if god was the creator of all things, were we supposed to “praise” him so incessantly for doing what came to him naturally? This seemed servile, apart from anything else. If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness? What was so wonderful about his casting out devils, so that the devils would enter a herd of pigs instead? That seemed sinister: more like black magic. With all this continual prayer, why no result? Why did I have to keep saying, in public, that I was a miserable sinner? Why was the subject of sex considered so toxic? These faltering and childish objections are, I have since discovered, extremely commonplace, partly because no religion can meet them with any satisfactory answer. But another, larger one also presented itself. (I say “presented itself” rather than “occurred to me” because these objections are, as well as insuperable, inescapable.) The headmaster, who led the daily services and prayers and held the Book, and was a bit of a sadist and a closeted homosexual (and whom I have long since forgiven because he ignited my interest in history and lent me my first copy of P. G. Wodehouse), was giving a no-nonsense talk to some of us one evening. “You may not see the point of all this faith now,” he said. “But you will one day, when you start to lose loved ones.”

Again, I experienced a stab of sheer indignation as well as dis-belief. Why, that would be as much as saying that religion might not be true, but never mind that, since it can be relied upon for comfort. How contemptible. I was then nearing thirteen, and becoming quite the insufferable little intellectual. I had never heard of Sigmund Freud–though he would have been very useful to me in understanding the headmaster–but I had just been given a glimpse of his essay The Future of an Illusion.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30)
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14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par Xvdm
Rarement je n'ai eu l'occasion de lire un ouvrage qui combinait aussi agréablement analyse rationnelle, expérience vécue, connaissances multidisciplinaires et - ce qui ne gâche rien - une bonne dose d'humour anglais.
Ce livre se déguste comme un Agatha Christie. Mais il vous parle de votre monde. Il vous emmène du Calcutta post-Mere Teresa au Mexique pré-colombien, du Vatican du temps de Mussolini au Rwanda du génocide. Il vous plonge dans les méandres tortueux des rites et textes sacrés dont les croyants de toutes religions n'ont en grande majorité qu'une connaissance fragmentaire pour en relever les incohérences et en décoder les origines et raisons d'être.
L'érudition de l'auteur et un parcours personnel et professionnel hors du commun l'ont efficacement armé pour rédiger un essai convaincant qui s'attaque aux fondements-mêmes du contexte religieux omniprésent dans lequel nous baignons et en dénoncer les conséquences perverses.
La démonstration -passionnante- présentera à l'un ou l'autre moment une faiblesse d'objectivité, mais dans l'ensemble elle régalera le lecteur à l'esprit curieux et critique.
Bonne lecture!
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par La Plume
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
J'ai trouvé l'argumentation de Hitchens par moment efficace... Mais il "prêche le converti". Je ne reviendrai pas sur ce qui a été dit dans les précédents commentaires, mais néanmoins pour avoir lu "The God Delusion" de Richard Dawkins, j'ai trouvé l'argumentation de Hitchens pauvre en comparaison... Non pas qu'elle ne repose pas sur un bon argumentaire, mais elle repose essentiellement sur l'art du verbe et de la rhétorique. Si vous êtes de son avis ou indécis, l'auteur vous emmène avec lui, sinon, vous rejetterez tout en bloc...

De l'autre côté "The God Delusion" et "God: The Failed Hypothesis" de Victor Stenger sont à mon sens bien plus efficace car ils reposent non pas sur l'art de persuasion mais sur la science. Ils montrent comment s'il est compréhensible de rester déiste ou agnostique sur cette question, il est évident que les divers dieux aujourd'hui vénérés, ne sont que le fruit d'un imagination débordante.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent ouvrage 11 mai 2009
Par Defrano
Excellent ouvrage, très intéressant et très instructif. L'auteur fonde ses opinions sur des explications très enrichissantes. C'est un excellent récapitulatif des différents faits et méfaits des religions, sans parti pris, un rappel d'événements oubliés et qui pourtant fondent l'humanité depuis toujours.

Une grande leçon d'humanité et un regard très objectif sur la nature humaine bien embarrassée par toutes les croyances.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must read. 31 décembre 2011
A fantastic book from a fantastic mind. A must have, and a must read, for all secularists and atheists out there. RIP Christopher Hitchens. Your intellect will be sorely missed.
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3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Un "must read" 19 août 2008
Cela dépendra évidemment de vos inclinations théologiques...mais c'est un des meilleurs exercices dans la preuve par neuf de l'origine humaine des textes sacrés. L'auteur se perd un peu dans ses réflexions, se répète, culbute et se perd définitivemment avant de se rendre compte que son lecteur ne le suit plus... revient en courant... Cela donne un rythme au livre impressionant... Ou lassant cela dépend...

Un bel effort de philosophie et d'histoire théologique vulgarisées.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 intriguing 9 avril 2012
Par Kty
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
tellement de détails que je pensais connaître à fond, tellement de regroupements d'événements archi-connus mais éclairés d'une lumière différente... c'est passionnant d'un bout à l'autre, sauf peut-être la période plus récente moins "prouvée"; à mettre en bonne place dans sa bibliothèque.
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