God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens is the atheist book I wanted to read. Part of the Four Horsemen of atheism along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett, Hitchens launches a withering attack on religion. Critics of the other three cite their "strident" tone. Those critics owe them an apology because Hitchens lowers the gunsight on those religious fuckheads and empties both barrels.
Dawkins was a calm and rational critic of religion and simply laid out the facts. Yet, this upset people. What they fail to understand is how charitable Dawkins really is. But as I already know, the nicer you are to people the more they will shit on you. Politeness is taken for weakness, so they pull that will to power trick known as guilt. Wisely, Hitchens flips those fucktards the bird and blows them apart.
Invective is necessary in this conversation, and Hitchens provides it. The man goes on to demolish all of the world's major religions. The Catholic Church takes a big hit which it should. They are an institution of child molestors, child rapists, and enablers for that sort of activity. Nothing needs to be said about Islam except that it is a derivative religion of fanatical fuckheads who have shit for brains.
The subtitle of the book is How Religion Poisons Everything, and it is an accurate description. Religion is responsible for more of humanity's ills than its progress. Whatever was good about religion was a recent development and a product of the influence of the Enlightenment. By itself, religion is insane, ignorant, oppressive, and violent. The world would be better off without it.
Hawkins spends page after page citing example after example of the lunacy of religion. His is not a cool reasoned argument like Dawkins but a long volume of spleen venting albeit with a great deal of intelligence behind it.
Religion is poison. That is the message. If you believe in God, you are at best a fool. At worst, you are a sadistic fool. Too often, religious people are sadistic fools.
I agree that religion is a destructive element in our society. I would disagree that it needs to be forced out of existence. Supressing one tyranny by embracing another, viz. the French and Russian Revolutions, is not something I care for. My antipathy for religion is tempered by my libertarian beliefs in autonomy and freedom. But I will use my freedom to make the case that there is no god, and the world needs to throw off such superstitions.
On a sidenote, religious moderates as can be found in the Unitarian church and among mainline denominations make the case that they are not like the rest such as their evangelical and fundamentalist brethren. I can agree and say they are not. A garter snake is not the same as a rattlesnake. But they are still snakes.
Religious moderates do not believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God or that there really was a guy like Noah in a boat full of animals. They embrace things like evolution but put a theistic spin on it. Ultimately, they believe in a God without doctrine or presence in the material world. As such, they are functionally atheist except they do not allow scientific scrutiny of the spiritual aspect of their lives. Their god is reduced to a god of personal experience. Their morality is reduced to sentiment. And they adopt a left wing understanding of society and economics. In short, they embrace altruism, collectivism, and spirituality, but these lead to their own errors. Religion may shed its fangs for a bit, but it always grows them back. Or as I put it, you can't embrace science while rejecting the scientific method. This is what religious moderates do.
I generally like Christopher Hitchens because he is my type of scum. But I do reject his embracing of neoconservative ideas or his support for the War in Iraq. Hitchens even hints that a military strike on Iran may be necessary because we should never allow religious fuckheads to have nuclear weapons. I have to disagree. Granted, Iran is run by idiots but so is the USA. Being secular is not enough to be wise. That is a point that I think many atheists are missing these days.
The weakest part of the Hitchens book is also the weakest part of the Dawkins book or anyone else. It has to do with what I call the Stalin Argument. Josef Stalin killed more people than Hitler. Stalin was an atheist. Hitchens makes the weak argument that Stalinism was like a religion, and I agree. It was. But atheism is not automatic enlightenment. Though religion always makes people worse, atheism doesn't necessarily make people better.
The common element among both religious fuckheads and atheist tyrants is a belief that the end justifies the means. The end of the collective trumps the rights of the individual. This is why I stress that I am not just an atheist. I am a secular individualist. I believe in individual rights including the rights of religious shitheads.
Overall, I recommend reading God is Not Great. Hitchens has written a needed volume.