God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - by Christopher Hitchens

my notes:

Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and—since there is no other metaphor—also the soul.

No spot on earth is or can be ‘holier’ than another.

How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of our’s own sin?

The literal mind does not understand the ironic mind, and sees it always as a source of danger.

Throughout all religious texts, there is a primitive rear that half the human race (women) is simultaneously defiled and unclean, and yet is also a temptation to sin that is impossible to resist.

Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody had the smallest idea what was going on.

The end of god-worship discloses itself at the moment, which is somewhat more gradually revealed, when it becomes optional, or only one among many possible beliefs.

It may be significant that the papacy of the Middle Ages always resisted the idea of ‘zero’ as alien and heretical, perhaps because of its supposedly Arab (in fact Sanskrit) origin but perhaps also because it contained a frightening possibility.

How can it be proven in one paragraph that the Bible was written by ignorant men and not by any god? Because man is given ‘dominion’ over all beasts.

In Genesis man is not awarded dominion over germs and bacteria because the existence of these necessary yet dangerous fellow creatures was not known or understood.

It is absurd to hope to banish envy of other people’s possessions or fortunes, if only because the spirit of envy can lead to emulation and ambition and have positive consequences.

None of these provincials, or their deity, seems to have any idea of a world beyond the desert, the flocks and herds, and the imperatives of nomadic subsistence.

It is hardly surprise of religions choose to address themselves first to the majority who are poor and bewildered and uneducated.

And what authority did Jesus have to ‘forgive’ ? Presumably, at least one wife or husband somewhere in the city felt cheated and outraged.

Let the advocates and partisans of religion rely on faith alone, and let them be brave enough to admit that this is what they are doing.

The apparent unity and confidence of the faith is a mask for a very deep and probably justifiable insecurity.

Because of the supposed duty of respect that we owe the faithful, this is the very time to allow religion to assert its claims at their own face value. Once again, faith is helping to choke free inquiry and the emancipating consequences that it might bring.

The age of miracles seems to lie somewhere in our past.

It was a clever person who first learned to predict an eclipse and then to use this planetary event to impress and cow his audience.

Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.

Everything is already explained.

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

All religion is made up by ordinary mammals and has no secret or mystery to it.

Not until the advent of the Prince of Peace do we hear of the ghastly idea of further punishing and torturing the dead.

The son of god is revealed as one who, if his milder words are not accepted straightaway, will condemn the inattentive to everlasting fire.

High moral character is not a precondition for great moral accomplishments.

Contempt for the intellect has a strange way of not being passive.

The order to ‘love thy neighbor’ is mild and yet stern; a reminder of one’s duty to others. The order to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ is too extreme and too strenuous to be obeyed.

The idea of torture is as old as the nastiness of mankind, which is the only species with the imagination to guess what it might feel like when imposed upon another.