The Rage Against God


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Christopher Hitchens

The Rage Against God (subtitle in US editions: How Atheism Led Me to Faith) is the fifth book by Peter Hitchens, first published in 2010. The book describes Hitchens’s journey from the militant atheism of the far political left and bohemianism to Christianity, detailing the influences on him that led to his conversion. The book is partly intended as a response to God Is Not Great, a book written by his brother Christopher Hitchens in 2007.

Peter Hitchens, with particular reference to events which occurred in the Soviet Union, argues that his brother’s verdict on religion is misguided, and that faith in God is both a safeguard against the collapse of civilisation into moral chaos and the best antidote to what he views as the dangerous idea of earthly perfection through utopianism. The Rage Against God received a mostly favourable reception in the media. Hitchens was praised for making a forceful and intelligent case, in particular with respect to questions concerning morality and God. Some critics contended that the author was misguided in drawing a link between state atheism and totalitarianism.

Part One: A Personal Journey Through Atheism

In Chapter 1 Hitchens describes abandoning religion in his youth, and promoting “cruel revolutionary rubbish” as a Trotskyist activist.[4] He claims his generation had become intellectually aloof from religion, rebellious and

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disillusioned[5] and in Chapter 2 explores further reasons for this disillusion, including the Suez Crisis and the Profumo Affair.[6] In Chapter 3, Hitchens recounts how he embraced scientific inquiry and adopted liberal positions on issues such as marriage, abortion, homosexuality, and patriotism.[7] Chapter 4 is a lament for the “noble austerity”[8] of his childhood in Britain. Chapter 5 explores what Hitchens views as the pseudo-religion surrounding Churchill and World War II heroes – a “great cult of noble, patriotic death”[9] whose only equivalent, he claims, was in the Soviet Union.[10] Hitchens then asserts that, “The Christian Church has been powerfully damaged by letting itself be confused with love of country and the making of great wars”.[11] In Chapter 6 Hitchens recalls being a foreign correspondent in the Soviet Union and a trip to Mogadishu, and how these experiences convinced him that, “his own civilisation was infinitely precious and utterly vulnerable”.[12] In Chapter 7 Hitchens charts his return to Christianity, and makes particular reference to the experience of seeing the Rogier van der Weyden painting The Last Judgement:[4] “I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation … I had absolutely no doubt I was among the damned”.[4] In Chapter 8 Hitchens examines the diminishing of Christianity in Britain and its potential causes

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