Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lord Have Mercy

Ross Douthat thinks that God is Not Great is not great, and explains why it isn't at the Claremont Review:
It might be argued that the brevity of the book and the amount of ground it covers should excuse the less-than-rigorous fashion in which it advances its more controversial arguments. But the demands of brevity should clarify and hone, whereas Hitchens manages to be both short and sloppy. To dispense with both the Old and New Testament in 25 pages is a difficult task, but if he was limited by considerations of length he might have found better evidence for the fraudulence of the Christian witness than, say, the less-than-earthshattering revelation that non-canonical gospels circulated in the centuries after Christ; or the news that the well-known passage in the Gospel of John dealing with the woman taken in adultery was not part of the original Johannine text; or the self-evidently specious observation that the New Testament authors "cannot agree on anything of importance." Hitchens might also have better disguised the fact that he seems to have consulted no New Testament authorities more distinguished than the latest publications from Elaine Pagels, the doyenne of the "lost gospels" industry, and Bart Ehrman, the ex-fundamentalist who abandoned Christianity once it became clear to him that there might have been actual human beings involved in the composition of its sacred texts.

Perhaps one should be grateful when Hitchens cites any authority at all, since his artful prose is forever rushing on to the insult and skipping the argument, and sometimes the facts as well. .... Of the Gospels themselves, Hitchens notes that "the book on which all four may possibly have been based, known speculatively to scholars as ‘Q,' has been lost forever, which seems distinctly careless on the part of the god who is claimed to have ‘inspired' it"—a good line that reveals at best a passing acquaintance with biblical scholarship, since the hypothetical Q is only envisioned as a source for Matthew and Luke, not Mark and certainly not John. [more]
The Claremont Institute - Lord Have Mercy

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