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Christopher Hitchens is an Anglo American author. He is famous for his atheist views and has written on topics ranging from politics to religion. Due to his atheist views, the author remains a controversial figure among many scholars. “Religion Poisons Everything.” is an extract from the book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”.  This book was published on April 25th 2007 and later on was published in the weekly magazine “Slate”. This specific article targets the academic society and is against the religious dogma surrounding the present society. The author informs the audience about the drawbacks of religion, the chaos it causes in the society, its detrimental effects and how it plagues our society, and how it is a man-made concept.
       Christopher Hitchens starts his article by criticizing religions and discussing four main flaws of religious faith. In the article, the writer has discussed how religion has badly affected the personal and social lives of people. He insists that science must be the base of all ethical values and he openly argues that religions make us conservative and compel us to perform such actions which readers would otherwise regret.

          Although the writer employs proper use of language and ethos to impress the audience, the writer jumps to hasty generalizations and uses illogical reasons to establish hi arguments. The offensive tone of the article leaves the believers offended and may produce doubt within the reader’s mind about the credibility of the author.

               The author employs ethos and logos to build on his argument. Referring to the historical practice of the Aztecs to sacrifice a human being so that the “Sun would rise”.  The author, through this, tries to strengthen his point that religion is the cause of violence and in essence, it causes discord as well as anarchy. Similarly, referring to the atheist, the author tries to use statistical figures to imply that if a survey was conducted with authenticity, incidences of “greed and violence” amongst the believers would far exceed the number of instances among disbelievers, who does not even believe in the concept of the “after life”. The author mocks the paradox of the believers, who call themselves as the “virtues” and the “all-knowing”. The author gives support of his argument when he implies that it is the view of science that he prefers over all other concepts and not the ideas or concepts that the believers of religion have, which are in discord with each other. The author tries to humor the fact that when new discoveries in science come to surface, the religious believers try to link them with their religion and tries to explain these new concepts with the help of their “contortions” and to “fit” the new insight of science through their religion. The author also tries to logic by referring to the believer’s incapability to leave the atheists alone. The author explains that the atheists are logical, living their lives with their own concepts and not infringing upon the lives of others, while believers find it very hard to accept this simple concept. He supports his argument by referring to believers planning the “destruction” of the author and his co-workers.
      The author employs several modes of development such as narrations, examples and descriptions. The author tries to imply a personal touch in the essay to further support his purpose. Referring to the absurdity of religion, the author explains that not even before his “boyish voice” had broken, he was convinced that religion was the fabrication of man and that it did not contribute to the society on any level, let it be social or moral. Also, the author talks about his experience of meeting several people that believed in the fabrication of religion. These people belonged to different backgrounds and had different believes to begin with. The author explains that religion poisons everything not according to him only, but to the beliefs of hundreds of people, ranging from common men , to literary scholars. Furthermore, the author describes and refers to the “bar mitzvahs” (the ceremonial celebration Jews have, when a boy turns 13) (Peter) and “Gothic Cathedrals” of the Christians. With these descriptions , the author further augments his point that he is willing to go to these ceremonies and places of the believers, that he is ready to continue his relations and daily life activities with these believers, lest they leave his beliefs and his life alone and free from their influence. The author uses exemplification when he talks about Professor Stephen and Professor Richard and their arguments about the evolution of life. The author explains that although these literary scholars have disagreements with each other, these disagreements are based on “real science” and not the fabrication of man. Each of the scientists gives support to their arguments through science which has solid proofs behind it.
                    The article is constructed through effective use of language, tone and style. The author implies heavy use of metaphors and sarcasm. Referring to the believers, the author tries to explain how the beliefs of these religious people fail to make any sense when they grovel before deities and pretend that they are “part of a divine plan”. The author further mocks their beliefs that they need to feel unworthiness and servility so that they then think of themselves as a part of something bigger, perhaps a divine plan. Referring to atheist as “infidels” , the author ridicules the behavior of the believers who believe that they are the only people in the world who know about the morals and ethics of life and that the “infidels” , who do not believe in religion , are somewhat of a lesser class of people in the society. Through the use of this word, the author also questions the strong impressions of the believers about the atheists. The author adds to the arguments in his essay through the use of demeaning and strong words. Referring to the atrocities committed by the believers in the name of religion, the author implies that even “brothel keepers and ethnical cleansers” would think twice about committing these atrocities. The author conveys that those who commit these atrocities are in a way even worse than the individuals who believe in deity greater than man. The author employs repetition in the essay to further strengthen his argument. The use of “We” is extensive in the essay. Through this word, the author links all the people who share his school of thought and implies that he is not alone in believing in the concept that religion poisons everything.
              Author talks about the distortion of ethical values by religious believe. He says that believers are less ethical than non believers. This happens due to the belief of the believers that the deity they follow is “all-knowing” and that their chosen path is the true path to follow. However, ethical values in every region of the world are different due to different social and moral backgrounds. Therefore, an action can be considered ethical by someone and unethical by another. For example, sex before marriage is considered not as abhorrent in the western society as it is in the eastern societies. Therefore, to have common ethical values, religion is necessary for the establishment of these values. Furthermore, the writer once again enforces his own school of thought on the readers by using the term “We” in place of “I”. This gives the readers the idea that the article is an opinion of many atheists and not the author alone. He cannot use “We” because not all atheists may agree with his ideas and thanking. As the arguments in the article are the writer’s personal views and not necessarily of others, he should not use the term “We”. The writer also tries to convince his audience by giving references to different scientific theories and different scientists and philosophers. He uses names of great writers like William Shakespeare, Schiller, and Tolstoy. The writer says that compared to moral values presented in Holy Scriptures, the logics of these people in their masterpiece works are more convincing and effectual. This may be true as far as the beliefs of the author are concerned, but deep analysis shows that the work of these personalities was more fictitious than real and by no means can be related to any ethical values. Real life cannot be ruled with fictitious school of thought. The audience is influenced by the writer’s point of view due to combination of many literary techniques. He uses logical reasoning to support his assertions very effectively. He uses ethos and pathos to prove his points and support his claims. He explains the inhumane nature of religious beliefs by emotional support which explains the reliability of his assertions. He gives many examples and provides many names of personalities to increase his credibility. The mixture of narration, examples, rhetorical analysis, description and assumptions makes the article very appealing, interesting and fascinating. On the other hand the tone of this article is very informal and degrading. The writer uses terms like “foolish people”, “brothel-keepers” and “ethnic cleanser” while explaining the religious class. He also uses many words and phrases which are disdainful and sarcastic. Also, he mocks the religious practices of many religions and explains that atheists do not need to follow them. In response to Hitchens article, the scholar Mark D Roberts says that
“I want to take the point of Hitchens that I am deeply concerned on present conditions of world and the extent to which the ridicule and its cousins are hurting us. Even if Hitchens is right that God is not great and religion poisons everything, I would say that this tendency to be little people will not make the world a better place to live. And if those who follow him do the same, it will make matters worse”. (Christopher)
               The audience is usually offended by this tone of the writer because in this world there are millions of people who follow certain type of religious belief while atheists, who do not follow any type of religious belief, are comparatively low. The writer somehow achieves his purpose in making his audience realize the severity of this topic by his harsh and demeaning tone. Moreover, the tone of this article also decreases the article’s appeal. The writer conveys his message which is hate for religious beliefs by giving many examples.
         The author expresses his point of view in a very biased manner. He organizes the essay with many fallacies and jumps to conclusions with vague arguments. He also switches between different topic without proper use of transitions. The essay could have been improved and the audience could have been more convinced if the author had given the counter argument and then refuted it.  This would have further strengthened the audience assertion that the author is not biased and that he has researched both sides of the coin.

Written By: Haris Khan

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