Obfuscation. Purposeful clouding. Fooling. Deceiving. A smoke screen.
Chances are good that you have heard about the Fort Hood Massacre. Where the killer, reportedly, shouted the phrase Allahu Akbar (usually translated as God Is Great link). However, I assume that the chances aren't good that you have heard about the book titled "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (yes it's written just like that).
Allahu Akbar does not mean god is great or God is great. It means Allah is great. (I'll note why that is important later.) Notice that the author bails on proper English grammar only to emphasize his dishonor of God. All words in a title should be capitalized. Of course, he could say that he did it to denote that he was not speaking of a specific god. Yet, he could just make that clear in his preface. This book was written by the Great christopher hitchens. See what I mean? Kinda sneaky? Kinda underhanded? (My computer is even demanding that I correct these errors. Smart computer. Good boy.) You would pick up on this right away if you were familiar with the spewing, venomous, sledgehammer rhetoric that Hitchens uses. (watch his rhetoric now or here)
Sneaky and underhanded. That brings me to my next point. Rhetoric. Rhetoric is best and most often used by lawyers. Clarence Darrow's defense of two boys that pleaded guilty to the wanton and guiltless murder of a young neighborhood boy, which they committed because they were bored, is a classic example. see here (The prosecutor labels the murder as cold-blooded. How else could you label it?) He says things like,
"Why need the state's attorney ask for something that never before has been demanded?"(How do you answer that?)and
"I have never yet tried a case where the state's attorney did not say that it was the most cold-blooded, inexcusable, premeditated case that ever occurred. If this was murder, there never was such a murder...Lawyers are apt to say that." (Accusing opponent of using rhetoric.)But this is what really good lawyers do. Clarence Darrow was a really good lawyer. But, of course, we know from common sense that when a defense attorney knows that their clients are guilty and advises them to plead innocent that their job is now to deceive twelve citizens and, if necessary, the judge. Using rhetoric is an excellent way to deceive people. It's more about the words you use and how they sound. It's more about how you say it and your body language. It's about making your opponents look stupid (straw man). It's more about the look, feel, and inherent power in your words than the raw unfettered logic in your argument. In Greece there was a famous orator (I can't recall his name) who would practice speaking, yes practice speaking, by putting pebbles or marbles in his mouth.
“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.” -Nietzsche, The Gay Science.
Now, besides using rhetoric, Hitchens attempts to deceive his readers just in his title alone. The title is god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, stealing the title from the Muslim phrase. Well, in doing so, he paints all gods with the same religious brush. As Ravi Zacharias once said,
"Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best known ones. "1Though Christians do not know the exact name of their God, they do know that he has a name. After being robbed of its vowels by the Hebrew priests what we have left of God's name is YHWH, transliterated into English as JHVH. Looking familiar? Yes, Jehovah is the word we use as God's name. Jehovah encapsulates Father, Son, and Spirit as one God. Now with Islam you could say that Allah is just god in Arabic but, the Quran says in Chapter 20,
"Allah! There is no God save Him. His are the most beautiful names. (8) Hath there come unto thee the story of Moses? (9) When he saw a fire and said unto his folk: Wait! Lo! I see a fire afar off. Peradventure I may bring you a brand therefrom or may find guidance at the fire. (10) And when he reached it, he was called by name: O Moses! (11) Lo! I, even I, am thy Lord, So take off thy shoes, for lo! thou art in the holy valley of Tuwa. (12) And I have chosen thee, so hearken unto that which is inspired. (13) Lo! I, even I, am Allah, There is no God save Me. So serve Me and establish worship for My remembrance."You see they say Allah is God, not God is God or Allah is Allah, but what's important is that Jehovah is not Allah. So when Hitchens says we should free ourselves from religion and uses 9/11 as a case against religion he is trying to say that god is god and all religions have the same effect. That is, evil, as defined by his relative and subjective morality given by his conscience and delivered to his mind to be recreated by his hardend heart.
So much deceit found in just the title of a book.
1. Doug Powell, Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Holman Reference) 114.