Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith


Peter Hitchens



Publication Date:

December 24, 2011




224 pages


While Christopher Hitchens became famous for his involvement in the New Atheist movement, few Americans know about his younger brother. A journalist and culture critic in his own right, Peter Hitchens was also a left-wing atheist in his early years. Then in his thirties he returned to Christianity and became a decidedly conservative commentator. Here Peter Hitchens describes his journey away from and then back to faith, combining this story with reflections about the British culture he grew up in and late Soviet Russia he worked in as a foreign correspondent, while also working in arguments about atheism’s flaws. Along the way, he provide some anecdotes about his relationship with his brother over the years, and how his family life affected his approach to faith.

While the book’s title makes it sound like an apologetics book, Rage Against God isn’t like most books in that category. Apologetics books (such as Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ) usually focus on defending Christianity with arguments that prove its plausibility or benefits. Hitchens frankly admits what led him away from atheism was two things: seeing atheist ideology lived out in Soviet Russia, and personal encounters that shifted his thinking in subtle, hard-to-analyze ways. So most of his arguments are against atheism and only indirectly for Christianity. In the book’s last section, he addresses New Atheist arguments against religion, particularly critiquing claims Richard Dawkins made in The God Delusion and which his brother made in god is Not Great (with “God” deliberate in lowercase). This is an unusual approach, but it works well and captures a side of the apologetics spectrum that is very important. Explaining why competing worldviews fail can be just as useful as explaining why Christianity works.

In the same way this book isn’t an apologetics work in the classical sense, it’s also not a memoir in the classical sense. Hitchens gives plenty of personal reflections, but he doesn’t attempt to give a detailed account of his spiritual journey. Partly this is because he’s clearly not interested in dissecting himself; he talks about his difficult relationship with his brother but shows no interest in analyzing why they struggled to get along. As he puts it in the epilogue, “some brothers get along; some do not.” The other part is Hitchens seems to think it’s more important to consider why so many in his generation walked away from Christianity. So, he uses his personal story to talk about what post-WWII Britain was like, how Christianity, military prowess and national pride went hand in hand, and what happened when two of those things failed. American readers may not see how these details apply to them, but it serves as a sobering reminder of what happens when Christianity and patriotism become so linked that one dies without the other. It’s also worth noting that America went through a similar period of postwar optimism followed by disillusionment, which contributed to young Americans abandoning Christianity in the 1960s. Thus, even for American readers Hitchens’ mix of autobiography and history lesson turns out to be surprisingly relevant.

In short, this is an unusual book that fits between several genres. It’s about Christianity and why it works, but takes a different angle than most American apologists take. It’s about why people walk away from faith and sometimes come back, but it doesn’t present a formula for getting back to faith like so many “spiritual crisis memoirs” do. It takes a bit from both camps (and various others) and produces something truly unique.

Excellently written and always thought-provoking, this book will help readers see Christianity and atheism in new ways.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4.5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians interested in Christopher Hitchens’ work, the New Atheist movement, Soviet Russia and problems with atheism is a philosophy and basis for government policy.

Christian Impact

The author makes compelling cases against atheism, and interesting reflections on what happens when Christianity and nationalism become linked (a particularly important point at the moment).

NOTE: Some readers may benefit from reading Larry Alex Taunton’s book The Faith of Christopher Hitchens alongside this book for other perspectives on the New Atheism movement and the Hitchens brothers. To read ECLA’s review of that book, go to:

The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith

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