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A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2005

    Darwin's Dangerous Disciple strikes again!

    To some, Richard Dawkins is threatening. His phrases pry open shut minds. His words bend and flex rigid thinking. His ideas trash dearly held dogmas. And, of course, he idolizes The Devil's Chaplain - Charles Darwin [the title is from a letter of Darwin's]. He performs all these feats with a graceful style - one which anyone writing science should study. This collection is comprised of letters, book reviews and even eulogies - an unusual vehicle for espousing the cause of rational thinking. If much of his writing seems intense, it's because he recognizes his role in waging an uphill battle against 'established truths', no matter how false they prove. To show the validity of truth over myth requires a direct approach. Dawkins recognizes that people abhor being called animals. The continuity of life, one of the major themes in this collection, remains an indisputable fact, he stresses. This series reinforces Dawkins' attempts to make us aware that we are part of Nature. He is always witty, using his sound scientific basis and rationale to keep us informed. Science, in his view, must not be eroded by baseless tradition nor false dogmas. The goal of living, he argues, is the understanding of life itself. Religion and philosophy have failed abysmally, the realm of science should be given its opportunity. It's a broad view, sustained by an ability to grasp it firmly. Better yet, for us, it's presented here with verve and dedication. Segregated into [lucky!] seven sections, each addressing a general theme. He covers many topics in this anthology - evolution, of course, but medicine, genetically modified foods [many foods are hybrids resulting from genetic manipulation], jury trials, intellectual heresies, and even government policies are included. The arrangement presents no difficulty - in fact, each offering might be chosen at random without losing any impact. Selecting a favourite is an arduous task [although it promotes re-reading] but the review of Sokal and Bricmont's 'Fashionable Nonsense' ranks very high. The review demonstrates Dawkins' many talents, from insight to incisiveness. Few essayists provide the imagery he can attain to explain an idea. There are those, particularly adherents of the idea that science lacks morality, who see scientists as cold and distant. Dawkins shows how false this idea is with his laudatory comments on John Diamond, Douglas Adams and William Hamilton. He even extends an olive branch to his academic opponent, the late Stephen J. Gould. As fellow evolutionists, Dawkins and Gould forged a rapport against the rants and duplicities of the Christian creationists. It requires a broad mind to take such steps, and narrowness isn't among Dawkins' blemishes. He's a feeling human being and a tireless campaigner. We would all do well to heed and emulate him.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2004

    Must Reading!!!

    In his new book, A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, Dawkins has reproduced his favorite essays, reviews, and addresses in one volume. The book's title is from a letter Darwin wrote to his friend Joseph Hooker in 1856. Like Darwin, Dawkins argues that evolution is a blind process, demonstrating no concern for suffering 'as an inherent consequence of natural selection.' In this new volume, Dawkins asserts that 'evolution gave us a brain that is capable of understanding its own provenance, of deploring the moral implications and of fighting against them.' As a militant atheist, Dawkins is living out the inevitable consequences of the Darwinian worldview. Dawkin's evolutionary perspective teaches that the universe is a silent box empty of all intention and design. Everything within the box must be explained in terms of purely naturalistic materials and processes. The cosmos and everything within it is in the end a marvelous--if often malevolent--accident of nature. Dawkins' hostility toward religion in general, and Christianity in particular, has been evident from his earliest writings. In his popular articles for secular humanist and atheist periodicals, he identifies atheism as the only credible intellectual option in our modern age. He sees Christianity--and all forms of theistic belief--as intellectual viruses. But we underestimate Dawkins if we assume that his concerns are merely academic and intellectual. To the contrary, Dawkins aspires to be a social engineer and to bring the evolutionary worldview into the public square in order to revolutionize politics, culture, economics, and every dimension of life. The title of his newest book is more than a literary accident. Dawkins really sees himself as an evangelist for Darwinism and as something like a High Priest of naturalism. He sees all forms of religious belief as the enemy, and wants to expunge public life of all religious arguments, concepts, and traditions. Ultimately, Dawkins would like to clear the public square of all religious believers as well. In this book his goal comes through clearly, albeit tactfully.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2003

    Outstanding!!!

    Don't fall for the argument that because Dawkins doesn't like to be around creationists that he is a bad person. The bible states that believers should not associate with non-believers. It even states that believers should kill non-believers. Seems like good enough reason for me to stay away from them. This book is well thought out and a must have for anyone who may be interested in the TRUTH! If the real world scares you, then buy something more comforting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    The Goddess Sar'ah Speaks Truth!

    In The Name of Sar'ah, The Merciful, The Extravagant!: "Whoever misleads children into atheism or false, pagan, swine-filled religions of false conjecture and repugnant hypothesis shall surely be brought to the one-way glass of al-Dajjal (inferno), for being a voracious and rapacious, innocence stealing maggot. He/She shall be thrown through, but the will never escape! Prudessess! Did you not think I, Sar'ah, would judge justly for the many terrors commited by your hands? Look at the ruins of Hyakjik, which lie underneath the Pacific waters. I threw them into disarray for tolerating the killing of innocent, non-Prudess children and their Hoeist parents. Did they think I would not drown them for their atrocities? Prudessess they were! Waves of terror crashed upon them, a rift opening up in the earth beneath the sea, swallowing them up into the crumbling, boiling abyss! Their sin was lust for pearls; murderers they became! In this there is evidence of the truth for those who have been given Intelligence (by Sar'ah) to investigate all matters that arise under the sun and the clouds and the moon and [her] stars. I Am Sar'ah, The All-Compassionate and Ever-Exalted!" Amen.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2012

    Dawkins' prose not only makes science appealing to the usually u

    Dawkins' prose not only makes science appealing to the usually uninterested, it forces the reader to look closely at every single passage and detail.

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  • Posted July 25, 2010

    BN has suspended download ( temporarily)

    I struggle to comprehend how a business can succeed with such a lousy process.
    This is my second contact with BN....
    Should be close to my last one.
    Really sad about that.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    A view into the world of science and skepticism

    A wonderful view of how science works, the discussions, arguments, the working-out of differences... showing CLEARLY that there is no Darwinian Dogma in ANY sense of the word or idea. Some beautiful personal moments in his life as well as brilliant scientific insights.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2004

    Superb defence of materialism

    Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, defends the need for science and reason in this superb collection of essays, selected from his work over the last 25 years. The book includes many of his writings on science, education, evolutionary biology, alternative medicine and religion. It also contains tributes to colleagues and friends, and reviews of Stephen Jay Gould¿s works. Dawkins points out that the scientific method is the most powerful idea that we have ever invented, and that its goal is truth. That the sun is hotter than the earth is true, not just a belief. Nor is it a hypothesis awaiting falsification, as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn would claim, nor is it a local truth deniable in another culture. Dawkins contends that Darwinism, one of mankind¿s greatest achievements, defined as `cumulative evolution by non-random survival of random hereditary changes¿, is universally true. He shows how the human mind is a material product of natural selection. He says yes to science and no to religion, the two possible roads. In science, ideas are up for attack, through evidence, argument and debate; in religion, there is only the appeal to authority, tradition and revelation. He opposes idealism in philosophy and all its consequent clerical and postmodernist waffle. We are on our own and must cope with the real world like adults. But convention says that we must respect religions. Why? Religion¿s intellectual function is to screen and defend non-science, while its social function is to promote fear. As Dawkins notes, ¿Religion is the most inflammatory enemy-labelling device in history.¿ For instance, the Old Testament, a barbaric Bronze Age text, promotes genocide, slavery, misanthropy and eternal hellfire. This is a book full of ideas, which must be read for its sheer sparkling, searing intelligence. Dawkins represents the collective mind of science at its most focused, consistent and militant.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2004

    Dawkins attacks all religion

    This work is a collection of articles, many of which try to defend Dawkin¿s militant stand against religion. Some argue that Dawkins only objects to religious radicals or extremists. This is not true accordingly to Dawkins own words in this book and in his many writings. One recent example is in the Jun. 21, 2004 issue of New Scientist Dawkins, in answer to the question, ¿Why do you spend so much time debunking religion?¿ said: ¿I am very hostile to religion because it is enormously dominant, especially in American life. And I don't buy the argument that ¿ it's harmless. I think it is harmful¿¿ Note that he says ¿religion,¿ not fundamentalism or religious extremism, nor does he give any qualifiers. Another example is in the book reviewed here he says: ¿Religion is the most inflammatory enemy-labeling device in history.¿ This seems to be a gross overgeneralization that ignores the great good done by religion. Furthermore, this kind of language hardly serves to build bridges but only inflames passions on both sides. He also acts on his views and has done everything that he can to work against the influence of religious people. I agree with the reviewer above who noted that ¿Dawkins will antagonize some readers by his attacks on religion: his tone in these essays may fall just short of intellectual arrogance, but he certainly exhibits an intellectual impatience not always beneficial to his argument¿.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 29, 2008

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