The God Delusion
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The God Delusion

4.2 614
by Richard Dawkins

ISBN-10: 0618680004

ISBN-13: 9780618680009

Pub. Date: 09/13/2006

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that…  See more details below


In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational but potentially deadly. In a preface written for the paperback edition, Dawkins responds to some of the controversies the book has incited. This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to examine our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.

About the Author:
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.15(d)

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Deserved respect 11
Undeserved respect 20

Polytheism 32
Monotheism 37
Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America 38
The poverty of agnosticism 46
The Great Prayer Experiment 61
The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists 66
Little green men 69

Thomas Aquinas' 'proofs' 77
The ontological argument and other a priori arguments 80
The argument from beauty 86
The argument from personal 'experience' 87
The argument from scripture 92
The argument from admired religious scientists 97
Pascal's Wager 103
Bayesian arguments 105

The Ultimate Boeing 747 113
Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser 114
Irreducible complexity 119
The worship of gaps 125
The anthropic principle: planetary version 134
The anthropic principle: cosmological version 141
An interlude at Cambridge 151

The Darwinian imperative 163
Direct advantages of religion 166
Group selection 169
Religion as a by-product of something else 172
Psychologically primed for religion 179
Tread softly, because you tread on my memes 191
Cargo cults 202

Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin? 214
A case study in the roots of morality 222
If there is no God, why be good? 226

The Old Testament 237
Is the New Testament any better? 250
Love thy neighbour 254
The moral Zeitgeist 262
What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they atheists? 272

Fundamentalism and the subversion of science 282
The dark side of absolutism 286
Faith and homosexuality 289
Faith and the sanctity of human life 291
The Great Beethoven Fallacy 298
How 'moderation' in faith fosters fanaticism 301

Physical and mental abuse 315
In defence of children 325
An educational scandal 331
Consciousness-raising again 337
Religious education as a part of literary culture 340

Binker 347
Consolation 352
Inspiration 360
The mother of all burkas 362

A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping from religion 375
Books cited or recommended 380
Notes 388
Index 400

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The God Delusion 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 614 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am amazed at some of the negative reviews of this book and am doubtful that some of these reviewers actually read the book. I found The God Delusion to be a well-assembled and witty argument against faith. For the reviewers that throw scriptures at him as rebuttal, you might as well threaten him with unicorn attacks, as they hold as much weight--none! This book will not convince those blinded by faith to open their eyes but it reinforces the convictions of those that still hold onto reason. Richard Dawkins does a great job of showing how faith requires the believer to suspend their reason. The fact that so many are willing to do this is troubling and downright scary. I particularly enjoyed his dismantling of the 'uncaused first cause' argument. I was raised as a Catholic and always asked 'Who created God?' I never did get a satisfactory answer, only 'God always existed.' Well, the fact that the universe always existed is more likely because it doesn't rely on some 'bearded sky daddy' that hears your thoughts and answers your prayers, just physics we don't yet understand. Too many of us have been brainwashed as children to believe in fairy tales. Thankfully, some of us recover the reason needed to see how foolish we were. I have read most of the books that the negative reviewers recommend and would put Dawkin's book against all of them. Logic always wins over blind faith!
Terrence More than 1 year ago
The new atheists are doing something that many are not: saying the important things that need to be said without fear of who thinks ill of them at night. The God Delusion is a powerful testament to rationality, evolution, and secular ways of living that have not only defined society, but define what reality should look like.
gravity More than 1 year ago
Professor Richard Dawkins will go down in history as the Charles Darwin of our day. His intellect on evolution and his numerous awards express how "on top of his game" he really is. The God Delusion perfectly illustrates his viewpoint to make the reader understand his perspectives concerning religion and needlessness of it. He breaks it down in simple terms and while there may be some "scholarly" language that might be hard for the average person to comprehend, he stays on track and delivers a thought-provoking insight into Atheism and the benefits for a lack of faith -- not only in an individual, but in society. Some may say that he came off "too harsh" regarding religion and its followers, but that is to be assumed that those accusations were inevitable. Richard Dawkins is a leader and this book proves it beyond just a theory.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard has created a masterpiece, despite there being many books on the same subject published over the last few years (many of which are referenced) this is a truly original work. As always with Richard his arguments are set out without prejudice and with a great respect for those who in many cases he is criticizing. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the reality of religion which in this day and age cannot be ignored. Thank you Richard, may you continue to enlighten us for many years to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Living in the Bible Belt is not easy in the least for the nonreligious person. Thankfully, there are people like Dawkins who come to bring a message of hope and reassurance to those who feel prejudiced and isolated by their close-minded fellow human beings. Just when the intoxication of religious inanity seems to be closing on your last sane breath, Dawkins reminds that you are not insane and that there is so much more to live for when unencumbered by religious nonsense.
chokeword More than 1 year ago
I wish I could respond personally to some of these negative reviews because they break my heart. The God Delusion, more than anything else, has given me permission. Permission to question things. Permission to be responsible for my own actions. Permission to live and love freely without the guilt, and the pettyness, and the agenda that are organized religion. Dawkins often asks 'why be angry? why rock the boat?' I have watched lives destroyed, friendships and families crumbled, and just about every war started because of religion. Since accepting Atheism into my heart, I have never felt freer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The good: 1. Mr. Dawkins describes evolution in an easy to understand way and debunks many myths and misconceptions about its nature. This book can be read purely as an introduction to evolutionary thinking and would still be worth the time. 2. Mr. Dawkins is absolutely hilarious. Worth the read for the sheer comedy. 3. This book challenges people of all religions to question their belief system instead of just accepting what they are told by authority. The Bad: 1. Mr. Dawkins is downright nasty in his use of adjectives. He calls religion a 'virus of the mind' and labels religious people as uneducated and unreasonable. If his goal is really to bring religious people, and not fence-sitters leaning toward atheism, over to atheism, he failed. You win more flies with honey. 2. Mr. Dawkins shows a slightly higher than Sunday school understanding of Christian theology, biblical interpretation, and biblical criticism, as well as a pretty week understanding of philosophy and political thinking (trying to say Hitler was probably a Christian is embarrassing for anyone who has read Machiavelli's The Prince). For someone who claims to be so intelligent and reasonable to make such glaringly erroneous statements and assumptions is disheartening. However, I would recommend the book. It is very interesting and thought- provoking, and it will keep you laughing as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book very refreshing, and a great read. Although it may be considered condescending at times, he gets his point heard in an intelligent and even humorous way. As a born and raised atheist I did not need anymore convincing, but I definitely enjoyed the read. Anyone bashing this book because of their own personal beliefs should really just step back and take another look. If you don't agree with it, read it again. Maybe you'll catch it this time around. A great read for all open-minded intellectuals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Atheism is not a religion. It is the lack of one. An atheist does not believe in blind faith if a god or deity. They dont accept something with out proof and fact. That is not not faith therefore not a religion or belief system. But is a book review really the place for this anyway? It is for those who have read the book to say whether they like it or not and why, so that some one else can decide if they want to buy this book. This book is great whether atheist or deist it give you a lot to think about and makes many good points. I recomend it thoroughly. If you really feel like arguing find a forum and do it there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must for any thinking mind.
Jorge Norzagaray More than 1 year ago
Just buy the damn book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before this book, I knew that I didn't believe in "God" or anything of the sort. I knew what a person like myself was called before I read this book, but afterward I understood more about it afterward. I've learned a lot from this book and I recommend it to all, atheists especially who need solid ground to stand upon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read virtually all the major works concerning freethought, evolutionary theory, and atheistic philosophies. In many ways, atheism as a theory is far closer to the truth, than most organized religious systems of superstition, dogma and oppression. So far, so good. However, if Dawkins were completely honest he'd see that Darwinism says nothing pro or con about the existence of God or gods. In fact, there are very capable philosophers and scientists who accept both evolution and the existence of some creative intelligence that started the Universe on its path, with the evolution of life forms being produced of necessity. Such philosophies are known as theistic or deistic evolution. One Xian production produced by an ultra-fundamentalist group, that intends to subvert the secular basis of the USA wrote 'Evolution without God begs a thousand questions.' The whole matter is solved rather quickly and easily by seeing, that if there is a God or gods, what kind can exist as opposed to the traditional image of a hot-tempered anthropomorphic Jehovah sitting on a throne in heaven bribing mankind with promises of eternal life in return for slavery or threatening them with eternal hellfire if they can think for themselves. It is clear that this type of God is superstitious, stupid and creates atheists. Yet, there is another type of God or gods, the God of Spinoza, and a somewhat different variety the Red God, or the spiritual powers of the Amerindians. Both of these posit something totally different than atheism vs. traditional theism or the deism of Jefferson, Paine and Voltaire. Pantheism is the belief that the Universe [Nature as a whole or system] and God are nothing but the same thing. In such systems if you believe in Nature, or the Universe, de facto you believe in God. The Native American theology that posits two principle powers: The Mother Earth who is given primacy, and the Great Spirit that moves and dwells in all things: people, plants, rocks, trees, animals. Actually, none of the arguments of the God Delusion, which attack the Xian/Neo-Platonic god affect these pantheistic viewpoints whatsoever. In the Upanishads it is written, 'The Universe is indeed Brahman'. Core Hinduism sees this. The Hindu Brahman and its manifestations or reflections including the local manifestations of life forms like us, are very close to the Sioux Wakan Tanka or Sacred Assembly. While Traditional religions do nothing but spout dogmas, laws, rules, and miracle stories that are credible only to a complete moron, the Native American traditions hold the land, the Earth sacred. I myself was raised Xian, unlike Dawkins, and could fill a volume with horror stories of fundamentalists gone mad and the abuse of children, not the least was a young black autistic boy who a few years back suffocated during an exorcism attempt. Dawkins is right to equate fundamentalism with child abuse. It is. It is one thing to tell a child that Nature sustains you, manifests in you, is your source and the source to which you will return to when you die. It is nothing but brainwash and child abuse to tell a child that God is watching his every move, knows your every thought, invades every bedroom, and will torture you for eternity with the fires of Hell if you displease him, sadist that he is. What drivel! In my college days in my philosophical period I became an apostate and abandoned the faith of my parents and became an atheist. Yet, now at 45 years old, I found out something that amazed me. There is an alternative to Xianity, or other faiths like Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism besides atheism. For those who learn to understand the voice of Nature and her message, one has all the benefits of traditional faiths and moreover, since Nature is real Native American spirituality actually produces results. While traditional Gods are human socio-political constructs created more to keep the stupid rabble in line, than promote anything true or necessary they ar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 14 years old and very self-educated about topics such as religion, and have found that I am an atheist. I was indoctrinated into the Christian religion but found myself doubting next to everything I heard. I found out about this book from a friend, and decided to give it a try. I had heard of Richard Dawkins before and seen quotes of his, but didn&rsquo;t know he wrote books. When I found out about and began reading The God Delusion I was not disappointed, this book was amazing. It brought up many good points and arguments and definitely got me thinking about a lot of different things. I also learned a lot about religion and the history of different views from foreign countries. I enjoyed this book because it helped reinforce my atheistic views of religion but also strengthened my religious knowledge. I recommend this book for everybody, even if you don't agree with Dawkins' view on religious topics. This book will still help you understand the thought process of atheists and hopefully make you more accepting of them, but it is also thought-provoking and will educate about different religions and beliefs around the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whatever our faith or belief in something is, this book dispels and strengthens the convictions we held before. It is a book meant for the open-minded who appreciate varying views of what man holds as the most mysterious of all things (God). The views of different peoples, cultures and religions should be taken into consideration in whatever judgements we make on this.This is so because I had this fascinating insight into this subject from a story with the title The Verdict of Hades. The God Delusion is a book to read.
DanPB More than 1 year ago
If anything, Dawkins is seeking to illustrate what many call "Talking snake theists." In the states we know of them as fundamentalist. Any reasoned person can accept what Dawkins puts forth. If your belief is stuck in the 12th century like so much of the world, read this book. What I liked most is his impeccably sourced arguments and illustrations against zealots. His promotion of religious education and study as important as it relates to literature, art, history. If you feel that Christians are marginalized, Islam is portrayed as violent in media, there is a war on Christmas, pick up the book, look in a mirror, and use the brain you either evolved to have or that your god gave you.
georged1930 More than 1 year ago
This book clearly demonstrates how we have all been duped. Dawkins is an exellent writer who engages the reader in clear and concise format. I was motivated to read more of his works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an essential spiritual guide for the contemporary reader. Richard Dawkins teaches us how to make peace with reality. He shows us not just that there is almost certainly no God, but he also shows us how to understand and make sense of the world once we've discovered that there is no God.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I assume those who have written negative reviews did not read the book. I purchased this book AFTER shifting towards atheism. It was intelligent and thought-provoking. I plan to read more of Dawkin's books.
Calatelpe More than 1 year ago
Even if you don't agree with the conclusions drawn by the book (and you'd be hard pressed to legitimately come to different conclusions in the face of such well written arguments and evidence), this book is truly an enjoyable read. It's challenging, engaging, and informative. Despite characterizations of Richard Dawkins, he has a very pleasant voice in his writing style (and in general). Does he hold his ground? Of course. Is he critical of religion? You bet. But nowhere is he disrespectful toward anyone (unless you WANT to be offended, of course, but nowhere does he attempt to illicit such a response). Dawkins holds religion and religious behavior up to the same standards of scientific scrutiny as is applied to everything else in life (being especially critical when religion is given automatic deference simply because it's religion, such deference being entirely illogical). The book is very well researched and properly cited, so if anyone wishes to challenge his claims legitimately they are more than capable of doing so (and based on the books written in response to The God Delusion, such legitimate responses have yet to come about). Do you embrace reason and intellectualism over the love of ignorance and anti-intellectualism so prevalent in the U.S. today? Then this is the book for you. Are you open to proving yourself wrong on your conceits, prejudices, etc? Then this is the book for you. Are you dogmatically close minded (and, on top of it, confuse being skeptical (which is being properly open minded) with being close minded), and won't change any of your preconceived notions no matter what evidence you encounter? Then this isn't the book for you...and neither are any non-fiction books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was predisposed to like this book. I was searching for some concise arguments to bolster my own position of agnosticism. Unfortunately, Dawkins waters down his arguments, which are quite well researched, by making sniping attacks on political opponents and those with whom he disagrees. The end result is to leave a bad taste of partisan politics, rather than scholarly study. All it does is give ammunition to the other side because the science presented can be discounted as mere posturing due to the name calling. There is still a great deal of information contained in the book, but if you plan to use the arguments in your daily discussions I recommend you cite Dawkin's footnotes, rather than leave yourself open to being cast as simply a tool of the left.
MBrim1stpreap More than 1 year ago
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is a captivating book. Dawkins challenges religion by using science to show why an intelligent designer called God is fake. The book focuses on the three main religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism. In the very beginning of the book, Dawkins says we are all atheist but some go one god farther. That statement really means a lot because people are just born into a religion and do not even give other religions a chance. Dawkins claims if one religion is right, the world would notice which one is because of the good fortune that would happen to the people who practice that religion. Dawkins says that religion is good in that it helps build strong morals, but at the same time he says if relgion is the only thing making you be a good person, then you need to make big changes in your life. Dawkins talks about the Egyptians who built massive pyramids for their gods, and that we now know their god is obviously not true. Dawkins also claims religion in school hinders learning in that, the Bible says the Earth is somewhere near six thousand years old. We know today that the world is four and a half billion years old. I enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it because it challenges your faith if you do believe in a god and helps you think more for yourself so you wont blame things on a god.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard Dawkins has taken upon himself, with a scientific genius unparalleled since the rise of modern science, the task of dismantling religion before the eyes of the whole world. His intent and purpose is well summed up in a phrase of another master of the well-turned phrase: Francois Marie Arouet, better known as VoltaireL 'Encraser l'infame'. 'Religion is a disease of the mind, get rid of the damned thing!' The only answer to Richard Dawkins is an attack in the opposite direction, exposing with awful clarity the unreasoned foundation of his own premises and the pathetically infantile logic upon which they are based. He stands upon a mountain of knowledge of which he is the master and brillian exponent. but none of his conclusions flow logically from that mountain of knowledge, but are based upon the primal fears of a feral child lost in the woods and cursing the darkness. He is locked in the empiricism of Berkeley, Locke and Hume. He cannot recognize the difference between an opinion and a reasoned conclusin, and whose logical tools have been replaced by ridicule, revulsion and satire, in the face of a body of theological knowledge and theological culture too massive for his well-honed empirial skills. He is a master satirist, but satire is the last refuge of the intellectually incompetent, and of masters of deceit who create clever images to hide the poverty of their thinking and, like a master magician, become masters of ilussion as well. THe illusion is that of a master of anthropology, history, philosophy, literature, education, and every human art and sciencel, while his knowledge is wrapped up in a few key concepts of Darwinian evolution, which no reasonable person doubts, but from which he has drawn historical, anthropological and cultural conclusions having no basis whatsoever in the scientific data of which he is the supreme master. It reminds me of Adolf Hitler's use of a diseased racial anthropology, concocted by his own masters of deceit, to despise, outlaw, and ultimately plan the destruction of a whole race that he had painted with his own anthropological brush, and, if Richard Dawkins is correct in his diatribe against people of religious convictions, he is ready to outlaw those who hold convictions contrary to his own to his own and imprison them in his version of insane asylums. This deceit and calim of scientific impartiality is backed by a massive and overwhelming knowledge of microbiology, as if this knowledge gave him a key to the secrets of the universe and of human life itself. He has created an illusion of absolute certainty based on the three-legged stool of Darwinian evolution: Natural Selection, Descent with Modification and Survival of the Fittest. That stool is supposed to explain the whole of human civilization and culture, the totality of human history and the root and origin of religion. The rawest student of cultural anthropology could point out how thin the reasoning and how fallacious the claim: parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At last it is great to read a rebuttal of the voodoo cultist crap that is splattered upon history,literature and through every church,institution and or tent in the world by either warped or control- freak human dung carriers. Dawkins makes sense. Can't people see it? Please read this book regardless of your faith or imagination.
JaneM2 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book with compelling evidence.