The God Delusion
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The God Delusion

4.1 122
by Richard Dawkins

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ISBN-10: 0618680004

ISBN-13: 9780618680009

Pub. Date: 09/13/2006

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial


A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Table of Contents


Preface 1

1 A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER 9 Deserved respect 11 Undeserved respect 20

2 THE GOD HYPOTHESIS 29 Polytheism 32 Monotheism 37 Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America 38 The poverty of agnosticism 46 NOMA 54 The Great Prayer Experiment 61 The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists 66 Little green men 69

3 ARGUMENTS FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE 75 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

4 WHY THERE ALMOST CERTAINLY IS NO GOD 111 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

5 THE ROOTS OF RELIGION 161 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

6 THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD? 209 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

7 THE ‘GOOD’ BOOK AND THE CHANGING MORAL ZEITGEIST 235 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

8 WHAT’S WRONG WITH RELIGION? WHY BE SO HOSTILE? 279 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

9 CHILDHOOD, ABUSE AND THE ESCAPE FROM RELIGION 309 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

10 A MUCH NEEDED GAP? 345 Binker 347 Consolation 352 Inspiration 360 The mother of all burkas 362

Appendix: 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 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 122 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!
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
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
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
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.
JurgenSchulze More than 1 year ago
Dawkins is a "must read" for any intelligent and open-minded reader. Even if you do not agree with his basic premise, any refusal to review at least both sides to an argument demonstrates the presence of a closed mind - and at that point, things become dangerous. However, Dawkins is (hopefully inadvertedly) his own worst enemy and desperately needs a new editor. The problem with many intellectuals is that they cannot organize their thoughts in a way that relaying them to their readership does not turn into an arduous task (for the reader). Dawkins has an infuriating habit of alluding to a point, to add that he will elaborate on the point in a later chapter (why?), and then not to mention in the later chapter that he discussed the outline of then previously. Whilst Dawkins can perhaps be forgiven for this, his editor cannot. Unfortunately, this issue seems to reappear in many (if not most) of Dawkins' publications, and has been a bone of contention with more than one reader. It might also be worth considering to tone down the suggestion that if one individual hears voices in his/her head, he/she is a case for a psychiatrist, and that if many hear these voices, it's called religion. Admittedly, from Dawkins' point of view, that may be a logical conclusion, but it ignores an aspect (that Dawkins addresses in other context) that this is just the difference between reason and belief. A slightly toned-down approach, with a bit less ridicule and patronizing might possibly bring Dawkins closer to his goal, and win over more readers than his often patronizing style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this validated everything I've read up to now and those that have open, caring minds will take up this book and not be able to put it down. Very thoughtful and very well done. Bravo Richard!
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JessLucy More than 1 year ago
Best book ever (and I read a lot of books). Dawkins clearly explains natural selection, evololution and why god can't possibly exist in this very readable book. He is very, very funny at times and utterly brilliant in his scientific explainations geared toward the layman. This book should be read by Students, Christians, Mormans, Muslims, Agnostics and Atheists alike. I would also recommend God or Godless by John Loftus/Randal Rauser and everything written by Richard Dawkins.
HGLIII More than 1 year ago
I remain in great awe of and hold great respect for Mr. Dawkins, who continues to convey his clear, intelligent, and correct thoughts pertaining to the atrocities of religion. Wonderfully written, very insightful, and certainly thought-provoking. This book should be distributed to all high schools across the country in promotion of cognitive progression and personal awareness.
jimkings More than 1 year ago
insight many fail to see
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