The God Delusion

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Overview

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

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  • Richard Dawkins
    Richard Dawkins  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins is not an atheist who sits quietly in the pews. The scientist Discover dubbed "Darwin's Rottweiler" refuses to regard religion as mere harmless nonsense; he views it instead as one of humanity's most pernicious creations. In The God Delusion, he attacks arguments for the existence of God; accuses religions of fomenting divisiveness, war, and bigotry and castigates believers in intelligent design.
Jim Holt
What Dawkins brings to this approach is a couple of fresh arguments — no mean achievement, considering how thoroughly these issues have been debated over the centuries — and a great deal of passion. The book fairly crackles with brio.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it. (Oct. 18) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this hard-hitting critique of religious belief, Dawkins (Oxford Univ.) explains why the belief in God is both wrong and dangerous. Unlike his past works that only touch on the subject (e.g., The Selfish Gene; The Blind Watchmaker), this book is thorough and pulls no punches. Dawkins starts his "attack" by covering the various definitions of God as well as nearly every classical argument for the existence of God. He then proceeds to build his case based on a Darwinian/scientific perspective of why he believes there is no God, period. He concludes by offering a scientific explanation for religious belief but not before treating religious-based morality to his rapierlike criticisms. While he does acknowledge that many of his criticisms would also apply to political or sociocultural beliefs, he does not take that line of thought any further, which is a shame. Nonetheless, both fans of Dawkins and his many opponents will want to read this book. Recommended for all academic libraries and larger public libraries with an interest in the topic. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Brad S. Matthies, Butler Univ. Lib., Indianapolis Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dawkins's passionate disavowal of religion and his "I can no other answer make" statement that he is an atheist-and why you should be, too. Dawkins, eminent Oxford scholar, defender of evolution (The Ancestor's Tale, 2004) and spokesman for science (Unweaving the Rainbow, 1998), delivers ten chapters arguing the non-existence of god, along with documentation of the atrocities religions have wrought. This is exceptional reading-even funny at times. (A footnote declaims that in the promise of 72 virgins to Muslim martyrs, "virgins" is a mistranslation of "white raisins of crystal clarity.") By God, Dawkins means a supernatural creator of the universe, the prayer-listener and sin-punisher, and not the vague metaphoric god some invoke to describe the forces that govern the universe. Accordingly, Dawkins focuses heavily on the monotheistic religions with quotations from the Bible and Koran that sanction genocide, rape and the killing of unbelievers. Dawkins is concerned about fundamentalism in America, a phenomenon that stigmatizes atheists and is at odds with the Founding Fathers who ordained the separation of church and state. (Jefferson said, "The Christian God . . . is cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.") He worries that we abuse the vulnerability of children (who are primed via natural selection to trust elders) by indoctrinating them in religions they are too young to understand. Indeed, natural selection is Dawkins's strong card to explain why you don't need a god to account for the diversity, complexity and grandeur of the natural world. In other chapters, he uses evolutionary psychology and game theory to account for why we don't need a god to be good. He also conjectures thatreligion may have arisen as a byproduct of the ways our brains have evolved, and he invokes "memeplexes" (pools of memes, the cultural analogues of genes) to account for the spread of religious ideas. You needn't buy the total Dawkins package to glory in his having the guts to lay out the evils religions can do. Bible-thumpers doubtless will declare they've found their Satan incarnate.
From the Publisher
"A powerful argument for how to think about the place of religion in the modern world. It's going to be a classic."—Seed Magazine

"In the roiling debate between science and religion, it would be hard to exaggerate the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins." Salon

"A particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr. Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit, and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith."—Economist

"If I had to identify Dawkins's cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned, and impolite . . .The God Delusion is a fine and significant book." The San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618680009
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/13/2006
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 83,241
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.

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Read an Excerpt

1 A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER
I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the
structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to
appreciate it.

—Albert Einstein

DESERVED RESPECT

The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly
found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems
and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and
even – though he wouldn't have known the details at the time – of soil
bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the
micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and
become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy
contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led
him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and
became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks
to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had
religion forced down my throat.*
In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the
stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard
music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and
trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led
my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to
answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common
among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection withsupernatural
belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor
was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species – the famous 'entangled
bank' passage, 'with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting
about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth'. Had he been, he
would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might
have been led to Darwin's view that all was 'produced by laws acting around
us':

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object
which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher
animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several
powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that,
whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity,
from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful
have been, and are being, evolved.

Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and
concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than
our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they
say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A
religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as
revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence
and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.

All Sagan's books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that
religion monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same
aspiration. Consequently I hear myself often described as a deeply religious
man. An American student wrote to me that she had asked her professor
whether he had a view about me. 'Sure,' he replied. 'He's positive science is
incompatible with religion, but he waxes ecstatic about nature and the
universe. To me, that is religion!' But is 'religion' the right word? I don't think
so. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist (and atheist) Steven Weinberg made
the point as well as anybody, in Dreams of a Final Theory:

Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that it is
inevitable that they will find God wherever they look for him. One hears it said
that 'God is the ultimate' or 'God is our better nature' or 'God is the universe.'
Of course, like any other word, the word 'God' can be given any meaning we
like. If you want to say that 'God is energy,' then you can find God in a lump
of coal.

Weinberg is surely right that, if the word God is not to become completely
useless, it should be used in the way people have generally understood it: to
denote a supernatural creator that is 'appropriate for us to worship'.
Much unfortunate confusion is caused by failure to distinguish
what can be called Einsteinian religion from supernatural religion. Einstein
sometimes invoked the name of God (and he is not the only atheistic
scientist to do so), inviting misunderstanding by supernaturalists eager to
misunderstand and claim so illustrious a thinker as their own. The dramatic
(or was it mischievous?) ending of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of
Time, 'For then we should know the mind of God', is notoriously
misconstrued. It has led people to believe, mistakenly of course, that
Hawking is a religious man. The cell biologist Ursula Goodenough, in The
Sacred Depths of Nature, sounds more religious than Hawking or Einstein.
She loves churches, mosques and temples, and numerous passages in her
book fairly beg to be taken out of context and used as ammunition for
supernatural religion. She goes so far as to call herself a 'Religious
Naturalist'. Yet a careful reading of her book shows that she is really as
staunch an atheist as I am.
'Naturalist' is an ambiguous word. For me it conjures my
childhood hero, Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle (who, by the way, had more
than a touch of the 'philosopher' naturalist of HMS Beagle about him). In the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, naturalist meant what it still means for
most of us today: a student of the natural world. Naturalists in this sense,
from Gilbert White on, have often been clergymen. Darwin himself was
destined for the Church as a young man, hoping that the leisurely life of a
country parson would enable him to pursue his passion for beetles. But
philosophers use 'naturalist' in a very different sense, as the opposite of
supernaturalist. Julian Baggini explains in Atheism: A Very Short Introduction
the meaning of an atheist's commitment to naturalism: 'What most atheists
do believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it
is physical, out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values – in
short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.'
Human thoughts and emotions emerge from exceedingly complex
interconnections of physical entities within the brain. An atheist in this sense
of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond
the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking
behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no
miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don't yet
understand. If there is something that appears to lie beyond the natural world
as it is now imperfectly understood, we hope eventually to understand it and
embrace it within the natural. As ever when we unweave a rainbow, it will not
become less wonderful.
Great scientists of our time who sound religious usually turn out
not to be so when you examine their beliefs more deeply. This is certainly
true of Einstein and Hawking. The present Astronomer Royal and President
of the Royal Society, Martin Rees, told me that he goes to church as
an 'unbelieving Anglican . . . out of loyalty to the tribe'. He has no theistic
beliefs, but shares the poetic naturalism that the cosmos provokes in the
other scientists I have mentioned. In the course of a recently televised
conversation, I challenged my friend the obstetrician Robert Winston, a
respected pillar of British Jewry, to admit that his Judaism was of exactly this
character and that he didn't really believe in anything supernatural. He came
close to admitting it but shied at the last fence (to be fair, he was supposed
to be interviewing me, not the other way around).3 When I pressed him, he
said he found that Judaism provided a good discipline to help him structure
his life and lead a good one. Perhaps it does; but that, of course, has not the
smallest bearing on the truth value of any of its supernatural claims. There
are many intellectual atheists who proudly call themselves Jews and observe
Jewish rites, perhaps out of loyalty to an ancient tradition or to murdered
relatives, but also because of a confused and confusing willingness to label
as 'religion' the pantheistic reverence which many of us share with its most
distinguished exponent, Albert Einstein. They may not believe but, to borrow
Dan Dennett's phrase, they 'believe in belief'.4
One of Einstein's most eagerly quoted remarks is 'Science
without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.' But Einstein also
said,

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie
which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God
and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in
me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the
structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Does it seem that Einstein contradicted himself? That his words
can be cherry-picked for quotes to support both sides of an argument? No.
By 'religion' Einstein meant something entirely different from what is
conventionally meant. As I continue to clarify the distinction between
supernatural religion on the one hand and Einsteinian religion on the other,
bear in mind that I am calling only supernatural gods delusional.
Here are some more quotations from Einstein, to give a flavour of
Einsteinian religion.

I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind
of religion.

I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything
that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a
magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that
must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely
religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.

The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even
naive.

In greater numbers since his death, religious apologists
understandably try to claim Einstein as one of their own. Some of his
religious contemporaries saw him very differently. In 1940 Einstein wrote a
famous paper justifying his statement 'I do not believe in a personal God.'
This and similar statements provoked a storm of letters from the religiously
orthodox, many of them alluding to Einstein's Jewish origins. The extracts
that follow are taken from Max Jammer's book Einstein and Religion (which
is also my main source of quotations from Einstein himself on religious
matters). The Roman Catholic Bishop of Kansas City said: 'It is sad to see a
man, who comes from the race of the Old Testament and its teaching, deny
the great tradition of that race.' Other Catholic clergymen chimed in: 'There is
no other God but a personal God . . . Einstein does not know what he is
talking about. He is all wrong. Some men think that because they have
achieved a high degree of learning in some field, they are qualified to express
opinions in all.' The notion that religion is a proper field, in which one might
claim expertise, is one that should not go unquestioned. That clergyman
presumably would not have deferred to the expertise of a claimed 'fairyologist'
on the exact shape and colour of fairy wings. Both he and the bishop thought
that Einstein, being theologically untrained, had misunderstood the nature of
God. On the contrary, Einstein understood very well exactly what he was
denying.
An American Roman Catholic lawyer, working on behalf of an
ecumenical coalition, wrote to Einstein:

We deeply regret that you made your statement . . . in which you ridicule the
idea of a personal God. In the past ten years nothing has been so calculated
to make people think that Hitler had some reason to expel the Jews from
Germany as your statement. Conceding your right to free speech, I still say
that your statement constitutes you as one of the greatest sources of discord
in America.

A New York rabbi said: 'Einstein is unquestionably a great
scientist, but his religious views are diametrically opposed to Judaism.'
'But'? 'But'? Why not 'and'?
The president of a historical society in New Jersey wrote a letter
that so damningly exposes the weakness of the religious mind, it is worth
reading twice:

We respect your learning, Dr Einstein; but there is one thing you do not
seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the
telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be
found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith,
not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with
religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told
anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might,
by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow
being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, 'There is a mean streak
in anyone who will destroy another's faith.' . . . I hope, Dr Einstein, that you
were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the
vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor.

What a devastatingly revealing letter! Every sentence drips with intellectual
and moral cowardice.
Less abject but more shocking was the letter from the Founder of
the Calvary Tabernacle Association in Oklahoma:

Professor Einstein, I believe that every Christian in America will answer
you, 'We will not give up our belief in our God and his son Jesus Christ, but
we invite you, if you do not believe in the God of the people of this nation, to
go back where you came from.' I have done everything in my power to be a
blessing to Israel, and then you come along and with one statement from
your blasphemous tongue, do more to hurt the cause of your people than all
the efforts of the Christians who love Israel can do to stamp out anti-
Semitism in our land. Professor Einstein, every Christian in America will
immediately reply to you, 'Take your crazy, fallacious theory of evolution and
go back to Germany where you came from, or stop trying to break down the
faith of a people who gave you a welcome when you were forced to flee your
native land.'

The one thing all his theistic critics got right was that Einstein
was not one of them. He was repeatedly indignant at the suggestion that he
was a theist. So, was he a deist, like Voltaire and Diderot? Or a pantheist,
like Spinoza, whose philosophy he admired: 'I believe in Spinoza's God who
reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who
concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings'?
Let's remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a
supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the
universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the
subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the
deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or
punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about
good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think of doing
them). A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose
activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the
first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no
specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural
God at all, but use the word God as a nonsupernatural synonym for Nature,
or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. Deists
differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested
in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene
with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is
some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist's metaphoric or
poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism.
Deism is watered-down theism.
There is every reason to think that famous Einsteinisms like 'God
is subtle but he is not malicious' or 'He does not play dice' or 'Did God have
a choice in creating the Universe?' are pantheistic, not deistic, and certainly
not theistic. 'God does not play dice' should be translated as 'Randomness
does not lie at the heart of all things.' 'Did God have a choice in creating the
Universe?' means 'Could the universe have begun in any other way?' Einstein
was using 'God' in a purely metaphorical, poetic sense. So is Stephen
Hawking, and so are most of those physicists who occasionally slip into the
language of religious metaphor. Paul Davies's The Mind of God seems to
hover somewhere between Einsteinian pantheism and an obscure form of
deism – for which he was rewarded with the Templeton Prize (a very large
sum of money given annually by the Templeton Foundation, usually to a
scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion).
Let me sum up Einsteinian religion in one more quotation from
Einstein himself: 'To sense that behind anything that can be experienced
there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and
sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is
religiousness. In this sense I am religious.' In this sense I too am religious,
with the reservation that 'cannot grasp' does not have to mean 'forever
ungraspable'. But I prefer not to call myself religious because it is
misleading. It is destructively misleading because, for the vast majority of
people, 'religion' implies 'supernatural'. Carl Sagan put it well: '. . . if by "God"
one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly
there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying . . . it does not
make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.'
Amusingly, Sagan's last point was foreshadowed by the Reverend
Dr Fulton J. Sheen, a professor at the Catholic University of America, as part
of a fierce attack upon Einstein's 1940 disavowal of a personal God. Sheen
sarcastically asked whether anyone would be prepared to lay down his life for
the Milky Way. He seemed to think he was making a point against Einstein,
rather than for him, for he added: 'There is only one fault with his cosmical
religion: he put an extra letter in the word – the letter "s".' There is nothing
comical about Einstein's beliefs. Nevertheless, I wish that physicists would
refrain from using the word God in their special metaphorical sense. The
metaphorical or pantheistic God of the physicists is light years away from the
interventionist, miracle-wreaking, thought-reading, sin-punishing, prayer-
answering God of the Bible, of priests, mullahs and rabbis, and of ordinary
language. Deliberately to confuse the two is, in my opinion, an act of
intellectual high treason.


* Our sport during lessons was to sidetrack him away from scripture and
towards stirring tales of Fighter Command and the Few. He had done war
service in the RAF and it was with familiarity, and something of the affection
that I still retain for the Church of England (at least by comparison with the
competition), that I later read John Betjeman's poem: Our padre is an old sky
pilot, Severely now they've clipped his wings, But still the flagstaff in the
Rect'ry garden Points to Higher Things . . .




UNDESERVED RESPECT

My title, The God Delusion, does not refer to the God of Einstein and the
other enlightened scientists of the previous section. That is why I needed to
get Einsteinian religion out of the way to begin with: it has a proven capacity
to confuse. In the rest of this book I am talking only about supernatural gods,
of which the most familiar to the majority of my readers will be Yahweh, the
God of the Old Testament. I shall come to him in a moment. But before
leaving this preliminary chapter I need to deal with one more matter that
would otherwise bedevil the whole book. This time it is a matter of etiquette.
It is possible that religious readers will be offended by what I have to say, and
will find in these pages insufficient respect for their own particular beliefs (if
not the beliefs that others treasure). It would be a shame if such offence
prevented them from reading on, so I want to sort it out here, at the outset.
A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society
accepts – the non-religious included – is that religious faith is especially
vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of
respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should
pay to any other. Douglas Adams put it so well, in an impromptu speech
made in Cambridge shortly before his death,5 that I never tire of sharing his
words:

Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy
or whatever. What it means is, 'Here is an idea or a notion that you're not
allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? – because
you're not!' If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're
free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument
but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or
down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if
somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday', you say, 'I
respect that'.
Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the
Labour party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this
model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows – but to have
an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the
Universe . . . no, that's holy? . . . We are used to not challenging religious
ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he
does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed
to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why
those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we
have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be.

Here's a particular example of our society's overweening respect
for religion, one that really matters. By far the easiest grounds for gaining
conscientious objector status in wartime are religious. You can be a brilliant
moral philosopher with a prizewinning doctoral thesis expounding the evils of
war, and still be given a hard time by a draft board evaluating your claim to be
a conscientious objector. Yet if you can say that one or both of your parents
is a Quaker you sail through like a breeze, no matter how inarticulate and
illiterate you may be on the theory of pacifism or, indeed, Quakerism itself.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from pacifism, we have a
pusillanimous reluctance to use religious names for warring factions. In
Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants are euphemized to 'Nationalists'
and 'Loyalists' respectively. The very word 'religions' is bowdlerized
to 'communities', as in 'intercommunity warfare'. Iraq, as a consequence of
the Anglo-American invasion of 2003, degenerated into sectarian civil war
between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Clearly a religious conflict – yet in the
Independent of 20 May 2006 the front-page headline and first leading article
both described it as 'ethnic cleansing'. 'Ethnic' in this context is yet another
euphemism. What we are seeing in Iraq is religious cleansing. The original
usage of 'ethnic cleansing' in the former Yugoslavia is also arguably a
euphemism for religious cleansing, involving Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats
and Muslim Bosnians.6
I have previously drawn attention to the privileging of religion in
public discussions of ethics in the media and in government.7 Whenever a
controversy arises over sexual or reproductive morals, you can bet that
religious leaders from several different faith groups will be prominently
represented on influential committees, or on panel discussions on radio or
television. I'm not suggesting that we should go out of our way to censor the
views of these people. But why does our society beat a path to their door, as
though they had some expertise comparable to that of, say, a moral
philosopher, a family lawyer or a doctor?
Here's another weird example of the privileging of religion. On 21
February 2006 the United States Supreme Court ruled that a church in New
Mexico should be exempt from the law, which everybody else has to obey,
against the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.8 Faithful members of the Centro
Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal believe that they can understand God
only by drinking hoasca tea, which contains the illegal hallucinogenic drug
dimethyltryptamine. Note that it is sufficient that they believe that the drug
enhances their understanding. They do not have to produce evidence.
Conversely, there is plenty of evidence that cannabis eases the nausea and
discomfort of cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy. Yet the Supreme
Court ruled, in 2005, that all patients who use cannabis for medicinal
purposes are vulnerable to federal prosecution (even in the minority of states
where such specialist use is legalized). Religion, as ever, is the trump card.
Imagine members of an art appreciation society pleading in court that
they 'believe' they need a hallucinogenic drug in order to enhance their
understanding of Impressionist or Surrealist paintings. Yet, when a church
claims an equivalent need, it is backed by the highest court in the land. Such
is the power of religion as a talisman.
Seventeen years ago, I was one of thirty-six writers and artists
commissioned by the magazine New Statesman to write in support of the
distinguished author Salman Rushdie,9 then under sentence of death for
writing a novel. Incensed by the 'sympathy' for Muslim 'hurt' and 'offence'
expressed by Christian leaders and even some secular opinion-formers, I
drew the following parallel:

If the advocates of apartheid had their wits about them they would claim – for
all I know truthfully – that allowing mixed races is against their religion. A
good part of the opposition would respectfully tiptoe away. And it is no use
claiming that this is an unfair parallel because apartheid has no rational
justification. The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is
that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected
to defend our prejudices. But ask a religious person to justify their faith and
you infringe 'religious liberty'.

Little did I know that something pretty similar would come to pass
in the twenty-first century. The Los Angeles Times (10 April 2006) reported
that numerous Christian groups on campuses around the United States were
suing their universities for enforcing anti-discrimination rules, including
prohibitions against harassing or abusing homosexuals. As a typical
example, in 2004 James Nixon, a twelve-year-old boy in Ohio, won the right
in court to wear a T-shirt to school bearing the words 'Homosexuality is a sin,
Islam is a lie, abortion is murder. Some issues are just black and white!'10
The school told him not to wear the T-shirt – and the boy's parents sued the
school. The parents might have had a conscionable case if they had based it
on the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. But they didn't:
indeed, they couldn't, because free speech is deemed not to include 'hate
speech'. But hate only has to prove it is religious, and it no longer counts as
hate. So, instead of freedom of speech, the Nixons' lawyers appealed to the
constitutional right to freedom of religion. Their victorious lawsuit was
supported by the Alliance Defense Fund of Arizona, whose business it is
to 'press the legal battle for religious freedom'.
The Reverend Rick Scarborough, supporting the wave of similar
Christian lawsuits brought to establish religion as a legal justification for
discrimination against homosexuals and other groups, has named it the civil
rights struggle of the twenty-first century: 'Christians are going to have to
take a stand for the right to be Christian.'11 Once again, if such people took
their stand on the right to free speech, one might reluctantly sympathize. But
that isn't what it is about. The legal case in favour of discrimination against
homosexuals is being mounted as a counter-suit against alleged religious
discrimination! And the law seems to respect this. You can't get away with
saying, 'If you try to stop me from insulting homosexuals it violates my
freedom of prejudice.' But you can get away with saying, 'It violates my
freedom of religion.' What, when you think about it, is the difference? Yet
again, religion trumps all.
I'll end the chapter with a particular case study, which tellingly
illuminates society's exaggerated respect for religion, over and above ordinary
human respect. The case flared up in February 2006 – a ludicrous episode,
which veered wildly between the extremes of comedy and tragedy. The
previous September, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve
cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Over the next three months,
indignation was carefully and systematically nurtured throughout the Islamic
world by a small group of Muslims living in Denmark, led by two imams who
had been granted sanctuary there.12 In late 2005 these malevolent exiles
travelled from Denmark to Egypt bearing a dossier, which was copied and
circulated from there to the whole Islamic world, including, importantly,
Indonesia. The dossier contained falsehoods about alleged maltreatment of
Muslims in Denmark, and the tendentious lie that Jyllands-Posten was a
government-run newspaper. It also contained the twelve cartoons which,
crucially, the imams had supplemented with three additional images whose
origin was mysterious but which certainly had no connection with Denmark.
Unlike the original twelve, these three add-ons were genuinely offensive – or
would have been if they had, as the zealous propagandists alleged, depicted
Muhammad. A particularly damaging one of these three was not a cartoon at
all but a faxed photograph of a bearded man wearing a fake pig's snout held
on with elastic. It has subsequently turned out that this was an Associated
Press photograph of a Frenchman entered for a pig-squealing contest at a
country fair in France.13 The photograph had no connection whatsoever with
the prophet Muhammad, no connection with Islam, and no connection with
Denmark. But the Muslim activists, on their mischief-stirring hike to Cairo,
implied all three connections . . . with predictable results.
The carefully cultivated 'hurt' and 'offence' was brought to an
explosive head five months after the twelve cartoons were originally
published. Demonstrators in Pakistan and Indonesia burned Danish flags
(where did they get them from?) and hysterical demands were made for the
Danish government to apologize. (Apologize for what? They didn't draw the
cartoons, or publish them. Danes just live in a country with a free press,
something that people in many Islamic countries might have a hard time
understanding.) Newspapers in Norway, Germany, France and even the
United States (but, conspicuously, not Britain) reprinted the cartoons in
gestures of solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, which added fuel to the flames.
Embassies and consulates were trashed, Danish goods were boycotted,
Danish citizens and, indeed, Westerners generally, were physically
threatened; Christian churches in Pakistan, with no Danish or European
connections at all, were burned. Nine people were killed when Libyan rioters
attacked and burned the Italian consulate in Benghazi. As Germaine Greer
wrote, what these people really love and do best is pandemonium.14
A bounty of $1 million was placed on the head of 'the Danish
cartoonist' by a Pakistani imam – who was apparently unaware that there
were twelve different Danish cartoonists, and almost certainly unaware that
the three most offensive pictures had never appeared in Denmark at all (and,
by the way, where was that million going to come from?). In Nigeria, Muslim
protesters against the Danish cartoons burned down several Christian
churches, and used machetes to attack and kill (black Nigerian) Christians in
the streets. One Christian was put inside a rubber tyre, doused with petrol
and set alight. Demonstrators were photographed in Britain bearing banners
saying 'Slay those who insult Islam', 'Butcher those who mock
Islam', 'Europe you will pay: Demolition is on its way' and, apparently without
irony, 'Behead those who say Islam is a violent religion'.
In the aftermath of all this, the journalist Andrew Mueller
interviewed Britain's leading 'moderate' Muslim, Sir Iqbal Sacranie.15
Moderate he may be by today's Islamic standards, but in Andrew Mueller's
account he still stands by the remark he made when Salman Rushdie was
condemned to death for writing a novel: 'Death is perhaps too easy for him' –
a remark that sets him in ignominious contrast to his courageous
predecessor as Britain's most influential Muslim, the late Dr Zaki Badawi,
who offered Salman Rushdie sanctuary in his own home. Sacranie told
Mueller how concerned he was about the Danish cartoons. Mueller was
concerned too, but for a different reason: 'I am concerned that the ridiculous,
disproportionate reaction to some unfunny sketches in an obscure
Scandinavian newspaper may confirm that . . . Islam and the west are
fundamentally irreconcilable.' Sacranie, on the other hand, praised British
newspapers for not reprinting the cartoons, to which Mueller voiced the
suspicion of most of the nation that 'the restraint of British newspapers
derived less from sensitivity to Muslim discontent than it did from a desire not
to have their windows broken'.
Sacranie explained that 'The person of the Prophet, peace be
upon him, is revered so profoundly in the Muslim world, with a love and
affection that cannot be explained in words. It goes beyond your parents,
your loved ones, your children. That is part of the faith. There is also an
Islamic teaching that one does not depict the Prophet.' This rather assumes,
as Mueller observed,

that the values of Islam trump anyone else's – which is what any follower of
Islam does assume, just as any follower of any religion believes that theirs is
the sole way, truth and light. If people wish to love a 7th century preacher
more than their own families, that's up to them, but nobody else is obliged to
take it seriously . . .

Except that if you don't take it seriously and accord it proper respect you are
physically threatened, on a scale that no other religion has aspired to since
the Middle Ages. One can't help wondering why such violence is necessary,
given that, as Mueller notes: 'If any of you clowns are right about anything,
the cartoonists are going to hell anyway – won't that do? In the meantime, if
you want to get excited about affronts to Muslims, read the Amnesty
International reports on Syria and Saudi Arabia.'
Many people have noted the contrast between the hysterical 'hurt'
professed by Muslims and the readiness with which Arab media publish
stereotypical anti-Jewish cartoons. At a demonstration in Pakistan against
the Danish cartoons, a woman in a black burka was photographed carrying a
banner reading 'God Bless Hitler'.
In response to all this frenzied pandemonium, decent liberal
newspapers deplored the violence and made token noises about free speech.
But at the same time they expressed 'respect' and 'sympathy' for the
deep 'offence' and 'hurt' that Muslims had 'suffered'. The 'hurt' and 'suffering'
consisted, remember, not in any person enduring violence or real pain of any
kind: nothing more than a few daubs of printing ink in a newspaper that
nobody outside Denmark would ever have heard of but for a deliberate
campaign of incitement to mayhem.
I am not in favour of offending or hurting anyone just for the sake of
it. But I am intrigued and mystified by the disproportionate privileging of
religion in our otherwise secular societies. All politicians must get used to
disrespectful cartoons of their faces, and nobody riots in their defence. What
is so special about religion that we grant it such uniquely privileged respect?
As H. L. Mencken said: 'We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only
in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is
beautiful and his children smart.'
It is in the light of the unparalleled presumption of respect for
religion that I make my own disclaimer for this book. I shall not go out of my
way to offend, but nor shall I don kid gloves to handle religion any more
gently than I would handle anything else.

Copyright © 2006 by Richard Dawkins. Reprinted by permission of Houghton
Mifflin Company.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

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

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 119 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    Reason over Faith

    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!

    53 out of 64 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2007

    Honestly people.

    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.

    15 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    A Darwinist Takes on God but Results in a Stalemate.

    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

    12 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    A great way for atheists to learn more about their position.

    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.

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2008

    Making peace with reality

    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.

    9 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2007

    Bullcrap Gets A Rap

    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.

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Richard Dawkins and the Question of God

    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.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2008

    Spot On

    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!

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2008

    Postulation Unbridled

    It becomes increasingly amazing what people will pay to read...oops...that must mean me too. Belitteling a belief system using Darwinism is so much a stretch. Current evolutionist have given up on Darwin's theory and looked under every rock imaginable, and some that aren't, to find something - anything except intelligent design that they can't see the obvious. Or they just don't want to see the obvious. Rule out a god and you rule out accountability and any stable morality. Right and wrong then become a slidding scale, totally situational. I will agree that there is intolerance out there, in fact most everywhere. But it is not from religion, it is from individuals and cults that twist and misuse it, just as Dawkins has misused his gift of writing to minuplate the readers conscience. Makes one wonder what is he really afraid of? Two stars for effort expended

    4 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2008

    Atheism is not scientically demonstrable.

    Like Natural Selection, atheism is an hypothesis, that should be demonstrable by repeated experiments. <BR/><BR/>This has not been shown by Richard Dawkins in this book.<BR/><BR/>Also, his concept of God is a caricature, held by no majot pholosophical or theological mind. If he is going to challenge belief in God ,he has to challenge the thinking and reasoning of the best philosophical and theological minds: Augustine, Aquinas, Barth, Tillich, Ratzinger, Maimonides. De Lubac. Rahner, von Balthasar.

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2008

    BRILLIANT!

    This book makes complete sense from cover to cover. I'm an atheist and I'm delighted that Professor Dawkins has stood up for our cause. Those people who have criticized him are those who want to see humanity suffer forever under their wicked and utterly false doctrines. I especially liked how Dawkins ridiculed the various 'proofs' for the existence of god. Religion by its very own inherent nature is evil. This book will give me and others points to use in defense of the freedom and democracy we all deserve.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2007

    Needs a paradigm shift

    Richard Dawkins is one of the best I've ever seen at developing book titles such as The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion. However contrary to popular opinion, his imagination in life lacks depth. He is like the proverbial Chicken Little tapped in the head from above and assumes the sky is falling. There are differences between the Bible, religion, and God, but without sufficient pragmatism, people such as Mr. Dawkins and others see them as one and the same. The Bible is a book of wisdom to be read wisely. Religion is the result of people groping in the dark for what they know is there. God stands alone and is what He is. Were it not for being so encrusted in his own mental imagery, he would probably benefit from reading the book Biblical Paradigm Shift. Reading it would show him a logical and pragmatic view of the Bible. Atheism isn't avant-garde as he seems to think, it is simply one arm clapping.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2007

    Why are creationists so dishonest?

    This is the forth book by Dawkins that I have read (Ancestor's Tale, Selfish Gene, Blind Watchmaker) and while I don't think it's his best I still found it enjoyable and a much quicker read then any other book of his I've read. Having read some of the negative reviews I can only assume they either didn't read the book or at the best they only skimmed it. The negative reviews are full of quotes taken out of context and a complete misunderstanding of Dawkins views. Dawkins, on the other hand, is refreshingly honest. He admits that he can't say for sure that God doesn't exist but based on the evidence, or lack of it, he can feel reletivly certain that he doesn't (That's not a form of Agnosticism in his view). He also admits that there's still a lot about the universe that we don't understand but one day we will learn and as we learn will find even more things we don't know. In fact, that's his main complaint about religion. If there's something we don't understand religion is happy to attribute it to God while science tries to find an answere. His other complaint about religion is that they make no attempt to explain how God came to be. Creationist argument of irreducable complexity (something's so complex there's no way it could have evolved hence it was created by God) is countered by the fact that if God created it that means he's even more complex so where did God come from. To say God's always been there contradicts their own argument of irreducable complexity. If you're going to read this book with a closed mind about God then don't even bother. However, if you're an Agnostic, Atheist, or just unsure about religion in general, this book will be very helpful in your endless search for ultimate truth.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2007

    An Insult to American Christians

    Dawkins seems to have a deep loathing of American Christians. He completely misrepresents this group, making it sound as though the religious right is poised and ready to take over the U.S. Government at any moment. While I tend to agree with the authors opinions about religion, I did not care for the way he maligned American Christians. The book is an attempt to convert people to atheism but his arguments are often way over the top. He uses only the most extreme cases of religious nuts to make his point. These eccentrics certainly do not represent the majority of Americans. I don't think the book will convert anyone. If you're already a non-believer this may confirm your non-belief. If you are a believer it will insult you.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    I didn't like it!

    I'm sorry, but the only one who's delusional is the author. This book was poor and a waste of time.

    2 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2013

    Great book!!! but¿.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    Many things I have thought, but didn't know how to explain in such an organized manner, are in the book. He also brings up other issues I hadn't thought of before. He also made me look at many other things from an evolutionary standpoint.

    I didn't see the point in reading this book because I didn't see the point. I know some religious people are delusional. Why should I read about it? But it was so highly recommended by some friends of mine, that I eventually caved in and I'm glad I did. I got a lot out of it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    EXCELLENT BOOK

    Richard Dawkins is a great author and a very respectable scientist.
    I found this book absolutely compelling and it is quite readable.
    Some chapters I had to read several times as I was spellbound.
    GREAT BOOK.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    THOUGHT PROVOKING

    THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE BOOK I FOUND MYSELF SAYING "YEAH,BUT...."

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    Superb. A glimmer of hope in the dark Forest of Religion.

    I wish to thank Prof. Dawkins for this excellent and superbly argued book. It is intelligent and outspoken men like him that will eventually rescue the dim-witted world from religion. America is a great hurdle in this regard, but hopefully it can be accomplished.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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