The God Delusion

The God Delusion

by Richard Dawkins


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618918249
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/16/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 46,470
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

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.

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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“You needn't buy the total Dawkins package to glory in his having the guts to lay out the evils religions can do.” —-Kirkus Starred Review

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The God Delusion 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 554 reviews.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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
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.
JaneM2 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book with compelling evidence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An eloquently written rebuttal primarily focusing on debunking the myths of Judeo-Christian religions. Dawkins writes clearly and concisely about the many problems and perversions regarding religion and the cloud of nonsense it perpetuates in our society today. Definitely one of the best books on atheism. I highly recommend this book to all atheists and those who find themselves uncertain of where they stand on religion and a supernatural creator.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an attack on religion, a topic not lauded for its popularity. I bought it and read it with great interest as my faith has disappeared in the last decade while my moral compass has improved.  The book ebbs and flows in level of interest (to me, anyway)- always compelling but much more compelling at some times than others. One question the book asks is that if there's a heaven, why don't we congratulate people when they receive a terminal diagnosis? I recommend it and intend to lend it to friends.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How you perceive this book has much to do with your preconcieved notions of reality and the supernatural. I was coming to a place of questioning and this book was a lifeline. I wasn't crazy... there was good reason to question belief in a sky daddy & fairies. This book helped me find ways to express my unbelief and how I'd arrived there. It also taught some history and science that I didn't know. If you are not willing to question your traditional religious beliefs, this book may be a waste of time. But, if you are willing to step back and use reason, you will benefit from reading "The God Delusion."
JessLucy More than 1 year ago
WOW! This book is incredible; the author is brilliant and does a bang-up job explaining how natural selection works and why it is the only rational explanantion for how humans and animals have evolved. I found the author to be very,very funny at times. I like how he references other other authors/books/etc that the reader may find interesting. I will def be reading everything by Dawkins in the very near future. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books ever written. Dawkins flawlessly lays out all the horror, hypocrisy, and lies in religion. It is interesting that the pathetic one star reviews of this book are simply attacking the man instead of making valid arguments. That proves that Xtians have a weak, sad little faith that has no foundation and is easily destroyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not since Thomas Paine has an attack on the religious organizations of the world been as clearly and logically laid out, by the end I was delusion free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written book that lays out the social and evolultionary positions of Dawkins against religion. Would have given it 5 starts, except at times he refers back to previous texts that he has written under the assumption you have read them already, which resulted in my missing a few of his points.