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"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."
As it comes courtesy of a fellow atheist Richard Dawkins held in highest esteem, I don't think it's inappropriate to punctuate this review with a quote from the late Christopher Hitchens. I chose it because it succinctly describes one of the central pillars of the arguments Dawkins and the wider atheistic movement have promoted via their writings, public debates and broadcasts over the last twenty years. I could easily have picked a more strident quote (there are many from which to choose) but I decided against it as I want to keep this review free from any bias which may stem from my own beliefs. It also serves as a retort to some of the criticism Dawkins received following the book's release, claiming he had failed to properly acquaint himself with the theological principles he sought to dispel.
I also chose the quote because it gives a flavour of Dawkins' empirical, logic-based approach to explaining the physical world and our place within it, a principle he adheres to with dogged focus throughout The God Delusion. You'd expect no less from a prominent biologist and writer of the acclaimed explanation of evolution 'The Blind Watchmaker'. Not satisfied with simply holding theological beliefs up to a scientific light, Dawkins seeks both to dismiss what he views as glorified 'fairy stories', and also perform a scathing dissection of theism, and the societal problems he believes it induces.
Dawkins lays the foundations by examining the unearned respect society affords religion. He observes that even in today's enlightened times, our instincts still lean toward a reluctance to offend mainstream belief systems, even when the ultimate price becomes truth or freedom of speech. The substitution of Loyalist and Republican for Protestant and Catholic is one particularly good example of religion being deliberately separated from negative association, and Dawkins follows this by observing that an absence of both the latter designations would remove the need for the former.
By the end of the first chapter you'll have a firm idea of whether Dawkins is a host you want to remain in the company of, and those who fall into the theological camp may find his style unpalatably abrasive. I assume his motivation for writing is fostered by a sense of duty to promote scientific enquiry as the sole means humanity has to explain the unexplained, and unless you share that view or are undecided, his persistence may become as tiresome for you as belief systems are for him. Moreover, at times I detected a distinct tinge of frustration colouring Dawkins' prose, probably borne of years spent defending his status as an authority on questions religion claims to have answered already.
Particularly in the early chapters, I sensed there was a struggle playing out between the author's passionate rejection of theology, and the imperative to at least appear equitable in his analysis. After all, Dawkins presents himself as a man whose logical world view is uncluttered by raw emotion. If you'll allow me to stray from neutrality for a moment, I do sympathise with Dawkins' plight here. Imagine devoting your entire life to becoming a leading expert in your field, only to be publically contradicted by groups not educated commensurately on the same subject. It's this fuel which ignites the opening chapters, and he invests the balance of the book's opening half identifying and rebutting the theological arguments in favour of a creator.
Of course, the branching nature of religious belief systems makes arguing against them a monumental task, so Dawkins chooses to tackle the most popular theological assertions in support of a creator. 'The God of the Gaps' is perhaps the most frequently invoked of these, and I particularly enjoyed his rational introduction of Infinite Regress to counter it. In a universe which becomes less complex the more it is broken down, how does it make sense to invoke something as complex as a God to explain the birth of the universe? Even accepting that premise, that logic asserts there must be an entity to create a God, and so on?
Naturally, as a biologist Dawkins is particularly vehement in his defence of evolution, and perhaps the strongest section of The God Delusion appears within this area of the religious debate. As recently as the last decade, Young Earth Creationists have campaigned in U.S. courts to introduce the concept of an earth younger than ten thousand years old to high school pupils; this despite not a single shred of supporting evidence. I share Dawkins' assertion that this is one of the more sinister expressions of religious interference in what should be secular subjects, and Dawkins swats the theory aside with the contempt he feels it deserves. Interestingly, Dawkins points to prominent scientists who have been compelled to abandon the principles of their profession as it conflicts with creationism, and therefore their faith. Many religious groups promote such figures as an argument for a synergy between religion and science; Dawkins turns this around by merely observing that this is the power of religion to pervert logic in otherwise logical minds. Intelligent design in evolution isn't spared from Dawkins' derision either, the best example being that of the evolution of the eye. This is an issue the author explains at greater length in 'The Blind Watchmaker', but manages to synopsise to equal effect in this book.
Dawkins continues to explore the more abstract and therefore philosophical issues of human morality, and the robust prevalence - if not expansion - of religion worldwide. One of the more sophisticated problems posed by theologians relates to the source of human morality. In a purely material world, from where do humans derive their inherent understanding of right and wrong? Of good and of evil? Many religious leaders postulate that science has no place in suggesting answers to these questions, but Dawkins proffers some compelling theories which are difficult to argue against. Again, the author follows a scientific trajectory to arrive at his conclusions, and by this stage of the book you'll find no surprises in their evolutionary nature. In response to the religious theory, he refers to the Old Testament and finds God himself guilty of dereliction of duty in moral terms, which in Dawkins' view deprives the Holy book of any mandate to claim credit for our morality. I feel the more religious reader will have an easier journey through these sections, as Dawkins cannot be quite so brusque when offering theories rather than widely-accepted fact.
Unsurprisingly, The God Delusion proved to be a polarising work, and was received with either warm praise or total hysteria from a media with more agenda than its author could ever claim to harbour. This goes a long way to justifying the existence of such an important and brave book: whether you be Atheist, Theist, Deist or Agnostic, we need the ability to discuss religion and its place in society without the pressure of the potential reaction sanitising the debate. Of course, unless you are an atheist, this work is guaranteed to eventually offend all but the most open-mind (yes, even agnostics attract the ire of Dawkins), but the author's antagonistic and forthright approach is bound to provoke fierce debate. This, deluded or not, we should all applaud. He even attempts to unite his audience with an admittedly backhanded statement:
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."
Whatever your beliefs or lack thereof, you have to say - he's good.
The God Delusion is Richard Dawkins' attack on mainstream religion and attempts to prove that there is no basis for evidence that supports any paticular faith. Dawkins has long taken umbrage with Creationists who dismiss Evolution and want to see this paticular topic removed from schools but here takes the attack straight to the top by refusing to accept the possibility that any kind of God or Supreme Deity could ever possibly exist!
Dawkins has no truck with any kind of middle ground either! To him, even those who claim to be agnostic and sit on the fence over their Religious beliefs come under fire too!! In Dawkins' mind, these people are every bit as bad as those who choose to believe in God and, over the course of this rather heavy tome, sets out his arguments against all manners of Faith in several carefully constructed chapters.
I quite enjoyed this book and, at times, found it a fascinating read though I did disagree with many of the points raised including his belief that Science cannot sit comfortably alongside Faith. Why the two have to be mutually exclusive I still do not know and though I do not really count myself as a strong believer, still do not accept that it does any harm to have a little Faith. At times, Dawkins attacks religion here with as much, if not more zeal, than some of his Religious counter-parts! And in doing so, I think he risks alienating some readers.....
Most of this book is interesting and enlightening and gives the reader some brave insights into the scientific reasons why much of the Bible, for example, can be discounted. He also quite rightly looks at all the harm that has been done in the name of Religion!
But where this book began to lose me a little bit was when Dawkins delved into The Big Bang and tried to explain why an all-seeing omnipotent Deity is not just improbable but near-on impossible. A lot of the sciencey bits, I will admit, went over my head and just did not compute and so, for me, although Dawkins demands that you should not believe in established religion simply based on Faith alone, for a large part that is what I find myself doing with science. Just because a scientist claims he can back up a theory and that he can prove it in a lab, to a layman, who is not really sure what it is he is looking at, surely he has to pretty much accept that what he is seing is exactly what the scientist tells him it is? And how is this any different from a Preacher claiming that the whole reason we cannot prove the existance of God through science is because it is currently beyond our realm of understanding?
Will this book convince you to give up any indoctorined Religious belief that you have been brought up with and still hold to? I doubt it. But what it will do is give those who have no Faith further ammunition to throw at those whom they might consider to be weaker-willed and more gullible in accepting the existance of God.
Is it worth reading? The answer has to be yes but it is worth taking everything that Dawkins puts forward here with a pinch of salt. I don't think, having read this cover to cover, that he totally can prove that God does not exist but he does put across a fairly strong argument against his existance. But then, you can read Christian books that can equally put across fairly strong arguments for God as well and essentially it all comes down to what you want to believe.
Do you really want to believe that we are all just organic computers and that when we switch off that is just it. Or would you prefer to consider that there might just be something else out there and that maybe perhaps part of us goes on after physical death? I know which sounds the more pleasant alternative to me and if that is all just a deluded fairy tale then what harm does it do for me to believe in it?
This is the big question that Dawkins never really satisfyingly answers for me!
I read this book a few years ago now when it was still causing a stir around the world for its "controversial" take on religion. I'm glad it had so much publicity!
I feel like I can't really do this book justice in a simple review. It is such an important read, challenging the way that religion is perceived across the world, the impact it has and giving clear arguments in the defence of natural selection and that God clearly doesn't exist, or at least there is absolutely, categorically no evidence to suggest that He (or Allah, or Buddah, etc) does.
I was an atheist already before I read the book, but I had the lackadaisical opinion that anyone can believe in anything they want, its fine, each to their own, etc. I, along with the majority of the population, would treat religious beliefs with a certain respect, even though I did not hold any myself and really thought they were quite absurd. After reading the book, I got more and more firm in my own opinions to the point where I now consciously object to religion being held in such high esteem. I am giving serious consideration to what my daughter will be taught in school - she certainly won't be attending a church school no matter how good its results are - should she even attend normal assemblies for hymns and prayers and moralistic preaching based on religion, or should I just trust that she will form her own sensible opinion in the face of this?
The book is not an "easy read" compared to, say a fictional crime thriller or romance, and it shouldn't be. Dawkins' scientific approach requires a certain intellectual level of understanding, but it is clear, concise and straightforward. There are areas in the book that I found difficult to get through, particularly in his discussions of the cosmos and different psychological approaches to why the human race naturally forms a manner of religious belief, but overall, there is such a wealth of information and cognitive argument, it is well worth persevering. My main problem with discussing religion with any real believer is that I am not knowledgeable of the bible or any other religious texts and therefore really cannot comment on what it says when believers use this as a basis for their arguments (what else would they be able to use anyway?). The God Delusion gave me plenty of facts so that I can formulate my own arguments and only served to strongly reinforce my own atheist stance (as opposed to atheist "beliefs" because, as Derren Brown points out in "Tricks of the Mind", this is actually a misnomer since atheists do not "believe" in anything).
I have yet to speak to someone who is a strong believer in any kind of religion who has read the book to talk about their take on Dawkins' points. It saddens me to think that there probably aren't many out there with strong beliefs who have read it and are willing to challenge themselves to really consider their belief system. I recently had someone come to my door to try to convince me to join their belief system and attend a local church. After stating that I was an atheist and didn't believe in God, the person asked if I therefore believed in evolution. Of course, I said "Yes" and the person just laughed at me, said nothing, but just continued laughing as they walked away. I guess it gave him comfort and was quite amusing that in line with his beliefs, I was on the fast track to an eternity in hell. All I could do was have a little chuckle myself.
This is probably one of the most widely read books on religion today, and with good reason.
Whilst the accusation against this book of being a polemic has been levelled at it, the fact is that Dawkins has a very detailed knowledge of the Bible, and the other Abrahamic texts. More so than most of his religious opponents. His depth of understanding shows in the level of detail.
The issues discussed within the book, detail the case against religious moral authority and its automatic right to respect.
In this book Dawkins shows his flair for writing and lays out with wit, lucidity, and passion(but rationally) each point.
Even if you are unlikely to be swayed by the arguments In the God Delusion, you cannot ignore the book.
If you have any doubts about your beliefs, then it is your first port of call.
The God Delusion is essential reading for theists and atheists alike.
I read Richard Dawkin's 'The God Delusion' a couple of years back and the first thing I liked about the book was how easy it is to read and is great for the lay-person to follow. What I especially loved about the book was the fact that my own questions would be raised from points Dawkins writes about throughout the book and my questions would be answered as I continued reading, as if Dawkins could anticipate the reader's own queries on these matters of interest. I love some of the theories of how evolution on our own planet may have possibly come about which he has written about in more depth in 'The Blind Watchmaker', which is another fantastically written book and so interesting and thought provoking. Of course, Richard Dawkins has had bad press from many quarters and can sometimes be seen portrayed as arrogant, but the way he describes religion and beliefs is clearly stated, understandable and makes perfect sense and holds a very powerful argument and challenge towards organised religion and crazy beliefs. Very good read and I highly recommend this book to anybody seeking more of a truth about our beliefs and thinking patterns.
I first had my attention drawn to Richard Dawkins when I watched his documentary 'The Root of All Evil?', which this led me to ordering this book very soon after. As someone who was brought up as a Christian, I quickly grew to be somewhat doubtful (agnostic you could say) as soon as my cognitive skills began to really kick in (say around the age of ten) and a few years later came to be what could definitely be classed as an atheist. So you could say that, with me, Dawkins was preaching to the converted. However, despite the fact that I had turned my back on my religious upbringing a good few years before, this book still made me see things in a whole new light.
His arguments against the plausibility of 'God' are in my opinion excellently set out and difficult to argue against, however these arguments have been put forward by many people, many times and let's face it, they are unlikely to sway those whose beliefs are based on faith rather than rational thought. Where I think this book really shines is where he questions religion's monopoly on morality and the role of religion in general; and this is definitely where Dawkins completely changed my outlook on religion. Before reading this, I was always somewhat jealous of people who had religion to fall back on and I didn't question it's role in society. However, Dawkins convinced me, and I'm sure many others, that not only is religion not necessary to set our moral standards but that it shouldn't. Throughout this book, he categorically shows that the religious texts are not only completely historically invalid, but also set out highly dubious moral guidelines!
Dawkins has been greatly criticised for this book, mainly for what people see as an unncessarily aggressive stance against religion, however while reading this book you quickly begin to understand and share in his frustration!I would highly recommend this book to atheists, doubters and even believers who are ready to have their eyes opened.
I can definitely say that, one way or another, this book will have a huge impact on you.
The god delusion is a controversial book written by the biologist and author of numerous science books Richard Dawkins.
It suggests that belief in god is not only an illusion but that it is a pernicious one, harmful to society in many ways. It condemns belief in a supernatural god in all forms, and equally passionately, condemns all organised religions, exposing the extensive problems that can be the result of devout and blind faith.
On the whole I thought that this book was engaging, intelligently and passionately written and much needed in modern times. There are several very serious and very important points that Dawkins makes, not least the dangers of indoctrinating children, who are particularly vulnerable to suggestion. He also highlights the extremes that people will go to, to protect their faith.
One of the best points he makes, I feel, and one that everyone in our society from atheist to heavily religious should take heed of is how wrong it is that religion is somehow immune from criticism and debate. An excellent Douglas Adams quote highlights how we can happily debate peoples differing political and social opinions, but that it is far more of a taboo to debate religion. As far as I am concerned anything worth it's salt is worth debating, whatever view you hold. Another interesting point he makes is that just because we cannot prove the existence of god,at this time in either direction that the truth lies somewhere in between his existing and not. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that evolution by natural selection is a fact, and science can go a great deal of distance, although still admittedly limited, in explaining the incredible presence of life on earth. There are many gaps in our knowledge of science, but whether these gaps should be filled by god is highly debateable.
I was not so sure on the chapter in the book that tries to assess the roots of religion, there are some interesting theories, including some Darwinian ones, but there is still a great deal of supposition and debate surrounding this.
Some may find him too narrow minded and opinionated, that is a matter of personal opinion, personally I find this book to be an excellent and consciousness raising read He articulates so well so many of the sentiments that I hold, but even if you do disagree with what he has to say, it is well worth a read as an interesting subject of debate.
Prominent biologist/zoologist and atheist Richard Dawkins' best selling and provocatively titled book 'The God Delusion' argues against the existence of God and challenges organised religion in general, defending evolution against wacko creationists and generally dismantling the arguments of religious doctrine in a very satisfying manner, demonstrating them to be a based on a mixture of pure fantasy and arbitrary assumption. Given that even in our supposedly enlightened age religious belief still has substantial influence on how our society operates (in the West, the power of fundamentalist Christianity is particularly worrying), I can only applaud Dawkins' approach. He pulls no punches whatsoever and makes intriguing claims such as that bombarding children with religious doctrine from a young age is tantamount to indoctrination and even child abuse.
Generally he promotes a wholly laudable form of secular humanism and the championing of free thinking, making the God Delusion a very important and much-needed book. Whilst Dawkins may be an excellent scientist however, he appears to be considerably less capable as a philosopher. Dawkins tries to calculate the probability of the existence of god, failing to see that empiricism, whilst an immensely useful and flexible analytical tool, does still have its limitations. Just as empirical analysis cannot tell you whether or not what you take to be your current waking life is in fact nought but a dream, neither can it provide an answer, or even a clue, as to whether or not god exists, because these are innately unknowable questions; metaphysical questions that cannot be assessed in terms of probability. Dawkins' famous argument is that believing in a Christian god is just as silly as believing in 'the flying sphaghetti monster' or a 'flying teapot' orbiting the earth, as probabilistically there is just as much scientific evidence for the existence of each, ie none. In this he is absolutely right, as all three are transparently human constructs- invented entities that cannot be demonstrated to exist in the real world, with assumptions that they do exist rightly being seen as arbitrary and totally unfounded.
However that the wider concept of 'god' alludes to that which is intrinsically unknowable and beyond the scope of human knowledge, and therefore immune to empirical analysis, hence the religious concept of 'blind faith'. This is certainly not meant as an argument -in favour- of blind faith, as both blind faith and Dawkins' argument that the likelihood of the existence of god is probabilistically tiny are both utterly arbitrary, albeit at either ends of the argument's spectrum. There is absolutely no way of knowing whether or not that which we deem a 'higher power' exists, precisely because this term alludes to that which cannot be understood or proven. It is an endless, futile debate that can never ever be resolved, because by its very nature it is an argument that is beyond human comprehension. In this sense, Dawkins is as bad as the religious fundamentalists he attacks in his attempts to demonstrate that there almost certainly is no god.
I am an atheist myself in the sense that I have no place in my life for an unseen magical man in the sky, and I agree with Dawkins that I can dismiss this magical being, but this is only because this being is clearly a human invention. The wider concept of 'god' as an unknown intelligence or force beyond the realms of human understanding is one that cannot be commented on with authority one way or the other, and, like the question as to whether all of waking life is nought but a dream, is an investigation that is ultimately doomed to failure.
Not that any of this should be read as a reason -to- believe in god, rather, the question is one that is utterly futile, with no evidence for or against god's existence whatsoever available on either side. I am an atheist in the sense that I have no time for arbitrary notions of incomprehensibly powerful and omnipresent beings, but technically an agnostic in that I acknowledge that I cannot ultimately dismiss the existence of higher powers that are beyond my comprehension as a human being. To allow this incredibly abstract concept to dictate how I live my life strikes me as ludicrous however, and my intuition is that there is no god, but unlike Dawkins I don't suppose that I can hope to prove this intuition by means of assessments of probability. I do aknowledge by the way that science never ultimately 'proves' anything, but rather builds up an overwhelming amount of data in favour of one hypothesis over another, but my argument is that in the case of god this data is simply not available to us. In a normal scientific experiment a lack of data for the experimental hypothesis would result in an acceptance of the null hypothesis instead, but with the question of god's existence we have no experimental variables to manipulate: the question simply doesnt lend itself to empirical investigation.
Much of what Dawkins writes in the God Delusion is very insightful, and the book is intelligently written and hugely readable, but whilst superb at presenting scientific arguments to a lay audience Dawkins sadly just doesn't cut it as a philosopher. Despite its shortcomings however, the God Delusion is an enjoyable and very important book that does a good job of exposing organised religion as a dangerously irrational and wholly arbitrary social construct.
Published by Black Swan
When i was younger i was a pretty devout christian, upon reaching halfway through high school and especially into sixth form where i took a ethics and religious class, i became increasingly atheist, to the point where i know think that religion is absurd. Always up for a debate i often talk to religious people about their views and try to "convert" them to atheism.
The god delusion is a book which has helped me in my thoought about religion and has given me more ammo to try and "save" religious people from their "god".
While I sometimes thought that Richard Dawkins seems a bit too arogant and obnoxious in the book it was still a great, thought provoking read that i reccomend to anyone - religious or not.
It provides many solid arguements agaisnt not only believing in religion, but also arguements agaisnt religion itself, claiming that it causes many more problems than it solves. Providing clippits from the bible and using evidence to back up his claim I dont see how a religious person could read the book and not be converted.
Although i think that may be a problem, as i think the only people who would read this book are already athiests, and not the hardcore religious fantatics i think it should have been aimed towards.
'The God Delusion' is one of the most famous non-fiction books of recent years, and both it's subject matter and ideological approach are easily inferred from the title. Richard Dawkins, a longstanding critic of religion, attempts to present a coherent and powerful case against both the existence and the moral worthiness of the God of Abraham.
It is a mostly successful enterprise. Dawkins' writing is always a pleasure to read, and he uses his considerable eloquence to compellingly present myriad arguments against the existence of God. He is at his most impressive in chapter 4 'Why There Is Almost Certainly No God'. In this chapter he convincingly argues that any being sufficiently complex to have created the entire universe must, by necessity, be more complex than the entire universe. Consequently, argues Dawkins, if our existence is improbable, God's existence is even less probable.
He is less impressive in chapter 3 'Arguments For The Existence Of God'. Here, he quickly dissects some of the famous logical proofs of God's existence which have occupied theologians throughout the ages. I feel that he glossses over some of these arguments and this can mistakenly lead the reader to believe that they are simpler than they really are. For instance, Dawkins dismisses Anselm's ontological proof as a cheap Reductio Ad Absurdum argument. As any first year philosophy student knows, it's actually a very elegant Reductio Ad Absurdum argument and is, in fact, so convincing that it was nearly six hundred years before anyone (in this case Immanuel Kant) was able to debunk it. Dawkins quotes Kant's debunking but gives no indication he really understands it, and generally treats the argument with contempt. Some may feel this is a small point but I believe Dawkins slightly short changes the reader here. An atheist unacquainted with the complexity of many of the arguments for the existence of God wouldn't find much help debunking them in this chapter.
On the whole, the book maintains the high standards set in chapter 4. The God Delusion is ultimately a persuasive atheist manifesto. It is written for the scientific and political novice and, contrary to what some commentators in the press have written, not at all strident or bad tempered. While I feel it is somewhat incomplete in parts, I still believe it has great value as an interesting introduction to unbelief.
I have been an atheist for a long time, but i have always thought that there was nothing wrong with religion, as if it makes them happy, then thats a good thing, and if they need reassurance theyre not insignificant, then thats fine.
I actually bought this book after seeing his program on channel 4, mainly down to one point that he made.
The point was this, if something has been proved true (evolution) why shouldnt they teach them in school that this is correct, and whatever contradicts this is wrong.
I initially thought he came across a bit strong, and i have a tendancy to side with the individual who is being nearly shouted at, however this point made sense to me, and i think it is an idea that needs more debate.
When i read the whole book, again i thought on some points he came over too strong, yet all the theory cant be logically discarded, as it all makes sense. Although alot of the religion i am familiar with from people i know is peaceful and not over the top, thats not what the bible tought (i dont know enough about other religions to comment).
All in all, the points in this book are very interesting, and very well argued. Two main points in particular intregued me, these were:
why are religions not allowed to be debated, like someones political decisions.
and why are we allowed to tell children what to beleive, and why are they called christian children, and muslim children etc, when they are not old enough to make up their own minds?
All in all, if this book does one thing, it wil raise debate, which is fantastic, as it has been far too muted as nobody wants to offend.
A very gripping read. As an objective atheist, I was nearly put off by the title, the god DELUSION seemed a bit harsh, but Richard Dawkins fully justified this view throughout the book. I hope that this will have a profound effect on those religious people prepared to read it.
Degree of Information
I was very surprised and impressed with the degree of information in this book. Richard Dawkins, in my opinion, completely annihilates any grounding that religious belief had. He first cut down most if not all of the pro-religious arguments I have ever heard including the infamous Pascal's wager. He then goes on the present his own crushing pro-atheism arguments centring around the use of probability to disprove god, something which seemed to me new and inventive. He also presents extra information including the psychological and evolutionary causes of religious belief.
Ease to read / get information from
The book is very well laid out, each chapter containing a different set of information or ideas. Dawkins also interlinks each chapter well and references each chapter in each other. Despite this, he also manages to make the book follow chronologically when reading it from start to finish.
How interesting was the book?
With controversy in every page, the god delusion is very gripping and you can't wait to see what Dawkins will write next, I would say it was one of those that I couldn't put down.
Well, as an atheist already, I agreed with most of what Dawkins had to say, so apart from general interest and making me feel clever, the book does not have much use to me, but I firmly believe that this could change the life of a religious person willing to read it.
Would I read it again?
Probably not in it's entirety no, but for reference I will probably look back at this book a lot. I will probably also quote and reference it next time I run into one of those aggressive religious people that won't get off their high horse or off my front porch.
Value for money
Defiantly worth whatever price you pay for it if you are religious, this could seriously change your life for the better, and allow you to stop devoting time to something that doesn't exist.
This incredulous book, The God Delusion - referred to by some as the atheist's bible, is written by Richard Dawkins - the man with an answer to everything and a bigger intellectual capacity to that of an elephant (elephants never forget!). In fact, the book is written in such an intellectual and sophisticated way that I found myself reaching for the dictionary every couple of pages! And with a quote by Derren Brown on the rear cover, "This is my favourite book of all time. I hope that those secure and intelligent enough to see the value of questioning their beliefs will be big and strong enough to read this book." this book was a must-read for me!
Dawkins elegantly explains various religions, their gods and the roles of their gods. He then goes on to question the fact that if god was the creator of everything, then who created him. Dawkins follows up by presenting plenty of solid scientific evidence to suggest mass delusions and the nature of humans to find meaning in everything.
He basically hits the nail right on the head with a very big hammer and really sets out to prove his points, like how people can get away with almost anything by being religios, for example, he explains how a church in Mexico was allowed to use illegal hallucinogenic drugs for religious practises!
The book contains some excellent explanations to a paramount amount of subjects, mainly focusing upon evolution. Dawkins really gets his points across sufficiently and with excellent backup explanations of everything, though sometimes intellectually challenging.
This book is a must-read for anybody interested in the controversial side of religion and anyone interested in the way that humans experience seemingly paranormal phenomenum.
Richard Dawkins is an easy man to admire, but a difficult one to love. One senses all-too-well his frustration at the destructive influence of religion on most every aspect of modern life - from education to politics to medicine to business- and yet the distastefully self-righteous, condescending tone he employs when discussing such matters - not to mention his occasional ignorance concerning key theological ideas - often threatens to alienate the reader even when said reader is nodding and hmm-hmm'ing at most every point the Oxford professor may be making.
The God Delusion, Dawkins' attack on not just organised religion, but any spiritual pursuit of any sort, finds him both at his most infectiously enthusiastic and at his most repellently smug. Anger is one thing - pomposity is something else again.
The contents amount to a fairly well-written Atheism For Dummies. All of the main points are covered, some exceptionally well (the crux of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, the old Where Do We Get Morals From If Not Religion chestnut, the religious-indoctrination-as-child-abuse argument), others much less so (Dawkins gives little time to any discussion of the importance of religion in culture, to the importance of a spiritual basis of any sort in life, or to any consideration of the sheer number of people to whom the eradication of religious belief would be an insufferable blow).
To anyone with even a passing interest in the issues, little of this will be of news. The God Delusion, though, is quite clearly attempting something other than preaching to the converted. It is a book written for the general public, for the layman, and as such is wholly readable and engaging even when breaching the more tricksy corners of biology or physics.
It is a book I would recommend with reservations - anyone who has read any of Dawkins' similar work on the subject, or who has seen his Root Of All Evil documentary, will find little new in here. Similarly, anyone put off by the thought of being spoken down to by a often-pompous academic will find plenty to annoy and anger. Overall, though, The God Delusion does what it sets out to do with efficiency, providing an entertaining, thought-provoking jumping-off point for further study and consideration of a wider and much deeper variety.
Being a biologist, (at least in training!) I am familiar with a lot of the scientific works of Richard Dawkins. In particular, his book 'The Selfish Gene' which I would go so far as to say completely changed the way I view the world, well, my biological view of it anyway. His ideas were so simple, so easy to understand, and yet you would never have thought of it yourself. Most of the way through that book, I found myself thinking, why has noone else thought of it like this before?
This, in my opinion, is the strength of Richard Dawkins's writing. You don't have to be a genius to understand it. Even the most mathematical and scientific parts needent put off people with a science phobia. He is also, clearly, a very, very intelligent man. His arguments are always strong. He seems to anticipate every possible rebuttal and address it before it comes. I love to read his work.
This particular book, the God delusion, was given to me by my father, who is a definite, clear cut, no doubt about it atheist who vehemently opposes religion of any kind. Whilst he has never tried to force his own views on me, I suppose with the environment I grew up in (with no religion of any sort) it was natural that I too would not have much belief in God.
I am also a huge fan of debate. I love nothing more than a good intellectual argument. One thing I hate more than anything, however (even more than being wrong!) is debating with someone who has no argument to speak of, and yet is convinced that they do. I positively HATE this, as there is no way to oppose that. Unfortunately, I have encountered it before with friends of mine who have faith (I say FAITH, not religion as such). I do not have any problems with faith or religion myself, I think everyone should be entitled to believe in whatever they wish, if they choose to. In fact, I would encourage freedom of thought. What I dislike is people who choose to try and debate with me about religion, when it is clear that they are not open to my view at all. The problem then is that I have no argument to oppose theirs, because in their view, God trumps all argument. I can argue for hours in favour of proper evidence, logic, contradictions of religion, and yet I've never been able to get past that last hurdle 'Well it doesn't matter, because God can do anything'. It bothers me as a scientist, who likes to see evidence for something before they will believe in it.
Reading this book, however, I found plenty of arguments to back myself up with. The book has the intention of 'raising consciousness' as Dawkins puts it, the put forth arguments against the existence of God, and for the benefits of atheism. It seeks to explain why religion is such a prominent force in the world, asks whether that is a good thing, whether or not we actually need religion, and what he personally thinks is wrong with religion in the first place.
These are some deep questions that he is trying to answer. He doesn't shy away from big questions such as, why are we good? Is it because of religion? Or are our morals as a result of our biology? I'd like to give a little taster of a few of the arguments he puts forward in the book, just so you can see for yourself the type of thing he is talking about.
His arguments against the existence of God are excellent. He is obviously an expert in evolution and uses evolutionary theory to completely oppose the theory of intelligent design. The difference with this is that we may have all heard at school about how evolution could have produced the millions of diverse life forms we see on earth today, and how it could have produced even the most complex and baffling structures in the natural world. The extension of this in this book however, is to explain the cosmos. The argument often goes that the chances of life evolving in the first place are just too small for it to have happened by chance. Well for a start, evolution isn't chance, as he repeats time and time again. Also, when you are talking in such huge numbers, such as billions of years, or billions of planets, the chances of things being the way they are are actually not that slim. The fact is, we can only ask why because it happened in the first place, there are billions of planets where it didn't happen at all.
The book goes further to try and explain the roots of religion in terms of his meme theories. I personally don't like these meme things that he always talks about. Not that I think there is anything intellectually wrong with them, per se, I just find them a bit unsatisfying as an explanation for things. However, it's a completely different perspective on the subject, unlike anything I've ever read about the subject before.
A part I particularly enjoyed was the section explaining that religion is not needed for people to be good and moral. I personally find it a tad insulting when people say that if you don't believe in God, you must have no real morals. His argument against this is extremely funny, as is a surprising amount of this book considering the weight of the subject.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. But I couldn't help feel that I enjoyed it more because I agreed with what was written in it. All the way through, I thought that, instead of converting people, as he wants to do, he is simply going to insult them. As I have already said, I have no real problem with religion and don't share his passionate dislike of it. I think that if I were to read this as a person with faith I would simply be enraged, and pretty angry towards Richard Dawkins! I don't really agree with trying to 'convert' people to atheism at all. If people want to believe in something, I don't agree with trying to force atheist views upon them. Dawkins would be outraged if it was the other way around.
I did enjoy reading this book. I found it well written and easy to follow. I found parts of it made me laugh and some things made me angry. I wish he could have written in in such a way as to not make it such a full on, hostile attack on people's faiths. But of course, its given me some very much needed arguments for my next debate...I'll be ready next time!
Richard Dawkins was recently voted one of the world's top three intellectuals (alongside Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky) by Prospect magazine. As the author of many, now famous, classic works on science and philosophy, he has always asserted the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm it has inflicted on society. He now turns his fierce intellect exclusively on this subject, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind. Dawkins attacks God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed, cruel tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign, but still illogical, Celestial Watchmaker favoured 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. In The God Delusion Dawkins presents a hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types and does so in the lucid, witty and powerful language for which he is renowned. It is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.