A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-15 12:56:25.
The scientist Richard Dawkins makes some really great points about the problems of contemporary religion and the conflict between science and the superstitious prejudice, intollerance, and bigotry overt religiosity breeds.Dawkins' primary argument that religion is harmful doesn't seem to do his argument of an intellectual human race evolving along with its capacity for reason any justice. Although he professes sound reason will get us beyond the belief in a non-existant God, I'm afraid Mr. Dawkin's never address the problem of belief, the origin of belief, the origin of reason, and of our conscious status which compels us to reason. His explanation to how we are capable to develop reason is part science-fiction, and only a theory which does little to console our spiritual longing for more finite answers -even if these answers lie in spiritual truths unknown to us.
Is religion really that harmful? Perhaps, but this doesn't mean we can't change our thinking, in due course evolve to adapt and shape the course of religion while still holding onto cherished cultural traditions, by becoming more enlightened through education and allowing for science at the same time.
It would be a much needed retooling of faith, certainly. Although I think a necessary alternative direction to take for our individual faith and our world's religions. Even though seemingly impossible from the standpoint of a scientist like Dawkins, it's an option we do have. We need only make the choice to do so.
But this is a choice Dawkins, and others like him, would deny us. And although I can sympathize with his fears of modern religion, I think he doesn't put enough faith in his fellow mankind. Just read the book with an open mind, knowing that in the end, the choice is still ultimately yours to make, and I should hope with a little sound reason, that we should never have to give it up on the request of scientists with wild God-theories.
Fernanda posted a review at 2011-09-23 02:38:21.
I just finished reading this book and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone that wants to know more about life, individuals, and choices. If not to broaden your own views, at least to acknowledge the genuine choice of being free from religion and that this decision doesn't make the person an evil and unhappy being. There are two main points that really stuck with me. The first one is that god and religion are not above all things and we, atheist, should not respect it more than any other mundane personal choice. The second is that if we rely on faith and religion to drive our morals and to educate our children, nothing is impossible. This includes reserving good places in heaven and facilitate absolution of sins for richer people, controlling peoples' lives preaching a constant fear of hell, crashing planes into buildings -- all in the name of god and expecting good outcomes. Dawkins gives us some light and good arguments to show us that we don't necessarily need religion or god to appreciate the beauty and mysteries of life. After all, for that we have science and we are also optimized by evolution to make bonds of friendship with humans and other animals that can comfort us and provide us with a chance of living plain happy lives.
A Reader posted a review at 2009-10-28 04:35:02.
I think this book has a lot of important and interesting things to say, and yet the author was such a jerk while he said it that it made it hard to want to take a single shred of it seriously. This book is not written as a tool to convince people on the topic. Instead, I got the impression that it was more of a manual for those who agree but need the data to back it up. While there was reference to it being a lifeline to those who are afraid to be atheists but just need something to help them, there was none of the tenderness required to nurse someone through and past old ideas about religion and into the author's point of view. Instead, it very intentionally took a "throw you in the deep end of the pool" approach, deliberately picking at the deepest and most controversial ideas within popular religions. The beginning of the book, in particular, seemed like a man who was name dropping frantically to prove how important, intelligent, and interesting he was and I grew weary of topics that were explained poorly if at all. Someone who isn't well read on philosophy would be lost, and I think that defeats the purpose entirely. Also, the author refuses to acknowledge that some religious people are quiet, liberal, laid back people who aren't out to lynch the first non-believer they see. However, despite me wanting to throttle the guy, as I said, I think it does have some very interesting points about the things we believe and how we appraoch and apply those ideas, for better or for worse, to our day to day lives. However, despite these good ideas, the author fails to do what he sets out to do. I am not a member of any religion, yet the author fails to make me an unbeliver either. Sorry, bud, I still believe in God.
Linda posted a review at 2010-01-07 10:59:03.
Evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins objects to belief in the kind of God many of us have outgrown: the Big-Daddy-in-the-Sky or Celestial-Parent type of God. It is true that this is the kind of God most people believe in, but many of us have moved beyond the duality of "the Creator" and "the created." Dawkins summarizes and dispenses with more sophisticated theistic thinking in his first chapter. He describes pantheism as using "the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe." His only argument against pantheism or what he calls "Einsteinian religion" is semantic; he thinks it is misleading and confusing to use the word "God" as something other than a supernatural being.
Dawkins does a drum beat on the theme of if-it's-not-rational-don't-believe-it. He is so incredibly left-brained that you might as well chop out his right brain and throw it away. Overall, I don't have much to quarrel with in his book. However, he is asking us to get rid of religion without putting anything else in its place; and his defense against this objection is a feeble attitude of look-how-wonderful-science-is. In going after fundamentalists and people who take the Bible literally, Dawkins oversells Darwin and evolutionary theory. Personally I never felt that evolution was in conflict with religion.
On the very last page Dawkins seems to have remembered his right brain and for the first time he uses the word "intuitive." He has been forced into it by consideration of the weird science found in quantum mechanics and cosmology. If you are fundamentalist in your religion, you should probably stay away from this book. But it's an interesting read for those of us who think knowing the nature of reality (the Truth) is more important than whether there's a God or not.
A Reader posted a review at 2011-04-15 05:40:58.
Though I have been agnostic (more of an atheist) ever since I started reading and having discussions with friends, who have strong opinions (one way or the other) about god, religion, traditions etc.., I never read any authentic work that presents comprehensive research done on such topics. I heard about Richard Dawkins and his The God Delusion in one such discussion at my work (which is very open to such discussions on a dedicated mailing list for people to express their views on anything under the Sun). And, Dawkins instantly made to my all time favorite author list.
Just after turning a few pages, I realized that my romance with this book is going to be a long lasting one. Interestingly, neither there was any bashing on the believer philosophy nor the usage of strong or insulting words, while presenting the work, which is organized almost as an academic book. The book starts with a chapter that calls God a hypothesis, as several experiments were done world over to verify the innumerable claims from times immemorial and how *all* of them failed. It goes on to discuss why there almost certainly is no god by discussing several things from religious scriptures, people's experience, quotes from popular scientists etc.,
After doing a great job in setting a proper foundation, and giving readers a million things to ponder, the author moves on to more interesting and a bit complicated issues like the birth of religion, and what would have made every single human habitat to come up with or believe in and follow one or the other religion, can people be moral with out religion, will the world become chaotic with out any religion etc.,
It concludes with a peek on how subversive can a religion be towards science, how dangerous can absolutism get and discusses some interesting and generally overlooked logical fallacies, again with excellent real life examples.
A highly recommended book. There is enough content to make everyone silently ponder, whether one is a pro-theist, agnostic or atheist.
A Reader posted a review at 2009-06-05 10:34:24.
Dawkins' pedagogy is exactly the right one. It seems as if atheism is made more univocal, more of a movement, by the Dawkins' crowd. I think that's a mistake. I also think that, insofar as an atheist tract such as Dawkins intends to write could do the world some good it could stand to be a little more diplomatic, and dialectic, than the Dawkinsian style allows it to be. He explicitly states in the (editorial) preface to TGD that he writes it for those who are already tacitly atheists, but just don't have the confidence to break away from their faith community. In this sense, he thinks of the new atheist movement as a liberatory movement, akin to the gay pride movement. I'm not sure atheism is that sort of thing at all - I don't think there should be movements predicated on some notion of identity - but that's another story. But atheism - well... that's not really what's at issue. What should really be at issue is trying to bring the fundamentalists away from fundamentalism. I find that force scary, and I think it is only adding to the problem if we allow movements like the new atheism to dichotomize and polarize the entire issue, leading to exhaustive, pointless rhetorical sparring, and no actual dialogue. That's why I think Dawkins isn't so good a spokesperson. Certainly not for me. I like to think I could help to lead people out of the cave - I think that's the role of the diplomat, if you want. Dawkins wants to make the religious seem so silly and contemptible that those who have doubts might distance themselves from people, intending to feel superior in some way. Everything about the rhetorical technique of his book appeals to this narcississtic impulse to feel somehow intellectually superior to religious people. I think that only runs the risk of inflaming and consolidating fundamentalist conviction. A figure to demonize is a rallying point. Someone who is reasonable, and who is as congenial as possible is far harder to hate, and impossible to ignore.
Looking beyond the author's style and now at his content, The God Delusion is perfect. Dawkins has consolidated all the information relevant to the science vs religion debate into one book. I would recommend on this basis alone (just beware of your author's biases/limitations).
A Reader posted a review at 2007-07-28 12:39:42.
A Review of: Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press, 2006. Pp 406. ISBN 9780593055489. â‚¤ 20.00 (Hard Cover).
By Adrian R. Kumarasingham
Since the Al-Qaeda attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon in New York on September 11, 2001, responses have been published form a wide range of disciplines and diverse worldviews. Many of them, in particular, have been critical of religious worldviews â€“ which are accused of either fostering or providing the basis for evil. Sam Harris has made it the central thesis of his best selling book, The End of Faith. The philosopher Daniel Dennett in his latest book, Breaking the Spell, has drawn attention to what he hypothesises to be the wild roots of religion â€“ devastating â€œideasâ€ that have survived just because they can. And Richard Dawkinsâ€™ The God Delusion is probably the most important recent contribution from a purely naturalistic perspective â€“ arguing that 1) religion is based on irrational faith, 2) morality is not necessarily based on religion, and 3) religion promotes evil.
The term â€œreligionâ€ is hard to define. Therefore, in this analysis of The God Delusion, I will present what I think are Dawkinsâ€™ most important points and evaluate them primarily from a Christian theological perspective.
Authors usually have a story that motivates them to write a book. In the second chapter Dawkins lays some of the foundations for what motivated him to write The God Delusion: the discrimination against atheists; especially in America. Dawkins challenges the atheist to move from a weak agnosticism to an outspoken atheism that challenges the â€œblind faithâ€ of religious people. He encourages atheists to get together and fight for their say in social and governmental affairs. Two things can be said of this: 1) the worldview of a majority group has often been threatening and oppressing of those who do not share it. This has been the case with both religious and non-religious worldviews for centuries. The ethnic problem in Sri Lanka and the oppression of Christians in sixteenth century Japan are just a couple of examples of non-religious and religiously motivated oppression. In America where the majority have religious worldviews, discrimination against atheists could be supported by those worldviews. While this may be true, and thus cruel and unjust, the theologian can also safely comment that, 2) Dawkinsâ€™ presumption, that all religious faith is blind, is false, and as Alister McGrath has noted: â€œembarrassingly ignorant of Christian theology.â€
In Rocks of Ages Stephen Jay Gould proposed the term â€œnon overlapping magisteriaâ€ (NOMA): science deals with the empirical realm; religion deals with the realm of ultimate meaning and moral value; these realms do not overlap. Dawkins does not agree with this view. He feels that Gould (and scientists who believe that there are limits to science) is â€œbending over backwards to be nice to an unworthy but powerful opponent.â€ Having said that, the best argument Dawkins has to offer is rhetorical. He compares questions such as: what is the meaning of life? Or what is the purpose of our existence? To why are unicorns hollow? Or what is the colour of abstraction? As if they fall in the same category. He goes on to ask: â€œ. . . even if the question [what is the meaning of life?] is a real one, does the fact that science cannot answer it imply that religion can?â€â€”No it does not. But Dawkins fails to see another side to this argument: neither does the fact that science cannot answer certain questions imply that religion cannot. In fact Dawkinsâ€™ argument turns out to be no argument at all. Furthermore, he immediately draws the conclusion from his rhetoric that theology is a redundant and hopelessly meaningless discipline. As I read the section on NOMA I was wondering if Dawkins was attacking theologians just because he did not like what they believed? Or if he honestly had no idea about what theology is? In any case, his arguments fall short of a firm academic stance either because they are subjective or simplistic.
The third chapter is dedicated to rebutting a number of arguments (from Thomas Aquinasâ€™ five ways to Bayesian arguments) that have been used by philosophers and theologians to point to the existence of God. They are important, and Dawkins deals with them in some depth. In this paper, however, I will limit myself to analysing what Dawkins claims to be the most powerful of such arguments: the argument from design (to which he dedicated a whole chapter), and evaluate his rebuttal of it.
Dawkinsâ€™ proof for â€œwhy there almost certainly is no Godâ€ is a glorified and scienticised version of the eighteenth century German philosopher F. W. J Schellingâ€™s account of how lower forms preceded the higher forms and resulted in a God. The argument from design attributes complexity and design found in nature to an intelligent designer. However, Dawkins shows us that biological complexity can be explained step by step with Darwinian natural selection, and therefore natural selection is also an alternative to evolution by chance (not just intelligent design). He then concludes that the argument from design does not solve the problem of complexity and design but raises a greater problem â€“ namely the question: who designed the designer? Surely a designer, â€œ. . . of sufficient complexity to design anything, can come into existence only as an end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.â€
Daniel Dennett has called this an unrebuttable argument. And Dawkins is very confident that this argument gets very close to disproving the existence of God. Sounds persuasive? â€“ Not so fast. The argument from design may or may not be a good argument to prove the existence of God. But does it then follow that natural selection necessarily disproves the existence of God? On what basis does Dawkins demand that the existence of God be explained in Darwinian terms? Moreover, Dawkinsâ€™ argument is based on three unscientific assumptions. It presupposes that natural selection is 1) an undeniable fact, 2) the ultimate explanation for all questions about existence â€“ even Godâ€™s existence, and 3) does not invoke the slightest notion of chance. Dawkins is a master when it comes to explaining how natural selection works, and I do appreciate him for that. As a result I also appreciate natural selection as the best possible scientific explanation to date for the mystery of life. Dawkins has contributed so much to evolutionary biology as a terrific writer. But since when has he been an authority on ontology? If we are able to give an account of God, as to his whyâ€™s and howâ€™s of existence, we might as well be God: transcendent, supernatural beings.
Science has its limits, and not all origins require a Darwinian explanation. This analogy shows that God does not require a Darwinian explanation: In about two-hundred-and-fifty years or so from now, scientists might be able to create â€œartificial intelligenceâ€ (AI) that is very much like us humans: AI that can understand speech, read and understand books, respond to questions, make decisions, and be useful to humans in many ways. If the AI were to read a â€œHistory of AI: 1950-2250â€ book, it would understand its origins; how it was built from sophisticated software and hardware developed by numerous computer scientists over hundreds of years. Having read its history, the AI would be competent to explain the howâ€™s and whyâ€™s of its existence. Now imagine the AI taking a brave step to account for human existence in software/hardware terms â€“ all its conclusions about human existence would be, from a human point of view, comical. The AI is not entitled to require a technological explanation for human existence. In the same way, neither is Dawkins entitled to require a Darwinian explanation for Godâ€™s existence. Just as the natural world of biological life is distinct from the technological world of the AI, the transcendent world of God is distinct from the natural world of biological life. And just as software/hardware explanations for AI cannot rule out human existence, Darwinian explanations for biological life cannot rule out Godâ€™s existence. At best, Dawkinsâ€™ attempt to scientifically prove that â€œGod almost does not existâ€ is just an attempt to find some rational ground for his atheism.
Morality is next on Dawkins list. After providing a detailed explanation of the roots of morality from a Darwinian perspective, and supporting his thesis with the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Dawkins concludes that we do not necessarily draw our moral convictions from religion. But then he makes this intriguing comment that: â€œ. . . it is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.â€ What is an absolutist moral? Is it not the law on which we make our judgements of good and evil? And where can an absolute moral law come from other than a moral law giver? This argument from objective morality to point to the existence of God (totally ignored by Dawkins) is against the central thesis of his book â€“ that God is a delusion. But Dawkins eloquently takes the reader away from a discussion of an absolute moral law to an entertaining attack at the Old Testament; this time on its moral standards; of who slept with whom, who lied to whom, and who killed whom. His goal is to show that most Christians today do not draw their moral standard from the Old Testament. Having satisfactorily made his point, Dawkins discusses the changing moral Zeitegist from a Darwinian perspective. He tells us that what we may consider to be immoral today might have been perfectly normal in the past. Such as Abraham Lincolnâ€™s public comment on the superiority of the white men over the black, or even Hitlerâ€™s attitude towards the Jews. Dawkins concludes that since the moral Zeitegist has been rapidly changing, we cannot judge men from the past by our own post-modern standards of morality. By the time I got to the end of this chapter on morality, I could not help being puzzled and amused at how the Old Testament times (stories from thousands of years ago) were not given Dawkinsâ€™ â€œchanging moral Zeitegistâ€ treatment as Hitler.
Nevertheless, Dawkins is right that religious ideologies have led to violence. But so have some non-religious ideologies. The civil war in Sri Lanka, for example, has no religious attachments whatsoever, but the LTTE fight, die, and kill for a cause. Such powerful ideologies have been present throughout history in both religious and non-religious groups. They do not, however, speak for a group (ethnic or religious) as a whole. Dawkins also believes that eradicating religion will lead to peace. But will eradicating religion solve the problem of violence? It certainly would not solve the North and East problem in Sri Lanka, nor will it solve numerous other problems grounded in political, economic, and ethnic factors. We cannot be simplistic about them, and I do not think that we have the right to judge individuals by the reputation of their peer group or vice versa. To this end, Dawkinsâ€™ view of real problems and his solutions for them are hopelessly simplistic and far too subjective to be taken seriously.
The final chapter is the best in the book. After hammering hard on theology and religion Dawkins gets back to what he does best: communicating science. He finishes the book with the most beautiful, eloquently crafted sentences that were intriguing; giving a sense of amazement about the wonderful discoveries of science. But the question I asked myself as I finished reading The God Delusion was why such a respectable, accomplished scientist, wrote this intellectually unsatisfying, theologically ignorant, superficial and subjective, academically unbalanced, and rhetorically unscientific book?
I suspect that The God Delusion will have a variety of effects on its readers. Those who have been wanting to feel free from religious obligations, but have failed to find arguments that are satisfying enough, would find Dawkinsâ€™ book to be liberator â€“ they would also enjoy his witty, sarcastic approach. Those who have a good understanding of both sides of the argument, whether they are religious or anti-religious, would be critical of Dawkinsâ€™ approach as simplistic and subjective. To the fundamentalist atheist and the fundamentalist theist Dawkins would continue to maintain his position as angel and devil respectively. Dawkinsâ€™ hope, as outlined in the preface of the book, was that: â€œreligious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down,â€ however, to me quite the opposite happened. By being the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins is, and by dedicating 400 pages to arguments against religion which are probably the most powerful ones he has, Dawkins has left me feeling that his atheism floats on shallow waters. And as a result, I was more intellectually satisfied in the Christian faith than I was before I read The God Delusion.
A Reader posted a review at 2009-10-01 01:31:19.
I saw a t-shirt the other day that simply stated "Dawkins is Right". I don't agree. I'd prefer to have one that simply "Dawkins is wrong" or simply "Richard DORKins". That being said, I'm not a God fearing bible basher, nor am I 100% convinced by his interpretation of Darwin and am not convinced at all of his spurious concept of Memes. But lets not get into that right now. (another time and place maybe)
I read this book with a weird mix of emotions. In parts I was amused, delighted and entertained and in other parts concerned by the extremist opinions of America's Christian Right. But mostly I was annoyed or just plain bored.
That being said, Dawkins argues his point extremely well. Though I would say that it his argument is more rhetorical than it is logical. Furthermore, he has clearly done his homework MOST of the time.
The most annoying thing for me is during the preface, where he bemoans being misquoted in one paragraph, then goes on to misquote Robert Pirsig in the next.
To Me, what Pirsig actually said, underlines the flaw of this lengthy atheists bible. Pirsig indeed says that "When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion." BUT then goes on to point out the absurdity of this view. The catch word here is 'delusion'. Individuals and groups can have delusion, or ourselves in the past, but we never see ourselves as deluded in the present. In the highly unlikely event that Dawkins converts to Christianity (a creationists wet dream) Dawkins would then regard this book as a delusion.
This, to me, is what gets my back up. Despite his defence that he is passionate about his atheism and is not extremist, he still shares an extremist's absolutism. (This was brilliantly satirised in a South Park 2 parter) And I, personally, don't have time for absolutism. Declaring, as he does, that "evolution is a FACT" does not make it so.
It may seem odd, to anyone who has bothered to read this much of my review/rant that to my mind, I see no reason why evolution may, in the future, be superseded by a better theory. Afterall, history seems to emphasise this point again and again.
Moreover, as Dawkins is no-doubt aware, through the numerous examples of flawed theological arguments he uses to make his point, religion is a matter of faith and no amount of rhetoric or logic is likely to shake this view.
Sorry Richard, I respect the titanic effort that has obviously gone in to writing this book, but no amount of logic is ever likely to shake my views either. I'm still a "namby-bamby" agnostic.
And God, if you do exist, and you are reading this: I lead a good and (mostly) honest life, but I have no intention of sucking up to you, just to get a ticket for a little fluffy cloud.
Anyway, hope you find this review/rant useful,
The Eternal Fence Sitter
A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-10 10:17:56.
This, in my opinion, is a VERY important book.
I began with Dawkins' - 'The Ancestor's Tale'. This book was his second book I've read and now, I intend to read ALL of his works.
This is a book people tend to rate very highly or very lowly. On amazon.co.uk, it's either 5 star rated or 1 star rated, which in my opinion, begs for concern and the world should breath a sigh of relief for the release of this book. I tried to critisize his words and I could not. I've never assumed there is definitely no creater. Neither does Dawkins. Yet, although the doubt reserve is at the barest of minimums, he has been described as 'ranting in a hateful manner' in this book, as in others. Giving a very sensible argument is not ranting!! It is in the nature of fundementalists to be hateful of someone with different beliefs and there are countless examples of this within this book. Anyone who claims Mr. Dawkins is evil, arrogant, destined to 'burn in the eternal fires of hell' or whatever else makes them feel better about themselves has been programmed not to even attempt to reason with anything which goes even slightly against their multi-authored rulebooks.
The God Delusion contains information about religions origins, where it is headed, the damage it can do/has done, why it has no relevance to a person's moralities and much more information of course, all of which is intellectually argued on his part.
Unfortunately, I don't think this book will succeed in making an impression amongst the religious community. I've a better idea now of the severity and scope of the religious scars engraved upon people exposed to 'faith' since a vunerable age (when imaginary friends can seem very materialistic) and for those people, the fear of the consequences of escape is too horrific a thing to face.
The amount of links to other sources of information found in this book is pretty amazing too and I'm looking forward to delving into the work of the people which were an inspiration to Dawkins.
I have to add, considering this book was written in 2006 and was obviously prepared over some time, I find it amusing how quickly we are 'blessed' with 'The Dawkins Delusion'!! It appears as though it's typical of a religious defender to retaliate without reasonable thought, just like in a debate. Mind you, it's gonna sell regardless of it's content (and is again either rated 5/5 or 1/5 generally funnily enough). This highly stresses the importance of allowing children, today, to have the right to choose for themselves.
One of Dawkins' main concerns is this. Do NOT speak the words 'a Muslim child' or 'a Christian child'. Instead say, 'a child of Muslim/Christian parents'.
A Reader posted a review at 2008-03-19 10:37:40.
As someone who has always been intrigued by science, I was fascinated by Dawkins' use of evolution and mathematical probability to dispute the existence of God. Despite having learned a significant amount about evolution throughout my university career, I cannot say that I ever gave it much thought in the context of religion. I found myself wishing that Dawkins had discussed the topic in greater detail within this book. In contrast, Dawkins seemed to go off on tangents quite frequently where, in my opinion, it was completely unnecessary - sometimes to the point where I momentarily forgot what exactly he was trying to prove. His discussion of memes was one such area and, in my view, it weakened his overall argument. His claim that raising a child in a religious environment is tantamount to child abuse, is a gross generalization. In certain households, such as those of fundamentalist Christians, I wholeheartedly agree. Documentaries such as "Jesus Camp" have exposed the blatant brainwashing that many Evangelical children are subjected to. Such treatment cannot be described as anything short of terrifying. Still, I cannot say that my moderately religious parents did any serious harm by teaching me their beliefs. I went to a Catholic school (which did not teach Creationism and encouraged questioning religion - imagine that!), and I believe that I actually benefited from the experience. We were required to take a "World Religions" course and were taught tolerance. Never did a teacher claim that we were superior to another group of people. To say that all parents should be forbidden from passing their beliefs on to their children, is quite frightening in itself. I don't see how that's any different from the church taking Children away from those Jewish parents mentioned within the book. It's just a different form of totalitarianism.Should there be a separation of church and state? Absolutely! Should Creationism be taught in schools? Absolutely NOT! Would we be immoral without religion? Of course not! Does moderate religion have a place in our society? I believe that it does. In fact, I believe that it would benefit everyone if a world religions course was mandatory in every single school. Some of my best friends are of different faiths, and we have no trouble getting along. In fact, we have had religious discussions in the past - not discussions about which religion is correct, but discussions about the differences between them. Thus, exposure to different religions and the people who practice them, is a much better alternative than trying to convince individuals that they should abandon religion altogether. It will never happen. Dawkins is a brilliant writer, but I disagree with many of his assertions. I certainly don't regret reading this book, as it made me think about a lot of important issues. Still, the hatred that I felt emanating from certain portions of The God Delusion made me feel very uneasy. The last thing this world needs is a group of atheists starting a war against religion.
A Reader posted a review at 2010-09-08 04:21:22.
Niye sevmedim ben bu kitabı. Richard Dawkins biz ateistlerin piri değil miydi? Tübitak'tan çıkmış olan "Gen Bencildir" ve "Kör Saatçi" kitaplarına ise bayılmıştım oysa. Uzun zaman oldu tabi, belki onları da şimdi okusam sevmem.
Niye sevmedim? Sürekli koptum kitaptan. Sürekli, yav alt başlık neydi diye düşündüm durdum. Verilen örnek neyin örneğiydi?
Ana ve alt başlıkları yerli yerinde, örnekleri cuk oturtan, kilit noktaları çözüveren, müthiş akıl oyunları sergileyen bir kitap değildi sanki.
Ben öylesini umuyordum sanki. Öyle olmalıydı ki artık üzerine söylenecek söz olmamalıydı.
Eh, o sözü de söylemek bana kalmıştır belki. :P
Yanılgıdan sadece bir kişi acı çekiyorsa buna delilik denir. Yanılgıdan birçok insan acı çektiğinde ise buna din deniyor.
"Bir çağın dini, bir sonrakinin edebi eğlencesidir" Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yaratılışçılar fosil kayıtlarındaki "boşluklara" bayılırlar.
Tıpkı genel anlamda boşluklara bayılmaları gibi.
Yırtıcılar, avlarını yakalamak için mükemmelce "tasarlanmış" gibi görünürken, avları da kaçabilmek için mükemmelce "tasarlanmış" gibi görünür. Peki, Tanrı kimin tarafındadır?
Benim ya da diğer ateistlerin din karşısında ara sıra takındığımız bu düşmanca tavır sadece kelimelerle sınırlıdır. Ben ilahiyat kaynaklı bir anlaşmazlık yüzünden hiçbir yere bomba atmayacağım, kimsenin kafasını kesmeyeceğim, kimseye taş fırlatmayacağım, kimseye çarmıha gerip yakmayacağım, kimseye işkence etmeyeceğim veya gökdelenlere uçakla çarpmayacağım.
"Birçok insan düşündüğünden daha önce ölecektir. Aslında zaten öldüler." Dertrand Russell
"Her köyde öğretmen denen yanan bir ateş var; ve yine
her her köyde papaz denen, bu ateşi söndüren biri var." Victor Hugo
Alfred Hithcock, İsviçre'de araba sürerken birden pencerenin dışında bir yeri işaret etmiş ve "Hayatımda gördüğüm en dehşetli sahne bu" demiş. İşaret ettiği yerde bir papaz, küçük bir çocuk ile, eli çocuğun omzunun üzerinde bir şekilde sohbet ediyormuş. Hitchcock arabanın pnceresinden başını çıkarmış ve şöyle bağırmış: "Kaç küçük çocuk! Hayatını kurtarmak için kaç!"
Dinin 4 rolü:
A Reader posted a review at 2008-03-10 12:16:38.
Wow, this book is amazing, daring to poke the giant taboo-bear of religion. Once again Dawkins makes a very wonderful argument sprinkled with fact and cunning logic, he presents a different view then the almost required social standard (any atheist presidents running?) of accepting religion or get bashed and publicly decried as a lunatic. Richard's style in this book is slightly more to the venemous I'll agree, HOWEVER, and I capitalized that to make an important point, it is written in the same way it will be received and reviewed by the religious (and possibly agnostic) populace in general, it is about time someone took this stance and used as much venom in their voice against religion as religion uses towards idealisms and thoughts/ philosophies that challenge the foundation of their beliefs If you don't believe me on the venomous reception of ideas that are considered to be abominable, not even given a chance to be explored, just look towards the animosity towards radical ideas like same sex marriage or abortion (Now I do realize that there are those of the religious view that are not this way, but the vocal majority are and this cannot be ignored)I digress, This book is marvelous and any preconceived notion of what is and is not, should be set aside. Please don't harden your mind, leave it open to the possibilities and give this book some serious thinking if you believe your faith is correct then you should have no fear or animosity towards exploring the alternatives.
A well written/reasoned book at the taboo of religious fallacy.Takes alot of cajones to write a book looking at religion in a different light while being in a world where you are shunned immediately for doing so.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-21 07:52:12.
I found this review by Publishers Weekly expressing most of my opinion about the book:
"... 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 religionsâ€”fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobriumâ€”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."
I can add to that that i benefited from his information about Einstein being an atheist, it challenged a long understanding of mine that he was a believer of some sort. Also he exposed me to evolutional biology and made me shift the point where God might have possibly interfere in the universe back to the big bang.
His grouping of the three Abrahamic religions is a point of weakness. There is almost no addressing of Islam and he only sights one person for most of his material on that "Ibn warraq, a divert from Islam". A Muslim reader will be immune from most of Dawkins points against Christianity and Judaism.
Dr. Dawkins complains about the amount of respect religion receives when people debate moral issues. He particularly states that it is customary to include members of various religious groups while non-believers are systematically under represented. He , therefore, asks on what basis do we credit those people? I think that this practice has corrupted intellectual societies for a while not in the narrow view presented in this context, but rather in terms of giving "experts" a much larger weight in addressing topics that doesn't need any special training to be addressed. This has been witnessed in all sorts of issues under public concern such as the was on Vietnam. See Noam Chomsky's article (The Responsibility of Intellectuals, The New York Review of Books (1967), www.nybooks.com/articles/12172). I believe that this is orchestrated as a method to manipulate the main stream and control it by few that can be , in their turn, controlled by the people in power.
His last chapter lacks character and leaves no impression whatsoever in comparison to the strong openings of his monograph. I enjoyed many of his phrases but i am not sure how long will it be before reading any other books by him.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-05 10:47:49.
Undoubtedly one of the best books I've ever read. Dawkins has both the scientific knowledge, the eloquent literary style, and the steadfast unapologetic attitude necessary to take on religion, its fallacies, and its increasingly dominating presence on the global stage.
Admittedly, Dawkins' arguments are stronger in some places than in others, but even in the weak spots he presents compelling reasons for the "God Hypothesis" being not only an extremely poor, unsupported answer, but in fact not an answer at all. Some people do not find this to be an effective way to "disprove" religion, but I'd argue that that was never Dawkins' objective: scientifically, religion cannot be 100% disproved. His objective in the particular chapter to which I refer was simply to show the logical fallacy inherent in the God Hypothesis.
In any case, Dawkins does an absolutely excellent job of highlighting the myriad negative aspects of religion and showing why we as a species do not need to (and should not) cling to such archaic belief systems, even if some people find them somehow comforting. His discussion of why atheism is life-affirming (rather than being pessimistic and depressing as many religious people seem to think) is not only likely to make atheism more accessible to people who are currently religious, but it is also - and I hesitate to use such a cliche phrase, but I can think of nothing better - a heart-warming, exhilarating read.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their beliefs. For those of us who are already atheists, Dawkins' well-written arguments and subtle humour provide a very interesting read... and perhaps the book will even galvanize some of us into action, for atheists too must stand up for their rights: not for belief, but for reason and a healthy respect for scientific evidence. For religious readers, this book will challenge your beliefs and perhaps make you question the value of faith for faith's sake. Everyone should read this book and others like it.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-11-26 11:41:34.
This book was an immense disappointment. No wonder it has been mauled by critics on both sides of the "belief-in-God fence".
I was desperately hoping for a well-argued, cogent, evidence based, fair but firm, objective argument engaging with the belief in God. Instead this book is filled with assertion, straw-men, misrepresentation, pseudoscience (such as "memes" and "mind-viruses" - hypotheses rejected and ridiculed by the mainstream scientific community), speculations, mockery and reductionism.
I know this kind of non-thinking atheistic dogmatism is not typical of atheism, and that atheism has strong arguments that those who believe in God need to hear and engage with. Surely Dawkins doesn't think that the case for atheism is so weak that his only resort is this level of nonsense.
"The God Delusion" most certainly doesn't show the strength of the atheist worldview. For every good point Dawkins makes (he is totally right to expose and challenge and condemn religious violence) he also says something manifestly foolish (Dawkins' claim that atheists would never carry out crimes in the name of atheism is simply naive and embarrassing in light of even a minimal knowledge of the rise of the Soviet Union under Lenin).
Instead it seems that from Dawkins point of view the atheist emperor has no clothes, and Dawkins is frantically trying to convince us that he does.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-16 04:19:03.
I listened to the audio version of this book.
Dawkins (overall) makes the best argument overall against the state of religious thought and action in the world right now, yet Hitchens made it into a verbose witticism. Many religious people are slaves to their beliefs than they are to science, and it has driven them to extremes to see that slavery spread onto other people(s).
But that doesn't mean all religious folks are like this, and I find his argument against religious moderation to be dubious at best. While I see his points on how such stances can foster religious extremism, I find other reasons such as poverty, oppression, and western imperialism to be equal valid points. To pin all the world's ills on religion is short-sighted at best.
Another thing I disliked about this book is how cut-and-paste it seemed. I think he referred to Sam Harris on at least three occasions and Daniel Dennett at least two times. These goofy shout-outs seemed to be out of context. As for his citing of other works to defend his case (like the existence of the multiverse), then it appeared to be right and best at the time.
Overall, the stalwarts of the so-called New Atheism haven't really changed society all that much in the short term. I can really see why they reacted, but I don't think that reaction itself is enough to change the thoughts and hearts of the religious from here out. Emotions are the kerosene for many souls and they need religion to fill their voids. I don't agree with the fascism that these New Atheists put forth, nor do I agree with the fascism that the Christian fundamentalists put forth. On that end, I find both sides at fault.
Ultimately, the choice is ours. Believe or not, so long as it doesn't affect me or anybody else.
A Reader posted a review at 2008-01-30 05:25:43.
I read two books at the same time in December.
They're rather a contrast.
One is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, the avowed atheist Oxford professor. It's a very smart, pacy, well-written book, full of wit and drive; incisive, witty, cutting, and very, very clever. And it knows it. Dawkins delights in every point he scores against poor 'theists' (those who insist on stupidly clinging to belief in their 'highly improbable' deity). It's a book written by a strong mind, persuading his reader that he must be right and mocking the reader who may disagree.
The other is Becoming Human by Jean Vanier, the Roman Catholic founder of L'Arche, communities in which people deliberately live together some being severely 'intellectually disabled' (in Vanier's endearing phrase) and love and learn from each other. It is simple, humble, straight-forward and profound. Vanier shows how what we perceive as 'weakness' (particularly, in this case, disability) can teach 'the strong' what, on the deepest level, it means to be truly human; that is, to love.
I can't help but think of something Jesus said (Dawkins, by the way, would allow me to believe that Jesus existed, but not allow me to be so certain that He said anything. But, hey). 'By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.' (Matthew 7:16-18)
The fruit of Dawkins' philosophy? Cleverness; scorn. And, ultimately, the fruit of Darwinist atheism can only be to disregard the weak. They are simply not 'naturally selected'. What counts is strength.
The fruit of Vanier's philosophy? Love; humility. Ultimately the fruit of his faith embraces the weak, and not merely to 'help' them, but to learn from them, to learn what humanity truly is. What counts is humanity.
Judge for yourself: if we disregard God as a 'delusion' does it help us to 'become human'?
I wrote these comments in December whilst still in the middle of both books. I must retract some of my earlier comments about The God Delusion now that I've finished the book. I'm referring to the comments about it being 'clever'.
You see, it becomes rather less clever in its closing chapters. The first four chapters are, I freely admit, pretty clever. Dawkins presents an atheistic critique of religious 'arguments for God', largely from a scientific viewpoint. He does it with confidence and verve (though I became a little bemused when he attempts to dismiss a philosophical giant like Thomas Aquinas in three pages. There is such a thing as intellectual arrogance).
In chapter 5, Dawkins 'boldly goes' into some of his more eccentric theories about where religion comes from (given that it's all such a ridiculous error). It's interesting enough, this pseudo-scientific-psychological perusal but not very convincing when you get behind the rhetoric. For instance, Dawkins' talk about 'memetics', his own pet theory of cultural evolution, treats 'memes' as though they were concrete entities you could look at through a microscope (rather than the - fanciful? - hypothesis of a scientist who just happens to also be a secularist determined to explain human behaviour without getting near reference to spirituality). So, chapter 5. A good read, but a great deal less convincing even than Dawkins wants us believe poor old Thomas Aquinas was.
Chapter 6 continues along broadly the same trajectory, gustily avoiding the truly difficult question of what 'morality' can possibly mean in an amoral universe that came to be by amoral chance. He avoids this question whilst addressing it, which, fair enough, is clever, but hardly satisfying.
But I'm afraid silliness really sets in come chapter 7, the chapter on the Bible. His dismissal of the Old Testament (and its God) is so obviously duff that I'd like to make it available in the flyleaf of every Bible sold as an example of how fanatical atheism takes away even the ability to read. Oh, there's more than enough rhetoric about the bloodbaths in the Old Testament and so on. But Dawkins entirely ignores the many, many examples of God's heart for justice, mercy, and love which come through not only in the narrative parts, but more especially in the prophets.
Then there is his entirely silly assumption that God endorses the behaviour of every character in the Old Testament simply because they're in the Old Testament. Yes, Lot's assumption that rape of females is less offensive than rape of males is reprehensible: and we can be sure God agrees (read the rest of the Bible, like the prophets who speak for God, and Jesus who is the speech of God). It seems to me that the Bible's unflinching honesty about the flaws (nay, the downright moral evil) of some of its characters (even its heroes) is a point in its favour. And we would do well to note a point that Paul makes in the New Testament about the Old Testament: 'These things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did'. Moral examples go both ways. The Bible is grimly realistic about human morality.
Then there's Dawkins' thin and scanty critique of the New Testament. Dawkins mocks Jesus as a pale-faced Galilean and then condemns him for His harsher sayings. A proverb about wanting cake and eating cake springs to mind. And here ends Dawkins' response to the single most influential collection of texts in world history.
Chapters 8 and 9 fall into a similar pit of self-contradiction: Dawkins bangs on about fanatical, unthinking, fundamentalist religion (he seems to know of no other kind, except when he posits that intelligent and sensitive theologians are not worth dealing with since they're in such a small minority. Is that an argument?) His solution? He recommends fanatical, unthinking, fundamentalist atheism. 'Trust me, it'll make the world a better place,' he insists.
Perhaps the biggest example of Dawkins' flagrant inconsistency is in his recommendations for bringing up children. To sum up: 'It is immoral to teach children what to believe. Let them make up their own minds. Teach them Darwinist Evolution. It is the Truth.' I kid you not. Read it yourself in chapter 9.
So I have to retract my comments about it being a clever book. 'Smart, pacy, well-written,' yes. 'Full of wit and drive,' yes. 'Incisive,' yes, if you mean making your points in such a focused way as to leave no room for discussion. 'Witty, cutting,' certainly. 'Very, very clever. And it knows it.' Sorry, no. It is not clever. It is really rather stupid, beneath the bombast. But, sadly, it doesn't know it.
Stan posted a review at 2009-03-08 10:23:45.
The author Richard Dawkins is a very serious atheist who feels that atheists should be proud and non-apologetic
about their beliefs. In this work, he argues against creationism and the 'God hypothesis'. Besides briefly reviewing
the main philosophical arguments traditionally given for the existence of God, he spends much time analyzing and
refuting intelligent design as an explanation for the creation of the universe. In much of the second half of his book,
he discusses religion, its origins, and its links to morality. Dawkins feels the needs of people for consolation, inspiration,
and moral guidance need not be based on religion, but can be solidly grounded non-religious foundations such as
science or philosophy. He has an interesting quote from Albert Einstein, who though credited with a belief in God,
according to Dawkins, really uses God only as a metaphor for his explanations of the universe: "Strange is our situation
here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the
standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men----above all for those
upon whose smiles and well-being our happiness depends." That being the case, the book might have been more effective if it
had not been written in such polemical terms. Even so, I think it makes for good reading and, and it has been widely read, but maybe not by those who might benefit most from its contents, for atheism is still not widely accepted in an industrial country like the United States, where politicians nearly always have to claim religiosity to be elected.
Scott posted a review at 2008-08-29 03:19:14.
A controversial, provocative book in which the author decries all religious belief, stating that it is the cause of many of the world’s problems.
If anything, I approached reading The God Delusion with some apprehension. The author is someone with impressive academic credentials. Yet, even before reading, it appeared that the author’s arguments against religion were simplistic, and based on many assumptions and generalisations.
I came away from this book feeling that though I did not have his great learning, I still had some sense of where Dawkins' assertions were deficient.These impressions were confirmed by critiques of The God Delusion by Christian authors, and even in a secular literary journal, The London Review of Books.
The London Review of Books suggests that the author had already decided when writing this book that there was little in religion or God that was worth investigating. Because of this, the author’s arguments are at the level of; ‘vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince.’
For a start, the author lumps all religions together, even with their theological differences.
He fails to distinguish the many people whose faith may stir them to go out and strive to make the world a better place, from those militant fundamentalists who fly passenger planes into skyscrapers or firebomb abortion clinics.
In particular, the author makes many generalisations about Christianity. Dawkins argues that all faith is blind faith, suggesting that children with Christian upbringings, who still have faith as adults only do so because of indoctrination, or inadequate education where they have not been taught how to think for themselves.
The author appears to have a superficial understanding of the Bible. He falls into the trap of quoting selectively passages of scripture.
In The Root of all Evil, a television program, which screened on the ABC religious affairs program, Compass, the author spoke about what he called ‘the evils of theism.’
Another writer, Nick Pollard, argued that Dawkins, if he brands something as evil, must believe that there are such things that can be deemed as good. Therefore, he appears to contradict himself. Is it possible to understand what good and evil are only through the theories of evolution, and that life did not come from God, but by chance.
‘..., how can Dawkins talk about anything being evil? Surely, even any use of that term contradicts his belief about reality.”
Finally, the author seems to have a passionate, almost evangelical belief in human potential through science. He writes; ‘the progressive trend is unmistakable and it will continue’, ignoring things like environmental disasters, famine, ethnic wars and nuclear wastelands that humans have all caused. Though throughout this book, Dawkins attacks God and religious belief, the author has an almost (to use a Christian term) ‘evangelical’ faith in science.
Ideas argued in The God Delusion come from a standpoint where life did come about through chance, and concepts like absolute truth, and good and evil only exist because of chance as well. If this is the case, then why is Dawkins' vision of how things in the world ought to be, more worthy of attention than what a Judeo Christian understanding of the world offers us?
Ethan posted a review at 2010-04-25 09:35:05.
Richard Dawkins is a scientist and materialist. His worldview, apparently, looks at everything in pseudo-scientific terms-- that much is evident from this book.
I say "pseudo" scientific because if he used the same thoroughgoing processes demanded by the scientific method upon the substance in his book, I would like to think that it would have been significantly re-written. It is painfully evident when Dawkins strays from the range of his proficiencies. Look for the very unscientific words "might," "possibly," "suggest," "perhaps," and many other such qualifiers on much of the argumentation used to attempt to "explain" religion and religious phenomena.
There's not much new here. The same atheistic arguments are peddled that have been provided for over a hundred years. "Evidence" against religious claims, especially regarding the Bible, are uncritically accepted. As is expected, Dawkins focuses on the Old Testament and not really the New-- for if he spent more time in the New Testament, divorced from Anglican dogma that he was taught, again, the book might be quite different.
While he might deny it, Dawkins is an atheist fundamentalist and a man of sincere faith in the dogmas of post-Enlightenment triumphant rationalism. Everything is laughably simplistic, and one gets the strong impression that while Dawkins strongly encourages skepticism in regards to religion, he hasn't quite been skeptical enough of his own presuppositions and worldview.
His assumptions regarding the lack of existence of anything beyond that which is material are not as evident as he would like. He enjoys playing to the extreme as much as those whom he despises. His arguments often assume their own proof. It's painfully clear that it takes more faith to accept Dawkins' alternatives for origins than to believe in a Creator. He proves more than willing to question the design paradigm, but there's no evident questioning of the evolution/materialist paradigm.
His handling of Zeitgeist is equally deficient-- if it undermines religious claims, it would equally undermine the claims of rational thinking and reason as alternatives. He tries to give "Darwinist" explanations for morality, but gets nowhere near handling how "Darwinist" explanations for deviation from morality would flatly contradict such things.
This is a work of a highly smug and militant atheist who is perfectly willing to let his own operating assumptions slide without critical review while he mocks and derides the operating assumptions of the majority of people who have ever lived and who live today. Poor form.
His argument about the raising of children is exceptionally naive. All children are, to some extent, "indoctrinated" by some kind of ethical/moral code of conduct, be it through religion, the lack thereof, or some other ideology. I don't disagree that children should be taught how to think and to value critical thinking, but to assume that such can be done after they are brought up in a moral/ethical vacuum is laughable.
The most lamentable part of the book, however, is the parts where Dawkins is entirely correct about the way that many people have acted on account of their religious ideologies. If there is value in this book, it is here-- the testimony at how the faith is blasphemed because of the ungodly conduct and attitudes of believers.
Gary posted a review at 2007-07-17 08:27:34.
Dawkins's core axiom in The God Delusion is that what would traditionally be called a "belief in God" is, in fact, the assertion of a scientific hypothesis. Through a combination of argument, assertion, and ridicule, he makes his case against this "God hypothesis" and in favour of his conclusion that "there almost certainly is no God." Much of the book covers familiar territory. For those who haven't already digested a dozen discussions of Kant's and Hume's criticism of the ontological argument, or of the power of natural selection, or the many other topics covered here, this might all be new and exciting. I would have loved this book in high school or as an undergrad. But much of what is original is weighted too heavily toward assertion and ridicule, especially in the early chapters where, on several occasions, colourful adjectives are lazily used as a substitute for argument. For those who reject his axiom -- such as the late Stephen Jay Gould -- Dawkins offers little more than derision. Gould has been dead since 2002, but Dawkins still seems to feel overshadowed by him and this is perhaps the weakest part of the book. Dawkins was apparently aware that he would be charged with scientism but his rebuttal consists of a single sentence in chapter four proclaiming his innocence. Still, he has collected a lot of good material against the logical arguments that are often made to support the probability (or necessity) of God's existence. And Dawkins does raise some important issues. Should we be so deferential toward religion that rationally cockamamie ideas merely have to be tagged as religious belief to require us to accommodate them in the name of cultural diversity instead of subjecting them to analysis and criticism? The lengthy bibliography and many citations will lead readers to some excellent resources (none of which is Martin Gardner's The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, which would make a great companion, since Dawkins has nothing to say to fideists like Gardner).
A Reader posted a review at 2007-09-25 09:48:56.
Excellent book. I loved his books on evolution, though he always struck me as agnostic, the same as me, and not an atheist. I was concerned to hear him describing himself as an atheist, but very relieved to read early on that he is a technical agnostic, but de facto atheist. He seems only to call himself an atheist for simplicity. A shame, but helpful in the long run I suppose.
As with all his books, fiercely intellectual. He pulls no punches. He sets out his stall very honestly at the beginning. His goal, very admirably, is simply to get at and explain the truth, to cut through dogma and delusion without caring who he offends- good for him!
He does stoop a little low in an early chapter for my liking, tending to use extreme cases of religious violence too much. This makes a very good point about the harmlessness of atheism compared to the evils of religion, but is an unfair representation of religious people generally. Nothing wrong, but not giving a balanced view (though which religious book ever has?).
As yet no one has been able to disprove anything he has said, simply because he's thoroughly rational, and therefore always right. Who else can say that?
With so many religious books out there, many of which are forced on people, it's about damn time the atheists had a say. No one should begrudge one book about a set of beliefs.
Yes, it's going to upset some people, but if I were so badly wrong, I'd want to be shown. People who are offended by this are living in a fools' paradise, or happy to let others live there.
A Reader posted a review at 2010-02-11 12:27:10.
One gets the sense after reading Richard Dawkins that the difference between agnostics and atheists is tactical. Agnostics will agree with everything Dawkins writes, except his call for agnostics to come of the closet and assert, with confidence, that it is silly to believe in a supernatural sky god who can read everyone's thoughts. I think most people like to avoid conflicts. You believe what you want. I'll believe what I want. Let's have lunch. Agnostics are basically atheists who haven't yet read Dawkins' book. And it is am impressive book in that it includes a lot beyond just the existence of a sky god. For instance, Dawkins argues compellingly that our intuitive ethical beliefs pre-date any holy book (as evidenced by the near-universal cross-cultural agreement about the runaway trolley thought experiments). So, why do all societies have some kind of religion? Might it provide an evolutionary benefit? The answer to this question is fascinating. You'd better read it for yourself. Also, on a personal note, this book proved to be enormously useful in shooing away a born-again Christian who wanted to convert me during an airplane flight. Some friends said I should have just politely told him I needed to read my newspaper. But I was truly fascinated by his beliefs too intellectually curious to see what he would make of hard dose of skepticism.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-07-30 09:14:38.
Dawkins reputation for being inflammatory and divisive is undeserved in my opinion in terms of providing justification to ignore him. Dawkins in The God Delusion certainly doesn't hold back and like any good scientist has complete disrespect for ideas that are not supported with evidence or reason. However, Dawkins has a style that is non-threatening. Most of us can relate to an associate who was able to do and say outrageous things and remain endearing. Dawkins has this gift in spades, making him an excellent candidate to begin the engagement of scrutinizing the veracity of religious claims using the scientific method and fostering what I hope will be the start of a productive dialogue and debate.
Dawkins is at his best shooting down weak religious arguments on the prime-mover hypothesis. Dawkin's own hypothesis in this area probably couldn't have been made during the beginning of the Enlightenment because humanity at that time did not understand that all evidence leads to advancing complexity. Knowing what we know now, Dawkins is justified in putting these old arguments back in the limelight for further testing given what we've discovered over the past 100 years, especially the past 30 years in Cosmology.
Dawkins' is at his weakest when discussing America's founding ideals and the historical understanding of the beginning of religion and its meaning. These are areas where Dawkins' does not have the intellectual background so he merely references highly biased opinions of others that appear to be referenced because they support his worldview but are simply quite wrong, e.g., quoting Hitchens' claim that Thomas Jefferson was likely an atheist. However, to dismiss this book for his weakness in these two areas and his admitted bias would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater since they are not an essential part of the book.
Dawkins has several points worth consideration by all people who honestly seek knowledge and truth; some of these are as follows:
* Using the scientific method to seek truth about ideas where people have traditionally looked to religion; coupled with the development of his no-God hypothesis which he supports with logic and evidence, though not enough evidence to develop into a theory.
* Commentary on the increasing divide between intellectuals and religious people and the resulting harm both to society and the children of religious people who continue to indoctrinate their children rather than educate them; and the resulting effect that is widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.
* Shooting down the notion that atheism, as promoted and practiced by intellectuals, is somehow responsible for Nazi Germany, Stalinism, and other murderous and corrupt authoritarian governments and that atheism is the cause of moral decay seen in some societies. This is one of the most pervasive lies told by social conservatives, even those who claim to be anti-divisive, like Rick Warren on Meet the Press recently when he falsely charged Hitler's motivation as being atheistic.
* Dawkins discussion on memes and how this idea, which is his, argues why religion thrived since prehistory and why its failing so miserably now. For those unfamiliar with memes and Dawkins' groundbreaking work on this topic, this subject matter alone justifies the purchase of this book.
* Shines light on the fact that more atheistic societies are much more moral with happier people and provides an argument on why societies who've forsaken religion for intellectualism have less social ills.
So while Dawkins is occasionally as stridently biased as his opponents, the book is enlightening, entertaining, and well written. It reminds me of the most pleasurable wine-soaked dinners I've experienced where the conversation extended beyond small talk and into the realm of ideas that all humans struggle with and that most likely created religion in the first place.
A Reader posted a review at 2007-06-27 06:29:19.
This is the fourth of Dawkinsâ€™ books that I have read and I must say that unfortunately The God Delusion pales in comparison. The God Delusion does have humourous and thought provoking points but if you have watched the Root of all Evil and/or any of Dr. Dawkins recent lectures you have heard (practically verbatim) most of the book. One of the objectives of this book is to promote Atheism but I have found myself swayed more by his more in depth works as they demonstrated a naturalistic view as a positive rather than simply focusing on the negatives of a supernatural world like The God Delusion does.
There are several points that I agree with Dawkins in The God Delusion and some where I cannot commit as he does. For example when he argues against the standard religious claim that atheist can have no morality because they are relativist and use value judgements to base their morality by proving that Christians also use value judgements to pick and choose the morality they draw from the Bible. I cannot, however, follow Dawkins into the extreme that religious teaching equates child abuse, I agree that it can be heavy handed but it is not nearly as traumatic as physical, mental or sexual abuse.
The book will no doubt satisfy those already committed to atheism and strengthen their resolve but I cannot see how the razor wit and acid tongue that Dr. Dawkins uses will win him any allies. That is not to say that I did not find it entertaining, I did, but I did not find it as informative or enlightening as hsi other works. I would not discourage anyone from reading The God Delusion but I would certainly recommend that they read The Selfish Gene, Unweaving the Rainbow or Daniel Dennettâ€™s Breaking the Spell first