Pros: Science and psychology parts are interesting
Cons: Easily beat by a seasoned theologian; atheists have heard it all before
The Bottom Line: There are better books about a god's non-existence out there
I should probably tell you where I stand first on this subject: I am 75 percent atheist, 25 percent supernaturalist, and zero percent religious. When I introduce my spiritual views to new people, thats a bit of a mouthful, and so I just give the nutshell version of my views and say that for all intents and purposes, I am an atheist. Most atheists Ive met use Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion as their personal manifesto. They swear by it in the exact same way Jews, Christians, and Muslims swear by the Bible or the Quran. But like the two best-selling books on the planet, just because millions of people proclaim its truth from the mountaintops doesnt make it true. The God Delusion tries to be the definitive argument for the non-existance of a god, and Dawkins makes no secret of his hope it will be seen as such. But I started reading The God Delusion 75 percent atheist, and came out not having the needle moved any bit closer to 100 percent atheist.
In the introduction, Dawkins makes a reference to the religious violence of Northern Ireland. However, I had the fortune to talk with a peacemaking volunteer who has been doing work in Belfast for the last 29 years just days before I started reading The God Delusion. He said the violence there is pretty strictly political, and so I wondered just how much research Dawkins had actually put into The God Delusion. The Northern Ireland situation is bad enough without anyone trying to put a religious spin on it. Having the situation explained by someone a minister, in fact who has spent so long in Northern Ireland really made me wonder if Dawkins really believes that or is just counting on the ignorance of his potential audience. That Dawkins said this in his introduction put a doubt cloud over The God Delusion which it was never able to shed.
Once we get to the book proper, Dawkins says hes not trying to offend anyone. But he has a funny way of trying not to offend people. One of his first attacks comes not against the cruel Abrahamic god of the Bible and Quran but against agnostics. In a nutshell, he calls agnosticism a hollow belief system and claims a lot of agnostics arent legitimate agnostics but people just clinging to the idea of a god in principle. Once his angry rant against agnosticism is settled, Dawkins begins his expected attacks on Jews, Christians, and Muslims. These people are admittedly responsible for a lot of the problems springing up from religions today, but Dawkins maintains his anti-Abrahamic bull rush throughout the entire book. The God Delusion isnt so much anti-god (small letter G there intentional) as it is anti-Yahweh, anti-Jehovah, and anti-Allah. Where are his picks against Vishnu, Krishna, Brahma, Ahura Mazda, or even L. Ron Hubbard? Its not as if the ancient Hindu gods have gone the way of the Greek Zeus or the Roman Jupiter. There are still around 800 million Hindus.
In the third and fourth sections, Dawkins tries to introduce for the existence of a god and explain them away. But his methods in the third section lack objectivity. He names arguments but he doesnt go into deep-cutting details. Instead, hes happy to actually mock a few of them off. For example, he takes on the proofs of Thomas Aquinas but brushes them all off with broad strokes of a venom-loaded pen. Later, Dawkins takes on the idea that were too complex to have been formed randomly. The way Dawkins answers that argument is purely a schoolboys response: Creationist: We were not just created randomly! Dawkins: We were too! A hardcore religious nut could actually say Dawkins was loading the Creationist cannon by saying that. It almost as if Dawkins is admitting he doesnt have a real response.
Part of the problem is that when Dawkins tries to disprove a god in the fourth section, he doesnt disprove the god most people believe in, who exists outside the limits of logic. Instead, Dawkins creates a small god who is bounded by logic for the sole purpose of proving this god doesnt exist. Dawkins is completely out of his comfort zone because hes trying to bring down something he doesnt even have the imagination to properly fathom. He also seems preoccupied with how a god would be created. If something is illogical, does it really need a creator? Hes not winning any theology points with that one. Besides, Im sure a lot of general theists would accept the idea of a god being part of a family of gods who may have created the universe as a third-grade science project. God in itself is not a purely religious idea and Dawkins isnt comprehending that.
Since Dawkins is concentrating mainly on Christianity, hes sure to make the obligatory complaints about Jesus. Although he once wrote an article called Atheists for Jesus which praised the so-called son of gods better aspects, Dawkins complains that Jesus is meek and has his bad points. Unfortunately, he doesnt bother to put anything into historical or metaphorical context. Christian scholars like Brian McClaren and Marcus Borg have taken on the common arguments Dawkins puts forward about the literal Bible and crushed them. They dont make the god of the Bible more believable but they do make him more like the loving deity were raised to believe he is, and also a lot more consistent in social context. Too many people dont take the Bible literally anymore and Dawkins boils himself in hot water by believing they do.
While The God Delusion is purposely free of references to the Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, and Spanish Inquisition, too much of it is still an atheist-by-belief-in-principle singing the same old song and dancing the same old dance about the bloody, abusive history of religion every atheist sings. Theres nothing new here, and Dawkins missed a golden opportunity. My own atheism is based mainly in the very roots of historical religious belief, and religions evolution with a good smattering of science. Too few people know about religious development and Dawkins could have introduced a rudimentary but informative history about religious evolution. Instead, we get rehash after rehash of religions historical crimes. Is this the best the worlds most hated atheist can do?
Dawkins talks a little about science and about psychology, but again, its nothing a seasoned atheist hasnt heard or argued himself before. These arguments dont disprove the existence of a god so much as they do explain things. It would be easy for a religious person to read the scientific sections and say Wow! God is more glorious than I could ever imagine! The God Delusion is not a book that will change any minds. Its not going to change the world. It might as well just be called The Dawkins Delusion because the only delusion here is the delusion of any atheist trying to use this book as the be-all-and-end-all for disproving a god.
Pros: well written, excellent points Cons: Gets a bit old after a while. The Bottom Line: Excellent read for anyone that questions religion or loves a good debate about it. Growing up, I was Protestant, we went to church, not every week but on a regular basis. I did all of things that a normal Christian would do, but my parents didn't strictly adhere to the bible by any means. During middle school, I even kept up on religion, … more
You already know if you're going to like this book based on your religious beliefs. Religious beliefs usually remain pretty steadfast and so unless you're unsure this book probably won't persuade you. It doesn't help the way its written. Books don't don't much more controversial than this. Dawkins is a well known vocal atheist and in this book he sets out to systematically prove that God does not exist. He uses a number of very compelling arguments … more
Before reading this book, I had never read anything by Richard Dawkins. I had seen him on YouTube, and I can honestly say that Mr. Dawkins was the one mainly responsible for transforming me from a semi-believing but still doubting Catholic, to a full-fledged militant atheist. With that being said, I think this book will only truly persuade those who are already on the fence. If you are a devout religious person who is guaranteed to never change their minds, this book will be a … more
At last! An intelligent look at the insanity of religion. If you are agnostic, read this book and come over to the bright side. If you are atheist, read this book and feel the waves of reassurance and support while arming yourself for the next debate with a religious nutcase. If you are a "believer" then please either recognize that your beliefs are an reflection of the arbitrary facts of your family history, race, ethnicity, and the people you've … more
After Sir Richard Attenborough, Richard Dawkins is probably the wrold's most famous natural philosopher. Dawkins is also the world's most famous advocate of evolution, and enemy of creationism. This is his latest book, and it specifically targets the logic of religious thought. The book's title is not quite appropriate to its subject. Instead, Dawkins clearly states that he thinks the existence of God is a hypothesis that can be proven or disproven. He then proceeds to cite evidence that argues … more
Please read this objectively before rating its usefulness. My own beliefs are left unstated. With such a controversial topic, the danger is that the star rating gets equated with the rater's agreement of the reviewer's own stated or implied position on God's (non-)existence, not on the reviewer's assessment of Dawkins' own claims for denial of God. I'm summarizing my response to Dawkins as I have hundreds of other books rated by me on Amazon, so I strive here for the same fairness I try to give … more
Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.
Contents: A deeply religious non-believer -- The God hypothesis -- Arguments for God's existence -- Why there almost certainly is no God -- The roots of religion -- The roots of morality : why are we good? -- The "good" book and the changing moral Zeitgeist -- What's wrong with religion? : why be so hostile? -- Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion -- A much needed gap? A deeply religious non-believer. Deserved respect ; Undeserved respect -- The God hypothesis. Polytheism ; Monotheism ; Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America ; The poverty of agnosticism ; NOMA ; The great prayer experiment ; The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists ; Little green men -- Arguments for God's existence. Thomas Aquinas' "proofs" ; The ontological argument and other a priori arguments ; The argument from beauty ; The argument from personal "experience" ; The argument from scripture ; The argument from admired religious scientists ; Pascal's wager ; Bayesian arguments -- Why there almost certainly is no God. The Ultimate Boeing 747 ; Natural...