He critiques God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly.
Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle the Bible, bristles at the inanity of "intelligent design", or agonizes over fundamentalism in the Middle East or Middle America.
©2006 Richard Dawkins; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Richard Dawkins is the leading soothsayer of our time....The God Delusion continues his thought-provoking tradition." (J. Craig Venter, decoder of the human genome)
"The God Delusion is smart, compassionate, and true....If this book doesn't change the world, we're all screwed." (Penn & Teller)
"The world needs...passionate rationalists....Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion." (James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix)
If you've read much Dawkins, (The Blind Watchmaker, The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, and others) it will come as no surprise to you that he is no fan of religion. What is new in The God Delusion is that the evolutionary biologist goes beyond rational disagreement with those who believe, and argues that religion is dangerous and should be opposed on nearly every front. He recognizes that religion has been an important force in art and literature, but gives it credit for little else in the realm of good.
Dawkins makes no distinction between radical evangelical Christianity, the Taliban and Jihadist Muslims. The worldview of each is equally intolerant of any other belief, and so ultimately equally dangerous.
Dawkins spends about half the book examining historical and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. In doing so, he takes apart the reasoning of many men, noble and ignoble, most of whom are dead. In a historical review such of this, arguing with the dead is unavoidable. Dawkins spends a bit too much time arguing with the more recently dead Stephen Jay Gould, a fellow evolutionary biologist and sometimes nemesis, than is strictly necessary.
One thing that particularly rankles Dawkins is the concept of children being born into a religion. They grow up, typically, thinking that their parents' religion is the one true faith. How lucky for them. Dawkins seethes at calling a four-year-old a Catholic or Muslim child. We do not call them a Democrat or a Republican based on their parents' convictions. They are allowed to make that choice for themselves when they mature. Religion should be a matter of choice, not indoctrination, according to Dawkins. Of all his contentions in this particularly contentious book, this may be the least likely to gain traction.
Because religion in its multitude of forms is so widely practiced, Dawkins assertions will seem radical. They will not, however, seem irrational.
i am a christian, and i found this book to be brilliant (with the exception of the section on memes, which i found to be pedantic)... i believe that anyone -- religious or non-religious, young or old -- should read this book... whether you agree with the conclusions Dawkins draws, these are important questions that have bearing on all of humanity, and this is a very well considered, cohesive, and enjoyable treatise on matters of origin and existence... its a bit slow at times, but on the whole i cannot recommend this highly enough...
I picked this up after seeing the author on the Daily Show - I must admit he was preaching to the choir with me. I like a good debate on religious sociology but even though I agreed with the theory I found this book condescending. Maybe it was just the narrators but everytime they brought up an opposing theory it sounded snide and pompous. I probably also missed the point of the book - because rather than discrediting all other theories I thought they would make a case for their theory. Overall disappointed with the product as I was quite looking forward to the book.
I've read a couple of Richard Dawkin's works: The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion.
First of all, let me praise Mr. Dawkins, and Lalla Ward for a captivating reading of his work. They make a good oratory team, very pleasant listening. I was hoping for a bit more "meat" to chew on in God Delusion but to me, Richard simply sets up straw men then slays them magnificently. Like a skilled surgeon, he seeks out the most tumorous examples of mankind's failures in the name of religion then portrays them as an evil perpetrated by faith in God. I share his disgust for religion as we know it, having been corrupted by corrupt men, but that comparrison is just as useless as blaming a firearm for murdering someone. From a more positive perspective, Christians, especially church leaders and clergy, should read TGD, not so much for what it reveals about atheism but for what it reveals about how religion is perceived by non-believers. It is to their shame the message of The Cross is lost in the cacophony of religious infighting and corruption.
A reasonable counterbalance to TGD is Ravi Zacharias' Can Man Live Without God?, a collection of speeches given by Mr. Zacharias. Ravi sets up his own straw men for battle and does an eloquent job of doing so. Of course, he's coming from the perspective of one who believes in an almighty Creator so he manages to raise questions that Mr. Dawkins didn't seem to think of. Where Dawkins attempts to appeal to logic, Ravi focuses more on the philosophical aspects of the state of mankind. My personal, and totally biased opinion, is that Zacharias gets a head start in the debate simply because he addresses the heart of man, rather than the mere mind of man.
To those who are convinced in their positions, whether it be for or against God, neither of these orators will sway you from your stance. If you're genuinely on the fence, read both books.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
I always enjoyed that line between humanist and believer. I remember when I was a Mormon missionary reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. After finishing it, I immediately felt I needed to read Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. I don't have a real problem with agnostics, atheists, humanists, etc. I think the competitive nature of belief is important. I think religion NEEDS to be able to thrive under scrutiny. It can't be comfortable. It can't be too protected. It needs to offer something if it is going to continue to be relevant. But I just can't get too excited by Dawkins, Harris, and Maher's forms of Atheism. While I like and respect their ability and desire to look at facts, adore skepticism and the scientific method, etc., their tone seems to have been lifted from Fundamentalist Christians.
Perhaps, it is their evangelical nature I am rejecting. But it can't be that exactly. I loved Christopher Hitchens. It wasn't like he was just soft and kind. But he came off more like a drunk rationalist than I pious prig. Perhaps that is my main beef with Dawkins. When he is in positivist mode, he is exciting. I love reading his stuff about evolution and science and the scientific method. I just don't think he is very good and criticism. He seems to smug. Too cocky. To be fair to Dawkins I felt the same way about overly smug members of my own belief system, or Christians who seem more interested in bashing other's beliefs than showing the benefits of their own. Don't smash Buddhists, SHOW me what you have to offer. Don't smash belief, show me what skepticism has to offer.
As far as the narration, the back-and-forth narration between Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward was a bit distracting. The male/female, twisting narration helixes through the entire book, but I can't quite see the point of it. Perhaps it was just so that Dawkins didn't have to narrate the whole book himself. But why, in the middle of a paragraph, would you switch narrators. It was odd.
This book was a life-changing experience for me. I always knew I was not a believer, but I never could articulate what I was. I owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Dawkins for his rational, elegant, and passionate dissection of the intellectual fraud we call revealed religion. You could say that Dawkins gave me the courage to come out of the closet and put my HL Mencken quotes up on the wall for all to see.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is the moral outrage it no doubt causes among believers, so many of whom probably haven't read (listened) to it.
Once I started listening to this book, I could not stop until the last word was spoken. This is the only audiobook I've listened to twice.
An educator and senior who listens to his books from his phone through his hearing aids.
My sacred cows lay slain every where. I learned many things about many organized religions and contradictions and little known facts about the Bible. I was put off by what I found as the minimizing of pedophilia when comparing its damage to that of the religious brainwashing of children. Other than that Dawkins makes a logical well supported case against believing in any god. However, to accept his hypothesis, you must restrict your systems of perception to rationalism and empiricism. If you live by faith and not by sight, his arguments will be vacuous.
When I first listened to the sample of this book about a year ago, I misjudged Mr. Dawkins. I fell into a trap of stereotyping him as a pretentious twit based on the little bit of content I heard. I also think his accent had something to do with it. I thought this book sounded like one written to make atheists feel validated and smug. But after having his books reccomended to me by others, and reading more and more positive things about him, I gave him a shot. I started with "The Greatest Show On Earth", moved on to "The God Delusion", and then listened to "The Selfish Gene". Now I love this guy (and Lalla Ward too). I can't get enough of his clear thinking, his understandable use of language, his vast intellect, and most surprisingly, his sense of humor. This isn't really a science book, but who would guess that a scientist could be so fun?
In The God Delusion, he's basically just making the case that being an atheist is okay, and you don't have to be ashamed to admit it. He lays out every argument made on behalf of belief, shredding them to pieces to the point where there's basically nothing left but blind faith. And profoundly unfounded blind faith at that. But its not done with contempt or maliciousness, but with wit, airtight logic, and a wry sense of humor.
Alternating narration between himself and his wife, who is a trained actress, the audio format is very pleasing to the ears. Very strong performances by both will make sure that you never become bored. This is my favorite Dawkins book.
I have no beef with Dawkins' argument for atheism. What bothered me about this book was its dry, sluggish prose, its incessant reference to other works, and its two-reader narration which acted to distract rather than to enliven. Having recently listened to Hitchens' "God is Not Great," which is witty, pithy, and elegantly written, Dawkins' work seemed so dead and uninteresting. Where Hitchens can denigrate his opponents with withering logic wrapped in literary genius, Dawkins' attacks seem petty and rigid. He spends too much time worrying that he'll offend, then dives right in to some petty attacks.
Basically, this is a scientist's book about belief and non-belief. It lacks the culture and personality that many other books on the subject have in spades. Also, one good narrator would have done just fine, instead of Dawkins and a female narrator splitting the duties...poorly.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This book is aimed at what Dawkins sees as a growing population of closeted non-believers -- people who associate themselves with a religion or profess some vague spirituality, but don't, in their heart of hearts, really believe that there's a God. The God Delusion is his attempt to empower that population to take the small step to unapologetic, open atheism.
Dawkins goes through many of the expected arguments, detailing the lack of evidence for any definable God, particularly one who matches the scriptural Judeo-Christian deity. Frankly, I think that most of what he says in early chapters is common sense. We know from science that the Earth and life on it appeared without any direct creator. We know that supernatural miracles don't happen in the real world. No proof of a human afterlife exists. Religion's myths when examined closely, often make little sense, and conflict with science. Religious morals can be simplistic and inconsistent, and different sects of the same faith can't even agree on major points of theology. Religion often justifies intolerance, oppression, and violence. Religion demands special privileges and considerations that are seldom given by modern societies to similarly unprovable non-religious ideas.
As an agnostic, I thought that Dawkins successfully laid out all the pieces of reasoning that it took me several years to assemble on my own, as a young, disillusioned Catholic. Perhaps I would have abandoned that creed earlier, had a book like this jump-started my thought process.
Still, Dawkins' entire view of theology doesn't quite line up with mine. For one thing, he's a bit smug and self-righteous, going so far as to blast faith as a form of mental illness, and ignoring the fact that the basic human compulsions that draw reasonable people to spirituality can be quite powerful. He unfairly includes famous intellectuals arguably better described as agnostics (such as Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein) in the atheist camp, and lambastes agnostics as being unreasonably non-committal, which, as an agnostic, I didn't care for. I don't agree with his easy disposal of ultimate questions -- when considering an infinite, eternal chain of universes, there???s simply no way for the human intellect to explain its origins, whether through top-down Creation or bottom-up Evolution. There???s no reason to believe that this cosmic continuum doesn???t contain god-like entities, that we aren???t part of some larger universal consciousness, or that the laws of the greater multiverse, beyond our small, localized window of awareness, are remotely within our ability to understand. I still believe in transcendence and transcendent experience.
All that said, I think this book accomplishes something valuable in promoting unapologetic skepticism to the mainstream. Its talking points, though I don't agree with all of them, are a necessary part of any honest discussion about the roles of faith and religion in the modern world.
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