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.
Old soldier. Gentleman farmer. Ex-northerner, I hate snow. Ubuntu user. Democrat, but only because the other party is marginally worse.
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.
I am in agreement with many of the reviewers here who really appreciated this book. I just have a few additional comments:
1) The two-narrator format seemed odd to me at first until I realized it was like a two-person play. Then I really enjoyed listening to the narrators play off each other.
2) Richard Dawkins is a superb reader of his own work, which is not something you can say for everyone.
3) This book is NOT a rant, as others have said. We always accuse others of ranting when we cannot answer their arguments.
4) It is not absurd to say that raising a child to be religious is a kind of child abuse. Many people wonder about this, especially those in the particularly guilt-inducing varieties of religion. I've known many folks over the years who wonder what damage they may be doing to their kids.
5) Dawkins makes it clear at the beginning that he does not expect to win over true believers. He is instead giving people permission to be atheists. This is an important distinction and is based on his experience with readers and students over the years. I teach about human evolution and can verify that many people don't even realize they have a choice when it comes to the ways they think and live in the world.
6) Dawkins is right that so many people who are anti-evolution do not understand how it works. He is also right that really understanding evolution is a life-transforming, consciousness-raising experience.
7) This book is very witty and in some parts, downright funny. But it is also compassionate and nurturing in many ways.
In "The God Delusion", Richard Dawkins is witty, poignant, and inspiring. I have listened to most of it in a very short amount of time because I have a hard time putting it down. If you're looking for proof that belief in a personal God is irrational or an explanation to why so many people believe in God, this book will do the job. Dawkins' book is thought provoking, eye opening, and enjoyable to listen to. I'd love to see more of his books (and books like it) on this site. It is now one of my favorites.
I think this is a great book. I'm sorry it took me so long to come across it. I've been atheist for a long time, now I no longer feel ashamed to say so. (It's a good thing I'm not a politician, that would be the end of my career.)
This is a good scientific based analysis and presentation of religion as an evolved human adaptation or behavior, and the idea of religion as a meme - a replicating and evolving component of our environment that uses humans as a vector for reproduction. Think of the cold virus.
I grew up a mainstream New England Protestant, but my study of the religion I was being asked to accept raised many questions that even the learned clergymen with whom I spoke at great length could not answer with more than "It is a mystery; you've just got to have faith." Eventually I drifted away, dabbled in Buddhism, Zen, Taoism and a number of forms of hippie woo-woo. I am now simply a freelance unbeliever. Perhaps if I had had a mentor like Dawkins a few decades back I'd have arrived at my position sooner, but the journey was a good one.
Unlike others, I rather liked the switching of narration back and forth between Professor Dawkins and his wife. Visualizing the text as they do so, I hear her readings as sidebars to the main text, indented and with a different background color.
My impression of the negative reviews of this book is that most of the writers didn't actually listen to it, as the specifics of many of their criticisms are simply untrue.
Yes, the book is one-sided; it's supposed to be. What it is not is an argument by assertion, or a collection of ad hominem attacks like many current defenses of religion. What puts off a number of the religious objectors to it is that it does not give religious beliefs the automatic respect that has been the custom heretofore; it examines the arguments for the existence of god as if they were political or scientific propositions. If you're going to enter the marketplace of ideas, don't complain if you get some stiff competition.
Be prepared to pay attention, and you'll probably want to rewind a number of passages; this book demands that you give some unused brain cells a bit of exercise. Feel the burn!
I am reading a lot of books about the negative effect of religion these days. I started out with no intention to read any of them, but first tackled Sam Harris’ The End of Faith because an online discussion was just too interesting not to participate. I found the Harris book an eye opener. The number one idea I took away from it was that it doesn’t make sense to exempt religious ideas from any sort of logical argument. Our culture tacitly agrees that anyone can believe anything they want and the result is often that once someone interjects a religious sentiment into the argument or discussion, the debaters silently slink off, whether they agree or not, on the theory that the person is “entitled to his belief”. Believe it or not it had not occurred to me that that practice was not exactly correct. It was tolerant and humane. Harris convinced me it was also dangerous. I think he also convinced me that religion was dangerous when it was “moderate”. Then I read Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy which was notable primarily for the statistics on the numbers of Americans who believe literally in the Bible and the growth of fundamentalist believers and churches—at the expense of the mainline protestant denominations like the one I was raised in. In the interim I read several articles and speeches such as the one by Bill Moyers on why Christians in thrall to The Rapture don’t care about conservation because they expect the world to end soon anyway. (I see he’s even published a short book on the subject called Welcome to Doomsday). The God Delusion is my third read on this topic in less than a year, despite the fact that I would not say that religion is one of my priority topics.
I must say that while my response to Dawkins’ book was a series of "buts", in all honesty I must stay that he had anticipated my responses and gave answers that satisfied me. Which is not the same thing as saying I loved the book.
I really enjoyed 90 percent of the content in this book and 90 percent of the reading style. Let me start by saying that I definitely recommend it, but it is not for the faint of heart or the sensitive. If Dawkins is guilty of anything, it's going too far in some cases, such as creating a moral equivalence between the Afghan Taliban and what he calls the "American Taliban" or Christian right. There is no doubt that there are some wingnuts on the right who would institute a Taliban-style state in the US if they could, but Dawkins doesn't seem to credit the US system for not allowing it to happen. For example, he is able to cite many cases of horrific state-supported violence in the name of religion in the Muslim world, but can usually only cite the WORDS of the "American Taliban." He has to go back to the Crusades to find true abuses on the Western side of the fence. And while this made me chafe at times, I also found the tone of Dawkins and his wife to veer off to the sarcastic, pedantic and condescending at times. But overall, this was a very good book and I recommend it. Dawkins is sharp, and I'd hate to be some hapless creationist on the other end of a debate with him. Enjoy.
The in-depth breakdown of each of the tenants of peoples beliefe of religion.
Some of the condescending attitude that comes off in some of the ways in which he'd address topics of belief.
That was the best title, certainly explains the tone for which the 'believers' are given throughout the book. I am an atheist myself and thought it a bit silly how goofy/disrespectful he makes out peoples beliefs at certain parts. However it's a long book and not filled with negative talk, just some of the points that stick out in my book. The book itself is very civil.
I must say that I'm a Christian atheist. I was raised as a Christian and became an atheist as I became more knowledgeable on history and science. It’s a path people must follow on their own. I don’t think arguing with someone will convince them to drop their religious beliefs. Even though you won’t won the discussion, you might plant a seed that may make people search for the truth themselves.
This book presents great arguments against how much time is wasted on religious practices and how prejudice from religious sources negatively impacts our society. The arguments are elegant and presented with a scientific approach.
On the down side, I don’t appreciate the sarcastic tone against religion, especially noted in the first two chapters. That might prevent people from having an open mind throughout the rest of the book. Also some arguments are sort of incomplete or use religious extremists as the only example.
Anyway, this is a must read if you are on the fence. Being on the fence probably means that you have a feeling that it can’t be true but haven’t exactly written down a list of plausible versus implausible arguments.
Two Suggested audible (even better if listened to before this one):
1. On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, Narrated by Richard Dawkins (ABRIDGED)
2. The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright, Narrated by Greg Thornton
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