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Editorial Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Richard Dawkins invites you to imagine a world where New York's Twin Towers still stand, where Arabs and Israelis live in peace, where the Crusades—events directly responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million persons—never happened. In short, he invites you to imagine a world that would have been, and could be, without religion. That is not to say that he wishes to discard religion only because of its historical relationship to violence. This extensive, powerfully argued examination of why we believe, and the imperative of turning from Faith to Reason, has become an international best seller. It could change your life.

Publisher's Summary

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.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Dangerous Religion

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.

168 of 207 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • brenty
  • United States
  • 01-19-09

well worth your time

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...

62 of 78 people found this review helpful

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  • Blake
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 06-04-13

Charming, smart, and unpretentious

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A good read but it won't sway your mind.

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.

52 of 73 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 09-21-14

A Tone Lifted from Fundamentalists

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.

57 of 82 people found this review helpful

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Wow, I can come out of the closet!

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.

66 of 96 people found this review helpful

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worth every penny

Dawkins does a fantastic job explaining his reasoning of atheism. regardless of belief system I think everyone should take time to read this book, even if it's just to understand the atheist perspective and thought process.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent. Highly recommended.

i highly recommend this book/audio book. The book is really well organized for making the overall argument. it is amusing, insightful, and inspiring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An Atheist Classic

I wonder how different my life would’ve been had this book been written twenty-five years earlier and I had read it in high school when I first started having doubts about religion. At the time I was taught biology and physics by a religious person and chemistry but a teacher who had no interest in teaching, period. I had no exposure to any books which pushed back against religion, even when studying the sciences. Maybe I just didn’t look hard enough. Luckily, the science and philosophy classes I took at the University of Minnesota set me on my course in life away from religion.

I listened to the Audible version of the book which was narrated by Richard himself, and his wife (currently separated), Lalla Ward, who is a British actress. I thought it was fantastic to have Richard talking to me for the better part of fourteen hours. Listening to The God Delusion in 2017 had less of an impact on me as it would’ve decades, or even five years earlier, because I’m now so familiar with Dawkins’ message through his numerous articles and appearances on podcasts and in the media. I was lucky enough to hear him speak in Rochester, MN in 2015. His message is familiar to me. Still, this book pushed all my buttons as it so thoroughly presented its case against a supernatural entity controlling our personal lives like a puppet master and influencing events on a world-wide scale. It is a truly great book and Dawkins expertly succeeds at getting his points across.

In addition to successfully making is argument against the existence of gods, he also adds interesting quotes and commentary from some other great minds: Carl Sagan, Charles Darwin, David Hume (visited his statue in Edinburgh), PZ Meyers (fellow Minnesotan), Thomas Huxley, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Sam Harris, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Julia Sweeney. Yes, Julia Sweeney! He dedicates the book to his friend and novelist Douglas Adams with Douglas’ quote, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too?”

I’m guessing a true believer wouldn’t lose their faith in the supernatural after reading The God Delusion, and I’m sure most wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole; but, it would be interesting to hear what a believer thought of it, especially those currently living in the Sunday echo chamber of Bronze Age tales (been there). To make decisions in almost every other aspect of life, people want to know all the facts and hear both sides of an argument except when it comes to their faith, which is accepted without question or debate.

We live in a world of great scientific knowledge with new discoveries in the news daily. Throughout history, gods have been used to fill in gaps of knowledge which humans didn’t understand. Hopefully some day in the future our ancestors will fill in all, or at least enough, gaps to put an end to using the supernatural to explain the natural world.

Five stars, as expected.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well presented and documented. Supports the adage that ignorance is bliss. One should believe what they wish to believe, but no one has the right to impose their believe on others. Listen and decide for yourself!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful