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The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
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The God Delusion (original 2006; edition 2008)

by Richard Dawkins

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12,219293207 (3.99)1 / 348
ספר מלא כוונות טובות, שאומר את כל הדברים הנכונים ו​בכל זאת ספר רע. זאת משום שדוקינס הפך להיות מטיף. ה​וא מכה על כל טעון בעשרה פטישים של עשרה טוב, חוזר ע​ל עצמו שוב ושוב, מפרט עד בלי די ובלי צורך. הרי מי ​שמשוכנע אינו צריך את כל זה ומי שלא בוודאי לא ישתכנ​ע. הנקודה היחידה שחדשה לי בספר היא הניסיון להסביר ​את הדת במונחים דרוויניים בגלל הצורך של המין האנושי​ לקבל סמכות. פרט לזה לא חידש לי דבר. חבל.​ ( )
  amoskovacs | Apr 18, 2012 |
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Unless you teach in a religiously-sponsored school, religion probably plays little role in your teaching of science. However, the "prior knowledge" of your students includes some decidedly non-scientific, religion-inspired viewpoints that ought to be taken into account. Renowned evolutionist Richard Dawkins' best-selling atheist thesis, "The God Delusion", attacks faith of all kinds head-on, and challenges the beliefs of every reasoning person. While he points out that few distinguished scientists hold traditional religious values, that is not true of most teachers of science and is definitely not true of our students. I recommend that teachers read this book, but be cautious about how the material in it is used in the classroom. Even if you fully agree with his very skeptical view of religion, it does not serve our educational mission to confront students with ideas that they will reject out of hand because those concepts do not comport with previous religious training. On the other hand, I agree with Dawkins that religious ideas are given more deference than they deserve, just because they are "religious". ( )
  hcubic | Aug 2, 2015 |
The God Delusion
2.4% of Americans claim to be atheist. As an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins puts great faith in natural selection to develop nature as it should be. Why should he be so alarmed, then, that there are so many who believe in the supernatural or are deists? Perhaps the belief in the supernatural has aided the species' survival. Perhaps it's very important to our evolution as a species. Dawkins does not give this idea much thought, however. While he does address possible biological and psychological reasons for why people believe in God, he separates the world into "enlightened" and "unenlightened," which many find offensive.

Weaknesses of the book:
In Black Holes and Baby Universes, Stephen Hawking says that if the universe is unlimited in scope then the laws of physics were the same at its creation as they are now. The universe was not created nor can be destroyed--it just is. However, if the universe is actually limited in scope, then the laws of physics didn't apply at its creation as they do today. Some outside entity, like God, must be responsible for its creation. Hawking said that he chooses to believe a Grand Unifying Theory of physics will explain everything from how the universe started to why I drank coffee this morning; he rejects God as the other explanation for these events. This is one way of looking at the problem that Dawkins leaves out or even ignores. Many people find it easier to believe in God than some grand unifying theory of everything-- that has yet to be discovered or proven.

Dawkins also criticizes the various ways in which those who believe in God claim that he works because the working is so inefficient or implausible. If a Creator God does exist, wouldn't he be infinite compared to anyone-- even Dawkins-- such that it would be silly for anyone to critique his efficiency or rationality? This idea doesn't dawn on Dawkins, which makes some of his critiques sound petty. Likewise, Dawkins defends religious freedom and belief as diversity, but he rails against tax money going to a British school that teaches a 6,000 year old earth and literal Noah's Ark. If you believe in an infinitely powerful being that created the universe, it's only a small step to believe he could do it in any time frame or in any way he so chose-- it's therefore illogical to say "that's just too much."

On a smaller level, Dawkins selectively quotes from the Old Testament and criticizes passages and comments on its incomprehensibility without consulting any scholar's explanation of that text and its context. That carelessness (why even go there if you're not equipped?) makes me doubt other areas that Dawkins makes confident claims on. He holds up John Shelby Spong (whose work I've reviewed earlier this year) as an "enlightened" person even though Spong's beliefs are a mess of blatant contradictions. Dawkins' tone is different than that of Christopher Hitchens, who had no problem having many friends who had different beliefs. Dawkins makes it clear that he will have nothing to do with those who are not at least inclined to believe as he does-- a philosophical problem that he never works out.

He also attacks Christians specifically for "immorality" and being the perpetrators of "evil," while holding up atheists or even just general deists as "enlightened" and "moral." He highlights the hatemail he receives from purported Christians as support of this, but likewise ignores the billions of dollars and time and effort that Christian charities spend around the world in humanitarian aid.

Dawkins, like most atheists, ignores the problem of evil-- although Dawkins actually claims to address it. He, like Christopher Hitchens and others, hold up certain acts as "good" or "evil" even though it's not clear from what basis he can judge. A Jew or Christian can say that murder is wrong because man was made in God's image. Dawkins never explains why he thinks murder is wrong-- he just states that it is. Dawkins gives some ideas from evolutionary psychology to explain morality-- altruism as a biproduct of natural selection-- and religion -- our desire to love is a biproduct of the desire to reproduce as a result of the processes of natural selection.

He also never deals with the why problem of natural selection. Dawkins addresses pretty thoroughly Michael Behe's work on irreducible complexity. He explains how natural selection creates an avenue for cells and organs to mutate piecemeal, in a trial-and-error fashion, over billions of years in order to come into the "right" solution to be the working parts we know today. But Dawkins never addresses the why-- for example, say the eye develops its intricate parts piecemeal over billions of years. The eye allows the brain-- which also must develop along with the eye-- to receive information from signals of light. But how did those cells know that there was such a thing as light from which it could receive data? Why did it develop to receive that data? Why did it mutate in the first place?
You can ask the same question of all body parts and species. How did it know to pass the learned information from its trial-and-error process onto the next organism? There is also no evidence--fossil or otherwise-- that such microscopic piecemeal trial-and-error advancements were made.

Dawkins purports that since we see natural selection in process today and do have fossil record of species evolving, then it stands to reason that every part of every thing developed in such a piecemeal fashion. As Dawkins writes, ultimately you get something that is statistically-speaking highly improbable. But each step along the way wasn't so improbable, it's just that now we see the end result of billions of years of these trial-and-error processes on millions of planets and we happen to be the cosmic winners. That, in a nutshell, is what non-atheists find very dissatisfying.


Dawkins spends much of the beginning of the book attacking nonsense theories and generally making fun of non-atheists. He readily acknowledges how he's been criticized for his attitudes but does not care as he seems himself as having the moral high ground-- even though it's not clear from what basis he can call something "moral" or not.

A couple of oddities in the book. He acknowledges that when the police went on strike in Quebec, chaos ensued. Non-atheists often argue that removing God from our believes removes the moral restraint of people, just like removing police from an area creates chaos and violence (Christians call this "common grace"). However, Dawkins thinks that if Christians are right then there should have been no problems in Quebec since he bets that most of them believe in God in some way or another.

Another oddity is toward the end in his defense of the Catholic church from accusations of pedophilia. While he admits to being abused by a priest while in a Catholic school he hated, he has such fond memories of the whole upbringing that he thinks it's a shame that the church has been "unfairly punished" by lawyers. His overall point is that the teaching of the Catholic church-- especially that there is an eternal hell to fear-- is the worst crime.

Strengths:

Dawkins forcefully attacks certain arguments that Christians often fall back on-- irreducible complexity, Pasal's wager, etc. He also has a chapter where he assails several anti-abortion arguments often used by Christians. All Christians need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that they have. For many, this will boil down to a personal experience that seemingly defies scientific explanation. Someone who goes from being an alcoholic to completely clean after getting on his knees, turning to Christ, and confessing his sins. Someone who feels happier and much more fulfilling than she did before becoming a Christian. Someone who had terminal cancer and was prayed for by a church and saw the tumors miraculously disappear-- something for which his doctors could give no explanation. Someone who went into a hut in the deepest part of Africa and met a reportedly demon-possessed woman who spoke perfect English and knew exactly who he was-- despite her never having learned the language or left the country. Dawkins rejects these experiences as either impossible, or at best not something proveable. Jesus' resurrection is one of those events. Even the most skeptical Bible scholars acknowledge that "something happened" that turned Jesus' followers from cowering and disappointed into highly-motivated impoverished martyrs for their beliefs, foresaking their former power, prestige, and religious/cultural beliefs.

All Christians should be a bit more humble about what they believe. Dawkins is correct that most of the endless debating and name-calling among religious circles is about things people cannot possibly know. Most evangelicals I know are convinced that they are the most correct in their theology-- that their denomination/church/team is therefore somewhat superior to the others (whether they admit it or not). But it takes a lot of chutzpah to believe that of all the billions of people who have existed on the earth, God ordered things such that you personally ended up in the right branch of the right denomination of the right religion with the right heritage such that you are the "most correct." Most people do not recognize that they are bent toward _______ denomination because they were raised that way or it happened to be the first church they encountered after choosing Christ (call it "by the grace of God" if you will). Christians should also be more knowledgeable about the brain, chemistry, psychology, cognitive biases, and other physical processes that influence how we perceive God, the world around us, and ourselves.

As such, I would recommend this book as a good starting point for Christians and non-atheists to start to get introspective as to why exactly they believe what they believe. 3 stars out of 5. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
Everyone must read it! ( )
  taecelle | Jun 1, 2015 |
Wouldn't want to argue the other side with him. Could also be called the Human Delusion or the delusion of humans. ( )
  DeanClark | Mar 26, 2015 |
This took me a while to get through, not because it was bad, but because there is a lot of information and material to get through and understand (and I had to take multiple breaks to get away from the realistic, logical arguments and read something fun).

Overall, I think this was very well written. As an atheist there are a lot of arguments I can get behind. At times I felt that Dawkins' language was a little too strong and often he came off as demeaning and mean. And while it was in no way his intention to be nice regarding religion, I think his rude attitude didn't help persuade people (an unfortunate example of the privilege of religion that Dawkins points out in the book, but is no less true).

This is quite a heavy, dense book, however, so as the only other book I have read by Dawkins is The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, I wasn't prepared for this book. It is a good book to read if you actually have time to sit down and think about the material.

I really enjoyed some of the later chapters, especially the chapters on morality and possible origins of religion.

This is a good book for people looking for a powerful perspective on the unnecessary existence of religion. ( )
  CareBear36 | Mar 19, 2015 |
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  lulaa | Mar 8, 2015 |
This is like a book from an alternate reality for me. He (and his buddy the late Christopher Hitchens) has a lot of my respect, academically and professionally- however, while his brand of atheism is designed to "free" people and help them "escape" religion, when I read his reasons why and his rhetoric about it, it just made me sad. He likened people I dearly love to children playing make believe and the God whom I follow as diabolical fiction.

The voice is good to hear, and I am open to listening to him. His sources are great, though he does leave out material (as we all do) that does not support his argument.

I find myself a bit thinking about and even praying about Dawkins. I believe I understand where he is coming from, but at the same time I feel as though he is as convinced in his "non-faith" as I am in my faith. I wish people would stop arguing about God- we have politics and baseball for that.

All this to be said, I will keep this book on my shelf and I shall even read it again. Perhaps even a couple of times.

( )
  aegossman | Feb 25, 2015 |
Richard Dawkins pulls no punches. This book advocates strongly, and persuasively, for an atheistic world view. Some may think this type of in your face atheism is unseemly, but as Dawkins points out, he is no more strident than religious groups are at advocating for their point of view.

His arguments take two basic tracks:

1. Evidence is overwhelming that God does not exist, and that the work many ascribe to God is more simply explained by natural processes (Darwinism etc). He looks at many of the ways people try to reconcile religion and science and comes away arguing they are not reconcilable. Religion is simply not a reliable source for evidence of the creation or of evolution. If God created the universe, he argues, then who created God? A question there is no answer to.

2. He argues religion, rather than being a benign institution is actually dangerous, is responsible for holding back progress and as a whole, has caused far more harm than good.

Both are very persuasive. His arguments against the existence of God are sometimes hard to understand as it gets into a fairly technical (at least for me) discussion of biology.

The section of the book in which he argues religion is a harmful institution are very compelling. Not that I agree with every one of them. In my personal life I know many religious people who do not fit into the parameters of that argument. However, taken at a macro level his argument is hard to refute.

He ends the book with a very beautiful, affirmative argument for the transformational power of science. He agrees with Carl Sagan that religion actually limits the wonder one can experience when contemplating the natural world.

I personally enjoyed this book very much.

If you are an atheist it will give you more than enough ammo to engage in discussions of atheism vs. theism you may have with others.

If you are wavering this may give you the information you have been looking for to help you decide.

If you are secure in your faith this book is nothing to be afraid of.
( )
1 vote mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
Took me a couple of false starts (with quite long intervals) before I finished this book. Odd this, because I've read and enjoyed Richard Dawkins' earlier work, finding only the occasional niggle when he has sometimes moved from exposition of generally supported and agreed theories into inventing a theory and then writing at length as though it were a well researched one, fooling those who missed the occasional brief and well masked disclaimer, as when he first came up with the meme.

My problem with this book wasn't the writing, which as usual with Richard Dawkins is good; nor his theme - anyone with an interest in religion and theology should read it; and not because I'm a Christian - only the simple-minded believer need be concerned about possibly being convinced. No, my problem with the book is the way he goes to such lengths to pretend to take a scientific approach, while in fact being very selective in the evidence he presents and the conclusions he draws. Of course, he does say up front that his aim is to wean the reader away from faith (any kind of spiritually based faith) and to convert them to atheism. But someone who constantly accuses religious leaders and writers of avoiding uncomfortable material weakens his own arguments by doing exactly the same. Two examples. First, far too much of his 'evidence' against Christianity is typified by selective examples of the ludicrously stupid and wrong headed nonsense espoused by (and the policies promoted by) various extremists, such as, for example, American creationists. In decades of reading and of dialogue with churchgoers, priests and theologians I've never met anyone who challenged Darwinian evolution theory as 'sound science', or who doubted the evidence from geology about the age of the earth, or from cosmology about the nature of the universe. Such acceptance that Genesis isn't literal truth isn't of course evidence that God exists, but the fact that some batty people take Genesis literally isn't evidence that God doesn't exist. Sadly, Richard doesn't tell us - or at least avoids telling us directly - that while hotbeds of creationism may persist in parts of the USA (and be espoused by a few isolated individuals or groups elsewhere), mainstream Christianity rejects their nonsense. The same is of course true about 'intelligent design' theory, equally rejected by anyone who thinks about it for long, but equally cited by RD as 'evidence' against religion.

A second - and more significant - omission comes in Richard's comments about Jesus. As an example, he devotes a whole section to working through the allegation that "'love thy neighbour' doesn't mean what we now think it means. It means only 'love another Jew'". Oddly, he neglects to mention how Jesus responded to the direct question 'Who is my neighbour?', with the parable of the Good Samaritan. I've no doubt that Hartung and others have a plausible answer to this and to the other ways Jesus makes it clear that his message is for the world at large, including the Romans. But others have argued even more plausibly that Hartung is wrong. If one is taking a scientific approach to whether God exists, why not present both sides of the coin and let the reader judge - as Richard urges us to do in the case of children's education.

My other (and more general) beef with Richard Dawkins' writing (in this and other work, nothing to do with Christian apologetics) is that too much of it appears to reflect a somewhat excessive (and occasionally perverse) desire to see almost every issue and topic through the prism of Darwinian evolution theory. For example the meme, mentioned earlier, is a classic example and duly reappears here. We read how meme theory explains the spread and persistence of religion (and other cultural or social things). We aren't told that while Darwinian evolution has been deeply researched over more than a century, and is accepted by all relevant scientists as valid (RD himself would insist on me saying 'until something better comes along'!), meme theory came from one of his own books as simply a possible explanation of how Darwinian evolution might apply in social and cultural spheres. His failure to mention equally plausible views from specialists who call the theory a "pseudoscientific dogma" and "a dangerous idea that poses a threat to the serious study of consciousness and cultural evolution". Memes may exist and may have the kinds of effects RD would like them to have, but the jury isn't yet even in the jury room - indeed most would say that there is as yet far from enough evidence on which to think seriously about the question, let alone judge. For the avoidance of doubt, I quite like the idea. But RD harms his case (and some of his other work) when he seeks to use meme theory to prove something else.

Many years ago, in my earliest reading of RD's superb and fascinating expositions of scientic theories and findings, I was struck by the frequency and manner with which he used religious or biblical metaphors and similes. Knowing his proclaimed faith in atheism, I concluded that here was a man somewhat obsessed with God and perhaps 'avoiding God'. Now he has invested lots of time and trouble on an in-depth assault on religion, churches and the idea that there is - or even may be - a God. Not in any sense a clear win, no better than, at best, a no-score-draw! He may well now welcome it, but I do pray for him quite often. ( )
  NaggedMan | Dec 28, 2014 |
The God Delusion addresses several questions about religion from the perspective of a biologist and atheist, including: Can religion be true? If it isn't true, why it is so pervasive? Does religion serve a purpose even if it isn't true? And, is it harmful? Dawkins focuses primarily on Christianity, but with plenty of references to Islam and Judaism. Though he is English, he probably spends more time talking about religion in the United States because it both more prevalent and more powerful there than in Europe. I won't go through his arguments question by question, but will instead share some of his key points and more controversial opinions.

One point which Dawkins makes very early is that we must evaluate a religion based on what it's scriptures actually say, and not what we wish they said. As he observes, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive , bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic , racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." This god is most accurately represented, not by the harmless Christian who goes to church once a year on Easter, but by the zealot who sees AIDS as punishment from god and wants to teach our children that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Liberals can't just adopt a live-and-let-live attitude toward the moderates in the hope that the fundamentalists will just somehow fade away, for it is the fundamentalists who are the essence of the religion, be it Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

As to the threat posed by religion in the modern world, this is one section where I was disappointed in the book. Dawkins spends most of his time talking about a single issue, abortion rights. Education, environmental protection, civil rights, freedom of speech, artistic freedom, health care, scientific research, public welfare, sexual freedom, and foreign relations are all mentioned, but the threat to abortion rights is given more treatment than all these other issues combined. (Birth control isn't mentioned at all, but it is a battleground that has only recently been reopened.)

The most chilling chapter, and probably the most controversial, is the one about children. There is no such thing, Dawkins maintains, as a "Catholic child," or a "Muslim child," only children with parents who practice those faiths. Labeling children with faiths they haven't chosen is one crime, indoctrinating them with dogmas they can't understand is another. Ideally children should be taught by their parents to keep an open mind until they are old enough to evaluate the claims of religious and secular thinkers on their own just as they are allowed to evaluate political ideas. But what parent will be open-minded enough to do this, especially a parent who thinks the child's soul is in jeopardy? Instead all too often parents and ministers threaten children with hellfire and eternal damnation even before they are old enough to understand the concept. One of the most telling quotes in the book comes from a woman who was sexually abused by a priest as a child and who later escaped Christianity and became an atheist. She said the sexual abuse, while it wasn't a pleasant memory, was almost inconsequential compared with the mental abuse of having been raised a Catholic.

Of course there is no way to control what parents teach their children, but government does have some control over their formal education. Religious schools where children are taught theology instead of science and myth instead of history are a legal alternative to public school in most countries. Should they be tolerated? Dawkins maintains that Western society has an unfortunate hands-off attitude toward even extreme religious groups in the name of cultural diversity almost as if we were protecting an endangered species. "A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts— the non-religious included— is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect...."

Aside from the fact that Dawkins seems rather preoccupied at times with his own reputation, The God Delusion is very well-written and enlightening book. There are numerous URL's in the footnotes and appendix for those wishing to read the papers and studies he mentions or do further reading. His no-holds-barred approach is likely to be polarizing, but there are theists who have escaped (to use his term) religion after reading the book. For those already comfortable with atheism The God Delusion provides a better understanding of the phenomenon of religion and arms them with facts and arguments to use in debate. ( )
2 vote StevenTX | Nov 20, 2014 |
This 2006 best-seller by Richard Dawkins wouldn’t have made it on my reading list under normal circumstances. I carried around a bag dislikes about Dawkins, some of which were holdovers from my old creationist mindset. My friend suggested reading it for our next “book club” meeting so I obliged. I went into it expecting to have my biases confirmed and find the entirety of the book annoying. While there were moments of frustration and confirmation of biases, I found much of this book not only enjoyable, but agreeable. I picked the book up with an attitude and put it down humble and with a greater respect for Dawkins.

The main premise of the book is that the existence of God is a scientifically testable hypothesis. Therefore a person can come to the reasonable conclusion, based on evidence, that God does not exist. It also seeks to show that religion is undesirable because of the physical and psychological damage that is can and has caused. Finally Dawkins attempts to fill the “God shaped void” by showing that belief in a deity is not necessary to be happy, act morally, or be fulfilled intellectually.

The first section of the book was by far the weakest and most frustrating section for me. Dawkins completely rejects the notion that God’s existence is a philosophical or theological question. Instead he insists that God’s existence can be scientifically accepted or rejected. To prove his point he shows how particular aspects of God’s nature or actions fail scientific testing. In one example he asserts that God answers prayer. After testing that assertion through “clinical” blind tests he concludes that most prayers are not answered, there God does not exist. He also tackles many well-known medieval and modern proofs for God’s existence including those of Thomas Aquinas.

I think his premise that God’s existence is a scientific hypothesis is fundamentally flawed. To test these assertions Dawkins has to rely on the work and statements of philosophers and theologians. Despite Dawkins insistence otherwise, God is a philosophical/theological concept. Without philosophy or theology nothing testable can be said about God’s actions or nature. I agree with Dawkins that it is irritating when theologians make ignorant claims about science. Unfortunately he jumps headfirst into the same swamp and begins lobbing mud balls. This opening section unfortunately confirmed some of my biases against him. Mainly that he can be arrogant, rude, and a zealot.

After offering his rebuttal to the various “proofs” of God’s existence, Dawkins turns his attention to Darwinian evolution. This was where my attitude towards Dawkins took a turn for the better. In this section he shows how Darwinian evolution can offer an explanation for not only creation, but morality as well. Dawkins is a brilliant and engaging biologist. His explanations of evolution were absolutely beautiful and as a reader I could sense Dawkins own wonder, joy, and humility in sharing this. He left me with an increased sense of awe and wonder for the world. While I was familiar with evolution, his explanations stretched me beyond what I knew.

Unfortunately during the explanation of cosmological Darwinism he made the same ‘priori’ mistake he had previously scolded believers for making. Evolution provides a solid explanation for biological diversity. However for evolution to begin, reproducing biological life is required. Dawkins tries to explain how this might have happened by offering different possible evolutionary paths of the cosmos itself (planets, stars, galaxies). Eventually he admits that the odds of a reproducing life forms arising from the primordial goo are billions and billions to one. Not to be deterred, he concludes that since humans exist and are the product Darwinian evolution, then it must have happened…..besides it only had to happen once!

I found the evolutionary explanations of morality very interesting and believable. It did a fine job of explaining the base morality we share as humans as well as the moral distinctives across cultures. But while I found it wholly believable, I found it’s morality lacking. Darwinian evolution only seems to create a morality that is self-centered and competitive. Even things that appeared selfless on the surface were at the core selfishly motivated. Darwinian morality doesn’t hold a candle to the morality expressed by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. I believe that evolutionary morality has gotten us to a point, but I believe in a God calling beyond evolutions competitive and selfish morality. I believe that God is evolving my morality into something better than it would be otherwise. All in all the experience of this section was consciousness expanding (as Dawkins said he hoped it would be).

Finally Dawkins asked if the ‘Good Book’ is really all that good. Biblical interpretation has been an area of interest for me as I’ve shed my own fundamentalist assumptions about religion and the bible. I’ve increasingly found the literalist interpretation of scripture to be inconsistent, souless, mindless, and even dangerous. He points out many of the inconsistencies inherent in a literal reading of the biblical texts and also how it almost inevitably lead to a violent God and violent followers. While he does give a slight nod to more progressive and literary interpretations, his point is clear, to read the bible as the fundamentalists do is untenable and unsafe. He and I found much to agree about in this area.

The book closes with a chapter entitled The Mother of all Burkas. Dawkins takes the burka, a symbol of religious oppression, and (in a very Jewish prophetic way) redeems it for the beauty of something greater. He says:

“Our eyes see the world through a narrow slit in the electromagnetic spectrum. Visible light is a chink of brightness in the vast dark spectrum, from radio waves at the long end to gamma rays at the short end. Quite how narrow is hard to appreciate and a challenge to convey. Imagine a gigantic black burka, with a vision slit of approximately the standard width, say about one inch. If the length of black cloth above the slit represents the short-wave end of the invisible spectrum, and if the length of black cloth below the slit represents the long-wave portion of the invisible spectrum, how long would the burka have to be in order to accommodate a one-inch slit to the same scale? It is hard to represent it sensibly without invoking logarithmic scales, so huge are the lengths we derisorily tiny compared with the miles and miles of black cloth representing the invisible part of the spectrum, from radio waves at the hem of the skirt to gamma rays at the top of the head. What science does for us is widen the window. It opens up so wide that the imprisoning black garment drops away almost completely, exposing our senses to airy and exhilarating freedom.”

While his philosophic arguments frustrated me at times, Dawkin’s captured me with the beauty and humility he used to described the evolutionary process. He makes strong and valid claims against religion and strongly calls into the question the nature of belief in God. I think most believers, particularly fundamentalist ones, would do well to sit at the feet of Dawkins and listen to the charges he levels against their us and our faith. In my opinion his voice is a prophetic one. He is speaking back into the fundamentalist religions that have shape all of our worlds in various ways.

While he and I may disagree about the belief in God, we have much to agree about about religion. I think Dawkins would be okay with this disagree. He admits that there is no proof that will change the mind of someone claims a personal spiritual experience. His hostility towards religion lies with believers who rudely impress or forcefully oppress others. I imagine he and I might even be friends who could share some light-hearted ribbing about our world views over a beer. ( )
  erlenmeyer316 | Nov 4, 2014 |
Not half as dogmatic as everyone makes out and about twice as smart and clearly laid-out as most. Recommend (and will reread before forming an actual opinion). ( )
1 vote humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
For me, it was a life-changing book. While I've almost always considered myself agnostic, it's primarily been out of a lack of caring about religion in general. But Dawkins proved to me that there is no god, and how beautiful life is because of that. ( )
  brianinseattle | Oct 1, 2014 |
It took a bit to slog through it at times, but in the end I'm glad I took the time to read it. ( )
  azrowan | Sep 13, 2014 |
this is an interesting one to rate because i agree with pretty much all of his points, but dislike either the examples he uses as proof or the tone he takes when discussing the people of the opposing viewpoint, or both, for basically every argument he makes.

i understand that he is doing quite a bit of simplifying for the sake of being able to summarize arguments that each have many books written about them. so i don't really fault him for not going into a lot of detail or for not taking apart arguments piece by piece. i think that causes some of his statements to be easier to misunderstand or disbelieve, though, because he isn't giving enough time to the details.

that said, i think that he brings up a lot of really interesting ideas in this book. for me, i especially enjoyed reading about morality and the roots of religion (the late middle chapters). partly this was just empirically the most interesting to me, and partly i felt his snarkiness was more toned down in these chapters. throughout the rest of the book, dawkins addresses religious believers with mockery, which isn't the best way to reach people with the intention of conversion (one of his stated purposes of this book). i'm sure he pushes far more people away than draws them in with this approach. it's especially bothersome because he claims to want to reach out to people of faith, but then is unable to resist poking caustic fun. his arguments are worth considering, but that can be hard to do if you have to work at not being offended by the man making them. (this is true for him in general, actually, not just for his attitude toward religious people, as he's made some pretty awful statements about many things lately.) to quote dawkins himself, late in the book, "I don't think the adversary format is well designed to get at the truth...." i only wish he'd remembered that throughout.

for this reason, this book would have benefited greatly from having been edited by someone unfamiliar with his arguments. it seems to me that his statements are, while his, also a conglomeration of the other accepted atheist and/or scientific points of view; i appreciate that they're all put together in this book. (perhaps they're commonly found all together in other books; this is the only book i've ever read - i'm embarrassed to admit - on either religion or philosophy, so i can't say either way.) but as someone who is not close to the subject at all, i found it easy to question the obviousness he assumes in his arguments. i think he's too close to the ideas and probably has used the same arguments for years, and perhaps they've gotten less precise as he's put them forth again and again. all i know, is for someone hearing them articulated for the first time, while in the end i agree with him (but i started from that position so it was easier), i found his examples to be not very good at all, and his explanations lacking.

the early chapters particularly galled me in the assumptions he made and then spun to his advantage. most notably that he claimed that many people who professed to be religious in history only did so because they felt they had to. could be true, but he assigns this "truth" to many, many people who can't deny or refute (or confirm) this, and moves on as if he's proved something. this from the man who claims that evidence is what he bases his decisions on. it felt disingenuous and seemed entirely unnecessary to prove his point. and later on, it's a minor part of the book but not so minor a thing, the way in which he discusses the sexual abuse scandal in the catholic church (in particular) and how he very strangely almost dismisses it. ("You might almost sympathize with them [the Church]...")

but i find, among other things, he gives a worthwhile answer to the question that i'd just started answering on my own - why be hostile toward religion, why not just let believers believe? again, in a bombastic kind of way, but the underlying points are solid. which can basically sum up the way i feel about the entire thing. and the entire book was worth reading, for me, to get at chapters 6 and 7 about morality. i found that part fascinating.

"Darwinism raises our consciousness in other ways. Evolved organs, elegant and efficient as they often are, also demonstrate revealing flaws - exactly as you'd expect if they have an evolutionary history, and exactly as you would not expect if they were designed." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Sep 6, 2014 |
I read this book to both be polite and to prove a point. I know a couple of atheists, and they've been interesting to talk to, and they've known a lot about Christianity and the Bible. It just seems fair to understand their point of view by reading the book most associated with atheism today. And, in an internet conversation, I backed myself into the corner of having to read it now, rather than at some vague, future date.

So it's an interesting book. Dawkins gets in his own way more often than he should have, especially with his point that atheism is the only rational choice. But he presents the basic reasons for atheism and the criticisms he has of religion in a clear way. It was one of those books I'm happier to say that I've read, than I was to actually read it, but it was informative.

If you've ever followed the topics of religion and science, even casually, probably none of the issues he raises will be unfamiliar. And much of the arguments he raises are against a fundamentalist, anti-science version of Christianity which very few Christians espouse. But in addressing some of the science of our beginnings, he does go into some very interesting areas, with clear, engaging explanations of issues involving natural selection, fascinating creatures and chemistry. He's less sure-footed on topics like linguistics, but the issues he's raised are worth thinking about. He's a polarizing guy, who expresses himself forcefully and not tactfully. It's useful to know what he actually has to say, as opposed to what people say that he's said. ( )
10 vote RidgewayGirl | Sep 4, 2014 |
This is one of those books that just got away from me. I was probably 70% of the way through it when I got distracted by other books (so many books, so little time) and set it aside. When I went to renew it from the library so I could finish it, someone else had placed a hold on it. So I returned it.
But it was an interesting read. Or at least the portion that I read interested me.
Dawkins is pretty much the poster child for what I think of as evangelical atheism. While I disagree with his fundamental premise, I wanted to see what he had to say. And one he got past his bashing of creationists and others who insist on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible, he raised some interesting points.
Trained as an evolutionary biologist, he takes a scientific approach toward the question of whether or not some sort of supernatural higher power exists. And I appreciated that approach.
His exploration of what Darwinian survival value the concept of religion provides was particularly intriguing. But that's when I permitted my attention to be diverted to different books. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Jul 3, 2014 |
Dawkins' writing is eloquent, funny, and continuously on-point. He is unapologetic as he lays out his argument for the nonexistence of god and the lack of a necessity for religion. The book works like an extended academic paper, with each chapter representing a section of his overall argument. He carefully takes the time to evaluate the arguments in favor of religion and then scientifically debunks all of them. "The God Delusion" represents a cry for reason and science in a world increasingly anti-science. ( )
2 vote DarthDeverell | Jun 21, 2014 |
I love me some Richard Dawkins, and not only because he's the only person who's ever asked me for a photo of my Darwin fish tattoo. Beyond being one of the most attractive and charming evolutionary biologists on the face of this planet, he's darned intelligent, too. And I adore pretty much anything he's ever written, which I suppose is more the point of a review here than raving about his charm. ( )
  Seven.Stories.Press | Jun 13, 2014 |
This book makes you think about quite a few things about religion. It helps to look at the world in a more liberal way. ( )
  nmarun | Mar 11, 2014 |
non-fiction
  flyheatherfly | Mar 6, 2014 |
Dawkins was preaching to the converted in my case. I found his style a little annoying at first - he seems very arrogant and somewhat patronising. However, I think this is probably to do with who it is really aimed at.

He puts forward some convincing arguments about the highly unlikely existence of God and is very hard on the Church in general and the American ultra Conservatives and creationists in particular. ( )
  twosheds | Feb 26, 2014 |
I've read Richard Dawkins books and watched his videos for many years. The God Delusion was an excellent book on religion and philosophy. ( )
  jamesfallen | Feb 7, 2014 |
I've read Richard Dawkins books and watched his videos for many years. The God Delusion was an excellent book on religion and philosophy. ( )
  jamesfallen | Feb 7, 2014 |
I've read Richard Dawkins books and watched his videos for many years. The God Delusion was an excellent book on religion and philosophy. ( )
  jamesfallen | Feb 7, 2014 |
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