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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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11,922280221 (4)1 / 338
amoskovacs's review
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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Showing 1-25 of 263 (next | show all)
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). ( )
  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. ( )
9 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
  anotherpassportstamp | 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 |
Although I would consider myself an atheist, I did not actually agree with everything in The God Delusion. In this book, Richard Dawkins sets out to demonstrate that it is both irrational and dangerous to believe in a supernatural god. For the irrationality part, he bases his arguments in science, primarily evolution, offering scientifically founded arguments for why a god is highly unlikely and where human morality comes from. I certainly found it refreshing to read his rational, scientific arguments and there was nothing in this part of the book’s content with which I disagree. I was raised with a scientific mindset and I greatly appreciate such logical, analytical thinking.

In the later part of the book, Dawkins turns to the task of demonstrating that religion is both dangerous and harmful to children. Here is where I found myself less convinced and actually disagreeing with some of what he says. On the subject of children, he claims that indoctrinating children with irrational religious beliefs is a form of abuse on par with (or even worse than) physical or sexual abuse. He offers little evidence for this, however, citing only one woman who claimed she was more traumatized by her religious upbringing than by the sexual fondling of a priest, and several individuals who seek forms of psychotherapy to recover from religious indoctrination. While I certainly agree that it is doing children a disservice to brainwash them into believing irrational things, and I don’t doubt that there are some individuals who later feel traumatized by the experience, I think it is extremely insenstive to survivors of sexual abuse to claim that religious indoctrination is a form of abuse equivalent to physical and sexual abuse. In this section, Dawkins shows only that he lacks a knowledge of the long-term psychological impact of sexual abuse, which can oftentimes be subconscious (for example, does the woman who claims she was more traumatized by religion than by being fondled have completely healthy sexual relationships?). Dawkins is a fantastic biologist, but he is not a psychologist or expert on child development.

In an effort to demonstrate that religion is actually dangerous, Dawkins points to all the wars and other violence (such as murders of abortion providers and suicide bombers) that have been based on religious beliefs. He basically seems to be making the claim that if we didn’t have religion, there would be no basis for all this violence and so it simply wouldn’t happen. I do not think it is that simple. I think there is far more going on psychologically in the minds of fanatic anti-abortionists and suicide bombers than a simple “I believe 100% that I am doing the morally right thing.” I do not think all these people would just magically be completely non-violent if they did not have religious beliefs to justify their acts. That is, I am not convinced that religious beliefs are the root cause of all this violence, rather than simply a convenient justification. Dawkins says himself that humans have inherent tendencies to in-group/out-group behavior – so wouldn’t that be true even without religion? Additionally, I am sure there have been plenty of very positive, life-affirming actions committed in the name of religious as well. Does Dawkins believe that all those behaviors would end without religion too? It seems biased to make an argument based only on the negative impacts of religion.

Related to this last point, part of Dawkins’ argument is that it is not possible to draw a line between non-harmful religious beliefs and extremism, because it is a slippery slope: that “even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes.” In his view, it is the “blind faith” aspect of any religion that is the real problem. However, I think it is possible that most individuals are able to compartmentalize, and thus hold an irrational belief in one compartment while at them same time being a very rational and non-violent individual. Extremism comes when the irrational compartment takes over the entire individual. I am not convinced that this is in fact a slippery slope, or whether there are other psychological factors that influence whether someone becomes an extremist or not.

My final issue with The God Delusion is Dawkins’ tone through-out the book. He has a very argumentative, even combative, attitude, and I think that ultimately it is not a helpful tone and could even damage the possibilities for dialogue between religious and non-religious people. Sure, I found much of his book convincing, but I was already convinced about evolution and related science. I do not think religious people will be convinced by this book, and instead will most likely be completely turned off. Calling someone irrational and arguing with them about their beliefs is more likely to cause the person to cling even more firmly to those beliefs than to convince him or her otherwise. To truly engage with religious people I think it is necessary to show them respect and to listen to where they are coming from.

The God Delusion left me desiring another perspective on the subject of religion. I recently checked out Speaking of Faith, by Krista Tippett, from the library, and I hope that this will provide the perspective I am looking for.
( )
1 vote sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
WOW! Not sure where to begin. In my circles this book has been dissed but my feeling is that they dissed the book without reading it. I think this book was very well written and uses plenty of references to support his overall thesis.
I would recommend this book to anyone that is open-minded, believer and non-believer alike. ( )
  gopfolk | Jan 7, 2014 |
It was amazing, thought-provoking, but not necessarily a quick, "easy" read. I think I learned that I'm not really an agnostic. ( )
  KarenM61 | Nov 28, 2013 |
It was amazing, thought-provoking, but not necessarily a quick, "easy" read. I think I learned that I'm not really an agnostic. ( )
  KarenM61 | Nov 28, 2013 |
There are any number of things I could criticize about the book, and it really does seem like one that wants lots of specific rebuttals. But I simply don't have that kind of time. Overall, let me say that Dawkins takes a remarkably narrow view of religion, and—I think—of human nature itself. I think he's also a bit too quick to overlook the shortcomings of rationality, but that's not as critical to my dislike of the book. It's worth reading, in order to engage with this important conversation (and because he does make a few good points). But the fundamental flaw underlying it makes it a much less worthy book than another author might have produced from roughly the same standpoint. ( )
  spoko | Nov 14, 2013 |
Good, it's not great (my apologies, Hitch). ( )
  ukforever | Nov 13, 2013 |
Biologist Richard Dawkins explores the likelihood that God exists, and and the resulting discussion is at turns fascinating, frustrating, frightening, and utterly compelling. Dawkins is at his breath-taking best when he talks science and posits potential evolutionary explanations for the human creature's near-universal tendency to develop religion. He is crashingly frustrating in his attitude toward the devout (rarely better than sneering) and in his insistence on focusing on the horrors perpetuated by religion without giving any space to the good that can come from religion as well. (It can be argued (and has been, rather convincingly, by Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry (and I imagine many others as well)), that the horrors far outweigh the good, but Dawkins doesn't even bother to make the argument. And it feels a bit Ein Minuten, bitte, honestly, that he doesn't even go there.*) His rejection of the idea that another's religious beliefs ought to be respected even if they run counter to reason and rational thought may have been the single most compelling notion in the book for me, but also the most frustrating. Compelling because it challenges a prevailing attitude of my time and culture. Frustrating because Dawkins does not discuss this contention fully. It was as if he'd discovered a truth and expected that once he showed that truth to his audience, everyone would have a eureka moment and accept that truth as given without needing any explanation, proof, or discussion. It's a peculiar lapse in a book that is otherwise very thorough in its explanations of its arguments. Despite this frustration, recommended to anyone with an interest in biology, evolution, or religion.

*I refer to external good, here, for instance, running food kitchens, not internal, individual good, such as consolation, which Dawkins does address, fully and well. ( )
3 vote lycomayflower | Oct 12, 2013 |
Even though I am not a believer, and agree with most of Dawkin's points, I found the book only "so-so". Why? Well, it's a case of "the lady doth protest too much".

Dawkins is so angry with religion and God that he overstates his case to the point of nausea. He dismisses all concepts of God as nonsense: and Buddhism, a religion without a God, he says "cannot be called a religion but an ethical system of philosophy". He reduces all religions to reflections of the monotheistic one he's attacking, then uses the most extreme examples of the same to debunk it. Talk about straw men.

The author throws away a chance to present his argument constructively, and uses the same polemic of his opponents. He must have alienated a lot of open thinkers in the process.

Read it if you hate God and would like to listen to someone ranting against Him. Otherwise, you might be a tad disappointed. ( )
3 vote Nandakishore_Varma | Sep 28, 2013 |
Simply awesome. This book should be a "must" for all religious believers to put their "faith" to test. Absolutely delicious and good help for isolated atheists across the world. Thanks Mister Dawkins, thanks a lot. ( )
  yakov.perelman | Sep 26, 2013 |
Somebody's got to write this way. He did. ( )
  Michael.Bradham | Sep 2, 2013 |
Dawkins gives the perfect clever comeback for every argument that religious people love to throw at you. He explains scientifically why there is just no evidence of a supernatural god. ( )
  Valerie_Duncan | Aug 28, 2013 |
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