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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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11,791275225 (4.01)325
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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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. ( )
  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 |
A well written passionate, and engaging book, that makes extremely intelligent and rational arguments against the superstition and dogma of perceived belief. ( )
  brendono | Aug 3, 2013 |
There are not that many topics that polarise people as much as religion. Dawkins takes a fresh unflinching look at the reasons why and succeeds to give good plausible reasons and stay calm most of the time. I could not think of anything he should have added or left out and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and only wish that more people thought the same way. Also: I suppose it is a good "how to" manual if you are a budding atheist looking for some support. ( )
  flydodofly | Jul 21, 2013 |
I started this because I'm a huge RD fan, as well as a committed and outspoken atheist; sadly, it's just a rant, and rather poorly (and pointlessly) reasoned. Though I am seriously stunned and often worried at religious obsession in the US and the lack of scientific understanding, I still think RD should just stick to writing his amazing, ground-breaking, literate and readable books about evolution. Religious freaks, or even moderately religious normal people, are not going to be convinced by his, or in fact any, "arguments" against God (just as there is no "argument" or reasoning that is going to make me believe in any sort of supernatural agent or being)--it's just preaching to the choir; i think it's better to accept that religion is a whole different paradigm and work on eradicating prejudice and fundamentalism in all its forms, not just religious (or read Daniel Dennett, who is at least a better philosopher).
  lxydis | May 11, 2013 |
  sanrak | May 8, 2013 |
Certainly 5 stars for the message and the approach to debunking religious arguments throughout the ages of all types; I only knock it down a bit for its length and dragging a bit in a couple of places. Dawkins focuses on Christianity because this is his background, but his arguments are not confined to it. He absolutely does not pull any punches, but at the same time writes in a thoughtful, humanizing, and playful way. The book is also chock-full of quotes :), starting with Douglas Adams, In Memoriam, in the dedication: “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?”

Others:
On atheism:
“I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.”

On belief in the irrational, from Sam Harris:
“We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When their beliefs are extremely common we call them ‘religious’; otherwise, they are likely to be called ‘mad’, ‘psychotic’, or ‘delusional’ … Clearly there is a sanity in numbers.”

On belief as a virtue:
“But why, in any case, do we so readily accept the idea that the one thing you must do if you want to please God is believe in him? What’s so special about believing? Isn’t it just as likely that God would reward kindness, or generosity, or humility? Or sincerity? What if God is a scientist who regards honest seeking after truth as the supreme virtue? Indeed, wouldn’t the designer of the universe have to be a scientist?”

On the Bible, the Old Testament:
“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.”

“The point is that, whether true or not, the Bible is held up to us as the source of our morality. And the Bible story of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.”

And this on the New Testament:
“Robert Gillooly shows how all the essential features of the Jesus legend, including the star in the east, the virgin birth, the veneration of the baby by kings, the miracles, the execution, the resurrection and the ascension are borrowed – every last one of them – from other religions already in existence in the Mediterranean and Near East region.”

“Well, there’s no denying that, from a moral point of view, Jesus is a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament. Indeed, Jesus, if he existed (or whoever wrote his script if he didn’t) was surely one of the great ethical innovators of history. The Sermon on the Mount is way ahead of its time. His ‘turn the other cheek’ anticipated Gandhi and Martin Luther King by two thousand years.”

Lastly this, on the Apocrypha:
“The gospels that didn’t make it were omitted by those ecclesiastics perhaps because they included stories that were even more embarrassingly implausible than those in the four canonical ones. The Infant Gospel of Thomas, for example, has numerous anecdotes about the child Jesus abusing his magical powers in the manner of a mischievous fairy, impishly transforming his playmates into goats, or turning mud into sparrows, or giving his father a hand with the carpentry by miraculously lengthening a piece of wood.”

Finally, from John Hartung:
“The Bible is a blueprint of in-group morality, complete with instructions for genocide, enslavement of out-groups, and world domination. But the Bible is not evil by virtue of its objectives or even its glorification of murder, cruelty, and rape. Many ancient words do that – the Iliad, the Icelandic Sagas, the tales of the ancient Syrians and the inscriptions of the ancient Mayans, for example. But no one is selling the Iliad as a foundation for morality. Therein lies the problem. The Bible is sold, and bought, as a guide to how people should live their lives. And it is, by far, the world’s all-time best seller.”

On death:
“Why don’t all Christians and Muslims say something like the abbot [Congratulations!] when they hear that a friend is dying? When a devout woman is told by a doctor that she has only months to live, why doesn’t she beam with excited anticipation, as if she has just won a holiday in the Seychelles?”

On God:
“Why is God considered an explanation for anything? It’s not – it’s a failure to explain, a shrug of the shoulders, an ‘I dunno’ dressed up in spirituality and ritual. If someone credits something to God, generally what it means is that they haven’t a clue, so they’re attributing it to an unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. Ask for an explanation of where that bloke came from, and odds are you’ll get a vague, pseudo-philosophical reply about having always existed, or being outside nature. Which, of course, explains nothing.”

On hell:
“If hell were plausible, it would only have to be moderately unpleasant in order to deter. Given that it is so unlikely to be true, it has to be advertised as very very scary indeed, to balance its implausibility and retain some deterrence value.”

On love, hmm interesting this found its way in here:
“The anthropologist Helen Fisher, in Why We Love, has beautifully expressed the insanity of romantic love, and how over-the-top it is compared with what might seem strictly necessary. Look at it this way. From the point of view of a man, say, it is unlikely that any one woman of his acquaintance is a hundred times more lovable than her nearest competitor, yet that is how he is likely to describe her when ‘in love’. Rather than the fanatically monogamous devotion to which we are susceptible, some sort of ‘polyamory’ is on the face of it more rational. (Polyamory is the belief that one can simultaneously love several members of the opposite sex, just as one can love more than one wine, composer, book, or sport.) We happily accept that we can love more than one child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend, or pet. When you think of it like that, isn’t the total exclusiveness that we expect of spousal love positively weird?”

On misogyny, from Gore Vidal:
“The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – God is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.”

On prayer, from Ambrose Bierce:
“(The definition of to pray is) to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.”

On religion’s use of science, and the double standard:
“…imagine, by some remarkable set of circumstances, that forensic archaeologists unearthed DNA evidence to show that Jesus really did lack a biological father. Can you imagine religious apologists shrugging their shoulders and saying anything remotely like the following? ‘Who cares? Scientific evidence is completely irrelevant to theological questions. Wrong magisterium! We’re concerned only with ultimate questions and with moral values. Neither DNA nor any other scientific evidence could ever have any bearing on the matter, one way or the other.’ The very idea is a joke.”

More on religion, from Thomas Jefferson:
“The priests of the different religious sects … dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.”

Also from Thomas Jefferson:
“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

From Steven Weinberg:
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.”

From Seneca the Younger:
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

From Victor Hugo:
“There is in every village a torch – the teacher: and an extinguisher – the clergyman.”

From Muriel Gray, on the terrorism of the London bombings:
“Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim ‘communities’. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror, and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.”

And:
“Our Western politicians avoid mentioning the R word (religion), and instead characterize their battle as a war against ‘terror’, as though terror were a kind of spirit or force, with a will and a mind of its own. Or they characterize terrorists as motivated by pure ‘evil’. But they are not motivated by evil. However misguided we may think them, they are motivated, like the Christian murderers of abortion doctors, by what they perceive to be righteousness, faithfully pursuing what their religion tells them. They are not psychotic; they are religious idealists, who, by their own lights, are rational.”

On being a spiritual nonbeliever, something I have always felt:
From Einstein:
“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”

Also from Einstein:
“I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”

Lastly, this little bit of levity, from Lord Justice Bowen, a play of course on Matthew 5:45:
“The rain it raineth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella.
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.” ( )
11 vote gbill | May 2, 2013 |
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