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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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12,114289208 (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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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 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 |
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 |
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