The God Delusion

The God Delusion❮Reading❯ ➹ The God Delusion Author Richard Dawkins – A preeminent scientist and the world's most prominent atheist asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society from the Crusades to 911With rigor and A preeminent scientist and the world's most prominent atheist asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society from the Crusades to With rigor and wit Dawkins examines God in all his forms from the sex obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the benign but The God PDF/EPUB ² still illogical Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being He shows how religion fuels war foments bigotry and abuses children buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society not the least of which is a clearer truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.


The God Delusion PDF/EPUB æ The God  PDF/EPUB ²
  • Hardcover
  • 374 pages
  • The God Delusion
  • Richard Dawkins
  • English
  • 07 March 2016
  • 9780618680009

10 thoughts on “The God Delusion

  1. Anica says:

    Well this settles it once and for all There is no God Which turns out to be a good thing considering the God most Americans believe in is a crazy vengeful ego maniacal monster Dawkins’ insights are so cunning and profound you can’t help feeling embarrassed for the believerSome of the main argumentsBeliever #1 The diversity of life is too complex to be random so it must have been designed by someone even complexDawkins If the designer is so complex then it must’ve been created by someone even complex And on and on like that In philosophical terms it’s an infinite regress In simpler terms it’s “So who made God?“ The only plausible explanation for the complexity of life on Earth is natural selectionBeliever #2 The chances of having all the right conditions to develop life are so miniscule it had to be done on purposeDawkins It’s true the odds are probably about a billion to one But there are potentially a billion billion planets in the universe I’m not very good at math but that definitely improves the likelihood And we know it happened here so it could definitely happen againBeliever #3 Without God to teach us we wouldn’t know good from evilDawkins People all over the world make the same moral decisions in thought experiments regardless of vast religious differences We do not need God to teach us good and evil Not only that no person in modern times can seriously claim they are basing their behavior on Biblical guidelines We’re talking about people who were ready to kill their own kids or at least offer up their virgin daughter to be gang raped In the example of Lot God only spares Lot and his daughters because they are the most righteous people in town Then the two daughters proceed to get him liuored up and seduce him Which begs the uestion wouldn’t God have seen that coming?UOTES TO LIVE BY“I do not fear death I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it” Mark Twain“Let children learn about different faiths let them notice their incompatibility and let them draw their own conclusions about the conseuences of that incompatibility As for whether they are ‘valid’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so” R Dawkins“But how has it happened that millions of fables tales legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” John Adams“What is there to respect in any of this or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion’s dreaded name? How well with what fatal results religion erects totems and how willing we are to kill for them And when we’ve done it often enough the deadening of affect that results makes it easier to do againSo India’s problem turns out to be the world’s problem What happened in India has happened in God’s nameThe problem’s name is God” Salman Rushdie ‘Religions as ever is the poison in India’s blood’“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” Emily Dickinson“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point The truly adult view by contrast is that our life is as meaningful as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it” R Dawkins

  2. Aeisele says:

    This is perhaps the worst polemic against religion I have ever read Really if Dawkins actually knew anything about religion he wouldn't have written the book Instead he knows nothing about the subject and so if you know nothing about something you don't even KNOW when you say stupid things For instance Dawkins brings up John Hartung's article about love thy neighborHartung is not in case you were wondering a biblical scholar He's a Professor of Anesthesiology The argument is that both the Old Testament's or Torah and the New Testament's idea of neighbor is an in group conception in other words other Jews Now let's not get into the issue that Dawkins and Hartung seem to be fundamentalist about the bible than most Christians I mean Hartung says that Moses wrote the law guess what? Most Christian scholars don't think this Hartung points out many verses that seem to argue this Yet in bringing up Leviticus 1918 love your neighbor as yourself and then arguing this means only other Jews even though there was no such thing as Judaism when this book was written he seems to forget Leviticus 1932 33 There aliens are to be considered as citizens or natives In addition please tell me what example Jesus uses to illustrate what neighbor means? The good Samaritan who were of course considered inferior by the Jews This is just a smattering of his ignorance Would you think that Dawkins MIGHT have consulted someone scholar in religious studies for this work? Ehrman is about the only one He uotes Douglas Adams than any specialists in the field There are other annoying things about the book Like the fact that he basically treats the most violent and fanatical of the religious as the standard Of course does he treat Nazi Eugenics as standard science? Of course not and for anyone who thinks science is self correcting well that's just naive Another thing he gives TH Huxley a free pass on his eugenic racism his statements that blacks in the south might not be evolved enough to have democratic rights which by the way he made at the same time Christian abolishionists were establishing universities and cities in the mid west that were race inclusive because it was a part of the Zeitgeist yet using the violence of the Old Testament against religion Another thing are you sick of this yet? in arguing that there most likely was no religious conviction in anyone who did anything good he said that Martin Luther King Jr basically just got his ideas from Ghandi who of course everyone knows wasn't really religious Well if you read Dr King and believe him which Dawkins by the way doesn't like doing he'd rather foist his own intelligent interpretation of what they were doing on them King actually got much of his social justice vision from the theologian Walter Rauschenbauch He got his notion of non violent resistance from Ghandi which is much different Anyway if anyone out there is really looking for atheistic resources do NOT read Dawkins He'll just make you look like a fool in any educated person's view Instead read an intelligent atheist who understands religion like Nietzsche Start with Beyond Good and Evil go to the Genealogy of Morals and then finish with Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist They will give you a better perspective

  3. Xysea says:

    I am not an atheist but neither am I a 'true believer' I border on 'agnostic' that is to say I believe there is some force beyond this Earth and that I don't know what it is but I don't subscribe to any particular set of beliefs per seUntil I come across books like this one Then I get an irrational urge to defend spiritual beliefs but not religion and that's another discussionWhat I mean is I am generally docile and private about my spirituality and my beliefs until someone goes out of their way to make inflammatory comments designed to browbeat me into supporting a point of view That is true for prosthelytizing believers of any religion as wellNo one ever persuaded me to become a Christian by telling me I was going to Hell if I didn'tBut Dawkins manages the atheists' euivalent and its my main uibble with atheists and their arguments It's all condescension and ridicule moral superiority and incredulity Followers of Dawkins' mantra are the evangelicals they despise without the religion Its uite entertaining to watch a conversation between these two groups devolve but very rarely is any substantive progress made in making one group better understand the other And I believe we will need that reconciliation as a society sooner than laterWhich is what annoys me about this book It's well written and somewhat well argued though Dawkins does engage in some sophistry but not as bad as Sam Harris did in his book but the tone of it is all wrong He clearly isn't trying too hard to engage the people he should be in favor of those who already believe or are sympathetic to his views Because of that I consider this book largely a masturbatory enterprise and not something that seeks to seriously put forth real arguments or to promote understanding It merely serves as a platform for Dawkins to illustrate his views

  4. Manny says:

    Original review Jan 19 2016I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback when Donald Trump suggested the US should deny entry to Muslims and reuire them all to carry ID cards But having had time to get over the initial shock and consider it on its merits the idea has definitely started to look attractive The only problem is that Trump doesn't go far enoughCome on we need to be realistic here half measures won't help We simply have to face up to the fact that monotheists are extremely dangerous From the thousand Philistines that Sampson slew with the jawbone of an ass Judges 15 14 16 through the Conuistadores and the St Bartholomew's Day massacre to the Thirty Years War monotheists have shown time and time again that they are ruthless terrorists who will stop at nothing to spread their sick perverted ideology And it's hardly surprising What do you expect of a religion originally founded by a man who was on the point of killing his only son because the voices in his head told him to do it and whose most important principle is to deny the validity or even the right to existence of all other faiths?Don't get me wrong I'm saying all this in a spirit of tolerance some of my best friends are monotheists but we need a complete ban on them entering the United States or indeed any other Western country until we figure out what the hell is going on Nothing else will do Vote Trump Update May 18 2018I hate to say I told you so but Dimitrios Pagourtzis the 17 year old psycho who today killed ten people in Santa Fe also turns out to be a monotheist He shamelessly flaunted his fanatical monotheistic beliefs to the extent of being a member of a dance suad with a local Greek Orthodox monotheist churchUnder Obama people would just have been wringing their hands and asking for tougher gun control laws But I think President Trump will actually do something These monotheists must be stopped

  5. J.G. Keely says:

    Athiests have been ranked as one of the least trusted groups and the oft repeated notion that atheism is the same as amorality is always saddening A common argument I've encountered is 'if you don't believe in god then what's to stop you stealing raping and killing as often as you like? And of course I do steal rape and kill as often as I like to which is not at allHowever if you turn the uestion around it has very unflattering implications for the believer who asked it 'Are you saying the only thing preventing you from violating and killing strangers is your belief in god? That most of the time you're sitting there fantasizing about murder and the only thing stopping you is fear of divine punishment?'Of course that isn't how morality works It's not that most of us are sitting there wishing we could do these awful things and being held back by fear of punishment No for the most part we don't like to see other people hurt Even soldiers and doctors trained to deal with death still experience psychological trauma when confronted with its reality We don't want to live dangerous criminal lives fearing constant reprisal We want to live normal pleasant lives of friendship and respectFor all his flaws Dawkins helped me to realize that there is something to be achieved by identifying as an atheist Not merely because it represents my position on any theology but because people won't come to trust or understand atheists unless they are willing to speak openlyIt shouldn't be a dirty word in America a country founded on dissent Our legal documents outline a system that holds personal beliefs and opinions to be of concern only to the person holding them yet particular kinds of belief still carry political clout and others social stigma This Scientific American article looks at various studies analyzing how Americans think of atheists at one point showing that the average person trusts an atheist about as much as they do a criminal Some might suggest that it's a choice no one is born an atheist any than they are born a criminal though arguments could be made there too but how much of a choice is it really? We each look at the world and try to determine what we think of it and while some people make these decisions blithely I don't feel like I have ever had much choice in my views If I looked at a red shoe I couldn't simply believe that it was blue I have to base my conclusions on what I see I won't pull out the old 'I was raised in such a way and came to atheism in such a way' story because it's hackneyed and it isn't really useful here Suffice it to say that as a child I assumed a lot of mythical things were real because people talked about them all the time gods and angels and hell and ghosts and Santa and all those familiar cultural symbols appeared everywhere around me even in cartoons Eventually as I learned none of it made any sense nor did it answer any uestions so I stopped thinking any of it was real Is that really a choice?Should I take Pascal's Wager literally and choose to believe in god merely because if I do and I'm right I go to heaven but if I don't and I'm wrong I go to hell? Pascal didn't mean it seriously in the first place but I'd be fucked for Buddhism Hinduism Catholicism Islam Judaism Anglicism Orthodox Shinto the Norse Gods Zoroastrianism Mormonism and ScientologyThere's also the fact that 'deciding' to believe in god but not actually believing in your heart suggests that we can somehow 'fool' god getting in on a technicality None of this indicates that we have any real choice in the matter It isn't like voting for a politician or picking a favorite bandIf there was a god who wanted us to believe in him then he probably wouldn't have created a world where his existence was merely one of numerous eually appealing options which are all surmounted by the final option that none of them exist But to suggest this to most people is apparently tantamount to admitting that I molest children employ and murder prostitutes which is worse? steal lie cheat donate to the nazi war criminal retirement fund and hate AmericaAnd it's this view of atheists as amoral that convinced me to openly identify as an atheist instead of mere agnosticism Like women blacks and gays the first step in gaining respect is admitting what you are and insisting that you are still a human being Eventually simply identifying with a movement is pointless and even unproductive since it strengthens the very separatist ideology that must be torn down for the sake of moving past the original conflict but it's an important step in the beginningAgnosticism simply isn't a strong enough stance since I disbelieve in god in the same way that I disbelieve in a machine gun bunker under my bed I'm not going to live my life as if my bed will kill me or as if working on Sunday will cause me to end up in a trash dump in a suburb of JerusalemI agree with Dawkins' conclusions yet I don't find him convincing His books have threads of argument but I rarely feel that the metaphors and examples he uses are ultimately useful He never goes uite far enough and so I think he falls short of his stated goal of a reader starting this book as a believer and finishing it as an atheist It feels like a book to help confirm atheists If you're already familiar with these arguments and their implications then the book will make sense to you if you aren't then it's going to feel a bit incompleteFor example at one point he talks about the idea of the 'sacred' that there are some things in religion which are not allowed to be discussed and asks why this should be the case We are scrupulous about discussing every detail of the rest of our lives so why does this specific subset get its own special rules?Unfortunately Dawkins doesn't provide us with the obvious answer that every controlling political structure has set certain topics as 'off limits' in order to protect its power As Orwell explores in 1984 controlling language controlling what people are allowed to talk about is the hallmark of any tyranny And lest we forget various churches have exerted this kind of political power throughout history and some continue to hold that power today So it would be in their best interest to forbid discussion of dangerous ideas that might threaten their powerYet Dawkins is certainly familiar with cultural Darwinism with the way that ideas grow and change within a culture the importance of 'infectious ideas' that take advantage of the natural fears hopes and habits of human beings this should be all too obvious to the man who coined the word 'meme' And yet he isn't working here to make obvious and deconstruct these infectious ideas to reveal their origins and purpose and to show why we might hold such beliefsBut if his arguments are fundamentally dismissive and incomplete it seems obvious to me why this would be looking at the trajectory of his career Dawkins has put himself in the unenviable position of being a public philosopher He is a man of ideas which he constantly presents and defends against people who are uninformed emotionally unstable and self assured Something I've learned here on Goodreads is the often people miss your point responding only with the same tired antagonism the flippant and distant you can becomeYou start off reasonable and patient which is time consuming draining and rarely achieves anything Watching Dawkins give one of his many lectures to believers is painful because during the uestions afterward it becomes clear that almost no one there had sufficient knowledge of either rhetoric or theology to understand his pointsIt's like watching a mathematician explain his solution for the Reimann Hypothesis and then in the audience a man stands up and says I don't know what 'zeta function' means but you're wrong Few seem to recognize the thought and study that goes into disbelief since belief can be achieved uite easily by telling children that if they don't follow the sky man's book they will be set on fire foreverBut your average believer is a different from a biblical scholar who has some understanding what he means by his belief and who tends to reject the bible as 'word of god' simply because he knows that there is no single bible to believe in there are a hundred different versions each full of extraneous parts errors conflicts and revisionsA discussion with a well informed atheist there are of course many who are fundamentally ignorant is similar to a discussion with a biblical scholar both have an understanding of what they are discussing One can see Dawkins engage in these discussions in various documentaries and he comes off as much less of a stuck up prickBut by taking his ideas public he encounters angry conflict with a mass of uninformed self righteous people both believers and atheists and he is invariably dragged down slight for slight condescension for condescension More's the pity he has an excellent background and a respectable mind but fighting with the mob never elevates an intellectual argumentIn the end his responses should not be tailored to the ignoramus who asked a uestion he already answered A big part of the reason I stopped studying atheism was that I realized all I was doing was training myself to argue with people who had very strong feelings about an issue they didn't understand Instead we should write for posterity for the larger cause of human knowledge A lesson we all could learn in an age when our words and actions may often be recorded and remembered Perhaps it will lend me patience when I must answer the same uestion I have already answered a hundred times in the same thread from someone who is responding not because they feel intrigued but because they feel threatened Even if in the end there can be no coming together in understanding merely fight and flight at least I can do right by me and put forth my best and most patient face As far as turning believers into atheists I'd send them to Bart Ehrman before Dawkins

  6. Riku Sayuj says:

    The God Delusion Why there almost certainly is no God?I have been a big fan of Dawkins from the time I read The Selfish Gene This book does nothing to damage that even though it is not as logically cohesive as The Selfish Gene The God Delusion is easier to argue with and maybe even win if only in my mind Dawkins argues mostly against the Christian God that created earth and knows nothing of the vast universe beyond He remains silent about the God hypothesis that can arise from new physics and eastern cosmogonies I feel that while The Selfish Gene was a standalone book intended to convey a brilliant concept in a very articulate fashion to the general reader The God Delusion is a of a glorified pamphlet meant to be a handbook of reference for any atheist for the range of illogical childish or even intelligent arguments that might be addressed to him An atheist who reads and remembers a fair bit of The God Delusion will always be well euipped to blunt any argument against his positionBut this huge strength of the book is also its major flaw that demotes it much below the Selfish gene in my opinion The Selfish gene is a must read book that I would thrust in the hand of anyone I like because I want them to learn from it raise their consciousness or because I want to have a wonderful discussion with them In contrast the God Delusion is a book I would thrust in exasperation at someone with whom I am tired of arguing and would rather prefer them to go through Dawkins' exhaustive repudiation of most arguments That is the difference The book would be useful if I want to convince someone or If I wanted to win an argument But what if neither was ever my objective? It gives me no intrinsic value that is not situational But then perhaps I was never one of the intended audience of the book; the purpose of this book is not to explain science It is rather as he tells us “to raise consciousnessHe also spends a lot of time debunking obvious fallacies and beliefs purely because they are prevalent It might be important to show how silly they are but I frankly was impatient to get on with it and not spend time on such obvious facts Most of the arguments in the book are ones that I could have come up with too if I had sat down and though about it True Dawkins has made my job easier but what if I am comfortable with not having the God Delusion and with the fact that a lot of people have? What if the formula of zeitgeist that Dawkins proposes about what is moral is applicable to religions too? After all the religion of today is far from what it was in the 1900s maybe religion too will evolve and become and liberal The only genuinely useful sections in the book for me were the intriguing discussion on morals and that wonderful last chapter on model building If only the rest of the book was as memorableI have a few other peeves with the book too It condemns anyone who understand religion and science and takes the informed decision to be an agnostic This condemnation by Dawkins of agnostics is perhaps my single biggest point of difference with DawkinsI have no problems with the debunking of the God Hypothesis as Dawkins defines 'God' But his atheism goes into exactly those realms which he accuses religious fundamentalists to be going in He gives an example of a Priest who says that even though he has moments of reservation about the existence of a God he keeps such doubts to himself and extols God's virtues purely so that the common man is not mislead into doubt Dawkins condemns this as intellectual and moral cowardiceThen later in a section titled 'Why there almost certainly is no God' he freely acknowledges that most probably God does not exist and then classifies himself as an agnostic leaning heavily towards atheism Then he says that such agnostics should refrain from calling themselves agnostics as it will cause damage to the common people who want to support atheism Is this not the same intellectual and moral cowardice? If you cannot in your own logic call yourself a full blown atheist do not do that just to prove a point or to support a pet theory If there 'almost certainly' is no god then it is 'almost certainly' a 'delusion' to say that pure atheism is fully reasonable tooDawkins makes an appeal to closely define the meaning of the word God But then not matter how you define it as long as the basis is in irrationality the same principle is being attacked And hence to say I believe in Science as the ultimate answer when it has so far been unsuccessful in furnishing one is just to substitute the term Science for GodOf course I understand the value of people like Dawkins being there to be the vanguard for this change And there is a real need for a spokesperson for the atheists when the other party has so many very vocal ones But that does not mean that he should call for educated agnostics to brand themselves as atheists just to add religious fervor to the brand All that is still no reason to call for making atheism an organized religion too agree with all the points and the logical arguments of The God Delusion but I disagree with the spirit of the book which seems to convey that religion is the enemy for us to combat by organizing ourselves There are too many paradoxes and unknowns in nature which science is and throwing up its hands in utter confusion towards What if the universe truly is 'ueerer than we can suppose' as J B S Haldane puts it? Dawkins manages to explain most phenomena with natural selection but dismisses the larger conundrums and paradoxes with the great sweeping idea called the 'Anthropic principle' The Anthropic principle might be a good tool to stall an argument but is no authentic scientific theory as he pretends it to be It would be the euivalent of saying that the clock is telling time correctly isn't it so that explains its form and function and hence it needs no designer I just paraphrased above the argument Dawkins uses to prove that atheism is absolutely valid Well unless we resort to such rhetoric devices it is not And in the 'belief spectrum' ranging from radical theism to complete atheism the only position we can take without resorting to faith is one of doubt agnosticismIn conclusion my opinion is that pure atheism is not possible under present scientific knowledge and that is why agnosticism is the only reasonable position to take without slipping into blind belief in science after climbing out of blind belief in religion

  7. Alex Telander says:

    THE GOD DELUSION BY RICHARD DAWKINS Dawkins latest book is as brutal and honest as its title For those who aren’t looking to have their faith and beliefs gravely challenged you may want to skip this book Though Dawkins is looking for everyone to read this book with an open mind whether you’re devoutly religious agnostic or atheist Having an open mind is actually one of the New Ten Commandments Dawkins cites The book begins in a calm and orderly manner with an opening chapter on the “god hypothesis” where Dawkins talks about the idea of a god through history and how we are now in a time where medicine and science have come such a long way from the days of thinking the world is flat balancing the humors and believing there was a demon or god causing a every catastrophe And yet religion – especially Christianity – remains stagnated in the ideas of men from thousands of years ago As the book progresses Dawkins seems to grow impatient with religion and its whole hearted certainty in a book and a godHe does an impressive job of going from chapter to chapter in defending different stances on science always providing the evidence – a facet he says religion is lacking One point Dawkins makes that I really found fascinating was his evolutionary reason for the existence of religion in that it was a component of our very early societies in helping to unite communities and keep them together as a whole As human beings we strive for companionship and the evidence speaks for itself when we look back to the time when there was a shift from the nomadic hunting and gathering societies to settling down in groups and communities which started farming large scale food production and ultimately leading to technology writing law art and so onAfter this Dawkins tackles the uestion of morality and makes it a very big deal that everyone understand we keep this separate from religion and not think them one and the same The Bible is full of murder rape fratricide torture – for a book on teaching us how to lead supposedly “good” lives this book has a very strange way of trying to do that says Dawkins So he goes back into our ancestry to the days of Cro Magnon in the time when all humanity cared about was trying to survive He posits that this was when we began to develop a sense of morality because in being good to others families and groups were formed which helped improve survival If we’d stuck to stealing and killing we wouldn’t have lasted past that first winterAnother big issue with Dawkins is the labeling of children as belonging to the religion of the parents without any consent from them they’re Protestant children or Muslim children or Jewish children; even though in all likelihood they are far too young to comprehend what this applied label means These children of heavily religious and fundamental families don’t have a choice One of the most horrific groups I learned about in The God Delusion are the so called “Hell Houses” where children – ideally twelve year olds because this is the perfect age for indoctrination – are taken through a labyrinth of horror revealing the terrible sins of sex before marriage homosexuality and abortion and what happens in hell if one were to commit any of them A cast of actors rehearse these scenes to create the greatest sense of terror in the children – yes there’s even a tall and scary looking man playing the part of SatanIf you liked this review and would like to read go to BookBanter

  8. Nick says:

    Ok we get it Religion is bad Christianity is evil Islam is maniacal and all other religious zealots are out of their mind I guess Dawkins is rightpublic hospitals orphanages both Christian inventions in the West as well as communal values all have destroyed Occidental culture I wish we still practiced 'exposing' infants ie literally throwing out unwanted babies as made popular by the ancients Although there seems to be correlation between violence homocide and arrogance with organized religion is a state without a god any better say Maoist China? I think Dawkins has forgotten the most important axiom of science in his contentious ramblings and methodical deconstruction of ancient texts history and religion of which he is no expertthat correlation does not mean causation Dawkins is only emboldening the religion of science at the exprense of the world's major belief systems I just hope humanity will resist a brave new world in which organized religion is replaced by other systems that devalue human life in the name of progression and knowledge Let us take a step back from today's trend of catagorizing individals into bipolar groups for example either zealot or atheist and embrace a bothand critiue of religion and its sociological effects

  9. Manny says:

    I thought the very best point this book made came right at the beginning Dawkins reports on surveys carried out in the US where subjects received a description of an otherwise sympathetic political candidate and were asked whether they would still vote for them if one extra feature were added Would it still be OK if they were a woman? 90% or so say yes Black? Yes Well we have hard evidence on that now Gay? Most people still say yes Atheist? Half the population says no Considering that many of the Founding Fathers had deep reservations about religion this should sound warning bells If we going to claim we believe in religious tolerance surely that should include tolerance for people who don't belong to any religion and think it's all nonsense? Everyone bends over backwards to show understanding towards Christians Muslims Jews and what have you Why not atheists? Dawkins just says what he honestly thinks and doesn't see why he needs to be ashamed of it Why should he?I didn't like this book as much as The Selfish Gene and The Ancestor's Tale but that's because they are positive books celebrating the amazing beauty of the new universe that science and in particular evolutionary theory have opened up to us; this is a negative one attacking the ugly and constricted world that many self described religious people still choose to live in Sometimes you need to be negative though and many deeply respected figures in the history of religion were negative about the prevailing orthodoxy If Martin Luther had been a nicer guy he'd probably never have offended so many good Catholics with all those unpleasant theses and I bet the money changers weren't particularly thrilled when Jesus threw them out of the Temple As far as I'm concerned Dawkins is in pretty good companyThere has been so much discussion on this page that I am getting slightly lost I'd love to think that I'd started it but of course Dawkins gets all the credit Still I would like to expand on my initial review and clarify my own positionI admire this book and Dawkins's stand in general because I think he is being decisive about pointing out a very serious problem in the world today Religion is in a state of crisis Once upon a time its job was both to explain to people how the world is and also to tell them how to live in it The first part of that mission has now been taken over by science Dawkins is a scientist and if you have scientific training it is impossible to take creationism and similar ideas seriously It's very tiring even to discuss them If someone told you the Moon was made of cheese you wouldn't want to endlessly go back and forth over whether or not you'd thought about the fact that it could be Mozzarella or possibly Vacherin and that maybe that would solve the technical problems The Moon obviously isn't made of any kind of cheese Similar arguments apply to creationism Religion has to get its act together and acknowledge that on this particular ground it has been supplanted by science If this were the only problem religion was facing it wouldn't be so bad Mainstream religion is however also being hijacked by some very unpleasant characters I've been brought up in the Christian tradition so it's easiest for me to talk about Christianity I'm no theologian but it is impossible for me to believe that most of the things you regularly hear from spokespeople of the Christian Right follow from the teachings of Jesus For example I once spent 30 unpleasant minutes leafing though Ann Coulter's Godless at a bookstore This hysterical bigoted stream of hatred has nothing to do with Christianity as it was conceived by its founder Indeed in most respects it is diametrically opposed to it The scary thing is that the book was a major bestseller I don't know Islam at all but every now and then I chat with a moderate Muslim It sounds like they are even concerned with what's being done in the name of MohammedSo it would be easy to conclude that religion is obsolete and we should only rely on the teachings of science I don't think that's correct Science is only designed to tell us objective truths about the world; it doesn't have a conceptual apparatus for determining what we ought to do as opposed to what is I've been working in science for over 25 years and most years I write at least a couple of grant proposals If I were asked to write a grant proposal for a project that would use scientific techniues to compare the value of moral frameworks I don't see how I could even get started One of the key uestions the funding authorities always ask is what objective metrics you will use Where would these metrics come from? It's no use waving your hands and saying philosophy Which philosophy? For example given that the Nazis were rather fond of him I'm guessing that most people would prefer not to get Nietzche involved But what objective reasons do we have for excluding Nietzche rather than other philosophers? I think most people who've read him would agree that Dawkins is a very moral person and he isn't averse to moral principles that derive from traditional religion He doesn't think this conflicts with being an atheist As he says Atheists for Jesus My interpretation of all this is that it adds up to arguing for a massive reform in the way mainstream religion is organized; that's why I'm comparing him with other religious reformers like Martin Luther and Jesus He'd probably find this annoying But if I may criticize him for just a moment what goes around comes around

  10. Richard says:

    I'm going to get the criticism out of the way before I move on to why I love this bookRichard Dawkins is not an easy read He never pulls a punch and if any of the beliefs he is attacking in his book are yours then this is going to get your back up Not for nothing was he passed over as a witness in the intelligent design trials in America His appearance on the witness stand would probably have worked for the ID advocates as he pointed at every 'believer' in the room and berated them for their gullibility and simple mindedness The book tends to read at times like a diatribe which pummels you and leaves you wanting to put the book down for ten minutes to get your breathe backHowever having said that I think this book is just fantastic At times its a comedy masterpiece as he uotes various religious bodies allowing them to shoot themselves in the foot by highlighting their own inconsistencies or the avoiding of debate For instance The Catholic Encyclopedia dismissing Atheism'Formal dogmatic atheism is self refuting and has never de facto won the reasoned assent of any considerable number of men Nor can polytheism however easily it may take hold of the popular imagination ever satisfy the mind of the philosopher'Why not? That isn't reasoning beyond the simple 'I say it ain't so so it ain't so'At other times the book is a very clear explanation of the evolutionary pathway which may have led to humans becoming susceptible to such simple fairy storiesThe second half of the book then concentrates on the downsides of religion and argues for all sensible intelligent non believers to make their voices heard to help the scales fall from the eyes of those infected with faithWhat I particularly loved about this book is that I have been atheistic for many years than half my life and I'm almost forty now but this is the first time I've read a really coherent well argued text on what is wrong with religion all of them The scientific approach to ripping down the pillars of faith probably won't achieve all that it should faith being what it is But it was an excellent read anyway

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