Summary and book reviews of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion

by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins X
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 464 pages

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Book Summary

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.

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 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but 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.

A 6,000 word excerpt of the entire text of Chapter 1 starts after the Contents.

CONTENTS

Preface

1. A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER
Deserved respect
Undeserved respect

2. THE GOD HYPOTHESIS
Polytheism
Monotheism
Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America
The poverty of agnosticism
NOMA
The Great Prayer Experiment
The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists
Little green men

3. ARGUMENTS FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE
Thomas Aquinas’ ‘proofs’
The ontological argument and other a priori arguments
The argument from beauty
The argument from personal ‘experience’
The argument from scripture
The argument from admired religious scientists
Pascal’s Wager
Bayesian arguments

4. WHY THERE ALMOST CERTAINLY IS NO GOD
The Ultimate Boeing 747
Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser
Irreducible complexity
The worship of gaps
The anthropic principle: planetary version
The anthropic...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Whatever your personal beliefs there is surely one thing that the majority of us can agree on, which is that whether we believe in one God, or many, or in none at all, we can agree that any deity worthy of our belief is not only robust enough to be able to cope with us questioning our beliefs as a process of gaining a greater understanding, but would actually welcome this process as preferable to blind acceptance. If you agree with this statement, then The God Delusion is a book you should give strong consideration to reading or, at a minimum, read the very extensive excerpt at BookBrowse.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review (1106 words).

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Media Reviews

Scientific American - George Johnson
Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, tells of his exasperation with colleagues who try to play both sides of the street: looking to science for justification of their religious convictions while evading the most difficult implications—the existence of a prime mover sophisticated enough to create and run the universe, "to say nothing of mind reading millions of humans simultaneously." Such an entity, he argues, would have to be extremely complex, raising the question of how it came into existence, how it communicates —through spiritons!—and where it resides. Dawkins is frequently dismissed as a bully, but he is only putting theological doctrines to the same kind of scrutiny that any scientific theory must withstand. No one who has witnessed the merciless dissection of a new paper in physics would describe the atmosphere as overly polite. S

The New York Times - Jim Holt
What Dawkins brings to this approach is a couple of fresh arguments — no mean achievement, considering how thoroughly these issues have been debated over the centuries — and a great deal of passion. The book fairly crackles with brio.

The Economist
Mr Dawkins is an atheist, an evolutionary biologist and an eloquent communicator about science, three passions that have allowed him to construct a particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith. Even agnostics, who claim to have no opinion on God, may be persuaded that their position is an untenable waffle.

The Guardian - Joan Bakewell
Dawkins is right to be not only angry but alarmed. Religions have the secular world running scared. This book is a clarion call to cower no longer. Primed by anger, redeemed by humour, it will, I trust, offend many.

Publishers Weekly
He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it.

Library Journal - Brad Mathies
While he does acknowledge that many of his criticisms would also apply to political or sociocultural beliefs, he does not take that line of thought any further, which is a shame. Nonetheless, both fans of Dawkins and his many opponents will want to read this book.

Kirkus Reviews
You needn't buy the total Dawkins package to glory in his having the guts to lay out the evils religions can do. Bible-thumpers doubtless will declare they've found their Satan incarnate.

Author Blurb Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate
At last, one of the best nonfiction writers alive today has assembled his thoughts on religion into a characteristically elegant book.

Author Blurb Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy
Dawkins gives human sympathies and emotions their proper value, which...lends his criticisms of religion such force.

Author Blurb Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape and The Human Animal
This is a brave and important book.

Author Blurb James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix
The world needs . . . passionate rationalists . . . Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion.

Reader Reviews

James M

A masterpiece of logic
In this thoroughly enjoyable book, Dawkins strips down religion and confronts it with its antithesis, science, providing a veritable truck-load of ammunition for atheists worldwide. He expresses his consternation at the venomous influence of religion...   Read More

Andrew K

This compelling, ultimately comprehensive conviction that God is a metaphor is surgically precise.
After reading this book I have claimed Richard Dawkins as a brave hero and have embraced atheism as a compassionate, pro-human, pro-civilization, unifying body of work that promises salvation of this planet from harmful mythologies and horribly ...   Read More

Wes A

Simplistic Illogic
As an open-minded Christian, I make a point to listen to opposing views. Dr. Dawkins theses are that since there are some great scientists who are atheists and since religious people do bad things and can be evil, there must not be a God. For such ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Richard Dawkins was born Clinton Richard Dawkins in March 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya. When he was eight his family moved to England where he attended Oundle School, and then Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained a second class BA degree in zoology in 1962, followed by MA and DPhil degrees in 1966.

He describes his childhood as "a normal Anglican upbringing", but started to doubt the existence of God when he was about nine years old. He later reconverted persuaded by the argument that a designer had been necessary to create the universe. However in his teens, when he better understood evolution, he came to the conclusion that evolution could account for the complexity of life and that a designer was not necessary.
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