The God Delusion

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The God Delusion is a book by the atheist Richard Dawkins, in which he argues that belief in God is irrational.

Dawkins' main objectives are to convince his readers that the existence of God or any other deity is highly unlikely, that the Bible is incoherent, that morality does not come from religion, and that if religion does effect morality, it only does so negatively.

Critics have called the book "surprisingly intolerant".[1]

  • Richard Dawkins (2006) makes great play in his recent book The God Delusion of what he calls the appalling propensity of religious people to base their ideas on dogma rather than on the evidence. Well, many do, but this reads strange in a book bursting at the seams with its own dogmas, its uncritical acceptance of metaphysical theories such as Identity Theory, its refusal to take note of the relevant evidence from parapsychology, and its special pleading with regard to the views of Darwin and Wallace on genocide (see Smythies, 2007, for details). For example, Dawkins states that he knows that this life is the only life we have. How could he possibly know that? [1]

Dawkins also intends to teach that atheists can live happy, intelligent, lives—perhaps even happier lives than religious people. He asserts that atheists do not do evil things in the name of atheism, while religious people have been known to commit atrocities in the name of their religion.

Contents

Criticism

The God Delusion has been subject to a great deal of criticisms from the religious and the non-religious alike.

Andrew Brown: Prospect Magazine

"It has been obvious for years that Richard Dawkins had a fat book on religion in him, but who would have thought him capable of writing one this bad? Incurious, dogmatic, rambling and self-contradictory, it has none of the style or verve of his earlier works."[2]

Andrew Brown of Prospect Magazine was unimpressed by Dawkins' book. Brown calls atheism "unnatural" and points out that many atheists were violent in their belief (or lack thereof), citing Stalin killing members of the clergy.

Brown also attacks Dawkins' argument that suicide bombers are caused by religious schools. While Dawkins states that if these children were not taught what he calls "faith without question", suicide bombings would not be an issue. Brown, however, says that religion is not a necessity in suicide bombings. He points out that it is a tactic used by Marxists in Sri Lanka.

Marilynne Robinson: Harper's Magazine

"There is a pervasive exclusion of historical memory in Dawkins's view of science. Consider this sentence from his preface, which occurs in the context of his vision of a religion-free world: 'Imagine . . . no persecution of Jews as 'Christ-killers.'"[3]

Robinson's major complaints about The God Delusion lie in how sheerly false the book is in many aspects. Although Dawkins claims that "the majority of us believe in free speech", she points out that most countries do not, pointing out that China (population 1.3 billion[4]) does not. In her review, Robinson basically says that Dawkins purposefully ignored important parts of history in his attempt to convince his readers. "It's a shame," she says, "to see him reduced to one long argument from professorial incredulity."

Terry Eagleton: London Review of Books

"Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins [...] are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding."

Alister McGrath: The Dawkins Delusion?

The Dawkins Delusion? is a response to Dawkins' The God Delusion by Alister McGrath.

Quotes from The God Delusion

"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."

-Chapter 2

"I am one of an increasing number of biologists who see religion as a by-product of something else."

-Chapter 5

"By contrast, what I, as a scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence... Books about evolution are believed because they present overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence."

-Chapter 8

"... [Moral absolutism] rules the minds of a great number of people in the world today, most dangerously so in the Muslim world and in the incipient American theocracy... Such absolutism nearly always results from strong religious faith, and it constitutes a major reason for suggesting that religion can be a force for evil in the world."

-Chapter 8

See also

References

  1. (August 2006) The God Delusion. Publishers Weekly. “For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe.” 
  2. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7803
  3. http://solutions.synearth.net/2006/10/20
  4. http://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/chinapopulation.htm

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