The God Delusion

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The God Delusion is a book by the agnostic Richard Dawkins, in which he argues that belief in God is irrational (see also: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism).

In terms of the theism vs. agnosticism/atheism issue, Dawkins has shown himself to be rather ignorant in matters of philosophy and theology. For example, atheist philosopher Dr. Michael Ruse declared concerning Dawkins' book The God Delusion: "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist."[1] See also: Errors of Richard Dawkins

Although Richard Dawkins declared himself an agnostic in the book The God Delusion, he declared that atheist evangelism is important.[2] Theodore Beale wrote concerning this matter, "While the fact that Dawkins declared himself a literal agnostic in the very book in which he declared the importance of atheist evangelism is both ironic and incoherent, it will surprise no one who has read the chapter of The Irrational Atheist entitled "Darwin's Judas".[3]

In 2010, it was reported that The God Delusion sold 2,086,402 copies and 907,161 of those copies were sold in North America. Contrastly, in 2010, the evangelical Christian Rick Warren sold between 25,000,000 and 50,000,000 copies of his book The Purpose Driven Life.[4] According to the website Guinness World Records, a survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies [of the Bible] were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion."[5] The Economist reported in 2007, "...over 100m copies of the Bible are sold or given away every year. Annual Bible sales in America are worth between $425m and $650m; Gideon's International gives away a Bible every second. The Bible is available all or in part in 2,426 languages, covering 95% of the world's population."[6]

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".[7]

  • 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.


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."[8]

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.'"[9]

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[10]) 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.

Richard Dawkins and Center for Inquiry translation project to reach more Muslims

See also: Atheism vs. Islam and Center for Inquiry

The Guardian reported about Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion:

Richard Dawkins is responding to what he called the “stirring towards atheism” in some Islamic countries with a programme to make free downloads of his books available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian.

The scientist and atheist said he was “greatly encouraged” to learn that the unofficial Arabic pdf of the book had been downloaded 13m times. Dawkins writes in The God Delusion about his wish that the “open-minded people” who read it will “break free of the vice of religion altogether”. It has sold 3.3m copies worldwide since it was published in 2006 – far fewer than the number of Arabic copies that Dawkins believes to have been downloaded illegally.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science recently merged with the Washington DC-based Center for Inquiry. Dawkins said the CFI decided on “a more systematic programme” of translating his work in ebook form following “stirrings toward atheism in Iran and other Islamic countries”. It will be the first time his work has been made available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of Islamic countries.[11]

The Center for Inquiry indicates on its website:

Announcing The Translations Project, a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, part of the Center for Inquiry.

The books of Richard Dawkins—including River Out of Eden, The Magic of Reality, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion—are being professionally translated into languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Indonesian and made available to download free of charge.[12]

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


  2. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  3. Mailvox: Richard Dawkins is not an atheist!
  4. How Many Copies of The God Delusion Have Been Sold?
  5. Best-selling book of non-fiction, Guinness World Records
  6. The battle of the books, The Economist
  7. (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.” 
  11. Richard Dawkins to give away copies of The God Delusion in Islamic countries, The Guardian
  12. The Books of Richard Dawkins, Professionally Translated for Free Access in the Muslim World, Center for Inquiry website

External links