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The God Delusion

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God delusion

Front cover of an edition of The God Delusion.

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The God Delusion is a book by the atheist Richard Dawkins, in which he attempts to show 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]

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.

Chapters

Deeply Religious Non-Believer

Dawkins attempts to establish Albert Einstein as an avowed atheist, and to prove that religion is unworthy of any respect.

The God Hypothesis

Dawkins explains the different kinds of religion, including the divide between Monotheism and Polytheism. He also asserts viciously that the founding fathers of the United States of America were nonreligious. He continues to explain Secularism, Agnosticism, and some basic assertions of the religious.

Arguments for God's Existence

Dawkins summarizes some common proofs for God and attempts to debunk them.

Why There Almost Certainly is No God

Dawkins gives his reasons for believing that God is about as likely as "fairies living under his garden", and asks the fallacious question of where God came from.

The Roots of Religion

Dawkins gives and explains some thoughts about the origins of religion that have been proposed by atheists, trying to undermine the church.

The Roots of Morality: Why are We Good?

Dawkins explains why he believes that morality "evolved" from animals.

The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist

Dawkins suggests that morality does not come from religion, but rather a changing moral Zeitgeist.

What's Wrong With Religion? Why Be So Hostile?

Dawkins shows why he believes that religion is evil and repressive, and must be stopped.

Childhood, Abuse and the Escape from Religion

Dawkins explains why he believes that religion is a form of "child abuse", and that the scars from the "indoctrination" last into adulthood and even the child's entire life.

A Much Needed Gap?

Dawkins concludes his book on a more positive level, giving inspiration to those whom he may have convinced to "de-convert" from their religion.

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

References

  1. The God Delusion. Publishers Weekly. August 2006. http://www.amazon.com/God-Delusion-Richard-Dawkins/dp/0618680004. "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

External links

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