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The God Delusion | Paperback

Released on 21 May 2007

Author: Richard Dawkins | Format: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 (41 customer reviews) | Write a review

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"The God Delusion" caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types. His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind. Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. 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. "The God Delusion" is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.

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 Average rating (41 reviews)

 Spread the word!

| | See all Tychoanomaly's reviews (8)

Top 100 Books Reviewer

I bought and read this book when it was first released as, despite my Catholic upbringing, I knew from a very young age that I was an aspiring atheist (although at such a young age I didn't know what or how to label my way of thinking other than as 'heresy'), and this was despite the school and church's attempts to 'brainwash me'. When as a child I asked both the teaches and priests to 'prove god to me' they were inevitably unable to do so and could only ask that I surrender my young, imaginative and intellectual mind to "faith", they couldn't even offer a rational and 'believable' argument why I should believe in god other than to say nonsense like 'god moves in mysterious ways,' 'only god knows' and 'you must believe else you risk spending eternity in hell'; or as Pascal once argued, it's better to believe just in case - but then Pascal didn't live in such enlightened times (hedging your bets is such a cop-out).

This book made me smile and laugh all the way through as it was extremely refreshing to see someone point out the blatantly obvious. And, I totally agree that both this book and atheism in general should be introduced into the curriculum of all UK schools, after all, this is the UK and not the USofA. Religion is a sign of how primitive we still are as a species and how far we have yet to go to free our minds of those people, and ideas that want to enslave and control our minds, our 'spirit' (in the humanist-existential sense not the mystical-religious senses) and our bodies.

All you have to fear is fear itself, and those that want to use your fear against you... read this book and spread the word!

 The Truth.

| | See all MaltonNecromancer's reviews (7)

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Well, not really The Truth. That's kind of the point. This book argues that The Truth is there is no Truth, just observation.

But it's just so nice to read a book where everything I've ever thought about religion has been expressed with considerable more force, and significantly more eloquence than I've ever been able to muster. While Dawkins does use a little more invective than is helpful, I can't honestly see these "massive holes in his thinking" which everyone goes on about. Either you agree with the logic of his arguments, or you don't.

Now, I'm not remotely arguing that Dawkins has the answers... but he is the only man who's had the bottle to stand up and attack things which I feel need attacking. It really is the case that atheism IS, by it's very nature, an attack on religion. To be an atheist is to actively reject religion, not to compromise and say "well, maybe some of it". If you still believe some of the supernatural stuff, you're not atheist, you're agnostic. And why shouldn't Dawkins want to shout his beliefs from the rooftops? Atheism has as much right to do so as any other belief system.

I enjoyed this book; but then, I was always going to. It's never difficult, preaching to the choir (irony intended). If you're like me, a secular atheist (who grew up as a child listening to religion, terrified of patent nonsense, but lacking the courage, not the belief, to face it down) you may well like this. It's a great book if you actively dislike religion.

If you're an agnostic, you may find it a little overly strident in it's assertions. As I say, there's a lot of invective.

If you're religious, it's probably not for you; Dawkins is quite happy to insult the religious at every turn (for strongly heartfelt moral reasons). I would suggest only read it if you're not fixedly religious. It will just annoy you otherwise (and you'll feel very insulted to boot).

Personally, I think that irony that Dawkins is attacking religion from his moral convictions alone is a good enough reason to make this one of my favourite books.

 An excellent book

| | See all Johnoliver's reviews (1)

Top 100 Books Reviewer

Dawkins brilliantly exposes the irrational, superstitious nonsense that is the stuff of religion and makes an excellent case for religion being deeply harmful.

This book is NOT 'fundamentalist' as other reviewers have attempted to assert. Dawkins (and all other scientists for that matter) do not pretend (as many religions arrogantly do) to know all the answers. Much of what he brilliantly explains - and this is the whole point of science - is that for any statement about the world to be credible, there should be evidence to back it up. (Everyone uses this basic principle even if they don't realise it. If I went around telling people my pet dog could speak they would want evidence before taking my statement seriously.) If there is a lot of evidence then we can accept it as a good model. If there is no evidence then it is nothing but wild conjecture. Even for those well established theories such as relativity or evolution, no scientist says they are 100% certain of them: they just say it is the best model we have yet because thats where all the evidence points. All Dawkins is - rightly in my view - disrespectful of are claims of 100% certainty in things there is absolutely no hard evidence for. Incidentally, it is worth asking, how can simply NOT believing in anything possibly be perceived as fundamentalist? This criticism of Dawkins, when analysed properly, is seen to be nothing but a play on words designed to make atheism and theism appear on an equal footing.

Dawkins equally well exposes the inherent bias in arguments whereby as soon as a scientist is unable to immediately explain something, religion is deemed to have won by default, without even looking to see if the other, religious/superstitious view explains it better. Furthermore the critic never even attempts to demonstate that an insurmountable gap has been discovered (other than by offering weak arguments that essentially amount to 'I can't easily conceptualise how it could happen, therefore it didn't'.)

He offers the usual (and compelling) arguments that we do not get our morals from the Bible or any other religious source (if we take the Bible literally we should be homophobic, sexist and racist. If we do not then we pick and choose as we please which isn't any better than just writing your own list of principles to live by.) He also gives plausible 'sources' of our morals. This essentially arises from a combination of evolution and 'game theory'. Most humans are able to make good use of the altruistic impulses hardwired into their brain (even though there may be no obvious payback) from evolution (which initially did require a payback) in a similar way that people can use their evolved sexual impulses to find enjoyment without necessarily always having reproductive intentions.

Dawkins also presents a fascinating and plausible theory of why humans are so susceptible to superstitious notions. Even religious people should be able to accept much of what he says (if they are - say - a Christian and refuse to give up their belief - they can at least see it as a good explanation for the rise of other religions).

Dawkins hopes to break the cycle of religion by imploring us not to label children by religion any more than we would label them by political stance.

This book has cemented my conviction that religious notions do not deserve any special respect. He explains that 'faith' - essentially a process of actually choosing not to think properly - is not a virtue. At best it is to be pitied.

I found 'The God Delusion' to be an inspirational, courageous and brilliantly argued book. Passionate? Yes. Fundamentalist? No. Necessary? Absolutely. A must buy.

 At last atheists have the equivalent of a bible!

| | See all how1ard's reviews (36)

This book is a must for everyone who feels marginalised in today's "respect all religious beliefs or be arrested" society. Atheism is an officially recognised belief system within UK law and this book breaks down various religious beliefs and highlights just how crazy they ALL are.

Dawkins is nothing if not fare, he gets stuck into every religion you can think of making the very valid point that American fundamentalist christians are just as much of a threat to free thinking people as anyone. Creationism, grand design he rubbishes them all in a cool scientific manor which is both methodical and entertaining .

One of the main points the book makes, quite correctly, is that so many of these religions want their own world. A world where the theory of evolution is not taught in Schools as it contradicts the bible, this has just happened in Kansas for those of you who think this is a joke. A world where saying you don't believe is punishable by law.

Admittedly at times Dawkins scientific deconstruction of beliefs can be a bit heavy going but ultimately it is a rewarding and liberating read. This book makes you feel like knocking on doors (bile sales style) asking people if they believe in God and if they say yes embarking on a sales pitch on how they need to convert to atheism!

Well maybe not but it definitely reminds all of us that there must always be a very clear separation of church and state if non belivers, free thinkers and scientists are to be protected from those claiming to be doing god's work.

 You will either hate it or marvel at it.

| | See all malathion's reviews (1)

Dawkins has returned to his clear, logical and progressively revelatory style that was stunningly evident in his first few books (Selfish Gene, Extended Phenotype) but which has been a little muddy in some more recent ones in my opinion.

I listened to this on audio book in the car initially, but was so impressed and wanted to see some of the primary sources myself that I re-'read' the hardback.

The contents are likely to make everyone angry: religious folk because it will try to apply reason to a lot of their 'sacred cows' and nobody is more angry than those that are trying to defend the indefensible; on the other hand it is likely to annoy non-religious folk since it describes some amazing abuses of civilised people in the name of religion that most people will simply not be aware of.

It was an eye-opener - I don't think it is going to change anyone's opinion (discussions in this arena almost never do), but it is a tour-de-force of the evidence, logic (and in some cases, mind-numbing stupidity) of various types of belief.

Religious people will dismiss it out of hand, and more than likely will get aggressive about it as they often do.

To paraphrase Dawkins, no genuinely sane or rational person threatens or kills people over a difference of philosophical opinion, this book will generate physical threats to Dawkins - you can make your own conclusions from that.

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AuthorRichard Dawkins
PublisherTransworld Publishers Ltd (United Kingdom)
FormatPaperback - 464 Pages