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L'illusione di Dio: Le ragioni per non credere

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Richard Dawkins è uno dei più famosi scienziati di oggi e uno dei più strenui difensori della teoria darwiniana della selezione naturale, a cui ha dedicato libri di enorme successo, a partire da Il gene egoista fino a Il racconto dell'antenato. Ma Dawkins, indicato recentemente come uno dei tre intellettuali più influenti del mondo, è anche un ateo convinto, e non ha nessu Richard Dawkins è uno dei più famosi scienziati di oggi e uno dei più strenui difensori della teoria darwiniana della selezione naturale, a cui ha dedicato libri di enorme successo, a partire da Il gene egoista fino a Il racconto dell'antenato. Ma Dawkins, indicato recentemente come uno dei tre intellettuali più influenti del mondo, è anche un ateo convinto, e non ha nessuna intenzione di nasconderlo. La tesi di questo suo nuovo libro, che ha suscitato un enorme clamore nel mondo anglosassone e ha generato un dibattito accesissimo, è molto semplice: Dio non esiste e la fede in un essere superiore è illogica, sbagliata e potenzialmente mortale, come millenni di guerre di religione e la recente minaccia globale del terrorismo fondamentalista islamico dimostrano ampiamente. Agli occhi di Dawkins, ogni religione condivide lo stesso errore fondamentale, vale a dire l'illusoria credenza nell'esistenza di Dio, e, con essa, la pericolosa sicurezza di conoscere una verità indiscutibile perché sacra. Con il suo stile efficacissimo, sviluppando in dettaglio una grande quantità di argomenti, Dawkins ha scritto un manifesto di orgoglio intellettuale contro tutte le fedi e un attacco in piena regola a ogni forma di credenza religiosa, senza, tuttavia, cadere nella sterile polemica e nella contrapposizione dogmatica. Un saggio esplosivo, che affronta con il rigore del ragionamento scientifico una materia delicata e incandescente, prendendo in modo risoluto una posizione controversa.


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Richard Dawkins è uno dei più famosi scienziati di oggi e uno dei più strenui difensori della teoria darwiniana della selezione naturale, a cui ha dedicato libri di enorme successo, a partire da Il gene egoista fino a Il racconto dell'antenato. Ma Dawkins, indicato recentemente come uno dei tre intellettuali più influenti del mondo, è anche un ateo convinto, e non ha nessu Richard Dawkins è uno dei più famosi scienziati di oggi e uno dei più strenui difensori della teoria darwiniana della selezione naturale, a cui ha dedicato libri di enorme successo, a partire da Il gene egoista fino a Il racconto dell'antenato. Ma Dawkins, indicato recentemente come uno dei tre intellettuali più influenti del mondo, è anche un ateo convinto, e non ha nessuna intenzione di nasconderlo. La tesi di questo suo nuovo libro, che ha suscitato un enorme clamore nel mondo anglosassone e ha generato un dibattito accesissimo, è molto semplice: Dio non esiste e la fede in un essere superiore è illogica, sbagliata e potenzialmente mortale, come millenni di guerre di religione e la recente minaccia globale del terrorismo fondamentalista islamico dimostrano ampiamente. Agli occhi di Dawkins, ogni religione condivide lo stesso errore fondamentale, vale a dire l'illusoria credenza nell'esistenza di Dio, e, con essa, la pericolosa sicurezza di conoscere una verità indiscutibile perché sacra. Con il suo stile efficacissimo, sviluppando in dettaglio una grande quantità di argomenti, Dawkins ha scritto un manifesto di orgoglio intellettuale contro tutte le fedi e un attacco in piena regola a ogni forma di credenza religiosa, senza, tuttavia, cadere nella sterile polemica e nella contrapposizione dogmatica. Un saggio esplosivo, che affronta con il rigore del ragionamento scientifico una materia delicata e incandescente, prendendo in modo risoluto una posizione controversa.

30 review for L'illusione di Dio: Le ragioni per non credere

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anica

    Well, this settles it once and for all. There is no God. Which turns out to be a good thing, considering the God most Americans believe in is a crazy, vengeful, ego-maniacal monster. Dawkins’ insights are so cunning and profound you can’t help feeling embarrassed for the believer. Some of the main arguments: Believer #1: The diversity of life is too complex to be random, so it must have been designed by someone even more complex. Dawkins: If the designer is so complex, then it must’ve been created Well, this settles it once and for all. There is no God. Which turns out to be a good thing, considering the God most Americans believe in is a crazy, vengeful, ego-maniacal monster. Dawkins’ insights are so cunning and profound you can’t help feeling embarrassed for the believer. Some of the main arguments: Believer #1: The diversity of life is too complex to be random, so it must have been designed by someone even more complex. Dawkins: If the designer is so complex, then it must’ve been created by someone even more complex. And on and on like that. In philosophical terms it’s an infinite regress. In simpler terms it’s: “So who made God?“ The only plausible explanation for the complexity of life on Earth is natural selection. Believer #2: The chances of having all the right conditions to develop life are so miniscule, it had to be done on purpose. Dawkins: It’s true the odds are probably about a billion to one. But there are potentially a billion billion planets in the universe. I’m not very good at math, but that definitely improves the likelihood. And we know it happened here, so it could definitely happen again. Believer #3: Without God to teach us, we wouldn’t know good from evil. Dawkins: People all over the world make the same moral decisions in thought experiments, regardless of vast religious differences. We do not need God to teach us good and evil. Not only that, no person in modern times can seriously claim they are basing their behavior on Biblical guidelines. We’re talking about people who were ready to kill their own kids, or at least offer up their virgin daughter to be gang raped. In the example of Lot, God only spares Lot and his daughters, because they are the most righteous people in town. Then the two daughters proceed to get him liquored up and seduce him. Which begs the question, wouldn’t God have seen that coming? QUOTES TO LIVE BY “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” Mark Twain “Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility. As for whether they are ‘valid,’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.” R. Dawkins “But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?” John Adams “What is there to respect in any of this, or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion’s dreaded name? How well, with what fatal results, religion erects totems, and how willing we are to kill for them! And when we’ve done it often enough, the deadening of affect that results makes it easier to do again. So India’s problem turns out to be the world’s problem. What happened in India has happened in God’s name. The problem’s name is God.” Salman Rushdie, ‘Religions, as ever, is the poison in India’s blood’ “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” Emily Dickinson “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” R. Dawkins

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aeisele

    This is perhaps the worst polemic against religion I have ever read. Really, if Dawkins actually knew anything about religion, he wouldn't have written the book. Instead, he knows nothing about the subject, and so if you know nothing about something, you don't even KNOW when you say stupid things. For instance, Dawkins brings up John Hartung's article about "love thy neighbor"(Hartung is not, in case you were wondering, a biblical scholar. He's a Professor of Anesthesiology). The argument is tha This is perhaps the worst polemic against religion I have ever read. Really, if Dawkins actually knew anything about religion, he wouldn't have written the book. Instead, he knows nothing about the subject, and so if you know nothing about something, you don't even KNOW when you say stupid things. For instance, Dawkins brings up John Hartung's article about "love thy neighbor"(Hartung is not, in case you were wondering, a biblical scholar. He's a Professor of Anesthesiology). The argument is that both the Old Testament's (or Torah) and the New Testament's idea of "neighbor" is an in-group conception - in other words, other Jews. Now, let's not get into the issue that Dawkins and Hartung seem to be more fundamentalist about the bible than most Christians (I mean, Hartung says that "Moses" wrote the law - guess what? Most Christian scholars don't think this!). Hartung points out many verses that seem to argue this. Yet in bringing up Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor as yourself), and then arguing this means only other "Jews" (even though there was no such thing as "Judaism" when this book was written), he seems to forget Leviticus 19:32-33. There, aliens are to be considered as "citizens", or "natives." In addition, please tell me what example Jesus uses to illustrate what "neighbor" means? The good Samaritan! (who were of course considered inferior by the Jews). This is just a smattering of his ignorance. Would you think that Dawkins MIGHT have consulted someone scholar in religious studies for this work? Ehrman is about the only one. He quotes Douglas Adams more than any specialists in the field. There are other annoying things about the book. Like the fact that he basically treats the most violent and fanatical of the religious as the standard. Of course, does he treat Nazi Eugenics as "standard" science? Of course not (and for anyone who thinks "science" is self-correcting - well, that's just naive). Another thing: he gives T.H. Huxley a free pass on his eugenic racism (his statements that blacks in the south might not be evolved enough to have democratic rights- which by the way, he made at the same time Christian abolishionists were establishing universities and cities in the mid-west that were race-inclusive), because it was a part of the "Zeitgeist", yet using the violence of the Old Testament against religion. Another thing (are you sick of this yet?): in arguing that there most likely was no religious conviction in anyone who did anything good he said that Martin Luther King Jr. basically just got his ideas from Ghandi, who of course everyone knows wasn't "really" religious. Well, if you read Dr. King, and believe him (which Dawkins, by the way, doesn't like doing - he'd rather foist his own "intelligent" interpretation of what they were doing on them), King actually got much of his social justice vision from the theologian Walter Rauschenbauch. He got his notion of non-violent resistance from Ghandi, which is much different. Anyway, if anyone out there is really looking for atheistic resources, do NOT read Dawkins. He'll just make you look like a fool in any educated person's view. Instead, read an intelligent atheist, who understands religion, like Nietzsche. Start with Beyond Good and Evil, go to the Genealogy of Morals, and then finish with Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist. They will give you a better perspective.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Xysea

    I am not an atheist, but neither am I a 'true believer'. I border more on 'agnostic', that is to say I believe there is some force beyond this Earth and that I don't know what it is, but I don't subscribe to any particular set of beliefs, per se. Until I come across books like this one. Then, I get an irrational urge to defend spiritual beliefs (but not religion, and that's another discussion). What I mean is, I am generally docile and private about my spirituality and my beliefs until someone goe I am not an atheist, but neither am I a 'true believer'. I border more on 'agnostic', that is to say I believe there is some force beyond this Earth and that I don't know what it is, but I don't subscribe to any particular set of beliefs, per se. Until I come across books like this one. Then, I get an irrational urge to defend spiritual beliefs (but not religion, and that's another discussion). What I mean is, I am generally docile and private about my spirituality and my beliefs until someone goes out of their way to make inflammatory comments designed to browbeat me into supporting a point of view. That is true for prosthelytizing believers of any religion, as well. (No one ever persuaded me to become a Christian by telling me I was going to Hell if I didn't.) But Dawkins manages the atheists' equivalent, and its my main quibble with atheists and their arguments. It's all condescension and ridicule, moral superiority and incredulity. Followers of Dawkins' mantra are the evangelicals they despise without the religion. Its quite entertaining to watch a conversation between these two groups devolve, but very rarely is any substantive progress made in making one group better understand the other. And I believe we will need that reconciliation, as a society, sooner than later. Which is what annoys me about this book. It's well written, and somewhat well-argued (though Dawkins does engage in some sophistry, but not as bad as Sam Harris did in his book), but the tone of it is all wrong. He clearly isn't trying too hard to engage the people he should be, in favor of those who already believe or are sympathetic to his views. Because of that, I consider this book largely a masturbatory enterprise and not something that seeks to seriously put forth real arguments, or to promote understanding. It merely serves as a platform for Dawkins to illustrate his views.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    [Original review, Jan 19 2016] I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback when Donald Trump suggested the US should deny entry to Muslims and require them all to carry ID cards. But having had time to get over the initial shock and consider it on its merits, the idea has definitely started to look more attractive. The only problem is that Trump doesn't go far enough. Come on, we need to be realistic here: half-measures won't help. We simply have to face up to the fact that monotheists are extrem [Original review, Jan 19 2016] I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback when Donald Trump suggested the US should deny entry to Muslims and require them all to carry ID cards. But having had time to get over the initial shock and consider it on its merits, the idea has definitely started to look more attractive. The only problem is that Trump doesn't go far enough. Come on, we need to be realistic here: half-measures won't help. We simply have to face up to the fact that monotheists are extremely dangerous. From the thousand Philistines that Sampson slew with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15, 14-16), through the Conquistadores and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre to the Thirty Years War, monotheists have shown time and time again that they are ruthless terrorists who will stop at nothing to spread their sick, perverted ideology. And it's hardly surprising. What do you expect of a religion originally founded by a man who was on the point of killing his only son because the voices in his head told him to do it, and whose most important principle is to deny the validity, or even the right to existence, of all other faiths? Don't get me wrong. I'm saying all this in a spirit of tolerance - some of my best friends are monotheists! - but we need a complete ban on them entering the United States, or indeed any other Western country, until we figure out what the hell is going on. Nothing else will do. Vote Trump! ______________________ [Update, May 18 2018] I hate to say I told you so, but Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 17 year old psycho who today killed ten people in Santa Fe, also turns out to be a monotheist. He shamelessly flaunted his fanatical monotheistic beliefs to the extent of being a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox monotheist church. Under Obama, people would just have been wringing their hands and asking for tougher gun-control laws. But I think President Trump will actually do something. These monotheists must be stopped.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The God Delusion - Why there almost certainly is no God? I have been a big fan of Dawkins from the time I read The Selfish Gene. This book does nothing to damage that, even though it is not as logically cohesive as The Selfish Gene. The God Delusion is easier to argue with and maybe even win, if only in my mind. Dawkins argues mostly against the Christian God that created earth and knows nothing of the vast universe beyond. He remains silent about the God hypothesis that can arise from new physic The God Delusion - Why there almost certainly is no God? I have been a big fan of Dawkins from the time I read The Selfish Gene. This book does nothing to damage that, even though it is not as logically cohesive as The Selfish Gene. The God Delusion is easier to argue with and maybe even win, if only in my mind. Dawkins argues mostly against the Christian God that created earth and knows nothing of the vast universe beyond. He remains silent about the God hypothesis that can arise from new physics and eastern cosmogonies. I feel that while The Selfish Gene was a standalone book intended to convey a brilliant concept in a very articulate fashion to the general reader, The God Delusion is a more of a glorified pamphlet meant to be a handbook of reference for any atheist for the range of illogical, childish or even intelligent arguments that might be addressed to him. An atheist who reads and remembers a fair bit of The God Delusion will always be well equipped to blunt any argument against his position. But this huge strength of the book is also its major flaw that demotes it much below the Selfish gene in my opinion. The Selfish gene is a must-read book that I would thrust in the hand of anyone I like - because I want them to learn from it, raise their consciousness or because I want to have a wonderful discussion with them. In contrast, the God Delusion is a book I would thrust in exasperation at someone with whom I am tired of arguing and would rather prefer them to go through Dawkins' exhaustive repudiation of most arguments. That is the difference. The book would be useful if I want to convince someone or If I wanted to win an argument. But what if neither was ever my objective? It gives me no intrinsic value that is not situational. But then, perhaps I was never one of the intended audience of the book; the purpose of this book, is not to explain science. It is rather, as he tells us, “to raise consciousness". He also spends a lot of time debunking obvious fallacies and beliefs purely because they are prevalent. It might be important to show how silly they are, but I frankly was impatient to get on with it and not spend time on such obvious facts. Most of the arguments in the book are ones that I could have come up with too if I had sat down and though about it. True, Dawkins has made my job easier, but what if I am comfortable with not having the God Delusion and with the fact that a lot of people have? What if the formula of zeitgeist that Dawkins proposes about what is moral is applicable to religions too? After all, the religion of today is far from what it was in the 1900s. maybe religion too will evolve and become more and more liberal. The only genuinely useful sections in the book for me were the intriguing discussion on morals and that wonderful last chapter on model building. If only the rest of the book was as memorable. I have a few other peeves with the book too - It condemns anyone who understand religion and science and takes the informed decision to be an agnostic. This condemnation by Dawkins of agnostics is perhaps my single biggest point of difference with Dawkins. I have no problems with the debunking of the God Hypothesis as Dawkins defines 'God'. But, his atheism goes into exactly those realms which he accuses religious fundamentalists to be going in. He gives an example of a Priest who says that even though he has moments of reservation about the existence of a God, he keeps such doubts to himself and extols God's virtues purely so that the common man is not mislead into doubt. Dawkins condemns this as intellectual and moral cowardice. Then later, in a section titled 'Why there almost certainly is no God', he freely acknowledges that "most probably" God does not exist and then classifies himself as an agnostic leaning heavily towards atheism. Then he says that such agnostics should refrain from calling themselves agnostics as it will cause damage to the common people who want to support atheism. Is this not the same intellectual and moral cowardice? If you cannot in your own logic call yourself a full blown atheist, do not do that just to prove a point or to support a pet theory. If there 'almost certainly' is no god, then it is 'almost certainly' a 'delusion' to say that pure atheism is fully reasonable too. Dawkins makes an appeal to closely define the meaning of the word "God". But then, not matter how you define it, as long as the basis is in irrationality, the same principle is being attacked. And hence to say I believe in Science as the ultimate answer when it has so far been unsuccessful in furnishing one is just to substitute the term "Science" for "God". Of course I understand the value of people like Dawkins being there to be the vanguard for this change. And there is a real need for a spokesperson for the atheists when the other party has so many very vocal ones. But that does not mean that he should call for educated agnostics to brand themselves as atheists just to add religious fervor to the brand. All that is still no reason to call for making atheism an organized religion too. agree with all the points and the logical arguments of The God Delusion but I disagree with the spirit of the book which seems to convey that religion is the enemy for us to combat by organizing ourselves. There are too many paradoxes and unknowns in nature which science is more and more throwing up its hands in utter confusion towards. What if the universe truly is 'queerer than we can suppose' as J. B. S. Haldane puts it? Dawkins manages to explain most phenomena with natural selection but dismisses the larger conundrums and paradoxes with the great sweeping idea called the 'Anthropic principle'. The Anthropic principle might be a good tool to stall an argument but is no authentic scientific theory as he pretends it to be. It would be the equivalent of saying that the clock is telling time correctly isn't it, so that explains its form and function and hence it needs no designer. I just paraphrased above the argument Dawkins uses to prove that atheism is absolutely valid. Well, unless we resort to such rhetoric devices, it is not. And in the 'belief spectrum' ranging from radical theism to complete atheism, the only position we can take without resorting to faith is one of doubt - agnosticism. In conclusion, my opinion is that pure atheism is not possible under present scientific knowledge and that is why agnosticism is the only reasonable position to take - without slipping into blind belief in science after climbing out of blind belief in religion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Athiests have been ranked as one of the least trusted groups, and the oft-repeated notion that atheism is the same as amorality is always saddening. A common argument I've encountered is 'if you don't believe in god, then what's to stop you stealing, raping, and killing as often as you like?" And of course, I do steal, rape, and kill as often as I like to--which is not at all. However, if you turn the question around, it has very unflattering implications for the believer who asked it: 'Are you s Athiests have been ranked as one of the least trusted groups, and the oft-repeated notion that atheism is the same as amorality is always saddening. A common argument I've encountered is 'if you don't believe in god, then what's to stop you stealing, raping, and killing as often as you like?" And of course, I do steal, rape, and kill as often as I like to--which is not at all. However, if you turn the question around, it has very unflattering implications for the believer who asked it: 'Are you saying the only thing preventing you from violating and killing strangers is your belief in god? That most of the time, you're sitting there fantasizing about murder, and the only thing stopping you is fear of divine punishment?' Of course, that isn't how morality works. It's not that most of us are sitting there wishing we could do these awful things, and being held back by fear of punishment. No, for the most part we don't like to see other people hurt. Even soldiers and doctors, trained to deal with death, still experience psychological trauma when confronted with its reality. We don't want to live dangerous, criminal lives, fearing constant reprisal. We want to live normal, pleasant lives of friendship and respect. For all his flaws, Dawkins helped me to realize that there is something to be achieved by identifying as an atheist. Not merely because it represents my position on any theology, but because people won't come to trust or understand atheists unless they are willing to speak openly. It shouldn't be a dirty word in America, a country founded on dissent. Our legal documents outline a system that holds personal beliefs and opinions to be of concern only to the person holding them, yet particular kinds of belief still carry political clout and others, social stigma. This Scientific American article looks at various studies analyzing how Americans think of atheists, at one point showing that the average person trusts an atheist about as much as they do a criminal. Some might suggest that it's a choice, no one is born an atheist, any more than they are born a criminal (though arguments could be made there, too), but how much of a choice is it, really? We each look at the world and try to determine what we think of it, and while some people make these decisions blithely, I don't feel like I have ever had much choice in my views. If I looked at a red shoe, I couldn't simply believe that it was blue, I have to base my conclusions on what I see. I won't pull out the old 'I was raised in such a way, and came to atheism in such a way' story, because it's hackneyed, and it isn't really useful here. Suffice it to say that, as a child, I assumed a lot of mythical things were real, because people talked about them all the time--gods and angels and hell and ghosts and Santa and all those familiar cultural symbols appeared everywhere around me, even in cartoons. Eventually, as I learned more, none of it made any sense, nor did it answer any questions, so I stopped thinking any of it was real. Is that really a choice? Should I take Pascal's Wager literally, and choose to believe in god merely because if I do, and I'm right, I go to heaven, but if I don't and I'm wrong, I go to hell? Pascal didn't mean it seriously in the first place, but I'd be fucked for Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Anglicism, Orthodox, Shinto, the Norse Gods, Zoroastrianism, Mormonism, and Scientology. There's also the fact that 'deciding' to believe in god, but not actually believing in your heart suggests that we can somehow 'fool' god, getting in on a technicality. None of this indicates that we have any real choice in the matter. It isn't like voting for a politician or picking a favorite band. If there was a god who wanted us to believe in him, then he probably wouldn't have created a world where his existence was merely one of numerous equally-appealing options, which are all surmounted by the final option that none of them exist. But to suggest this, to most people, is apparently tantamount to admitting that I molest children, employ and murder prostitutes (which is worse?), steal, lie, cheat, donate to the nazi war criminal retirement fund, and hate America. And it's this view of atheists as amoral that convinced me to openly identify as an atheist, instead of mere agnosticism. Like women, blacks, and gays, the first step in gaining respect is admitting what you are, and insisting that you are still a human being. Eventually, simply identifying with a movement is pointless, and even unproductive, since it strengthens the very separatist ideology that must be torn down for the sake of moving past the original conflict--but it's an important step in the beginning. Agnosticism simply isn't a strong enough stance, since I disbelieve in god in the same way that I disbelieve in a machine gun bunker under my bed. I'm not going to live my life as if my bed will kill me, or as if working on Sunday will cause me to end up in a trash dump in a suburb of Jerusalem. I agree with Dawkins' conclusions, yet I don't find him convincing. His books have threads of argument, but I rarely feel that the metaphors and examples he uses are ultimately useful. He never goes quite far enough, and so I think he falls short of his stated goal of a reader starting this book as a believer, and finishing it as an atheist. It feels more like a book to help confirm atheists. If you're already familiar with these arguments and their implications, then the book will make sense to you--if you aren't, then it's going to feel a bit incomplete. For example, at one point he talks about the idea of the 'sacred', that there are some things in religion which are not allowed to be discussed, and asks why this should be the case. We are scrupulous about discussing every detail of the rest of our lives, so why does this specific subset get its own special rules? Unfortunately, Dawkins doesn't provide us with the obvious answer: that every controlling political structure has set certain topics as 'off limits' in order to protect its power. As Orwell explores in 1984, controlling language, controlling what people are allowed to talk about is the hallmark of any tyranny. And lest we forget, various churches have exerted this kind of political power throughout history, and some continue to hold that power today. So, it would be in their best interest to forbid discussion of dangerous ideas that might threaten their power. Yet Dawkins is certainly familiar with cultural Darwinism, with the way that ideas grow and change within a culture, the importance of 'infectious ideas' that take advantage of the natural fears, hopes, and habits of human beings--this should be all too obvious to the man who coined the word 'meme'. And yet, he isn't working here to make obvious and deconstruct these infectious ideas, to reveal their origins and purpose, and to show why we might hold such beliefs. But if his arguments are fundamentally dismissive and incomplete, it seems obvious to me why this would be, looking at the trajectory of his career: Dawkins has put himself in the unenviable position of being a public philosopher. He is a man of ideas which he constantly presents and defends against people who are uninformed, emotionally unstable, and self-assured. Something I've learned here on Goodreads is the more often people miss your point, responding only with the same tired antagonism, the more flippant and distant you can become. You start off reasonable and patient, which is time-consuming, draining, and rarely achieves anything. Watching Dawkins give one of his many lectures to believers is painful, because during the questions afterward, it becomes clear that almost no one there had sufficient knowledge of either rhetoric or theology to understand his points. It's like watching a mathematician explain his solution for the Reimann Hypothesis and then, in the audience, a man stands up and says "I don't know what 'zeta-function' means, but you're wrong". Few seem to recognize the thought and study that goes into disbelief, since belief can be achieved quite easily by telling children that if they don't follow the sky man's book, they will be set on fire forever. But your average believer is a different from a biblical scholar, who has some understanding what he means by his belief, and who tends to reject the bible as 'word of god' simply because he knows that there is no single bible to believe in--there are a hundred different versions, each full of extraneous parts, errors, conflicts, and revisions. A discussion with a well-informed atheist (there are, of course, many who are fundamentally ignorant) is similar to a discussion with a biblical scholar: both have an understanding of what they are discussing. One can see Dawkins engage in these discussions in various documentaries, and he comes off as much less of a stuck-up prick. But by taking his ideas public, he encounters angry conflict with a mass of uninformed, self-righteous people, both believers and atheists, and he is invariably dragged down, slight for slight condescension for condescension. More's the pity, he has an excellent background and a respectable mind, but fighting with the mob never elevates an intellectual argument. In the end, his responses should not be tailored to the ignoramus who asked a question he already answered. A big part of the reason I stopped studying atheism was that I realized all I was doing was training myself to argue with people who had very strong feelings about an issue they didn't understand. Instead, we should write for posterity, for the larger cause of human knowledge. A lesson we all could learn, in an age when our words and actions may often be recorded and remembered. Perhaps it will lend me patience when I must answer the same question I have already answered a hundred times in the same thread, from someone who is responding not because they feel intrigued, but because they feel threatened. Even if, in the end, there can be no coming together in understanding, merely fight and flight, at least I can do right by me, and put forth my best and most patient face. As far as turning believers into atheists, I'd send them to Bart Ehrman before Dawkins.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Huda Yahya

    لا يقل الملحد المتعصب سذاجة عن المؤمن المتعصب كلاهما تكاد تراه محتقن الوجه من فرط الانفعال والتأثر وهو يقفز لأعلى و أسفل مرددا : أنا صح .. أنا صح سأتعامل مع دوكينز هنا كمفكر وأفصله عن العالم الذي يمتعنا بكتبه العلمية المتخصصة العلماء بعيدا عن العلم يدعون أحيانا للرثاء فنادرا ما تجد من هو مثقف تثقيفا حقيقيا وله عذره فعلمه وإسهاماته تكفيه وتكفينا ولكن بعضهم يأبى إلا أن يخوض في ما لا يعرف يظن أنه بعلمه- مهما كان غزيرا يكفي لدراسة البشرية ومنظومتها الفكرية العقائدية ولذا كثير من العلماء الذين يحاولون إثبات ع لا يقل الملحد المتعصب سذاجة عن المؤمن المتعصب‏ كلاهما تكاد تراه محتقن الوجه من فرط الانفعال والتأثر‏ وهو يقفز لأعلى و أسفل مرددا : أنا صح .. أنا صح سأتعامل مع دوكينز هنا كمفكر ‏ وأفصله عن العالم الذي يمتعنا بكتبه العلمية المتخصصة‏ العلماء بعيدا عن العلم يدعون أحيانا للرثاء فنادرا ما تجد من هو مثقف تثقيفا حقيقيا‏ وله عذره فعلمه وإسهاماته تكفيه وتكفينا ولكن بعضهم يأبى إلا أن يخوض في ما لا يعرف‏ يظن أنه بعلمه- مهما كان غزيرا ‏ يكفي لدراسة البشرية ومنظومتها الفكرية العقائدية‏ ولذا كثير من العلماء الذين يحاولون إثبات عدم وجود الله ينتهي بهم الأمر بكتب ضحلة ثقافيا‏ وإن كانت محترمة علميا قليل منهم قد درس وقرأ فعلمهم يستغرقهم تماما وبتخصصهم المحترم يتوهمون بأنهم لا يحتاجون لدراسة ثقافات المجتمعات ‏ وهم يظنون أن دراسة جزء تغني عن الكل وهذا هو السبب الرئيسي في نعتي لهذه الكتب بالسطحية‏ :::::::::: ملحوظة :::::::::: السطحية هنا تختلف اختلاف شنيع عن سطحية كتبنا المسخرة –عذرا في اللفظ والتي تتناول أعداء الدين ومحاربة الإلحاد السطحية في كنب العلماء تعني النظرة الضيقة التي يمتلكونها عن الدين والمعتقدات لا يوجد عندهم ما يمكن بأن يسمى عمق النظرة فاستخدام العلم لإثبات وجهة نظر بشكل لا يقبل النقاش يبدو طفوليا للغاية‏ ;;;;;;; هل ينسى العلماء الملحدين التعصب الداروييني السائد في الأوساط العلمية؟ هل ينسون من تم فصلهم من الجامعات لتبنيهم التصميم الذكي ورفضهم للتطور؟‏ التعسف صفة إنسانية قد يعطيها الدين قداسة حيت يتم استغلاله لكن هذا لا يعني أنه بدون دين قد يختفي التعسف والعصبية من الوجود‏ كنا لنخترع طريقة جديدة للسيطرة والظلم والكراهية‏ دائما ما نفعل

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alex Telander

    THE GOD DELUSION BY RICHARD DAWKINS: Dawkins latest book is as brutal and honest as its title. For those who aren’t looking to have their faith and beliefs gravely challenged, you may want to skip this book. Though Dawkins is looking for everyone to read this book with an open mind, whether you’re devoutly religious, agnostic or atheist. Having an open mind is actually one of the New Ten Commandments Dawkins cites. The book begins in a calm and orderly manner, with an opening chapter on the “god THE GOD DELUSION BY RICHARD DAWKINS: Dawkins latest book is as brutal and honest as its title. For those who aren’t looking to have their faith and beliefs gravely challenged, you may want to skip this book. Though Dawkins is looking for everyone to read this book with an open mind, whether you’re devoutly religious, agnostic or atheist. Having an open mind is actually one of the New Ten Commandments Dawkins cites. The book begins in a calm and orderly manner, with an opening chapter on the “god hypothesis,” where Dawkins talks about the idea of a god through history and how we are now in a time where medicine and science have come such a long way from the days of thinking the world is flat, balancing the humors, and believing there was a demon or god causing a every catastrophe. And yet religion – especially Christianity – remains stagnated in the ideas of men from thousands of years ago. As the book progresses, Dawkins seems to grow more impatient with religion and its whole-hearted certainty in a book and a god. He does an impressive job of going from chapter to chapter in defending different stances on science, always providing the evidence – a facet, he says, religion is lacking. One point Dawkins makes that I really found fascinating was his evolutionary reason for the existence of religion, in that it was a component of our very early societies in helping to unite communities and keep them together as a whole. As human beings, we strive for companionship and the evidence speaks for itself when we look back to the time when there was a shift from the nomadic hunting and gathering societies to settling down in groups and communities, which started farming, large scale food production, and ultimately leading to technology, writing, law, art and so on. After this, Dawkins tackles the question of morality and makes it a very big deal that everyone understand we keep this separate from religion and not think them one and the same. The Bible is full of murder, rape, fratricide, torture – for a book on teaching us how to lead supposedly “good” lives, this book has a very strange way of trying to do that, says Dawkins. So he goes back into our ancestry to the days of Cro-Magnon, in the time when all humanity cared about was trying to survive. He posits that this was when we began to develop a sense of morality, because in being good to others, families and groups were formed, which helped improve survival. If we’d stuck to stealing and killing, we wouldn’t have lasted past that first winter. Another big issue with Dawkins is the labeling of children as belonging to the religion of the parents without any consent from them: they’re Protestant children, or Muslim children, or Jewish children; even though in all likelihood they are far too young to comprehend what this applied label means. These children of heavily religious and fundamental families don’t have a choice. One of the most horrific groups I learned about in The God Delusion are the so-called “Hell Houses,” where children – ideally twelve year olds, because this is the perfect age for indoctrination – are taken through a labyrinth of horror revealing the terrible sins of sex before marriage, homosexuality, and abortion, and what happens in hell if one were to commit any of them. A cast of actors rehearse these scenes to create the greatest sense of terror in the children – yes, there’s even a tall and scary looking man playing the part of Satan. If you liked this review, and would like to read more, go to BookBanter.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    I thought the very best point this book made came right at the beginning. Dawkins reports on surveys carried out in the US, where subjects received a description of an otherwise sympathetic political candidate, and were asked whether they would still vote for them if one extra feature were added. Would it still be OK if they were a woman? 90% or so say yes. Black? Yes. (Well, we have hard evidence on that now!) Gay? Most people still say yes. Atheist? Half the population says no! Considering tha I thought the very best point this book made came right at the beginning. Dawkins reports on surveys carried out in the US, where subjects received a description of an otherwise sympathetic political candidate, and were asked whether they would still vote for them if one extra feature were added. Would it still be OK if they were a woman? 90% or so say yes. Black? Yes. (Well, we have hard evidence on that now!) Gay? Most people still say yes. Atheist? Half the population says no! Considering that many of the Founding Fathers had deep reservations about religion, this should sound warning bells. If we going to claim we believe in religious tolerance, surely that should include tolerance for people who don't belong to any religion and think it's all nonsense? Everyone bends over backwards to show understanding towards Christians, Muslims, Jews and what have you. Why not atheists? Dawkins just says what he honestly thinks, and doesn't see why he needs to be ashamed of it. Why should he? I didn't like this book as much as The Selfish Gene and The Ancestor's Tale, but that's more because they are positive books celebrating the amazing beauty of the new universe that science, and in particular evolutionary theory, have opened up to us; this is a negative one, attacking the ugly and constricted world that many self-described "religious" people still choose to live in. Sometimes you need to be negative, though, and many deeply respected figures in the history of religion were negative about the prevailing orthodoxy. If Martin Luther had been a nicer guy, he'd probably never have offended so many good Catholics with all those unpleasant theses, and I bet the money-changers weren't particularly thrilled when Jesus threw them out of the Temple. As far as I'm concerned, Dawkins is in pretty good company. ******************************************************* There has been so much discussion on this page that I am getting slightly lost. I'd love to think that I'd started it, but of course Dawkins gets all the credit. Still, I would like to expand on my initial review, and clarify my own position. I admire this book, and Dawkins's stand in general, because I think he is being decisive about pointing out a very serious problem in the world today. Religion is in a state of crisis. Once upon a time, its job was both to explain to people how the world is, and also to tell them how to live in it. The first part of that mission has now been taken over by science. Dawkins is a scientist, and if you have scientific training it is impossible to take creationism and similar ideas seriously. It's very tiring even to discuss them. If someone told you the Moon was made of cheese, you wouldn't want to endlessly go back and forth over whether or not you'd thought about the fact that it could be Mozzarella, or possibly Vacherin, and that maybe that would solve the technical problems. The Moon obviously isn't made of any kind of cheese. Similar arguments apply to creationism. Religion has to get its act together and acknowledge that, on this particular ground, it has been supplanted by science. If this were the only problem religion was facing, it wouldn't be so bad. Mainstream religion is, however, also being hijacked by some very unpleasant characters. I've been brought up in the Christian tradition, so it's easiest for me to talk about Christianity. I'm no theologian, but it is impossible for me to believe that most of the things you regularly hear from spokespeople of the Christian Right follow from the teachings of Jesus. For example, I once spent 30 unpleasant minutes leafing though Ann Coulter's Godless at a bookstore. This hysterical, bigoted stream of hatred has nothing to do with Christianity as it was conceived by its founder. Indeed, in most respects it is diametrically opposed to it. The scary thing is that the book was a major bestseller. I don't know Islam at all, but every now and then I chat with a moderate Muslim. It sounds like they are even more concerned with what's being done in the name of Mohammed. So, it would be easy to conclude that religion is obsolete, and we should only rely on the teachings of science. I don't think that's correct. Science is only designed to tell us objective truths about the world; it doesn't have a conceptual apparatus for determining what we ought to do, as opposed to what is. I've been working in science for over 25 years, and most years I write at least a couple of grant proposals. If I were asked to write a grant proposal for a project that would use scientific techniques to compare the value of moral frameworks, I don't see how I could even get started. One of the key questions the funding authorities always ask is what objective metrics you will use. Where would these metrics come from? It's no use waving your hands and saying "philosophy". Which philosophy? For example, given that the Nazis were rather fond of him, I'm guessing that most people would prefer not to get Nietzche involved. But what objective reasons do we have for excluding Nietzche, rather than other philosophers? I think most people who've read him would agree that Dawkins is a very moral person, and he isn't averse to moral principles that derive from traditional religion. He doesn't think this conflicts with being an atheist. (As he says, "Atheists for Jesus!"). My interpretation of all this is that it adds up to arguing for a massive reform in the way mainstream religion is organized; that's why I'm comparing him with other religious reformers like Martin Luther and Jesus. He'd probably find this annoying. But, if I may criticize him for just a moment, what goes around comes around :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Ok, we get it. Religion is bad. Christianity is evil, Islam is maniacal, and all other religious zealots are out of their mind. I guess Dawkins is right...public hospitals, orphanages (both Christian inventions in the West), as well as communal values all have destroyed Occidental culture. I wish we still practiced 'exposing' infants (i.e. literally throwing out unwanted babies, as made popular by the ancients). Although there seems to be correlation between violence, homocide, and arrogance wit Ok, we get it. Religion is bad. Christianity is evil, Islam is maniacal, and all other religious zealots are out of their mind. I guess Dawkins is right...public hospitals, orphanages (both Christian inventions in the West), as well as communal values all have destroyed Occidental culture. I wish we still practiced 'exposing' infants (i.e. literally throwing out unwanted babies, as made popular by the ancients). Although there seems to be correlation between violence, homocide, and arrogance with organized religion, is a state without a god any better (say, Maoist China)? I think Dawkins has forgotten the most important axiom of science in his contentious ramblings and methodical deconstruction of ancient texts, history, and religion (of which he is no expert)...that correlation does not mean causation. Dawkins is only emboldening the religion of science at the exprense of the world's major belief systems. I just hope humanity will resist a "brave new world" in which organized religion is replaced by other systems that devalue human life in the name of progression and knowledge. Let us take a step back from today's trend of catagorizing individals into bipolar groups (for example, either zealot or atheist) and embrace a both/and critique of religion and its sociological effects.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm going to get the criticism out of the way before I move on to why I *love* this book. Richard Dawkins is not an easy read. He never pulls a punch, and if any of the beliefs he is attacking in his book are yours then this is going to get your back up. Not for nothing was he passed over as a witness in the intelligent design trials in America. His appearance on the witness stand would probably have worked for the ID advocates as he pointed at every 'believer' in the room and berated them for th I'm going to get the criticism out of the way before I move on to why I *love* this book. Richard Dawkins is not an easy read. He never pulls a punch, and if any of the beliefs he is attacking in his book are yours then this is going to get your back up. Not for nothing was he passed over as a witness in the intelligent design trials in America. His appearance on the witness stand would probably have worked for the ID advocates as he pointed at every 'believer' in the room and berated them for their gullibility and simple mindedness. The book tends to read at times like a diatribe which pummels you, and leaves you wanting to put the book down for ten minutes to get your breathe back. However, having said that, I think this book is just fantastic. At times its a comedy masterpiece as he quotes various religious bodies, allowing them to shoot themselves in the foot by highlighting their own inconsistencies or the avoiding of debate. For instance, The Catholic Encyclopedia dismissing Atheism: 'Formal dogmatic atheism is self-refuting, and has never /de facto/ won the reasoned assent of any considerable number of men. Nor can polytheism, however easily it may take hold of the popular imagination, ever satisfy the mind of the philosopher' Why not? That isn't reasoning, beyond the simple 'I say it ain't so, so it ain't so'. At other times the book is a very clear explanation of the evolutionary pathway which may have led to humans becoming susceptible to such simple fairy stories. The second half of the book then concentrates on the downsides of religion and argues for all sensible, intelligent non-believers to make their voices heard, to help the scales fall from the eyes of those infected with faith. What I particularly loved about this book is that I have been atheistic for many years (more than half my life, and I'm almost forty now), but this is the first time I've read a really coherent, well argued text on what is wrong with religion (all of them). The scientific approach to ripping down the pillars of faith probably won't achieve all that it should, faith being what it is. But it was an excellent read anyway.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins The God Delusion is a 2006 non-fiction book by English biologist Richard Dawkins, a professorial fellow at New College, Oxford and former holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: نوامبر سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: پندار خدا؛ نویسنده: ریچارد داوکینز؛ مترجم: ا. فرزام؛ سال انتشار به صورت ای.بوک 2007، در 294 ص؛ در ده فصل است و نویسنده به داروینسم اعتقاد دارد و مسیحیت را نقد میکند کتاب غیرداست The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins The God Delusion is a 2006 non-fiction book by English biologist Richard Dawkins, a professorial fellow at New College, Oxford and former holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: نوامبر سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: پندار خدا؛ نویسنده: ریچارد داوکینز؛ مترجم: ا. فرزام؛ سال انتشار به صورت ای.بوک 2007، در 294 ص؛ در ده فصل است و نویسنده به داروینسم اعتقاد دارد و مسیحیت را نقد میکند کتاب غیرداستانی پرفروش سال 2006 میلادی، نوشته ی زیست‌ شناس بریتانیایی، ریچارد داوکینز است. وی عضو آکادمی پادشاهی علوم و ادبیات بریتانیاست، و سابقاً نیز مدرس فهم عمومیِ علم در دانشگاه آکسفورد بوده‌ است. داوکینز در کتاب پندار خدا عنوان می‌کند که خالق فراطبیعی به احتمال قریب به یقین وجود ندارد؛ و باور به خدا باور کاذبی ست، که در برابر تمام شواهد موجود سخت‌ جانی می‌کند. او با این نظرِ رابرت پیرسیگ هم‌نوا می‌شود که: «هنگامی که یک نفر دچار توهم می‌شود، دیوانه‌ اش می‌گویند. هنگامی که افراد بسیاری دچار یک توهم می‌شوند، مؤمن‌ شان می‌خوانند.»؛ شروع متن: وقتی همسرم کوچک بود از مدرسه نفرت داشت، و میخواست ترک تحصيل کند. سالها بعد، وقتی بيست و چند ساله شد، اين حقيقت تلخ را با والدين خویش در ميان گذاشت، مادرش متحيرانه گفت: «اما عزيزم، چرا نيامدی اين موضوع را به ما بگويی؟». پاسخ لالا همان نکته ی مورد نظر کتاب من است: اما نمیدانستم که میتوانم. نمیدانستم که میتوانم.؛ پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  13. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book was a dramatic disappointment that did not live up to the "finally someone has proven religion is poppycock" hype it received. Dawkins fails utterly to tear down any meaningful experience of religion, instead he merely reinforces the petty grudges that some atheists have against religion, grudges that betray one's own lack of spiritual maturity and suggest a deeper ailment at work. It's a shame. I saved up my energy to read the radical atheism espoused in Richard Dawkins' The GOD Delus This book was a dramatic disappointment that did not live up to the "finally someone has proven religion is poppycock" hype it received. Dawkins fails utterly to tear down any meaningful experience of religion, instead he merely reinforces the petty grudges that some atheists have against religion, grudges that betray one's own lack of spiritual maturity and suggest a deeper ailment at work. It's a shame. I saved up my energy to read the radical atheism espoused in Richard Dawkins' The GOD Delusion. As a man of faith with a passionate interest in science, I understand -- and personally experience -- both sides of the God vs. science debate. Dawkins' book was such a smash hit that I anticipated it would contain some powerful new arguments that would lead me to days or even weeks worth of pondering. Sadly, it did not. The bulk of his attack centers on disproving the arguments that religious apologists have offered to justify God's existence. But those arguments were never very satisfying to believers, much less nonbelievers, so seeing them dismantled triggers a yawn instead of thoughtful introspection. His arguments lack imagination and often fall into cheap mockery rather than intelligent reasoning. (Note: it's amusing to see how a man who triumphs rationality would resort to so many tawdry taunts to make his point. If God can be disproven rationally, why must he fall to such ad hominem rhetorical tactics? Methinks he doth mock too much.) Most disappointing, Dawkins attempts to discredit the subjective experience of God by asserting that there are lots of crazy people out there, and the religious must simply be afflicted with a form of mental illness. He does this in a single paragraph, even tossing in a sentence linking personal religious experience to epilepsy. This is not just lack of imagination, it's intellectual dishonesty. Either he is simply not smart enough to parse the difference between real spiritual experience and mental illness, or, more likely, he has chosen to lump all subjective experience of the divine in with insantiy as a cheap way to escape grappling with the amazing variety of spiritual experience average believers have on a regular basis. Admittedly, there is a third alternative. Maybe religious experience is simply outside of his capability to perceive it. Like a person born without the ability to taste, Dawkins is unable to relate to religious experiences because he can't savor them himself. As a result, he can't understand why so many around him are enraptured by the delights of the present feast because sample as he might, he cannot taste a thing. That's why it's so easy for him to dismiss subjective experience -- because he doesn't have any. The book is worth the read just so you know what all the hubub is about and so you can understand that modern atheism as represented by Dawkins is a bland meal. Perhaps a little "salt of the earth" would help?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jasper

    As an agnostic I can wholeheartedly promise you that this book is so tedious it will reduce you to tears. He debunks God as a concept and in the process completely misses the point of God. He then just carries on repeating himself through chapter after chapter after boring chapter. If there really was a god, he wouldn't allow people like this idiot to write mind numbing drivel and then market it with tacky gimmicks like the "Come all ye faithless" Christmas Card I got with mine....I should have As an agnostic I can wholeheartedly promise you that this book is so tedious it will reduce you to tears. He debunks God as a concept and in the process completely misses the point of God. He then just carries on repeating himself through chapter after chapter after boring chapter. If there really was a god, he wouldn't allow people like this idiot to write mind numbing drivel and then market it with tacky gimmicks like the "Come all ye faithless" Christmas Card I got with mine....I should have smelt a rat there and then.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karl-O

    Regardless of your religious beliefs, I urge you to read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I've had a love / hate relationship with Dawkins over the years. I didn't really like his The Selfish Gene, mostly because I think it tries to explain things on the wrong scale. I quite like his meme metaphor, but think people like Dennett take it too far by forgetting it is a metaphor. The Blind Watchmaker has that long (and dull) bit at the end about computer program insects that is just too painful to read. And then there is the ongoing fight between him and Stephen J Gould. I always loved Go I've had a love / hate relationship with Dawkins over the years. I didn't really like his The Selfish Gene, mostly because I think it tries to explain things on the wrong scale. I quite like his meme metaphor, but think people like Dennett take it too far by forgetting it is a metaphor. The Blind Watchmaker has that long (and dull) bit at the end about computer program insects that is just too painful to read. And then there is the ongoing fight between him and Stephen J Gould. I always loved Gould's writing and (as shallow as this sounds) would have picked him over Dawkins for that alone. But Gould's last book in which he claimed science and religion are complementary was a sad and unforgivable mistake by a truly great man. Dawkins is never likely to make that same mistake. I was brought up an atheist and so am fascinated that people can actually believe in religion. It literally shocks me when people say they believe in God or that they are religious. Not so much if I think the people are basically stupid, but much more so if I think they seem relatively intelligent. For a long time I used to believe that when people said they believed I thought they were being disingenuous. It was only after reading the Bible and talking to 'Christians' that I realised that many people don't believe in religion at all - well, not in Australia at least. People who consider themselves Christian often know virtually nothing of the New Testiment and nothing at all of the Old. People just assume that the Bible is a book of moral instruction. That is what I thought it was going to be when I started reading it. I was shocked to find that it was anything but. Dawkins's book is a good introduction to some of the less well known and much less morally instructional stories in the Bible - and for this alone it serves a worthy purpose. I was talking to a friend yesterday about an article in the paper about global warming and what needs to happen if we are to save the planet. He said, "Let's just hope the climate sceptics are right, because the US believes Jesus is coming back to fix things up - so they won't do anything about climate change." This might be overstating the problem, but unfortunately, not overstating it enough. Religion is a danger to our existence we can no longer afford. There is part of me that understands that religion offers lots of comfort to lots of people in the world and I never feel quite right taking that comfort away from people - particularly when I've nothing to offer in return. It feels almost like telling a five year old there is no Santa. But at other times I feel much as Dawkins does - that there is simply too much at stake to leave the fate of the world in the hands of people who believe in sky gods who are coming to fix things. God is Not Great is probably a better book - but since this one explains evolutionary biology too and in terms, surely, even a creationist can understand, I would have to recommend it. The more frightened I become about the future we will be leaving our children, the more opposed to religion I become.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    This book is so well known, it seems almost pointless to review it. If you are a believer, you will not like it, though you're probably aware of that. Dawkins' explicit aim is that “religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down” and that unbelievers shouldn't be ashamed to say so, to which end he presents a detailed and cross-referenced set of arguments, examples, discussions and thought experiments, touching on science, philosophy, psychology etc. Many of his points are f This book is so well known, it seems almost pointless to review it. If you are a believer, you will not like it, though you're probably aware of that. Dawkins' explicit aim is that “religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down” and that unbelievers shouldn't be ashamed to say so, to which end he presents a detailed and cross-referenced set of arguments, examples, discussions and thought experiments, touching on science, philosophy, psychology etc. Many of his points are familiar (e.g. where did god come from, how do we explain suffering?), but some are fresh and intriguing. He does have a tendency to repeat himself and be annoyingly strident, but in general he makes a very good case. Dawkins knows the Bible well and relishes exposing its grisly (genocide, gang rape, innocent sacrifices) and contradictory aspects (omniscience and omnipotence are contradictory – how can god have the power to change is his mind?), asking if you pick and choose only the nice bits, who decides which to follow and which to ignore? With a background in evolutionary biology, he is particularly incensed at and fearful of the rise of creationism, under the guise of “intelligent design”, giving considerable time to debunking irreducible complexity, the “god of the gaps” and the idea that evolution is the same as chance. There are two themes he keeps harking back to. One is the injustice of the way we are expected to be tactfully respectful of people's religious beliefs in a way that does not apply to other irrational beliefs, yet it’s the doubters who are expected to provide “proof” (even though it’s impossible to prove a negative), coupled with the injustice of the need to appear religious in some circles, especially US public life (George Bush Sr doesn’t think atheist should be citizens or considered patriots). I’m sure it’s no coincidence that a pertinent Douglas Adams quote is on page 42. The other hobby horse is the wickedness of "indoctrinating" children in a religion, which he even likens to actual abuse: "there is no such thing as a Muslim child", just as there is no such thing as a Conservative or Republican child. He mentions that only about one in twelve British children break away from the religious beliefs of their parents as evidence of the power of such indoctrination. He is sneakily arrogant at times, quoting big names such as Einstein and where the quote doesn’t appear to say quite what he wants it to, he assumes they expressed themselves badly and actually meant something else (“I simply do not believe that Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote”)! Marx was snappier, but Seneca or Gibbon (see comment #14), quoted by Napoleon, had the same idea rather earlier when he said, “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the ruler as useful”. Overall, Dawkins confirmed and clarified my unbelief, which is what I was wanting. MAIN POINTS BIBLE Dawkins knows the Bible well and relishes highlighting the brutality of the Old Testament god, then says that’s too easy a target so he will focus on a more generic god, but still harks back to OT examples at regular intervals. He makes the obvious, but often overlooked point that the Bible was written a very long time ago, but long after the events it describes, in a very different culture and translated through multiple languages. Chinese Whispers. Also, some of the writers probably had motives of which we are unaware but which are pertinent to interpreting what they wrote. On p118 he compares the different nativity accounts to show how contradictory they are both with each other and known historical facts. He also points out that earlier translations, the adjective for Mary meant “unmarried”, rather than “virgin”. If the story of Adam and Eve is symbolic, where does original sin come from? And why was Jesus painfully and humiliatingly killed for a symbolic sin? Some examples of the “immorality” of the Bible: • Lot offered his daughters to a nasty gang (to be raped) in place of the angels they had wanted. • Bloodthirsty ethnic cleansing, e.g. Joshua in Jericho. • Abraham being willing to sacrifice his young son, Isaac. • God punishing everyone by flood, including babies and animals. • Leviticus 20 lists numerous sins for which the penalty is death, including cursing your parents, working on the Sabbath and adultery. • Jesus exhorted people to leave the families (as cults do today). • What is the moral message of spilling the blood of an innocent (whether an animal or Jesus) to atone for the sins of others? • Is the inconsistency of anti abortionists supporting the death penalty and gun ownership in a similar vein? Which life is sacred? And why is euthanasia wrong if they’re going to a better place? But if you pick and choose only the nice bits, who decides which to follow and which to ignore? You can’t claim Biblical authority if it’s subjectively selective. Morality comes from elsewhere. We can still enjoy the Bible as literary and cultural heritage in the same way as we enjoy the Greek myths and Chaucer. RELIGIONS If religion is so good for our moral wellbeing, why is atheist antipathy restricted to words, whereas religions often resort to violence to gain support? It’s often assumed that moving from polytheism to monotheism is some sort of progress – so Ibn Warraq suggested the logical progression is to subtract one more god and end up with atheism! Surely Roman Catholicism is polytheistic? A trinity, Mary in multiple forms (“Our Lady of Fatima” and “Our Lady of Lourdes” etc), saints as demi-gods, ranks of angels etc. Religion is expensive: building shrines, supporting priests and ultimately leading to death in some cases, yet it appears across the globe, so there must be some evolutionary advantage to its existence, even if there is a parasitic aspect. Human survival is complex and our babies are born very immature. They need to believe and obey parents about dangers around, so they’re equally credulous of irrational beliefs. Also, children are inherently dualist (mind and body are separate, so the mind can be a disembodied spirit) and teleological (inferring purpose in everything): both make fertile ground for superstition of all kinds. Religious beliefs are collective memes, that evolve in context with each other, echoing human psychology (dualism and teleology), further tweaked by priests. The “cargo cults” on the Pacific islands (e.g. re John Frum) are similar, but arose independently on different islands. Each rewrote their own history to fit events. Religion does not correlate with “good” morals: the US is more religious than the UK, but has more crime, murder, abortion and divorce – and Republican states are worse than Democrat ones. As Steven Weinberg said “with or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things it takes religion.” Tamarin paraphrased the story of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho to Jewish children. When it was a Jewish story they fully approved of the genocide; when it involved Chinese names, they didn’t. PRAYER Ambrose Bierce defined “pray” as “to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy”. He quotes an experiment where some patients were prayed for and some not and of the former, some were told. The ones who knew they were being prayed for fared slightly worse than the others. The methodology wasn’t rigorous, but if it had shown that prayer worked, few would question it. PROOF AND FAITH Personal experience is the most convincing proof to those that have it, but the least convincing to anyone else. If lots of people believe something, it’s religion; if one person believes it, it’s madness. So what’s the difference between god, an imaginary friend and MPD? In general, religious belief is correlated with lower education, lower IQ and less interest in science. We look for patterns: in marks on a page, clouds in the sky etc and our brains are especially attuned to see faces. Thus we easily interpret other things as faces, voices and visions and we’re more likely to think a shadow is a burglar than the other way round. Temporal lobe epilepsy, and direct stimulation of the temporal lobes, can induce visions very similar to those described by some religious people. Arthur C Clarke observed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, so would aliens be viewed as gods? If we accept arguments from personal incredulity, then we should accept Derren Brown actually has supernatural powers, even though he denies it. George Bernard Shaw said “The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunk man is happier than a sober one.” Even if it’s comforting, that doesn’t make it true. Science can be proved or disproved, debated and, if necessary, revised; scientists are prepared to change their minds. Believers are unquestioning and no amount of evidence will change their minds. CREATION AND EVOLUTION It doesn’t matter if life is improbable; it only needs to happen once. But in fact, if the odds are 1 billion to 1 against, that still means there should be life on 1 billion planets. The reason the Earth is perfect for us is that we have evolved here, to our environmental niche. Improbability and complexity are not “solved” by intelligent design; evolution is the answer. Evolution does not say that things happen randomly, by chance, but rather, by natural selection. Just because something is so complex it seems improbable doesn’t mean it’s a case of “irreducible complexity”. He answers the oft cited question of “what’s the use of half an eye/wing?” on page 149. Irreducible complexity does exist, but only if there are interim stages that are no longer there, e.g. an arch that will collapse if you remove a single stone. Young Earth creationists believe the universe began after the domestication of the dog! This is a scale error equivalent to saying New York to San Francisco is 7.8 yards. PHILOSOPHY If complex things can only be explained by the existence of a designer, that designer must the most complex of all, so who designed him? “God of the gaps”: why do people assume god is the answer? Such an approach accepts ignorance, rather than driving scientific progress. Does the fact that suffering (including the holocaust) provides opportunity for bravery, sympathy and generosity make it OK from a loving god? Omniscience and omnipotence are contradictory – how can god have the power to change is his mind? What sort of god values belief (which is outside one’s control) over kindness and good works? Altruism either ensures the continuation of one’s genes (aided by the consequent trust and prestige) or is reciprocal/symbiotic, to a similar end. It was especially important in small kinship groups and is not diminished by our knowledge of that, just as our desire for sex is not diminished by contraception. Hauser’s and Singer’s thought experiments (train tracks) find similar responses from everyone, regardless of their religion or lack of it, so you can be moral without god. If we need the threat of eternal damnation (or promise of heaven) to be good, then we are without morals and only worthy of the fires. Morality shifts externally and religions catch up, so again, morality is not coming from religion. Christians had slaves; liberal Lincoln (who freed the slaves) was nevertheless racist by today’s standards; civilian casualties in Iraq cause outrage, but they’re far fewer than those in WW2. We think of Hitler as worse than Caligula or Genghis Khan, but was he, or is it just that he was more recent and we have film footage? GLOSSARY • Theist: believes in a supernatural intelligent creator who still supervises and intervenes. • Deist: believes in a supernatural creator who doesn’t subsequently intervene, so it’s “watered-down theism”. • Pantheist: a non-supernatural synonym for nature and natural laws, so really just “sexed-up atheism”. • Temporary Agnosticism in Practice (TAP): i.e. where there is a definite answer, but we don’t have the evidence to settle it. Disbelief in god should fall into this category because it is conceivable that it could be proved and even if not, you can consider probability. • Permanent Agnosticism on Principle (PAP): only relevant for things that are impossible to prove, such as whether my experience of the colour green is the same as yours. • Non Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA): saying science and religion are separate is a cop-out, to sideline the creationist/Darwinian divide. • Teleology: everything has a purpose, including weather, coincidences etc. • Dualism: mind and body are separate, so the mind can be a disembodied spirit.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Salma

    سألني أحدهم عن رأيي في كتاب وهم الإله لدوكنز، و لكن لم يسبق لي أن كنت قرأته... فبحثت في النت و عثرت عليه... قرأت مقدمته و مقاطع متفرقة منه... الكتاب كتاب إلحادي تقليدي، يتحدث عن وهمية فكرة الإله و الأديان بشكل عام و يقدم تصوره عن الأمر بطريقة لا تخلو من عاطفية مفرطة في كثير من المواضع أقرب لتصير تطرفا، _و أذكر وصفا طريفا لمن نصحني به بكون مؤلفه أشبه بجهادي إلحادي_ و يكاد المؤلف يجزم أنك بعد قراءته ستصير ملحدا... أو بعبارة أخرى أدق أنك ستعتنق دينه الإلحادي...0 في الحقيقة الكتاب لم يجذبني لأقرأه كا سألني أحدهم عن رأيي في كتاب وهم الإله لدوكنز، و لكن لم يسبق لي أن كنت قرأته... فبحثت في النت و عثرت عليه... قرأت مقدمته و مقاطع متفرقة منه... الكتاب كتاب إلحادي تقليدي، يتحدث عن وهمية فكرة الإله و الأديان بشكل عام و يقدم تصوره عن الأمر بطريقة لا تخلو من عاطفية مفرطة في كثير من المواضع أقرب لتصير تطرفا، _و أذكر وصفا طريفا لمن نصحني به بكون مؤلفه أشبه بجهادي إلحادي_ و يكاد المؤلف يجزم أنك بعد قراءته ستصير ملحدا... أو بعبارة أخرى أدق أنك ستعتنق دينه الإلحادي...0 في الحقيقة الكتاب لم يجذبني لأقرأه كاملا _مع أني حاولت مرتين كرمى لمن سألني رأيي و لكن الملل قتلني و لم أستطع_ فأفكار الكتاب مكررة و البراهين المقدمة عبارة عن توليفة من التأويلات و اقتطاع من السياقات تم حبكها بطريقة تناسب النتيجة المسبقة في الذهن، كمعظم براهين الدنيا... الكتاب بأسلوبه لم يقدم لي شيئا جديدا أو يزرع في بذرة شك أو تساؤل أو حتى رغبة في النقاش و لذلك لم أشعر برغبة تملأني لاتمامه... و الحق يقال أنه ليس عندي مشكلة أصلا في الإيمان بالإله، و حين لا تكون لديك مشكلة في مسألة ما و يفشل الكتاب في أن يفتعل داخلك تلك المشكلة فحينئذ الأولى أن تتركه... و ربما حري بي القول أنه لدي مشكلة في تصور أهمية الحقائق العلمية و الفيزيائية، لأني لا أشعر بها كثيرا و لا تجذبني أصلا أو أحفل بها و لا أعتبرها دليلا على شيء ما... يأتي شخص يحاول إقناعي بأمر عبر مثلا تطور جيني ما أو أحفورات ما أو حقيقة فيزيائية ما... و حينها يخطر لي سؤال له أن ما أدراك أني أنا و أنت و الجينات التي تخبرني بتطورها و الأحفوارت و الفيزياء و كل هذا الكون بكل ما فيه من قوانين ليس أكثر من حبكة روائية... ليس أكثر من كلمات في كتاب... و كلنا ندور و نقوم و نقعد و نحيا و نموت و نفكر و نناطح و نتخيل و نشطح و نحلق ضمن حدود هذا الكتاب... لا نستطيع أن نحيد قيد أنملة عن أسطرنا التي سطرت لنا؟ هل شاهدتم يوما شخصية روائية استطاعت اكتشاف أن ما تراه من قوانين العالم حولها ليس إلا كلمات يمكن تغييرها من قبل المؤلف بجرة قلم؟ اللهم إلا أن يرغب المؤلف بأن يخبرها بماهيتها، و ضمن الحبكة...0 أنا إنسانة غير واقعية معظم الوقت، أو دعني أقول لا أحب أن أركن للظاهر و الواقع كثيرا، و ربما لم يضرب على عصبي شيء و يرفع ضغطي من الكتاب برمته أكثر من قوله أن: "أليس الكون بجماله كاف حتى نحتاج للبحث عن وجود شيء وراءه؟!" لاء يا عمي... ليس كاف بالنسبة لي إطلاقا... لأنه لا يُشبـِع... كل جمال فيه و كل لذة غير مشبعة و منقوصة و زائلة... و الصورة الظاهرة لا ترويني... فضلا عن القبح و الظلم الذي يعتصره عصرا... فضلا عن الاحساس القتـّال بأن لا يعقل أن يكون ما نراه فقط هو كل شيء...0 فعلا أنا لا أتخيل كيف يفكر أولئك الذين لا يرون أبعد مما هو ظاهر... أبعد من السطح... أبعد من المادة الجامدة... و لكن ربما الجواب هو كما قال هرمان هسه في قصيدته "تلاق" من أنهم لا يريدون أن يتعبوا أذهانهم و يتجردوا عن المادة، لذلك فهم يريحون أنفسهم و يحذفون البعد الثالث... العمق...:0 تلاق: 0 الثابتون أبدا و الساذجون لا يحتملون بالطبع شكّنا.0 و يشرحون لنا ببساطة أن العالم مسطح و أن أسطورة الأعماق هراء.0 لأنه لو كانت هناك فعلا أبعاد أخرى غير البعدين الطيبين المألوفين للناس منذ القدم،0 فكيف يمكن أن يعيش إنسان آمنا،0 و كيف يعيش إنسان بلا هم؟ فكيما نحقق سلاما.0 دعونا نحذف بـُعدا.0 فإذا كان الثابتون مخلصين حقا،0 و كان النظر في الأعماق خطيرا إلى هذا الحد،0 فإن البعد الثالث أمر يمكن صرف النظر عنه.0

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lia

    I feel the need to insert a negative review from a believer of evolution and a harsh critic of organized religion. His basic assertion that faith and science are inextricably entangled is sound. However, he leaps off this logical diving board and into a mess of false simplifications about the nature of faith, the logic of science, and the lives of atheists vs. believers. If you want to figure out if evolution is real, read some biology books and take a walk outside. This trash is only for people I feel the need to insert a negative review from a believer of evolution and a harsh critic of organized religion. His basic assertion that faith and science are inextricably entangled is sound. However, he leaps off this logical diving board and into a mess of false simplifications about the nature of faith, the logic of science, and the lives of atheists vs. believers. If you want to figure out if evolution is real, read some biology books and take a walk outside. This trash is only for people who require a heightened sense of superiority as reward for being an atheist.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Hassan

    خليني أعترف إني في البداية كنت متخوف من التجربة..القراءة عن الإلحاد.. من ملحد! عجيبة الكوميديا في بلدنا..اللي عايز يقرأ عن الإشتراكيه يقرا لمصطفي محمود.. واللي عايز يقرأ عن العلمانيه يقرأ لمصطفي محمود.. واللي عايز يقرأ عن تجربة تركيا العلمانية يقرأ لراغب السرجاني.. المهم. كنت متخوف في البداية لكن لما قرأت الكتاب أستمعت أيما إستمتاع.. الحقيقة قراءة كتب زي "وهم الإله" أو أي كتاب لملحد متزن ونقده عقلاني بيخرجك أما ملحد واما يطور فهمك لمسألة الإيمان أكتر.. وفعلاً أستفدت جداً من الكتاب وطور فهمي للأمور. ريتشا خليني أعترف إني في البداية كنت متخوف من التجربة..القراءة عن الإلحاد.. من ملحد! عجيبة الكوميديا في بلدنا..اللي عايز يقرأ عن الإشتراكيه يقرا لمصطفي محمود.. واللي عايز يقرأ عن العلمانيه يقرأ لمصطفي محمود.. واللي عايز يقرأ عن تجربة تركيا العلمانية يقرأ لراغب السرجاني.. المهم. كنت متخوف في البداية لكن لما قرأت الكتاب أستمعت أيما إستمتاع.. الحقيقة قراءة كتب زي "وهم الإله" أو أي كتاب لملحد متزن ونقده عقلاني بيخرجك أما ملحد واما يطور فهمك لمسألة الإيمان أكتر.. وفعلاً أستفدت جداً من الكتاب وطور فهمي للأمور. ريتشارد دوكنز أسلوبه ساخر وممتع جداً في الكتابه..الكتاب فعلاً ممتع ومفيد وأتمني إنه يكون في مكتبتي في وقت قريب. الحقيقة فيه أجزاء كتير نقد فيها الكاتب اللاهوت المسيحي والعهد القديم..أهتمامي بالأجزاء دي كان محدود وإن أتفقت معه في كتير منهم الحقيقة.. كمثال فكرة نزول الإله عشان يتعذب ويتهان ويتصلب..عشان يغفر خطيئه أنا ماليش ذنب فيها..الأغرب إن الخلاص مش بيتحقق إلا لو بقيت مسيحي صالح.. نفس الفكرة في الإسلام أو في أي دين تاني بدون ما الإله ينزل ويتصلب ويتعذب..ليه مغفرش الذنب "من فوق" وخلاص؟ وأكتر جزء عجبني في الكتاب -بعد أول جزء في نقد وجود الإله وشرح الحجج والرد عليها - هو جزء الأخلاق.. هل إحنا بنعبد الإله عشان خايفين منه؟ وهل دا بيأثر علي مفهومنا للأخلاق؟ هل أنا كويس عشان "كاميرات المراقبة"..اللي مع غروبها هتحول لشر مطلق؟ دي مش أخلاق.. وأنا مع الكاتب في إن الأخلاق لازم تناقش وتتفسر وأقتنع بيها..مش أكون جزء من القطيع عنده أخلاق عشان خايف.. مع إن العقل أكبر ميزة للإنسان. أجزاء كتير من الكتاب عديت عليها بسرعه للأسف لإنها مش محور أهتمامي..والكتاب هرجعله أكيد لو قدرت أحصل علي نسخه ورقيه له. كتاب مميز..وكاتب جاذبيته شيطانيه فعلاً.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Helen 2.0

    Alternatively, this book could have been titled "One Man's Love Affair with Natural Selection". A very informative read, but in favor of discretion, I think I'll keep my opinions on the issue to myself.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    TWO RANTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE Now, here's the thing about this author : With friends like Richard Dawkins, who needs enemies? Okay, i said it. Whew, I feel better. He's just so annoying, even when you agree with him. Grr. Okay, well, so, some time ago I watched Richard's two documentaries "The Enemies of Reason" and "The Root of all Evil" so I should get round to this book at some point, but really, it's so hard to make any kind of sense of this debate. Right now, I kind of know what the Bible me TWO RANTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE Now, here's the thing about this author : With friends like Richard Dawkins, who needs enemies? Okay, i said it. Whew, I feel better. He's just so annoying, even when you agree with him. Grr. Okay, well, so, some time ago I watched Richard's two documentaries "The Enemies of Reason" and "The Root of all Evil" so I should get round to this book at some point, but really, it's so hard to make any kind of sense of this debate. Right now, I kind of know what the Bible means when it says in Psalms The fool hath said in his heart that there is no God It's because of the giant ineluctible fact that there IS an IS - that things exist rather than not exist. I am here rather than not here. And so are you! Deny that if you can! That's a rather large elephant in the room of all atheists. Try and shove that one out of the door. Existence rather than non-existence. let, indeed, there be light. The God delusionals will say ah, you see, this guy PB, he's one of us now. (Some of them might then be saying "But that's not a good thing, though, is it?"). Now, excuse me, i have to take a phone call. Pardon me... Oh, it was a scientist saying that what with the Bean Bag Collider they now have in Switzerland and their up to the minute research into the first part of the first part of the millionth subdivision of the first nanosecond after the Big Bang, they are in the happy position of being able to confirm that within two shakes of a lamb's tail (that's a scientific term) they will KNOW how the whole thing went down. They saw - with their own eyes - the Hugo Boss particle the other day. So now they know. Great. I told her, keep up the good work. I want to know how it happens that we're all here and not not here. But when the scientists do explain how everything began, it's going to be just as mystical for your average punter as Genesis chapter 1 verses 1-18. But Genesis will win out on poetry. And because of Peter Gabriel. So we'll be none the wiser. Except some clever-clogs 15 year old somewhere who reads it all in Nature or New International Geekery and says oh, is that all it takes to create a universe? And he'll make another one right there in his bathtub. ***** THE PREVIOUS RANT Here are a few things I want to know now : - The fundamentalists reject evolution and therefore geology too. How much more do they reject - physics? Chemistry? Botany? Medicine? Or is science perfectly okay until it mentions anything in the Bible? Where is the examination of scientific evidence leading to its rebuttal and rejection by the fundies? You know, like they used to believe the fossils were put there by God to test the faith of Christians... I mean, I guess they must also reject astronomy, with its concepts of light years and galaxies and what-all, because it's obvious that if you have a galaxy that's over 7000 light years away the universe is older than 6000 years. Doh! So that has to go. One of the stupidities of this God debate is that the debaters mostly screech slogans at each other. Sometimes the slogans go on for 300 pages! How can we get past the slogans? - One of RD's arguments in favour of science is its undogmatic provisional quality - it proceeds on the basis of evidence and its theories are promptly tossed into the dustbin if better evidence is discovered. And this is good. But alas it does not therefore follow, as RD thinks it does, that ordinary people can say to themselves well, I'm therefore just going to accept things which can be proved, not blind faith. Does RD think we should all troop off to the laboratories and observe the truth of all scientific discoveries for ourselves? No, surely not. We would not be let in. Therefore we're back to faith. I have faith in the teachers in schools and professors in universities - and you may have faith in priests, imams and rabbis. And furthermore, the religious may well retort rudely to Richard "Hey, Dawk, why should be believe in any of your shit if as you say your theories may be upturned, reversed and rescinded six months from now when better evidence is discovered under your Grandma's sofa? I mean, maybe GOD is underneath your Grandma's sofa - have you checked lately? Dude, you are asking the absurd." So how do we get past these inanities?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zaphirenia

    Κλαίει η ψυχή μου όταν σκέφτομαι τον όγκο των άχρηστων (στην καλύτερη περίπτωση) ή ακόμα και επιβλαβών (στη χειρότερη) πληροφοριών με τις οποίες μας μπουκώνουν κατά τη σχολική μας ζωή. Μας διδάσκουν τι να σκεφτόμαστε αντί του πώς, μας αρνούνται την ορθολογική σκέψη στο βωμό μιας εσφαλμένης (στην καλύτερη περίπτωση) πεποίθησης και μας αφήνουν να παλευουμε με υπαρξιακους φόβους και ανησυχίες, ανεπαρκώς εφοδιασμένοι και παντελώς απροετοίμαστοι. Όπως πολύ εύστοχα παρατηρεί και ο Dawkins, η πίστη σε Κλαίει η ψυχή μου όταν σκέφτομαι τον όγκο των άχρηστων (στην καλύτερη περίπτωση) ή ακόμα και επιβλαβών (στη χειρότερη) πληροφοριών με τις οποίες μας μπουκώνουν κατά τη σχολική μας ζωή. Μας διδάσκουν τι να σκεφτόμαστε αντί του πώς, μας αρνούνται την ορθολογική σκέψη στο βωμό μιας εσφαλμένης (στην καλύτερη περίπτωση) πεποίθησης και μας αφήνουν να παλευουμε με υπαρξιακους φόβους και ανησυχίες, ανεπαρκώς εφοδιασμένοι και παντελώς απροετοίμαστοι. Όπως πολύ εύστοχα παρατηρεί και ο Dawkins, η πίστη σε κάτι υπερβατικό χωρίς να απαιτείται λογική απόδειξη ή έστω κάποια ευλογοφανής εξήγηση υμνείται ως ύψιστη αρετή (!) και η απάντηση στο "μα πώς εξηγείται αυτό;" είναι συνήθως "αυτό είναι το καλύτερο! δεν χρειάζεται να το εξηγήσουμε, αυτή είναι η μαγεία της πίστης!". Ευχαριστώ, δεν θα πάρω. Αυτό το βιβλίο ίσως δεν έχει να πει πολλά σε κάποιον που έχει μελετήσει σε βάθος τα ζητήματα που αναλύει, είναι άλλωστε εκλαϊκευμένο για τους κοινούς θνητούς που δεν έχουμε εντρυφήσει στα θαύματα της επιστήμης ή/και δεν μπορούμε να τα καταλάβουμε εύκολα λόγω της τεχνικής τους πολυπλοκότητας. Οπωσδήποτε δεν έχει τίποτα να πει σε φανατικούς της θρησκείας. Όμως πιστεύω ότι πρέπει να διαβαστεί με προσοχή ακόμα και από ανθρώπους που πιστεύουν (ή κυρίως από αυτούς), γιατί προσφέρει παρηγοριά και εναλλακτικές - πειστικές - απαντήσεις σε πολύ βασικά ερωτήματα που η θρησκεία, στο βαθμό που έχει εξελιχθεί η επιστήμη, δεν μπορεί (και θα ηταν αστείο απλως και μόνο να περιμένουμε κάτι τέτοιο) να εξηγήσει. Ειναι περίεργο, αλλά ενώ ο Dawkins δέχεται ότι ένα από τα βασικά πλεονεκτήματα της θρησκείας μπορεί να είναι η παρηγοριά για υπαρξιακά θέματα, στο συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο βρήκα μεγαλύτερη ανακούφιση από ότι σε οποιαδήποτε θρησκευτική άποψη εχω ακούσει μέχρι σήμερα. Μία σύντομη περίληψη. Το βιβλίο χωρίζεται σε 10 κεφάλαια. Το πρώτο είναι εισαγωγικό. Στο δεύτερο εκτίθεται η "υπόθεση για την ύπαρξη του θεού" και περιλαμβάνει ένα εξαιρετικό απόσπασμα του Bertrand Russell με την κοσμική του τσαγιέρα σχετικά με το βάρος απόδειξης περί της ύπαρξης του θεού. Στο τρίτο κεφάλαιο αναλύονται και αποδομούνται τα επιχειρήματα για την ύπαρξη του θεού. Το τέταρτο ονομάζεται "γιατί είναι σχεδόν βέβαιο ότι δεν υπάρχει θεός", αρκετά αυτοεξηγήσιμο, αλλά να πω ότι τα επιχειρήματα είναι επιστημονικά, ότι εισάγει τον αναγνώστη σε έννοιες όπως η ανθρωπική αρχή, η μη αναγώγιμη πολυπλοκότητα, και δίνει ένα ηχηρό χαστούκι στη θεωρία περί σχεδίου. Το πέμπτο αφορά τις ρίζες της θρησκείας και παραδόξως είναι περισσότερο επιστημονικής παρά ιστορικής φύσης - είναι εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον. Στα επόμενα δύο κεφάλαια καταρρίπτεται το "ηθικό πλεονέκτημα" της θρησκείας (καλα, αυτό δεν ήθελε και πολλή προσπάθεια) και στο όγδοο δίνει την εξήγηση του για την αποψη του σχετικά με τη θρησκεία - γιατί δηλαδή ασχολείται με το ζήτημα, γιατί είναι σημαντικό; Στο ένατο κεφάλαιο διαβάζουμε για την ψυχολογική κακοποίηση που υφίστανται τα μικρά παιδιά που γαλουχούνται με το φόβο της κόλασης και των βασανιστηρίων που τα περιμένουν εάν δεν γίνουν "ενάρετοι χριστιανοί/μουσουλμάνοι/εβραίοι". Ωραία πράγματα γενικώς. Και στο τελευταίο κεφάλαιο μας λέει τι υπάρχει πέρα και μετά τη θρησκεία, ανοίγοντας ένα μικρό παράθυρο στα υπέροχα όσο και τρομακτικά σημεία που μπορεί να φτάσει ο ανθρώπινος νους μέσω της επιστήμης, μέσω της κατανόησης ότι ο κόσμος που βλέπουμε ως πραγματικο στην πραγματικότητα είναι απλως η εκδοχή του κόσμου όπως έχει εξελιχθεί ο εγκέφαλος μας να τον εκλαμβάνει. Εδώ βρίσκεται η μαγεία, κυρίες και κύριοι. Πρέπει, πρέπει να διαβαστεί αυτό το βιβλίο. Αν και κάποια από αυτά που αναφέρει τα είχα σκεφτεί ή και διαβάσει αποσπασματικά, με βοήθησε να συστηματοποιήσω στο μυαλό μου πολλές σκέψεις που ήταν σκόρπιες και φυσικά έμαθα πάρα πολλά πράγματα. Δε θα πω ότι θα έπρεπε να διδάσκεται στα σχολεία (αν και το πιστεύω), γιατί δεν υπάρχει ούτε μία στο τρισεκατομμύριο. Χρειαζόμαστε όμως τέτοια βιβλία. Bonus: η πλούσια βιβλιογραφία του. Σίγουρα θα ψαξω κάποια από αυτά τα βιβλία.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    When others throw such words as "god" or "spiritual" or "soul" into their conversation I must ask them what they're talking about unless the context is clear. Unchurched, when I was a kid I thought they all meant something, something obscure to me, but still significant. Feeling ignorant and ashamed of this, I generally would let such remarks pass, but they haunted me. The study of Latin in high school was a start in unpacking such nebulous words via etymology. I was lousy at Latin, good at effor When others throw such words as "god" or "spiritual" or "soul" into their conversation I must ask them what they're talking about unless the context is clear. Unchurched, when I was a kid I thought they all meant something, something obscure to me, but still significant. Feeling ignorant and ashamed of this, I generally would let such remarks pass, but they haunted me. The study of Latin in high school was a start in unpacking such nebulous words via etymology. I was lousy at Latin, good at effortlessly retaining word roots. In college this interest expanded into Greek and German. "Spirit", I learned, was a wind or breath word which came in its various forms to be associated with life and its principles. That made sense. "God" was more obscure, becoming even more nebulous upon my first reading of the bible. There the concept seemed more a whole host of concepts bearing what Wittgenstein called "a family resemblance" to one another, concepts ranging from war host(s) to clan leader to monarch within contexts ranging from polytheism and henotheism to monotheism and even to the neo-Platonic theory of forms. "God", in its biblical reference at least, was nebulous certainly, but one could discern discreet elements to the cloud of metaphors and concepts. I got a degree in religion in college, went on to four years of seminary, proceeded to degrees in depth psychology and philosophy, read and continued to read quite a lot about religions, theologies and metaphysics. Along the way, on a few occasions, I even encountered a few apparently non-human, but intelligent, entities, some by my own intention via "consciousness-expanding" drugs, some quite by surprise--enough, in any case, to appreciate the possible experiential bases for belief in such extraordinary entities. Then, of course, there are dreams. We, all of us, dream and meet in our dreams hosts of apparently non-human, but intelligent entities. We don't, however, generally take our dreams very seriously as witness my treating them in the possessive. We, in our culture, tend to treat dream contents as derivatives of waking life. This has not always been the case, nor is it the case in all cultures. I paid a lot of attention to dreams, keeping daily records of them for at least six years, reading books about dream theory. Dawkins, unfortunately, appears to have done very little study about any of this. He is upset by the religious right and has at least perused the bible. Reading it as a biblical inerrancist might, he is understandably quite upset. In addition to this, he has also paid some attention to some of the histories of doctrinal orthodoxies in the Christian tradition. There, too, he has been upset by both the conceits of medieval metaphysicians and the intrinsic authoritarianism of the whole mindset. I share these concerns, but have the psychologist's concern to understand whence such doctrinaire authoritarianisms come from, a concern which, for him, seems to start and end with the observation that many people are either thoughtlessly insecure or cravenly prone to prey on the insecurities and ignorance of others. There are plenty of instances of such to be sure, as witness cynical manipulators like his fellow atheist Karl Rove, but there's more to all of this religion business than that and his simplistic and insulting dismissal of the religious is unlikely to give him much of a hearing among the people he wishes to convert. Dawkins is a scientist and modern science has prejudices which, while heuristically productive, are limiting. They include (1) a preference for the quantifiable, (2) a rejection of phenomena which are not etiologically reproducible, and (3) a rejection of models of causality which are not etiological. The domains within which these assumptions are profitably employable are many and broad, but they are not exhaustive and they have very little direct bearing on how we experience our lives day to day. While such methods can be, and are, applied to the phenomenology of religious experience, the experience of, say, parapsychological research seems to indicate that some very real phenomena are not--not now at least--replicable. Perhaps they are just too complex, just as god-concepts which try to represent what amounts to the philosophical interpretation of the world must needs be complex and variable. One of the possible etymologies of "religion" pertains to paying due reverence to ancestors and traditions, much as is found in ancient Roman religion and modern Shinto. While many traditions taught in comparative religion courses are atheistic (classical Buddhism for one), "our" tradition in the West has been predominately tied to one or more kinds of theism for quite some time. If it is okay to treat such precursors as Copernicus or Galileo or Newton or Darwin as revered contributors to our modern scientific interpretations of the the world, then too it should be appropriate to pay a bit more reverence for and attention to the theologians, their circumstances, their evidences, their methods and their interpretations.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Fallacious Reasoning: "The God Delusion" By Richard Dawkins “Science can chip away at agnosticism, in a way that Huxley bent over backwards to deny for the special of God. I am arguing that, notwithstanding the polite abstinence of Huxley, Gould and many others, the God question is not in principle and forever outside the remit of science. As with the nature of the stars, contra Comte, and as with the likelihood of life in orbit around If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Fallacious Reasoning: "The God Delusion" By Richard Dawkins “Science can chip away at agnosticism, in a way that Huxley bent over backwards to deny for the special of God. I am arguing that, notwithstanding the polite abstinence of Huxley, Gould and many others, the God question is not in principle and forever outside the remit of science. As with the nature of the stars, contra Comte, and as with the likelihood of life in orbit around them, science can make at least probabilistic inroads into the territory of agnosticism.” In “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins Uhm...How can you do that Dawkins, when your knowledge of Statistics is so frigging fuzzy (I’m using a polite word here)?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I'm a part of the atheist choir to which Dawkins is preaching; but I honestly believe that this book might change a religious person's mind, if they bothered to pick it up (I've been hearing a lot about how many religious congregations are condemning Dawkins's work as a tool of Satan). It's full of scientific goodness, and refutations of common defenses of religion and attacks upon atheism. Suddenly, I don't feel so alone. It's well known how many horrors are perpetrated in the name of religion, I'm a part of the atheist choir to which Dawkins is preaching; but I honestly believe that this book might change a religious person's mind, if they bothered to pick it up (I've been hearing a lot about how many religious congregations are condemning Dawkins's work as a tool of Satan). It's full of scientific goodness, and refutations of common defenses of religion and attacks upon atheism. Suddenly, I don't feel so alone. It's well known how many horrors are perpetrated in the name of religion, but Dawkins manages to unearth a few more of which I'd never heard. There's also a great chapter on the many hypocrisies of the Bible - and there are plenty more than what I'd even been using in prior arguments with religious friends.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Katzman

    I don't commonly read non-fiction, but I've had this on my shelf for years so finally got to it. You know what it's about. It’s entertaining and informative, and I think an excellent read for anyone who is either on-the-fence, open-mindedly religious, or for those who are recovering from a religious upbringing. And of course, validating for atheists. For those who have dealt with the trauma of any sort of oppressive religious childhood, this is a refreshing book that will reassure you about your I don't commonly read non-fiction, but I've had this on my shelf for years so finally got to it. You know what it's about. It’s entertaining and informative, and I think an excellent read for anyone who is either on-the-fence, open-mindedly religious, or for those who are recovering from a religious upbringing. And of course, validating for atheists. For those who have dealt with the trauma of any sort of oppressive religious childhood, this is a refreshing book that will reassure you about your escape from the brainwashing and social control. Overall, his arguments are solid. There are couple things I want to quibble with. First, I did not like how he said that inflicting belief in hell on children is as abusive as sexual abuse. I do believe that inflicting the concept of hell on kids is terrifying, and it is abusive to terrify kids, however, does it rise to the level of actual pedophilia? He trots out a letter from a woman who wrote to him to tell him that she was both sexually abused by a priest and tormented by fear of hell, and she claimed that the religious torment was worse. It may well be in some cases, but overall, I don't buy it. Rape of a child is worse, and his case is not strengthened by the comparison. The second weakest part of the book was Dawkin's attempted explanations for how religion or belief in god fulfills some sort of survival need (natural selection) or some genetic imperative. I think culture has become quite divorced from survival needs. One can trace back certain aspects of culture to survival needs, like money as the proxy for food and shelter. But many aspects of culture have become highly detached and even contradict survival needs. Religions may form some false connection to survival of genes, but I don't think his attempt to connect that story was very convincing. And his long-winded story about an imaginary childhood friend (I never had one) called Binky was rather annoying. I was also annoyed that he dismissed Pascal's Wager so quickly. Yes, it is fairly easy to dismember this argument from a logical perspective. The flaws in it were obvious to me from a young age. However, he should have taken more time to critique this position because I think he deeply underestimates how so many people fear leaving their religion primarily due to the premise of Pascal's Wager. Fear of hell is at the core of what gives Pascal's Wager its power, and it is fear of hell that keeps a large number of people psychologically attached to their religion. So I think he should have spent a lot more time dissecting the flawed logic of this assertion. I was raised Jewish, and we didn’t have a hell, and as such I have always thought that the use of hell in Christianity was a form of psychological terrorism to drive conversion and retention. There is a huge illogic to claim that god is all-good, and yet he permits a place of eternal torture to exist. I ain't ever gonna buy that those two things could exist in any one universe. And I always have to LOL big-time about (even worse) a god who would doom a living thing to eternal torture just because she or he DIDN'T BELIEVE IN HIM. Boo-hoo, what is god a fucking baby? Is the deity Donald Trump? Has god never even heard of the concept of rehabilitation? Whatevs. Last, I want to say that one of the most interesting parts of this book was learning about some of the contradictions in the Bible stories and the horribly cruel immoral violence in it (much of which probably never happened because there is no historical evidence for a great deal of it). I found this to be a great angle by Dawkins to demonstrate how we should not (and most of us do not) derive our morals from the Bible due to all the horrible things that key Biblical figures did. Like, for example, how Lot gave his daughters away to be gang-raped. I thought this was a very strong premise to contradict those who claim that morality can have no grounding without god. Well, that damn Bible exhibits some pretty shitty morals so that doesn't work either. I guess we'll have to figure out what is moral without it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    Rather like the meme, which Dawkins so helpfully coined the term for, this book has permeated through many parts of our culture. And Dawkins himself has become synonymous with the Atheist movement. How else does a book garner more than 10 books published simply to refute it. The first half of The God Delusion is a thoughtful, fact based response to religion, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The second half tended to veer away from science based theory to more personal opinions of Dawkin's and this Rather like the meme, which Dawkins so helpfully coined the term for, this book has permeated through many parts of our culture. And Dawkins himself has become synonymous with the Atheist movement. How else does a book garner more than 10 books published simply to refute it. The first half of The God Delusion is a thoughtful, fact based response to religion, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The second half tended to veer away from science based theory to more personal opinions of Dawkin's and this was a mixed bag for me. The God Delusion is about raising the consciousness of people to the possibilities of atheism and the many follies of religion. Of the attributes of atheism, Dawkins has me hook, line and sinker. Of the follies of religion, I am less convinced. (Not to say that there aren't follies in religion, but I'm less concerned about them than Dawkins is.) I was, for a long time, both a fundamentalist Christian and a young-earth Creationist. And I asked myself many times if this book would have reached me, had I read it back then. There's no way to test my conviction that the book probably wouldn't have changed my mind. I can only say what did. That was my own, self-guided research. I decided to get to know my own religion more intimately by reading From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith, The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library, A History of the Roman World 753 to 146 BC and The Other Bible. I wanted to go from purely fact-based, research-focused books, perhaps because I already had a sense that what I was being told would be skewed. I had that sense, I believe, because I was lucky enough to be connected to more intelligent people who were not afraid to speak the truth. But they were also kind about it. I remember reaching out to Manny at one point to ask his opinion on the matter. He was very polite and thoughtful in his response and it, in turn, made me think and raise my consciousness. So the question of whether this book would have converted me goes somewhat unanswered. I say somewhat because, obviously, I didn't read this book. I made a conscious choice not to, at the time, due to Dawkin's reputation as being antagonistic towards religion. While I can say that the book is far more moderate than I expected, it certainly doesn't pull any punches. And maybe this comes to my final point which is Dawkin's inability to comprehend why discussing religion requires one to pull some punches. (As a point, I'm not saying be super nice to religious people, or hide your opinions.) He complains in the book why religion is treated differently by society than, say politics or sports. I can see why it is. Because leaving one's religion, seeing the truth and learning to change your worldview from everything you've ever known is an intensely painful, difficult thing to do - especially if you have been fundamentalist. There were nights I cried and was distraught. Nights I thought I was losing my mind. I clearly remember the confusion of trying to relearn the world. Remember, this is something I inflicted on myself, and it was confronting enough. Nobody was putting facts in my faces or forcing me to see the truth. So I respect Dawkins and the amazing work he's done, even if I don't agree with all of his opinions or all the ways he expresses himself. But maybe this book would have been even better if, like the first half, it had stuck to studies and research and veered less into gloves-off territory. DID ANY OF THAT MAKE SENSE? I don't know.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Star

    "وقتی از من میپرسند که آیا بیخدا هستم ، یک راهکار جالب این است که به سوال کننده خاطرنشان میکنم که خود او هم در قبال زئوس ، آپولو ، رع ، میترا ، بعل ، ثور ، واتو ، گوساله طلایی و اسپاگتی پرنده بیخداست. من فقط یک خدا پیش تر می روم." یکی از بهترین مطالعاتی بود که داشتم ، قلم ریچارد داوکینز مثل همیشه جذاب و بیانش شیواست. این کتاب شامل 10 فصل هست و موضوعات و سوالات زیر رو بررسی میکنه : آیا باید به ادیان احترام گذاشت؟ فرضیه های وجود خداوند، چند خدا باوری و تک خداباوری برهان های وجود خداوند و رد آنها چرا به "وقتی از من میپرسند که آیا بیخدا هستم ، یک راهکار جالب این است که به سوال کننده خاطرنشان میکنم که خود او هم در قبال زئوس ، آپولو ، رع ، میترا ، بعل ، ثور ، واتو ، گوساله طلایی و اسپاگتی پرنده بیخداست. من فقط یک خدا پیش تر می روم." یکی از بهترین مطالعاتی بود که داشتم ، قلم ریچارد داوکینز مثل همیشه جذاب و بیانش شیواست. این کتاب شامل 10 فصل هست و موضوعات و سوالات زیر رو بررسی میکنه : آیا باید به ادیان احترام گذاشت؟ فرضیه های وجود خداوند، چند خدا باوری و تک خداباوری برهان های وجود خداوند و رد آنها چرا به احتمال قریب به یقین خدایی نیست؟ ریشه های دین - منشا دین کجاست؟ ریشه های اخلاق - چرا ما خوب هستیم؟ اگر خدایی نیست چرا خوب باشیم؟ دین چه اشکالی دارد ؟ اینهمه دشمنی چرا؟ کودکی ، سوء استفاده و رهایی از دین آیا فقط خداوند پر کننده خلا چشمگیر در وجود ماست و تسلی دهنده است؟ جایگاه و زیبایی های علم ریچارد داوکینز در این کتاب از بزرگان علم ، فلسفه و ادبیات هم نقل قول ها و داستان هایی را می آورد و مثال هایی را بیان میکند که کتاب را جذاب تر میکند. کتاب امیدوار کننده ایست ، تلاشی که داوکینز برای روشنگری دارد ، باعث میشود که خودمان را تنها احساس نکنیم همانطور که ریچارد داوکینز در مقدمه کتاب گفته: دست کم ، من امیدوارم که هر کس این کتاب را میخواند بتواند با خود بگوید 'نمیدانستم که میتوانم'

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    PRE-CONCEPTIONS: Singular White Male Dominant I thought I might write down some of my thoughts in anticipation of reading this book, so that I can see what changes (if any) I go through. I believed in God, until I was about 13 years old. He was singular, white, male, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Anglican, actually, although back then, it was the Church of England. I can't remember exactly why I started to doubt the existence of God. However, suddenly, I believed that there was no God with the same lev PRE-CONCEPTIONS: Singular White Male Dominant I thought I might write down some of my thoughts in anticipation of reading this book, so that I can see what changes (if any) I go through. I believed in God, until I was about 13 years old. He was singular, white, male, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Anglican, actually, although back then, it was the Church of England. I can't remember exactly why I started to doubt the existence of God. However, suddenly, I believed that there was no God with the same level of certainty that I once believed there was a God. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the divide, without any doubt or agnosticism, an atheist. It was as if I'd gone through the looking glass and was now looking back in exactly the opposite direction. I've enjoyed the same perspective ever since. Secular Morality What replaced religion was a secular humanism. The humanism allowed me to discard all of the God bit, and retain the underlying sense of good or morality. I've never accepted that morality is the exclusive domain of religion or God. It belongs to (and is made by) people, not religion or God. It existed before God, if not before gods. Multiple Choice Deities So how do I regard God now? Why don't I believe in Him, Her, It or Them? Humanity needs something that explains things, and potentially sits above us and in judgement of disputes between us. Across time and space, we've satisfied this need in diverse ways. I don't know whether atheism was the first or last option. However, I suspect the next, if not the first, was polytheism. We resorted to multiple Gods or gods to explain things. Who knows how many centuries this belief lasted for. Then gradually monotheism arose and started to dominate. Whereas polytheism had both male and female gods, most monotheism (apart from Islam) has a male God. Man made God in his own image, but more importantly it was male Man who made God in his own image. The Persuasive Power of Consensus My scepticism derives from these facts or beliefs: we needed an answer, we made one or more up, we opted for one solution and then another, and finally we men opted for something as like us as you could conceive (immaculately). It's the very coexistence of different options, the absence of consensus, that persuades me that God is a fabrication. If my God exists in truth, why don't other believers agree with me? How can believers persuade me, if they can't convince each other? In a way, I don't feel any compulsion to adopt any one version of theism, while there are multiple contending versions. Liberal Secular Humanismus Humanism is what remains for some, when you abandon religion or a belief in God. Religion can inform humanism as well. However, the secular aspect is the beginning of something more problematic. If any particular religion believes that it is right, then it follows that every other view is wrong. Traditionally, religion has dealt with others as heretics or infidels. Secular humanism grew out of a philosophical movement that embraced tolerance or liberalism. One religion or denomination should tolerate another. However, this requires atheism, having abandoned and rejected religion, to tolerate religion, even though it regards it as wrong. A new sort of relativism arises. Religion might be wrong for me, but it might be right for you. I have no desire to stop you believing in what explanation works for you. Thus, secular humanism and Christianity have reached some kind of peaceful co-existence. Jihadist Islam It becomes more problematic when you juxtapose either Christianity and Islam, or secular humanism and Islam. Jihadist Islam has tended to emerge in different communities and contexts to secular humanism. There is less of a tradition of mutual tolerance (perhaps because Islam has always been under threat?). There is a greater differential on more earthly issues like the role of women in society. If the equality of women is a fundamental tenet of secular humanism, is it supposed to tolerate a version of Islam that denies the equality of women? Tolerance Factors What is the limit of tolerance? This is an issue that currently divides the Left. It's exploited by authors like Nick Cohen, who regard it as a sign of hypocrisy on the Left. In a way, his sniping makes you question whether, if you don't believe that something is right (and you believe it is wrong), that makes it wrong for everybody. If so, if religion is wrong for me, does that make it wrong for you as well? Tolerance or Militarism? The real challenge, then, is how militant should secular humanism be? If it believes that religion is wrong, a fabrication, what should it do about it? Should it try to exterminate religion? Should it approach all religion the way Christianity approaches Jihadism? Is secular humanism weak, because it prefers to tolerate what it disagrees with? Is sectarian religion superior to secular humanism? If so, why? POST-CONCEPTIONS: Killer Arguments So what was I expecting from Richard Dawkins, and did I get it? I suppose I thought he might come up with some killer arguments that, when tried out on a Catholic priest of 40 years experience, would lead him (!) to declare, "OK, you win! Fuck God! Fuck the Pope! Fuck Catholicism!" Did he deliver? Nope. Did he try? Not really. Dawkins preaches to the converted, when I wanted to witness him convert the preachers. I Can't Believe You Believe This Shit! If pushed, I have to say that I don't disagree with much of what Dawkins says. It's just how he says it. I was especially disappointed in his tone. I'd hoped that he would somehow play by the rules of debating. No ad hominem attacks. No ad deum attacks. No blows beneath the belt. Instead, Dawkins adopts an aggressive adversary stance, like he seriously believes religionists are all fucking crazy and, left to their own devices, threaten the lives of everybody else. His tone in the beginning is scornful, scowling and sarcastic, then he indulges in a bit of name calling, until finally he pulls out all the big and little adjectives: smug, nasty, fatuous, unpalatable, vindictive, presumptuous, divisive, odious, horrifying, repellent, wanton, callous, obnoxious. His attitude towards all religions seems to be, I can't believe you believe this shit! Fight to the Death You don't get the sense Dawkins respects the other side of the debate. You don't get the sense he wants a polite and reasonable adjudication at the end. He is fighting an age-old battle. He wants to win at all costs. He doesn't want to take any prisoners, nor does he want there to be any survivors. He wants to see the corpse of his gladiatorial opponent dirty, bloodied and lifeless before him. He fully expects that, if he were to lose, the same outcome would apply to him. He would wind up dead, and with no prospect of Heaven. His scorn, therefore, is both anticipatory and retrospective. He is fighting for his life, while trying to reciprocate the contempt with which religionists have held atheism in the past. His contempt is all the greater, because of the imperiousness of religion. However, he chooses to rise or descend to the occasion, by attacking religion with an equal and opposite imperiousness. Accepting the Good Faith of Jihadists The irony is that Dawkins seems to be more accepting of the good faith of jihadists than other religionists are. He finds all theists, deists and pantheists equally ridiculous. His ridicule makes no distinctions. There's no point in differentiating between particular beliefs. On the other hand, he finds it amusing that Christians (not to mention many agnostics and atheists) can't believe that jihadists believe their shit. In other words, I genuinely believe my shit, but I honestly can't believe you genuinely believe your shit. If it's all shit anyway, what difference does it make that one belief is allegedly shittier than another? We're all of us stuck in the crapper! In effect, Dawkins says you can't fight religious fundamentalism without fighting religion. Religion is the root of the problem, not fundamentalism or Jihadism per se. Alternative Belief Systems Dawkins' approach doesn't really provide an adequate foundation for the co-existence of alternative belief systems. If you accept that religion dwells in the realm of faith and belief, what makes your own belief (whether religious, agnostic or atheist) any better or worse than someone else's? Should we have a laissez-faire system when it comes to freedom of conscience? Should we respect a belief, even if we think it's weird or a clear and present danger? Whether to Cower in Disbelief So how can a society exist harmoniously, if everybody believes that everybody else's beliefs are ridiculous? Even if you privately believe religionists are deluded, do you say so? Do you signal your view in the title of your book? Do you simply hold back and wait for the opportunity to start bombing their safe havens and strongholds when you think there's enough of a case? What if they start shooting the staff of abortion clinics? Do you fight back? What if they outnumber you? Do you give them a chance, even in a democracy, of achieving an electoral majority and taking power? Is any one redneck government better than any other? At what point do you act in self-defence? Do you just shut up and keep your head down? When it comes to the first amendment, should you plead the fifth amendment? Perhaps, things haven't really changed that much since Bertrand Russell's time: "The immense majority of intellectually eminent men disbelieve in Christian religion, but they conceal the fact in public, because they are afraid of losing their incomes." The Quest for Being, Meaning and Understanding I still find it anomalous that we have to deal with the most fundamental aspects of being and meaning on the basis of belief rather than fact. On the other hand, if it were proven beyond reasonable (or any) doubt that God did not exist (or having once existed, he had carked it), we'd be able to study the phenomenon of religion itself from the point of view of, not just philosophy, but the sciences, such as anthropology, sociology and psychology. For once, we'd be able to legitimately work out why people continue to believe their/our/this shit. Faith would no longer obstruct philosophy or science or the desire of humanity to understand itself and the universe. Why must we forever remain in the lap of the gods? SOUNDTRACK: Queen - "In The Lap Of The Gods... Revisited" (Live in Japan 1975) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ttUr...

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