“THE GOD DELUSION”
- Author: RICHARD DAWKINS
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 16, 2008)
- Language: English
“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
It is in light of this presumption of respect for religion that Dawkins examines the God hypothesis, from the sky-god religions — Christianity, Islam and Judaism — to the benign Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. In his book, Dawkins, a renowned atheist, asserts that belief in God is highly irrational, and that religion (as a whole) inflicts great harm on society as traced from history to present day.
In examining God in all his forms, Dawkins scathingly dismantles the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. Reinforcing his points with historical and contemporary evidence, he shows how religion fuels wars, fosters bigotry and abuses of children, amongst other evils. He makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just erroneous but potentially deadly.
Dawkins also offers insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and to society. He points out the irony of religious fanaticism in an American society that was founded on secular principles, and questions the undeserved respect granted to religion from the individual to the highest court of law. While some of his examples are culturally specific, the underlying ideas are universal.
Some of his criticisms were more persuasive (Arguments from beauty, personal ‘experience’ and scripture) than others (The Great Prayer Experiment, Pascal’s Wager). Most preeminent is the analysis of the dangers of religion, from fundamentalism and subservience of science, to social issues and civil rights.
Intentionally or not, Dawkins concedes a limitation to his argument in favor of atheism:
“I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
With this, Dawkins admits that he cannot assert, with one hundred percent certainty, the non-existence of a supreme being. Inadvertently, he made the case for agnosticism, or at the very least pragmatic atheism. “The God Delusion” is a fascinating read and highly recommended to those willing to be boldly challenged, and perhaps un-indoctrinated.
Written by Celine Margaret