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The God Delusion

by

The God Delusion Cover

 

Staff Pick

A typically bold and incisive book from one of our great science writers, The God Delusion pulls no punches. I gave it to my cousin in hardcover last year, and he hasn't stopped citing passages since. "There are lots of people out there," Dawkins notes in the preface, "who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents' religion and wish they could, but just don't realize that leaving is an option. If you are one of them, this book is for you."
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

He critiques God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly.

Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle the Bible, bristles at the inanity of "intelligent design," or agonizes over fundamentalism in the Middle East — or Middle America.

Review:

"The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is 'psychotic,' Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are 'fatuous' and religion generally is 'nonsense.' The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions — fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium — that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is 'psychotic,' Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are 'fatuous' and religion generally is 'nonsense.' The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Dawkins focuses heavily on the monotheistic religions with quotations from the Bible and Koran that sanction genocide, rape and the killing of unbelievers....Bible-thumpers doubtless will declare they've found their Satan incarnate." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This is a brave and important book." Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape and The Human Animal

Review:

"A resounding trumpet blast for truth....It feels like coming up for air." Matt Ridley, author of Genome and Francis Crick

Review:

"At last, one of the best nonfiction writers alive today has assembled his thoughts on religion into a characteristically elegant book." Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate

Review:

"To those readers tired of being told that they must bow respectfully before every absurd or bizarre superstition they encounter, and who worry about the effects of this atmosphere of hyper-tolerance on the health of our society, Dawkins' irreverent and penetrating work will seem a breath of fresh air." San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis:

Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin"s Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

Synopsis:

In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational, but potentially deadly. In a preface written for the paperback edition, Dawkins responds to some of the controversies the book has incited. This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.

Synopsis:

A preeminent scientist — and the world's most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

About the Author

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Preface 1

1 A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER 9 Deserved respect 11 Undeserved respect 20

2 THE GOD HYPOTHESIS 29 Polytheism 32 Monotheism 37 Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America 38 The poverty of agnosticism 46 NOMA 54 The Great Prayer Experiment 61 The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists 66 Little green men 69

3 ARGUMENTS FOR GODS EXISTENCE 75 Thomas Aquinas ‘proofs 77 The ontological argument and other a priori arguments 80 The argument from beauty 86 The argument from personal ‘experience 87 The argument from scripture 92 The argument from admired religious scientists 97 Pascals Wager 103 Bayesian arguments 105

4 WHY THERE ALMOST CERTAINLY IS NO GOD 111 The Ultimate Boeing 747 113 Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser 114 Irreducible complexity 119 The worship of gaps 125 The anthropic principle: planetary version 134 The anthropic principle: cosmological version 141 An interlude at Cambridge 151

5 THE ROOTS OF RELIGION 161 The Darwinian imperative 163 Direct advantages of religion 166 Group selection 169 Religion as a by-product of something else 172 Psychologically primed for religion 179 Tread softly, because you tread on my memes 191 Cargo cults 202

6 THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD? 209 Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin? 214 A case study in the roots of morality 222 If there is no God, why be good? 226

7 THE ‘GOOD BOOK AND THE CHANGING MORAL ZEITGEIST 235 The Old Testament 237 Is the New Testament any better? 250 Love thy neighbour 254 The moral Zeitgeist 262 What about Hitler and Stalin? Werent they atheists? 272

8 WHATS WRONG WITH RELIGION? WHY BE SO HOSTILE? 279 Fundamentalism and the subversion of science 282 The dark side of absolutism 286 Faith and homosexuality 289 Faith and the sanctity of human life 291 The Great Beethoven Fallacy 298 How ‘moderation in faith fosters fanaticism 301

9 CHILDHOOD, ABUSE AND THE ESCAPE FROM RELIGION 309 Physical and mental abuse 315 In defence of children 325 An educational scandal 331 Consciousness-raising again 337 Religious education as a part of literary culture 340

10 A MUCH NEEDED GAP? 345 Binker 347 Consolation 352 Inspiration 360 The mother of all burkas 362

Appendix: A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping from religion 375 Books cited or recommended 380 Notes 388 Index 400

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 14 comments:

bassplayer, January 3, 2010 (view all comments by bassplayer)
This may not be the Best Book of the Decade, but it is an important and memorable book, and Dawkins' body of work as a whole is crucial reading. In that spirit, I cast my vote.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
anat_jaffe, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by anat_jaffe)
Articulate,convincing with a dash of sarcasm the book intelligently yet abordably presents the case for agnosticim and atheism. In the process, the reader learns about evolutionary theory and is sold on sharing the author's admiration for the genius of Darwin. The book helped to clarify the mysteries of life and strangely enough lessened my existential angst.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Robert Bower, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Robert Bower)
Perhaps the most important book of the decade in terms of its potential impact on human societies. Presents a clear and attractive alternative to the "Us vs. Them" attitudes that have arisen from religion-based terrorism.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 14 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618680009
Author:
Dawkins, Richard
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin
Location:
Boston
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
God
Subject:
Atheism
Subject:
General Religion
Subject:
Religion Comparative-General
Subject:
Philosophy & Aspects
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
October 2006
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.42 lb

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Related Subjects

Humanities » Philosophy » Atheism and Humanism
Rare Books » Philosophy
Reference » Science Reference » General
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The God Delusion Used Hardcover
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Product details 464 pages Mariner Books - English 9780618680009 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A typically bold and incisive book from one of our great science writers, The God Delusion pulls no punches. I gave it to my cousin in hardcover last year, and he hasn't stopped citing passages since. "There are lots of people out there," Dawkins notes in the preface, "who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents' religion and wish they could, but just don't realize that leaving is an option. If you are one of them, this book is for you."

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is 'psychotic,' Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are 'fatuous' and religion generally is 'nonsense.' The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions — fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium — that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is 'psychotic,' Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are 'fatuous' and religion generally is 'nonsense.' The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Dawkins focuses heavily on the monotheistic religions with quotations from the Bible and Koran that sanction genocide, rape and the killing of unbelievers....Bible-thumpers doubtless will declare they've found their Satan incarnate."
"Review" by , "This is a brave and important book."
"Review" by , "A resounding trumpet blast for truth....It feels like coming up for air."
"Review" by , "At last, one of the best nonfiction writers alive today has assembled his thoughts on religion into a characteristically elegant book." Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate
"Review" by , "To those readers tired of being told that they must bow respectfully before every absurd or bizarre superstition they encounter, and who worry about the effects of this atmosphere of hyper-tolerance on the health of our society, Dawkins' irreverent and penetrating work will seem a breath of fresh air."
"Synopsis" by , Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin"s Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.
"Synopsis" by ,
In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational, but potentially deadly. In a preface written for the paperback edition, Dawkins responds to some of the controversies the book has incited. This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.
"Synopsis" by , A preeminent scientist — and the world's most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.

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