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The God Delusionby Richard Dawkins
Synopses & Reviews
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.
In an impassioned rebuttal to religion, a noted scientist and author of The Blind Watchmaker speaks out on his the irrationality of belief in God; criticizes the dire impact of religion on society, from the Crusades to September 11; and argues that religion fuels war, bigotry, child abuse, violence, and other ills.
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. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.
Table of Contents
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 GOD’S 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 Pascal’s 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? Weren’t they atheists? 272
8 WHAT’S 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
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