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.
"A powerful argument for how to think about the place of religion in the modern world. It's going to be a classic." -- Seed Magazine
"In the roiling debate between science and religion, it would be hard to exaggerate the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins." Salon
"A particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr. Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit, and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith." --Economist
"If I had to identify Dawkins's cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned, and impolite . . .The God Delusion is a fine and significant book." The San Francisco Chronicle
"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
"A resounding trumpet blast for truth . . . It feels like coming up for air." --Matt Ridley, author of Genome and Francis Crick
"Dawkins gives human sympathies and emotions their proper value, which...lends his criticisms of religion such force." --Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy
"This is a brave and important book." --Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape and The Human Animal
"Richard Dawkins is the leading soothsayer of our time. . . . The God Delusion continues his thought-provoking tradition." --J. Craig Venter, decoder of the human genome
"The God Delusion is smart, compassionate, and true . . . If this book doesn't change the world, we're all screwed." --Penn & Teller
This is exceptional reading." Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"The world needs . . . passionate rationalists . . . Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion." --James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix
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.
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.
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 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