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The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

A friend sent me an advance copy of Richard Dawkin’s new book, The God Delusion, a couple weeks ago. I finally finished reading it yesterday…

Wow.

It is good. Very good. I wish it was around my freshman year of high school– it would’ve provided a lot of confidence to me at a time when my doubts about religion were just forming. Having been an atheist for almost ten years now, I thought I already knew the main arguments in favor of atheism, and yet as I read the book, there were at least four or five separate occasions where I just reread a passage, stunned, by an argument that made so much sense I couldn’t believe I had never considered it.

The book is out next month. Go buy it or borrow it. I don’t know if many religious people will read the book… they might be turned off by the title and not even give the book a chance. But I would like to know what a Christian’s response would be to the various arguments.

In the past fews years, I’ve read a number of books and articles that criticize Christian arguments for God. Some focus on the “proofs” of God and others rip on the accuracy of the Bible. But I rarely see any Christian books that dispose of arguments against religion in a way that doesn’t resort to saying “The Bible Is Always Right.” Then again, before the authors could do that, they’d have to understand what atheists actually believe, and I have yet to see an accurate representation of atheists in Christian literature.

But if there is a response to Dawkins’ points, refuting them, I would love to read it. Show me why he’s wrong.

On another note, the release of the book coincides with the start of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, an organization with a mission to promote rational thinking, original research, and perhaps most importantly, “Charitable giving by secularists to humanitarian good causes” (in other words, they’ll give money to, say, victims of natural disasters, without trying to evangelize/preach/attach religious strings to the money).

Here’s hoping both the book and the Foundation find their way into the public sphere.

Oh! And Dawkins will be on The Colbert Report on October 17.  That’ll be fun.
I’d be interested in what your thoughts are on the book, based on the press for it (here, here) and after you’ve read it.

[tags]Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Colbert Report, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, atheist, atheism, Christian[/tags]

  • Julie Marie

    But I would like to know what a Christian’s response would be to the various arguments.

    OK, I’ll read it and let you know what I think. You may be disappointed – you may get nothing more than a “harumph. I hadn’t thought about that. Will have to let that percolate for awhile.”

  • http://chrisbenard.net CHris Benard

    Herman, I got that book in a few days ago from Amazon (pre-order several months ago), but I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet because of school. I did get Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris one day later and I did read that on Wednesday night. It is a really short book; I think it’s only 90 pages or so and the pages are small. I recommend giving that a read. It’s a great response to Christians that gets directly to the point and dispenses with the most common of Christian arguments for a god.

    I’ll read The God Delusion when I get a chance. I’m glad to know it’s that good.

  • http://chrisbenard.net Chris Benard

    LOL, I just woke up. I meant Hemant, not Herman. I’m sorry. You can see I even messed up the casing of my first name.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    Thanks for the feedback on Dawkin’s new book, Hemant.

    I don’t know if many religious people will read the book… they might be turned off by the title and not even give the book a chance.

    I think its perfectly understandable if religious people don’t read a book with a title that disrespectful.

    Imo, that would be analogous to setting a personal boundary in person by saying to someone “Bye – I’ll come back and listen when you’ve decided to be less disrespectful than that”.

    I think it’s unfortunate that Dawkins persists being this disrespectful. I respect that it’s his choice to make, but it’s definitely not ‘friendly atheism’.

    Hemant I appreciate that even though he’s your hero, you’ve chosen to be friendlier than him in your interactions with religious people. Thank you!

  • Eliza

    Hemant, thanks for your comments on this book! I saw it in our local bookstore today, didn’t know it was SO newly out, passed it over in favor of The Blind Watchmaker. I may go back tomorrow & get TGD.

    The outside of it isn’t subtle – the hardcover is shiny & silver. Then there’s the title – ! But Dawkins’ writing has already grabbed me, on the first page of The Blind Watchmaker. (I hadn’t known he was so clear & often pithy, till I saw the first video of his Root of All Evil? show online this week.)

  • Siamang

    Yeah, check around, folks. A lot of stores have it on the shelves already. You may get lucky.

    The more I think about the title, the more I think it’s offensiveness is purposeful. If you can get past the title, it’s the worst insult in the whole book, so far as i’ve found.

    I think he may have chosen a purposely provocative title to self-select his audience somewhat. There’s going to be people, no matter how friendly the title is or the presentation, who absolutely would hit the roof with the material itself. So he may be trying to self-select an audience who take their whisky straight.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    Siamang, I expect you’re right that Dawkin’s is being purposefully provocative in choosing that title.

    I was struck one time reading about how 9/11 affected him (I wouldn’t be surprised if this is in the book). It was a sort of ‘wake up call’ that made him get much more serious about opposing religion in very direct ways, because it reinforced to him what a dangerous thing religion is.

    My husband commented that ‘this might be the Dawkins book I actually read’ so, it sounds as if he may well buy it. In which case I expect I’ll read it notwithstanding my feelings about the title ;-)

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    Update: we were in a bookstore today and they had The God Delusion.

    We bought that and also The Reason-Driven Life, which I was unaware of until I saw it in the bookstore. (I just posted an excerpt from the inside front cover of The Reason-Driven Life on the ebay atheist blog).

  • http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/ BruceA

    I’m a theist who is willing to read the book, as soon as I can get it from the library.

    I’ll admit to having low expectations: I’ve read a couple of Dawkins books previously (The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene), and my impression is that Dawkins doesn’t really grasp what religion is all about. He’s very good about presenting scientific information in a lucid and witty style. But his side comments about religion tell me he isn’t really aware of the diversity of religious beliefs even within Christianity. His sweeping generalizations seem (to me) very naive and misinformed.

    Still, I’m willing to read through his new book and review it at my blog. I’ll watch for it at my local library.

  • Siamang

    He seems to be trying to cover all the bases with different arguments for the existence of God. He takes apart the teleological argument, the ontological argument, etc. He deals with everything from fundamentalism to deism. He deals with the argument from personal spiritual experience.

    I’d be interested if you can outline a major argument that he’s neglected to deal with, Bruce.

  • http://www.brucealderman.info/blog/ BruceA

    I’ll take a look at the book as soon as a copy is available. As I said above, the only books I’ve read from Dawkins are science books, not atheist books per se, so it’s very likely that he covers a lot more ground relating to faith vs. atheism in his new book.

  • Siamang

    The more I’ve been reading this book, the less strident I think it is. Perhaps it’s me, but I found the tv show “Root of All Evil?” to take some cheap shots with its editing and music choices that made it more heavy-handed than it should have been.

    Without those tricks, Dawkins comes across as more likeable.

    He’s put his rotweiller fangs away and he’s a mere doberman in this one. FWIW.

  • Rob

    I’ve finished the book, and found it a bit of an academic primer. Fantastic if you’ve never considered the ideas, and completely thorough. But not breaking much new ground.

    Also (and I can’t really complain about this, can I?) he comes across as very technical, scientific, geeky… :-) I can’t really expect non-scientific (aka thinking, reasoning) people to get his points anyway, so why should I ask that he write in a less scientific manner?

    Chapter 4: Why there is almost certainly no God is new to me. Dawkins cleverly and powerfully guts the “irreducible complexity” argument, leaving nothing much more to say. Nonetheless, he writes on to chapter 10. :-)

    He’s intermittently funny, unrelentingly precise and logical, and a great man for putting his money where his mouth is in establishing his new foundation.
    All in all… good book. (horrible cover design. :-)

  • Andrew

    Bruce, I would bet Dawkins is very well much aware of the diversity of religion. He cuts to the root of what he (and I) see as the problem: a paradigm that allows for atrocity by its very nature, regardless of how Christians or whomever growing up in a post-Enlightenment Western secular democracy (therefore growing up with concepts like personal dignity and rights, as opposed to most of the Old Testament or all analogues thereof) interpret it..

  • Daniel

    I noticed it’s not on the “new hardcovers” or the “new non-fiction” tables in my local Borders. You have to look in the religion section to find it. That’s disappointing, because it deserves as wide an audience as possible.

  • Daniel

    And now today somebody placed two Christian books in front of it, blocking all view of it. Not very friendly.

  • Manning

    You said,

    “In the past fews years, I’ve read a number of books and articles that criticize Christian arguments for God. Some focus on the “proofs” of God and others rip on the accuracy of the Bible. But I rarely see any Christian books that dispose of arguments against religion in a way that doesn’t resort to saying “The Bible Is Always Right.”

    I would like to point out the fact that there are a lot of Christian authors challening Dawkins and his beliefs with more than “the Bible is always right.” Ravi Zacharias (rzim.org), Gary Habermas, Lee Strobel, J.P. Moreland…are a few among the many who are who are showing truth of the Bible through reason, science, history…

    I encourge you to look at the arguements these men and others like them present for the existence and belief in God. I have enjoyed reading your website. Keep thinking!

  • Mark

    But if there is a response to Dawkins’ points, refuting them, I would love to read it.

    I found this site responding to Dawkins’s book, in case you haven’t seen it yet:

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/the_god_delusion1.html

    My two cents: The idea that rationality (or reason) is a trait belonging exclusively to the atheist is as absurd as saying morality belongs exclusively to the Christian. Many great thinkers through history lacked neither faith nor intelligence: the two are not mutually exclusive.

  • http://thebetterworldnews.blogspot.com Tara

    Just two things darlin’–

    1) Christianity in the fewest words possible: Jesus said, “Believe on me.”
    2) It’s all about love…(transcendent/transforming)

    As God’s rep on planet earth, J.C. was all about love & the truth: “The truth will set you free”….what a transformative,restorative statement that is, add: ” Love your neighbor as yourself”…& that should do it.

    P.S. Apostle James said that “True religion and undefiled is that you care for the widows and fatherless.”

    Blesssings on you,
    Tara

  • Nate

    Hemant

    It’s shocking to me that you’ve never encountered Christian grappling with intellectual issues cos there is a rich vein of material out there. Are you interested in academic or more popular writers.
    There are many Christians who have no interest in ‘blind faith’. I have a degree in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh and studied Phil of Religion in Oxford for a year.

    I could point you toward a few resources that might point you to a few more:
    Richard Swinburne — he has written a ton of material.
    Alvin Plantinga
    J.P. Moreland
    William Lane Craig
    N.T. Wright (He’s an expert in historical Jesus stuff)
    Alister McGrath has written about Dawkins though i haven’t been as impressed by him in person. I haven’t read his books.
    Polkinghorne — his expertise is science and religion.

    anyway, not all Christians are dyed in the wool 6 Day Creationists. One can hold a strong faith in God and in the Bible without jacking in your mind at the door. If it’s not true, why would I want to believe it? didn’t someone famous say “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”?


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