The God Delusion: Book Review #1

The God Delusion has gotten many different reviews, both extremely positive and extremely negative. So in light of the theistic world it has been vigorously stated to be a terrible, christian bashing book, this is inaccurate. It is aimed at religion as a whole, but as Dawkins states he uses Christianity as the most frequent example because he is most familiar with it. In the non-theistic world this book has received fantastic reviews and has been considered a brilliant piece of work.

I would like to propose that, from both stand points, this book should be considered a brilliant piece of work. It angers many theists, which is understandable because it is quite possibly the strongest challenge of faith presented by a book. However, the indisputable facts are presented time after time in this book and whether one wants to believe it or not is their choice. But believing them or not does not change that they are facts.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is quite simply put: a phenomenal work of literature in which the many faces of religion and Christianity are examined and then deconstructed through the combination of the religion’s own holy book, the Bible, and science. However, it does not only examine Christianity, but directly mutilates the idea of there being a god, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish.

Dawkins is relentless and pays no lip service to any of the three religions and many times uses Islam as a prime example of a primarily violent religion, and notes how religious sects try to gain justification for their immoral acts from higher beings.
Some of the most notable and memorable chapters are those regarding morality (Chapter 6 and 7). Along with other important chapters like Chapter 3: Arguments for God’s Existence and Chapter 4: Why There Almost Certainly is No God.

Many of the points made are completely undeniable and should be taken very seriously. I suggest that you keep a Bible on hand when you dive into this book so you can look up some of the references yourself. You maybe astonished at some of the things that Dawkins’ brings to light in the ‘good’ book.

The God Delusion is extremely well articulated and deals more blunt trauma to religion than the average theist can shake a stick at. (Or a Bible at in this case.) Not only does this grand analysis of God, Religion and Christianity deal with the existence of God, it also deals with why we can examine the world around and see how it is truly broken down, so that we can further conclude that God may not be there. Making it seem completely absurd to think that such an existence simply appeared out of nothing. The basic principles of Evolution and the Origin of Life are set out in a well formulated, easy to understand explanation.

While many may argue that Dawkins’ view on life is bleak without a god to provide meaning, he address that also. One must create a meaning for his or her own life and not expect that he or she can blame others for their problems and have them assign meaning to their life. He continues to point out that there are just as many (if not more) theists who suffer from discontent, anger, depression and sadness than there are atheists.

Dawkins also states that he believes that not only religion is non-beneficial for society and civilization, but that it is truly dangerous. Through examples of fundamentalism and religious radicals of Christianity and Islam he detests religion to the furthest degree. One must note that he is able to do this without even having to discuss the Crusades as an example of injustice created by the Catholic church.

An important subject that Dawkins attacks vigorously is religious indoctrination. When reading the sections regarding this you can almost feel the passion in which he detests the idea of brainwashing children into believing as their parents and assigning titles such as “Catholic Children”, “Muslim Children” and “Protestant Children” to those who are too young to decide for themselves.

Though The God Delusion is a serious analysis on religion it does have many moments that it can invoke laughter for both the theist and the non-theist. However, Dawkins only jests for a couple moments here and there before obliterating the next topic.
The reason for this book getting 4/5 stars is due to one problem: Some sections are hard to push through, or may lose the non-devoted reader do to some information being tedious at some points. One section in particular that comes to mind is the discussion of Memes and possibly a bit of the Quantum Mechanic ideas in the very last chapter. However, when one focuses on these ideas they are fascinating and notably, informative to any person, scientist or not.

Overall there is not really anything to complain about in this book. Having read Sam Harris’s, Letter to a Christian Nation*, directly before The God Delusion, I was pleased to see many of Sam Harris’s ideas put into light once again.

*I highly recommend Letter to a Christian Nation, it is an easy and quick read. It is likely to raise awareness of almost any reader.

The God Delusion is a book that every theist and atheist should read, even if its just a study of an atheistic argument or simply for enlightenment. The God Delusion holds literary merit of its own before its scientific merit even need be mentioned. This book truly is a towering model of a deconstruction of God, Religion and Morality.

___________________________________

A book that was later written in response of this book was written by none other than Alister McGrath, titled, The Dawkins Delusion, which I have read and reviewed here: The Dawkins Delusion? Review

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10 responses to “The God Delusion: Book Review #1

  1. Dawkins states he believes that not only religion is non-beneficial for society and civilization, but that it is truly dangerous. I agree with him. There is no history of atheists creating wars, burning witches at the stake, insisting their beliefs be taught to children of others in public schools, killing doctors and nurses at abortion who work in abortion clinics, bombing buildings, picketing funerals, etc.

    For Christians what remains is the fact that the New Testament teachings are not war making teachings; they are peacemaking teachings. There is no support found in New Testament teachings for violence of any kind, even in self defense. Violence breeds new and more violent reprisals. War only creates the conditions for future war. This was the pattern up until when Jesus is alleged to have broken with previous teachings by challenging his followers to love unconditionally, to love their enemies even as they loved themselves.

  2. Great review Zach, glad you liked the book.
    Can’t wait for your review of the Dawkins Delusion, or of God is Not Great… either one.

    and in response to timethief… I think Christians twist their doctrines based upon normal secular societal evolution, the New Testament, and even Jesus specifically makes it very clear that he is not the peace loving hippy the modern church paints him as…
    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)

  3. It is true that Christian’s mainly focus on that of Christ’s teachings (this of course, is taking for granted that Jesus was an actual being, and was not the creation of a great moralist.) However, in the book of Matthew Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the laws of the prophets of the Old Testament, which is rather confusing.

    The Fulfillment of the Law
    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    -Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV)

    So with sections of the Bible like this it is hard to say what standards are meant to be followed. The aforementioned words are from Jesus himself, so was he simply trying to confuse or am I just interpreting what he said in a wrong way? So it is very possible that the last bastion of hope that Christians try to cling to (Jesus’ turn the other cheek philosophy and love your neighbor teachings[1]) is also followed up by the rededication of the Old Testament laws. Which makes one wonder are should people still be murdered for not recognizing the Sabbath? Or how about that wretched women that were not virgins when they were married? Should they be stoned as commanded in the Old Testament laws?[2] I would object to both of those standards, and would hope that all Christians would do the same.

    The Bible does not only offer a sufficient dose of contradiction but also offers a double-serving of moral interpersonal conflict. (Of course this is not what the front of the Menu says… of course speaking totally hypothetically when referring to this menu, we would assume that it would be laden with multitudes of Bible verses which are cherry picked for advertising purposes, much like the magnificent cheese burgers you see on the front of the Mcdonalds menu, but under all of it, it is actually poison.[3])

    [1] This just brings to mind a song by The Young Bloods, Smile On Your Brother. “Come on people now, Smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” are a couple lines that sum up Jesus teachings.

    [2] I hope everyone takes note that when I say “wretched women” I am being completely sarcastic.

    [3] “Religion poisons everything.” as Hitchens would say. Also comparing religion to fastfood is not completely absurd, think about it like this: A fast track to feeling secure about your entire existence without ever having to let actual facts impact your blind belief. This is what religion offers. In opposition to that, rational thinking offers this: Consider all facts and use logic to reduce the possibilities and eventually deduce what the ultimate meaning of existence and how life started, which is a more rigorous road in some cases but highly rewarding.

    Religion = fastfood, junk, poison.
    Reason = healthy food, rationality, truth

    @ KGerry3 – Thanks, I appreciate the input. As of tomorrow I will have a copy of the Dawkins Delusion in my possession and I’m still working my way through God is Not Great.

  4. Pingback: The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine: Book Review #3 « Sift Through the Static

  5. I have recently finished reading The God Delusion and I am writing a post about my thoughts on it and what I have learned from reading it. I’d like to include a link to this review of yours. Would you mind if I did?

  6. Pingback: But Surely Atheists Can’t Have Morals (!) « About a Gringa

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