The God Delusion

The God Delusion

Paperback | January 1, 2008

byRichard Dawkins

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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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The God Delusion

Paperback | January 1, 2008
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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 il...

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 Improb...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 7.31 × 7.3 × 1.21 inPublished:January 1, 2008Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0618918248

ISBN - 13:9780618918249

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, intelligent! Richard Dawkins takes on a very difficult subject and makes it lucid. Many may not like what he has to say but his research is hard to fault unless you just don't want to see the truth.
Date published: 2015-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A really great book Richard Dawkins is a genius, I love his writings and this is no exception. Really great book, I enjoyed it while listening to the audio book read by the man himself.
Date published: 2015-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ammunition For Atheists This well-researched book provides a great overview of the nonsense and adversary effects of religion and belief. Each chapter deals with a topic, delving deep into questions like: Is faith necessary to be moral? Is there a god? Is religion good or bad? Can children be religious? Dawkings provides ample reasoning from theologists, fanatics, fundamentalists, and atheists, and let you make the decision. Faith might be a lot more evil than you think, as clearly demonstrated from one of the many quotes from believers.
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The God Delusion Finally the whole truth an answers to our many questions about religion.It is a must read that will liberated you and will make you enter the year 2015.
Date published: 2015-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling and informative A great read for anyone questioning the religious aspects of their upbringing, or for anyone interested in why religious people believe what they do.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book. I read "the god delusion" and I think that Dawkins make great points when it comes to his area of expertise, "evolutionary biologist". It is a pleasure to read his summaries of evolution and it is very enlightening. However, hand picking examples against Christianity and ignoring the billions of dollars spent by christians on philanthropy was premature to put it nicely. I am an athiest and I think he should have gotten the help of an athiest philosopher in the non-scientific parts instead of showing his ignorance. Another thing that bothered me was his reason for supporting abortion was that the embryo could not feel pain. It is irrelevant because with abortion you are terminating an innocent life that would otherwise be born and had the rare opportunity to live that he statistically mentioned throughout the book.
Date published: 2014-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Scientific Falsification of the God Hypothesis Witty, smart, and unapologetically charming, The God Delusion is a must-read for nonbelievers, and the paramount test of faith to the faithful, all while adhering to the Scientific Method. If you're new to Dawkins, I'm certain you'll be pleasantly surprised by his scientific expertise, which he so graciously combines in the ultimate double-helix with his tasteful literacy and respect for the English language. If you are familiar with Dawkins' work, you'll find this book to be his (brilliant) magnum opus on the topic of religion, pseudoscience, and spirituality -- written in his classic analytic style. I will concede, the book does include several paragraph-lengthed rants, though it is a welcome change of tone after his full *scientific* breakdown of God. This breakdown includes rebuttals against arguments from design, consolation, and everything in-between. The book neither preaches to an atheist choir, nor flogs anyone of moderate faith. It is simply a full, comprehensive book of counter-arguments, and secular perspectives (for the unfaithful) on issues such as mortality, and purpose. The topic of God, divine purpose, heavenly plans, and celestial care and surveillance is relevant to every person, in every profession. Dawkins leaves atheists with their very own alternative to holy scripture, the agnostics and undecided with a persuasive argument, and the pious with a refutation that will, with enough open-mindedness, leave you with no reason to believe in a God besides "because I want to."
Date published: 2014-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The God Delusion Good read and reference
Date published: 2014-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The God Delusion Well written book that presents a lot of facts for why God is a delusion and we make ourselves better people, not God. It touches on theories of why society has created God and the purpose of religion. This is not a book for devout religious people, as they won't understand, but for anyone questioning their faith in a religion, this is a great book to help understand that you are not a horrible person.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutley great Buy this book I think his book was perfect, although I am a militant atheist I still respect other people's views. There are some rants but I can't help but think that if I was writing it I would have done the same thing. I can't thank him enough for writing this book, have other works from him and I would recommend Christopher Hitchens to anyone who wants to read some real rants. He's brilliant too !!
Date published: 2012-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dawkins is a very talented writer He's good at explaining things in terms that both a layperson and an expert would understand. You don't need to be a philosopher or a theologist to be able to understand this book.
Date published: 2012-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love arguments that are real and Dawkins's points are real and necessary. Great book, engaging, a live entity forcing you to think for yourself.
Date published: 2011-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Thought provoking look at the dangers of religion from the atheistic and scientific point of view. Some portions of the book were more enlightening and interesting than others. An important read.
Date published: 2011-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from TRUTHFULLY Entertaining Richards Dawkins is an acclaimed atheist, documentary maker and writer, advocate of reason and knowledge. In ‘The God Delusion’ Dawkins attacks the religion problem from several different perspectives, creating a very interesting summary that aims to eliminate any doubt about the non-existence of God and why mankind has succumbed to religion despite of all its downfalls and atrocities of past millennia and present times. One of the things that appeal to me the most about this book is its entertaining way to shed light into religion’s strangest arguments. One of the pillars of this battle is the argument that religion, compared to other global organizations, gets far too great of a free pass in society. It is not acceptable by the religious folks to be criticized about their beliefs. They think everyone, even atheist, should completely ‘respect’ anything related to God. This completely undeserved respect wakens an outrage within anyone daring to question the thought of an almighty being in the skies. It’s reasonable to accept that everyone has their own set of beliefs and they are entitled to them, whatever they are. But unfortunately societies and the lives of new generations are being affected greatly by religion. Indoctrination - Dawkins makes the case - is another way to enslave young mind and boycott a better future. Dawkins shows reasonable patience in suggesting why the scientific approach is the valid one by examining all available evidence. But the argument of faith mixed up with obedience makes for very stubborn individuals and points of view. Dawkins makes compelling arguments against Creationism and Intelligent Design. He points out how misguided Creationist are and demolishes any wall put in front of the Darwinian theory of Evolution. Dawkins covers some questions such as morality issues as well as whether or not religion can sometimes serve other uses in society.
Date published: 2010-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Intro Read to Atheism Back in August, I wanted to do a deep dive on the origin of life. Well, my hectic 9 - 5 delayed this exercise by four months. Anyway, I started off by reading The God Delusion, a bestseller written by the famous Richard Dawkins. This book not only defends atheism, but it goes so far as to attack the religious position. Here are some of the main principles explained: 1. The God Hypothesis - Dawkins contends that if god really created life, then who created god in the first place? He goes on to remind us that the whole problem we started with was to explain the statistical improbability on the origin of life. Thus it makes no sense to take the god position because there is the larger problem of who designed the designer. In comparison, evolution by natural selection becomes a more probable and hence preferrable theory. 2. Evolution of complex organs is possible - creationists argue that complex organs like the eye could not have evolved in a piecemeal fashion over time. This is because the eye is made of several critical parts without one will cause the entire system to fail. Dawkins counters by pointing out that the eye could actually have started out as a simple light receptor. Having a light receptor is definitely better than nothing when you are in the wild searching for meals and trying to avoid becoming someone else's meal. What came next were the functions of focus, colour, etc., each of which brought additional advantages that were perpetuated by natural selection. 3. Abundance of Goldilocks planets in the universe - Creationists claim that the conditions necessary for life to exist on Earth are so unique that it must have been the work of a supernatural god. Earth is a Goldilocks planet, because we are at just the right distance from the sun to support carbon-based life forms. But Dawkins maintains the Earth is not that special after all. Contemporary astronomical data suggest there are about 1 billion stars in our galaxy. Orbiting these stars are another 1 billion to 30 billion planets. Look farther out and it is estimated that there are close to 100 billion galaxies in our universe. Let's err on the conservative side, knock a few zeros off, and say there are just 1 billion billion planets in our universe. Suppose the rise of life from spontaneous generation of DNA material, being highly improbable, only happens on one in a billion planets. With these odds, you can still expect to find life on a billion planets throughout the universe. Given the unbelievably large playing field the universe offers, it is almost illogical not to expect life on other planets. Though none of the above concepts are bleeding edge, Dawkins does a great job using everyday language to argue his case. If you want to learn a few things on atheism vs theism, this is a good introductory read. Make sure you get your facts right however and not just rely on this one book. As the saying goes: when one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion. -PTS
Date published: 2010-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read A brilliant examination of the negative impacts of religion on human life. Incisive logic based on an unwavering adherence to the principle that all assertions made by men must be testable by science in order to be believed. Surely an uncomfortable read for the religious, but it will hopefully help the doubting to free themselves further of religious dogma.
Date published: 2009-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazingly Brilliant A brilliant look into facts and common sense so few Americans will even attempt to explore due to their faith. I just wish more people would think for themselves so they could see.
Date published: 2009-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Flawed I read this book to see things from an atheist's perspective - a 'know thine enemy' kind of thing. I found Dawkins to be rather arrogant and obstinate. He refuses to admit that he could be wrong and uses very poor evidence to prove his theory. He does not seem to have an actual understanding of people's religious beliefs. His tone throughout seems to be rather mocking, especially in his conferences on the subject. He described two different types of Gods people 'believe' in but neither of those is my God. Nor, in fact, do I know of any religion that does believe in them. Then he mocked our belief in these Gods. I find it demeaning and unfair. He says it is wrong for people to "force" their beliefs on their children but he is clearly doing the same thing to a much larger audience. It doesn't matter what age people are. If you tell them something and they have little to no previous knowledge of the subject, they will probably believe you. He is giving his opinion without giving the other side of the argument a chance to respond. He also tries to paint atheists as an oppressed group of truth-seekers who need to stand up for themselves. I see it as the other way around. I have never felt more judged than after telling people I'm Catholic. It is much harder to be religious than to be an atheist or agnostic. The book did nothing to change my religious views at all. It just made me think less of atheism.
Date published: 2008-12-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Painful to Read I bought this book thinking that a scientist like Dawkins, with a big name in the literary and scientific community, would be able to present a convincing argument for his beliefs about theology. All I got was a bunch of ranting about how religion is crazy, people who believe in God are completely crazy, and atheism is the only right thing to believe in because everything else is crazy crazy crazy. Throughout the book, Dawkins would present an argument against God, then turn around and use an argument for atheism that was susceptible to the exact same logic as the point he just debunked. It came across as very narrow minded, which really affected his argument. When debating a topic, your points are stronger when you seriously try to understand why someone would believe in the opposing opinion. Dawkins completely failed to do this, and as a result, his book lacked sustenance. Dawkins does have a good writing style, which made the book bearable. And for atheists out there looking for a good rant against God, this is probably your book. But if you’re looking for an insightful theological debate, don’t bother with this book.
Date published: 2008-10-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unscientific for a Scientific Man I have seen the video of the same name and read this only a part of this book (could not go on it’s the same). Dawkins takes too much out of contexts to make extreme accusations against religion and the few points he does make are simply over whelmed by the rest. I only hope that Dawkins can get back to taking a actual scientific view on religion next time he writes his book because this one was like reading a piece of propaganda. Written by an extremist atheist fundamentalist trying to convert us all
Date published: 2008-07-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I don't understand I read about 300 pages of this book and finally put it down and actually returned it to the bookstore. I did not finish it. This book makes absolutely no sense to me. I purchased the book on recommendation from a friend and was ready for it to open my mind. The book presented no new ideas about religion. Yes, we already know, religion makes no sense but billions still believe. Big deal, tell me something I don’t know. Dawkins book is extremely boring and convoluted. He makes no attempt to explain the references he mentions in the books or other authors he is critical of. He simply starts quoting random excerpts from their work. For those of us not familiar with his discipline we are lost. To me, Dawkins discusses complex scientific and mathematical theories that left me clueless. Maybe, I am not smart enough to understand Dawkins or maybe, Dawkins is a very poor at trying to convey a very simple message. As someone interested in the study of religions and God I did not find this book worthwhile.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Review of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion From the preface: This book “is intended to raise consciousness – raise consciousness to the fact that to be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one.” THE GOD DELUSION is a provocative book and eminently readable. His basic claim is that religion is a delusion, a modification of Freud’s claim that religion is an illusion (a wish fulfillment). It is also a political warning. Dawkins holds the view the religions are dangerous, both cognitively and politically. The book is really well written, it is fun to read even when you disagree. With lively prose and invective rhetoric there is something here that is sure to annoy almost everyone… it is provocative and entertaining. In other words, it is the perfect coffee table book; it is also a very SUCCESSFUL book on its own terms. Dawkins wants to talk critically about religion in public, The book and the video accompanying it have been widely discussed and circulated. So, even if you disagree vehemently - if you are reading this review Dawkins has probably accomplished his aims. He wants to talk about religion in public and he wants more people to talk about religion in public. As someone who studies religion professionally I have numerous reservations about his book. I’ll mention only one. Dawkins starting point is essentially that religion is “bad science.” He spends a lot of time showing the absurdity of “intelligent design” as well as making good fun of the various proofs for the existence of God. He also castigates the idea that science is about truth and religion about meaning – religion is never ONLY about questions of meaning. The problem is this: religion isn’t bad science. I would even go so far as to say that theology isn't bad science (although if I'm correct, this would certainly jeopardize the legitimacy of theology's position within most universities around the world). Religion isn’t scientific at all. Religion is a symbol system and as such closely tied with condensed and ritual forms of communication and identity formation. When a Christian says, “I believe” they are not making a scientific claim but attesting to membership within a particular community. It may sound like a scientific claim but it isn’t, not really. Belief is a declaration, not an invitation to debate or a propositionally differentiated truth claim. This is what Dawkins misses. In other words, you don’t need to apply quantitative testing techniques to “belief,” you simply need to contact a church registrar. Instead of the God hypothesis he could have talked about “the God ritual.” Most of the difficulties of this debate disappear from view if one considers this seriously. Because of this logical error (equating a claim to identity with a propositional truth claim) you’ll see that Dawkins ends up banging his head against the wall because he keeps getting the same answer to his criticisms: “it is true because I believe it” or “It is true because it is true.” Such responses will drive any reasonable person nuts. But, there is logic to it. Belief or believing is a ritual performance. Dawkins runs with the assumption that the statement “I believe in God” or “God exists” is a propositional claim. Strictly speaking, they aren’t propositions but performances… more like a routine or habit or theatrical skit than a validity claim. Religion is a ritual. Its symbolic vocabulary is more or less closed to non-members who are not initiated into the system of meaning that are utilized within religious rituals. In closing: if you are interested in studying religion then this is not the place to turn, although it is definitely worth reading. Scholars have been studying religions – as distinct from practicing religion – for 150 years at least. Most universities currently have some form of religious studies as part of their curriculum although this is widely misunderstood to mean theology. There are many fine works concerning the study of religion which help us understand why people do the things they do. I’ve recommended three here.
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What diety would give humans intelligence then expect them to believe bunk? This book should be mandatory reading for everyone, particularly those who embrace a more fundamental religious belief system. Dawkins occasionally slips into sophormoric ridicule that exposes his contempt for unthinking religiosity. However, he also makes the compelling point that it's hard to imagine a diety that would endow humans with intelligence and then expect them to embrace the contradictory and illogical set of beliefs as those embodied by most religious texts.
Date published: 2007-11-24

Extra Content

Table of 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 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

Editorial Reviews

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 "