Book review: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

May 6, 2008

Title: The God Delusion
Author: Richard Dawkins
Pages: 420

The author

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi in 1941. His family returned to England when he was eight. He obtained his higher education at Oxford.

When studying at Oxford he was tutored by the Nobel prize-winning ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen. He studied and researched for quite a while under Tinbergen’s guidance and eventually earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997.

The verdict

The God Delusion aims not only to prove the inexistence of God but also that religious belief is responsible for a lot of terrible things (the inquisition, the crusades, terrorist attacks, etc). He also grumbles about a bias against atheists that prevents many people from ‘coming out’ and publicly acknowledging their atheistic belief.

Dawkins scoffs at the ‘overweening respect’ accorded to religion throughout the world. He may have a point there, I too see no reason why attacking religion should give rise to so much self-righteous anger. Would people be as angry if someone questioned their choice for President or, horror of horrors, featured him in a newspaper cartoon?

Darwinism teaches us that the great complexity found in Nature is the result of gradual evolution and did not arise spontaneously. According to Dawkins, God would have to be incredibly complex in order to have created the world, listen to millions of prayers, sanction the occassional miracle, etc. This obviously raises the question about where such a complex God came from. The standard response I have come across is, “God has no begginning and no end” or, “Our limited intellects are incapable of comprehending God’s true nature”. Whether or not you are convinced by such a response depends to a large extent on your upbringing. Which brings us to Dawkins pet peeve – labelling children as ‘Hindu children’ or ‘Catholic children’.

Dawkins feels that since children are too young to decide for themselves whether they beleive in God or not it is wrong to label them with their parents religion. He says religious labelling is equivalent to labelling children by their parents political opinions, wouldn’t you be enraged (or at least puzzled) to hear of a Marxist child?

I was dissapointed that Dawkins did not use the problem of evil (or, why does suffering exist when an allegedly all-powerful and benevolent God could simply do away with it?) as an argument against the existence of God.
Dawkins is an excellent writer but he comes across as heavily biased due to his own traumatic encounters with religion as a child. By the end of the book I was fairly convinced of the negative effects of religion.

This was my first book on atheism, please pardon any stupidity.

You can also read Heliologue’s knowledgeable review by clicking here.

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4 Responses to “Book review: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins”

  1. heliologue Says:

    I, too, wondered why Dawkins didn’t do much with theodicy. Perhaps it’s simply too big a topic; in any case, there’s an excellent new book about it, historically, by Bart Ehrman, called God’s Problem

  2. ipatrol Says:

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Porphyry Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Porphyry.

  4. ipatrol Says:

    What? You seem to be saying that the english on this blog is so bad that it could only be a computer translation?

    The post was composed in English, my first language.

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