The God Delusion

Description:

Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins “Darwin’s Rottweiler” for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

He critiques 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. In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly.
Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle the Bible, bristles at the inanity of “intelligent design,” or agonizes over fundamentalism in the Middle East–or Middle America.

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

From Kirkus Reviews Starred

“This is exceptional reading.”

“The world needs … passionate rationalists … Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion.”

– James D. Watson, codiscoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix

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