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When I first listened to the sample of this book about a year ago, I misjudged Mr. Dawkins. I fell into a trap of stereotyping him as a pretentious twit based on the little bit of content I heard. I also think his accent had something to do with it. I thought this book sounded like one written to make atheists feel validated and smug. But after having his books reccomended to me by others, and reading more and more positive things about him, I gave him a shot. I started with "The Greatest Show On Earth", moved on to "The God Delusion", and then listened to "The Selfish Gene". Now I love this guy (and Lalla Ward too). I can't get enough of his clear thinking, his understandable use of language, his vast intellect, and most surprisingly, his sense of humor. This isn't really a science book, but who would guess that a scientist could be so fun?
In The God Delusion, he's basically just making the case that being an atheist is okay, and you don't have to be ashamed to admit it. He lays out every argument made on behalf of belief, shredding them to pieces to the point where there's basically nothing left but blind faith. And profoundly unfounded blind faith at that. But its not done with contempt or maliciousness, but with wit, airtight logic, and a wry sense of humor.
Alternating narration between himself and his wife, who is a trained actress, the audio format is very pleasing to the ears. Very strong performances by both will make sure that you never become bored. This is my favorite Dawkins book.
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If you've read much Dawkins, (The Blind Watchmaker, The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, and others) it will come as no surprise to you that he is no fan of religion. What is new in The God Delusion is that the evolutionary biologist goes beyond rational disagreement with those who believe, and argues that religion is dangerous and should be opposed on nearly every front. He recognizes that religion has been an important force in art and literature, but gives it credit for little else in the realm of good.
Dawkins makes no distinction between radical evangelical Christianity, the Taliban and Jihadist Muslims. The worldview of each is equally intolerant of any other belief, and so ultimately equally dangerous.
Dawkins spends about half the book examining historical and philosophical arguments for the existence of God. In doing so, he takes apart the reasoning of many men, noble and ignoble, most of whom are dead. In a historical review such of this, arguing with the dead is unavoidable. Dawkins spends a bit too much time arguing with the more recently dead Stephen Jay Gould, a fellow evolutionary biologist and sometimes nemesis, than is strictly necessary.
One thing that particularly rankles Dawkins is the concept of children being born into a religion. They grow up, typically, thinking that their parents' religion is the one true faith. How lucky for them. Dawkins seethes at calling a four-year-old a Catholic or Muslim child. We do not call them a Democrat or a Republican based on their parents' convictions. They are allowed to make that choice for themselves when they mature. Religion should be a matter of choice, not indoctrination, according to Dawkins. Of all his contentions in this particularly contentious book, this may be the least likely to gain traction.
Because religion in its multitude of forms is so widely practiced, Dawkins assertions will seem radical. They will not, however, seem irrational.
171 of 210 people found this review helpful