God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion is a book by Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and professorial fellow at New College, Oxford. In the book, Dawkins argues that belief in a supernatural creator, God, almost certainly does not exist and qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.

He also contends that religion has been used throughout history as a means of exerting control over people and promoting intolerance and violence.

The main themes of the book include the negative impact of religion on society, the subversion of science by religion, and the promotion of bigotry against certain groups such as homosexuals. Dawkins also critiques religious claims and practices and argues that morality can be explained through human evolution and cultural norms.

Useful takeaways from the book include the idea that one does not need religion to be moral, the importance of critical thinking and skepticism when evaluating religious claims, and the recognition that religion has been used as a tool for control and oppression throughout history.

Overall, The God Delusion is a thought-provoking and controversial book that challenges traditional beliefs about the existence of God and the role of religion in society.

What I Liked

I like that this book exists and that it got the traction that it did. Many conversations about big concepts like society, government, religion, race, etc spiral out of control because they are too big and too sprawling and just too uncomfortable to be worthwhile.

But when a book like this comes out, gets traction, and makes detailed assertions, it’s a lot easier to center & focus conversations.

This book came out during my senior year in college while I was taking a Philosophy of Religion class at the University of Georgia. My professor (an Anglican deacon and published author on the history of arguments for God). My professor actually took a class to focus our papers on one specific line of arguments.

What I Did Not Like

I think the book has a laundry-list of errors. Some are quibbles and some are major. But all of the errors come down to the book’s scope and the author’s style.

The book has a massive scope…that the author goes through in a couple hundred pages. The book has generated so many reviews that I don’t really want to re-hash here. But I think the book should be treated like a readable Overview of one line of thinking.

The author could have done more to keep himself out of the book (ditto his other books). Dawkins is that good at writing, especially about scientific concepts. But the guy has an ego and strident tone that sells books and gets attention, but does not help the presentation of his arguments to a wide-ranging audience.

What’s difficult is that there’s an inherent marketing contradiction. On one hand, the best part of this book is that it’s generated lots of thought, debate, and conversation in the broader culture. On the other hand, the reason the book got any attention at all is that it’s strident and breezily deals with a massive scope.

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