Book of da Week: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
A landmark, but notorious, tome.

When the God Delusion landed in 2006 it caused quite the storm. Mayhem, in fact, but Richard Dawkin’s magnificent book set out to challenge what he considers anachronistic views. We’re in an era of abundant scientific discovery and evidence which has led us to understand the Universe a great deal more through physics and whatnot, and the provocatively titled God Delusion makes the statement it’s time to move on from simply accepting an omnipotent being as the creator of everything.

It probably won’t be surprising for regular readers to learn we’re terrifying, immoral atheists, but we approach our lives with the old existential adage of: lead a thoroughly moral life, as you’re a free agent and you’re here only once. Thusly, we don’t tend to engage anyone in their religious beliefs (unless it’s something utterly insane) – whatever makes you happy in this big, scary world, but be open minded and consider where we are here in 2017.

The God Delusion

Dawkins was aware he was about to upset numerous religious communities with this one, but the scientific community welcomed it as a timely work. Now, if you tell someone a central belief in their life is utter nonsense, they will probably get a bit angry. The God Delusion isn’t about cheap shots and basic heresy, though; Dawkins, an esteemed evolutionary biologist, makes an impassioned and highly intelligent challenge against religion in the name of reason and science.

As you’d expect, the book makes the claim a supernatural creator is an extreme improbability given the advances in human understanding of the world. As such, believing in what has been dubbed a “personal god” is delusional behaviour due to the overriding lack of evidence.

An old argument is also challenged, that religion maintains moral standards and provides humanity with a sensible structure. Dawkins attests the peculiar inconsistencies and, indeed, psychotic violence in many areas of the Bible, and how morality doesn’t exist due to religion. Of course, in this extensive book, there’s a lot more going on, but these are the basic arguments put forward. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s a compelling book and the use of humour and Dawkin’s relentless intelligence make it a modern classic.

It didn’t sway everyone, of course, and Dawkins has since received an outpouring of hate, and intellectual debate, in equal measure. The response from Christian theologian Alister McGrath, for instance, was to pen the Dawkins Delusion?. Written from a Christian perspective, it takes on the arguments laid out in the God Delusion. Clearly, there’s a lot of debate to be had about being deluded.

Atheists: Probably Not Psychopaths

We’ve seen some confusion with atheism amongst the religious – apparently, those who don’t believe in god are unhinged psychopaths, and others believe a godless society would descend into anarchy. Somehow we think rigid social structures such as law enforcement, and the majority of peoples’ general desire to earn a living and enjoy a decent life, might ensure it would all stay on track.

Anyway, rest assured most atheists are half decent people who don’t want to see the world burn. Take us, for instance – we’ve only ever robbed five banks, caused several riots, and been arrested 17 times. Whatever way you look at it, this is an amazing record, and from our perspective, the best way for humanity to get along is to apply a degree of tolerance to proceedings. Obviously, it won’t happen – it’s just too difficult for some. But you try your darned best, you hear?

4 comments

  1. Haven’t read it, but I completely agree with the premise. While superstitions are fun to believe in and entertain, and I choose to believe what we can experience directly. Any direct experience of a divine guiding force can probably be chalked up to brain chemistry and a strong desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves that has agency over our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’m very much in agreement there. I think a lot of people also struggle with the concept of demise and what happens afterwards – nothingness? It’s much easier to believe everyone goes to a magical land of happiness evermore, even though there’s no evidence for this at all. I, however, find peace in the likelihood once it’s over it’s over. It’s been pretty good fun being part of this big old Universe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been religious – was never brought up that way, nor was my father, or his father before that (a child of the 1890s). Atheism? Actually, yeah. I did an interview for a magazine the other day (here! – plug – plug – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTVBkSIh4YQ ) in which I was flat out asked whether I believed in life after death. No. We have to make the best of what we have in life. I’ve never read Dawkins’ work. I probably should.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fully agreed there. I went to a church school as a child, although my parents let me decide what I wanted to go for. I believed it all at first, as I was a kid, but as soon as I hit my teens it all seemed pretty ridiculous after that. Oh, and plugs are welcome!

      I think you’d appreciate Dawkin’s work, such as the Selfish Gene.

      Liked by 1 person

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