The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins

Having recently read Christopher Hitchens God is Not Great, I thought I would follow it with perhaps an even more famous book lamenting the persistence of religious faith in the world.

I really enjoyed the book and found it a much deeper and less anecdotal dispersal of religion as a rational belief system.  Hitchens lists many instances of the evil behaviour of people professing faith, and is clear that the evils they did were because of their faith, not in spite of it.  Dawkins does this too but I find his style of writing more compelling, because he is less concerned about the individual story and rather attacks the basis of belief. Personally I want to know what philosophy is the best basis for human and ecosystem flourishing into the future and whilst Dawkins touches on this, I'm not sure he nailed it.

Dawkins is at his best when talking about the scientific basis for life, and at moments he sweeps you away with his depth of insight. His discussion of the evolutionary roots of morality is interesting and thought-provoking. His vast command of the science of the field means he can take detours that few others can, one such detour being the idea that we have an evolutionary multiverse.

He quite likes the Jesus of the new testament in parts which is touching.

My major criticism of the book is when he seems to claim that inculcating children with religion is on a par with abusing them physically.  Dawkins reminded me of the zealot in this instance, who believes in the righteousness of his mission to much to really question it. Certainly, I can see for some people it might be true that religion caused them more psychological trauma than other people.  I accept his example of a girl who was groped in a car on a single occasion by a priest but was much more traumatised by being told her friend who died would suffer in torment for all eternity because she was of another denomination and would go to hell. To make a wider claim than that there might be some examples of this I found quite upsetting.

Anyway other than that one blemish this is an incredible book.  It is unfortunate that we still need books like this, but in this world it is another must-read.

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