Catalogue

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The God delusion /
Richard Dawkins.
edition
1st Mariner Books ed.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008.
description
463 p. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
0618918248 (pbk.), 9780618918249 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008.
isbn
0618918248 (pbk.)
9780618918249 (pbk.)
contents note
A deeply religious nonbeliever. Deserved respect ; Undeserved respect -- The God hypothesis. Polytheism ; Monotheism ; Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America ; The poverty of agnosticism ; NOMA ; The great prayer experiment ; The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists ; Little green men -- Arguments for God's existence. Thomas Aquinas's "proofs" ; The ontological argument and other a priori arguments ; The argument from beauty ; The argument from personal "experience" ; The argument from Scripture ; The argument from admired religious scientists ; Pascal's wager ; Bayesian arguments -- Why there almost certainly is no God. The ultimate Boeing 747 ; Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser ; Irreducible complexity ; The worship of gaps ; The anthropic principle : planetary version ; The anthropic principle : cosmological version ; An interlude at Cambridge -- The roots of religion. The Darwinian imperative ; Direct advantages of religion ; Group selection ; Religion as a by-product of something else ; Psychologically primed for religion ; Tread softly, because you tread on my memes ; Cargo cults -- The roots of morality : why are we good? Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin? ; A case study in the roots of morality ; If there is no God, why be good? -- The "good" book and the changing moral Zeitgeist. The Old Testament ; Is the New Testament any better? ; Love thy neighbour ; The moral Zeitgeist ; What about Hitler and Stalin? : weren't they atheists? -- What's wrong with religion? : why be so hostile? Fundamentalism and the subversion of science ; The dark side of absolutism ; Faith and homosexuality ; Faith and the sanctity of human life ; The great Beethoven fallacy ; How "moderation" in faith fosters fanaticism -- Childhood, abuse and the escape from religion. Physical and mental abuse ; In defence of children ; An educational scandal ; Consciousness-raising again ; Religious education as a part of literary culture -- A much needed gap? Binker ; Consolation ; Inspiration ; The mother of all burkas.
general note
Originally published: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006.
catalogue key
6338559
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [427]-448) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
1 A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it. -Albert Einstein DESERVED RESPECT The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and even though he wouldn't have known the details at the time of soil bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.* In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species the famous 'entangled bank'passage, 'with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth'. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin's view that all was 'produced by laws acting around us': Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote: How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. All Sagan's books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same aspiration. Consequently I hear myself often described as a deeply religious man. An American student wrote to me that she had asked her professor whether he had a view about me. 'Sure,'he replied. 'He's positive science is incompatible with religion, but he waxes ecstatic about nature and the universe. To me, that is religion!'But is 'religion'the righ
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2006-06-15:
A famed Oxford scientist on the suspect logic and dangerous consequences of belief in a Supreme Being. With a nine-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2007-04-01:
Dawkins (Oxford), the prolific polemicist who is also a brilliant scientist and erudite writer, has launched another attack on the sacred center of religions: God. He declares God a delusion and devotes 350-plus pages to elaborate on this theme. The book is replete with the absurdities of many self-proclaimed religionists, and disposes of scientific proofs for God with ease. It dismantles the framework in which God becomes plausible, and illustrates how religions have led to war, bigotry, and child abuse. Virulent attacks, whether on belief systems or on governments, whether with words or bloody deeds, arise from moral outrage or the victim complex. They are based on the conviction that their targets represent all that is wrong/evil in the world, and are spurred by the hope that enemies will be eliminated by such words or acts. Their authors are ignorant of, or choose to ignore, anything positive that their enemies might have done. Though it is doubtful that these authors will succeed in completely decimating the adversary, their attacks can have reformatory effects on the enemy and on their own group. For these reasons, more than for any originality in the thesis, this book is a worthy addition to humanity's cultural history. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. V. V. Raman emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2006-08-21:
The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it. (Oct. 18) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"...a good, strong argumentative challenge to any thoughtful believer with the courage to read it."
"A particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr. Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit, and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith." --Economist
"A powerful argument for how to think about the place of religion in the modern world. It's going to be a classic."
"A powerful argument for how to think about the place of religion in the modern world. It's going to be a classic." -- Seed Magazine
"A powerful argument for how to think about the place of religion in the modern world. It's going to be a classic." -- Seed Magazine "In the roiling debate between science and religion, it would be hard to exaggerate the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins." Salon "A particularly comprehensive case against religion. Everyone should read it. Atheists will love Mr. Dawkins's incisive logic and rapier wit, and theists will find few better tests of the robustness of their faith." --Economist "If I had to identify Dawkins's cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned, and impolite . . .The God Delusion is a fine and significant book." The San Francisco Chronicle
"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 "This is exceptional reading." Kirkus Reviews, Starred "The world needs . . . passionate rationalists . . . Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion." --James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix
"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
Delusion continues his thought-provoking tradition." --J. Craig Venter, decoder of the human genome
"...enlightening, entertaining and invigorating..."
"If I had to identify Dawkins's cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned, and impolite . . .The God Delusion is a fine and significant book."
"If I had to identify Dawkins's cardinal virtues, I would say that he is brilliant, articulate, impassioned, and impolite..."The God Delusion" is a fine and significant book...Dawkins's irreverent and penetrating work will seem a breath of fresh air."
"In the roiling debate between science and religion, it would be hard to exaggerate the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins."
"...it's difficult to dispute Dawkins's description of the God..."
"Richard Dawkins is the leading soothsayer of our time. . . . The GodDelusion 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
"The world needs . . . passionate rationalists . . . Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion." --James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
While Europe is secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, divides opinion around the world. This work attacks God in various forms, from the sex-obsessed, cruel tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign, but still illogical, Celestial Watchmaker.
Long Description
In this provocative New York Times bestseller, now published in paperback with a new preface, the preeminent scientist--and the world's most prominent atheist-- Richard Dawkins eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong, but potentially deadly. With rigor and wit, Dawkins asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. Supporting his points with historical and contemporary evidence, he shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children. The God Delusion also offers exhilarating insight on the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster. This is a book that challenges each of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.
Main Description
A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines 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. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster.
Main Description
In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational, but potentially deadly. In a preface written for the paperback edition, Dawkins responds to some of the controversies the book has incited. This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.
Main Description
In this provocative must-read, the preeminent scientist-and world's most prominent atheist-Richard Dawkins asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong, but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight on the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe's wonders than any faith could ever muster. With rigor and wit, Dawkins 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. This is a book that challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold.
Table of Contents
Preface to the paperback editionp. 13
Prefacep. 23
A Deeply Religious Non-Believerp. 31
Deserved respectp. 31
Undeserved respectp. 41
The God Hypothesisp. 51
Polytheismp. 52
Monotheismp. 58
Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of Americap. 60
The poverty of agnosticismp. 69
NOMAp. 77
The Great Prayer Experimentp. 85
The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionistsp. 90
Little green menp. 94
Arguments for God's Existencep. 100
Thomas Aquinas' 'proofs'p. 100
The ontological argument and other a priori argumentsp. 103
The argument from beautyp. 110
The argument from personal 'experience'p. 112
The argument from scripturep. 117
The argument from admired religious scientistsp. 123
Pascal's Wagerp. 130
Bayesian argumentsp. 132
Why There Almost Certainly is No Godp. 137
The Ultimate Boeing 747p. 137
Natural selection as a consciousness-raiserp. 139
Irreducible complexityp. 144
The worship of gapsp. 151
The anthropic principle: planetary versionp. 162
The anthropic principle: cosmological versionp. 169
An interlude at Cambridgep. 180
The Roots of Religionp. 190
The Darwinian imperativep. 190
Direct advantages of religionp. 194
Group selectionp. 198
Religion as a by-product of something elsep. 200
Psychologically primed for religionp. 208
Tread softly, because you tread on my memesp. 222
Cargo cultsp. 234
The Roots of Morality: Why are We Good?p. 241
Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin?p. 245
A case study in the roots of moralityp. 254
If there is no God, why be good?p. 259
The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeistp. 268
The Old Testamentp. 269
Is the New Testament any better?p. 283
Love thy neighbourp. 288
The moral Zeitgeistp. 298
What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they atheists?p. 308
What's Wrong with Religion? Why Be So Hostile?p. 317
Fundamentalism and the subversion of sciencep. 319
The dark side of absolutismp. 323
Faith and homosexualityp. 326
Faith and the sanctity of human lifep. 329
The Great Beethoven Fallacyp. 337
How 'moderation' in faith fosters fanaticismp. 341
Childhood, Abuse and the Escape from Religionp. 349
Physical and mental abusep. 354
In defence of childrenp. 366
An educational scandalp. 372
Consciousness-raising againp. 379
Religious education as a part of literary culturep. 383
A Much Needed Gap?p. 388
Binkerp. 389
Consolationp. 394
Inspirationp. 404
The mother of all burkasp. 405
A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping from religionp. 421
Books cited or recommendedp. 427
Notesp. 436
Indexp. 449
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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