Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.
He critiques 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. In so doing, he makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just irrational, but potentially deadly.
Dawkins has fashioned an impassioned, rigorous rebuttal to religion, to be embraced by anyone who sputters at the inconsistencies and cruelties that riddle the Bible, bristles at the inanity of "intelligent design," or agonizes over fundamentalism in the Middle East--or Middle America.
"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
From Kirkus Reviews Starred
"This is exceptional reading."
"The world needs ... passionate rationalists ... Richard Dawkins so stands out through the cutting intelligence of The God Delusion."
- James D. Watson, codiscoverer of DNA, author of The Double Helix
Table of Contents:
1 A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS NON-BELIEVER 9
Deserved respect 11
Undeserved respect 20
2 THE GOD HYPOTHESIS 29
Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the religion of America 38
The poverty of agnosticism 46
The Great Prayer Experiment 61
The Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists 66
Little green men 69
3 ARGUMENTS FOR GOD'S EXISTENCE 75
Thomas Aquinas' 'proofs' 77
The ontological argument and other a priori arguments 80
The argument from beauty 86
The argument from personal 'experience' 87
The argument from scripture 92
The argument from admired religious scientists 97
Pascal's Wager 103
Bayesian arguments 105
4 WHY THERE ALMOST CERTAINLY IS NO GOD 111
The Ultimate Boeing 747 113
Natural selection as a consciousness-raiser 114
Irreducible complexity 119
The worship of gaps 125
The anthropic principle: planetary version 134
The anthropic principle: cosmological version 141
An interlude at Cambridge 151
5 THE ROOTS OF RELIGION 161
The Darwinian imperative 163
Direct advantages of religion 166
Group selection 169
Religion as a by-product of something else 172
Psychologically primed for religion 179
Tread softly, because you tread on my memes 191
Cargo cults 202
6 THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD? 209
Does our moral sense have a Darwinian origin? 214
A case study in the roots of morality 222
If there is no God, why be good? 226
7 THE 'GOOD' BOOK AND THE CHANGING MORAL ZEITGEIST 235
The Old Testament 237
Is the New Testament any better? 250
Love thy neighbour 254
The moral Zeitgeist 262
What about Hitler and Stalin? Weren't they atheists? 272
8 WHAT'S WRONG WITH RELIGION? WHY BE SO HOSTILE? 279
Fundamentalism and the subversion of science 282
The dark side of absolutism 286
Faith and homosexuality 289
Faith and the sanctity of human life 291
The Great Beethoven Fallacy 298
How 'moderation' in faith fosters fanaticism 301
9 CHILDHOOD, ABUSE AND THE ESCAPE FROM RELIGION 309
Physical and mental abuse 315
In defence of children 325
An educational scandal 331
Consciousness-raising again 337
Religious education as a part of literary culture 340
10 A MUCH NEEDED GAP? 345
The mother of all burkas 362
A partial list of friendly addresses, for individuals needing support in escaping
from religion 375
Books cited or recommended 380